MDes Graphic Design (Master of Design)

MDes Graphic Design

Master of Design

Lead by design

Move your creativity to new spaces on this course that gives you the tools to become a 21st Century design leader.

Bethany's story

A place for big ideas

Expand your thinking in a creative environment underpinned by academic rigour.

Students working in a design studio.

Become a better design thinker by recognising and exploring different design processes.

The inner creative.

Step away from industry and learn how your innate design skills can help you tackle challenges in any professional setting.

Students looking at a laptop screen.

Find new applications for your creativity and turn abstract ideas into pragmatic solutions.

Outstanding facilities

Learn in a collaborative creative community, designed expand your thinking.

More info

Let their experience help you complete your outline

Jean Boyd

Jean Boyd

Senior Lecturer in History and Theory of Art and Design, Researcher and Course Leader.

"The course addresses the contemporary circumstances in which visual communication is situated. I support students to develop skills that combine research with practice, to think critically and inventively about their discipline of study, and to see further into their own creative futures.

Graphic design has always created publics - audiences, viewers, readers, participants - not just visual artefacts.

Some of the biggest issues of our time are the hardest for us all to see and therefore address: designers can make these visible, available for discussion, as dialogues about change and preferable, liveable futures. You will work with industry professionals and research-active academics on this fast paced, studio based course.

MDes Graphic Design culminates in the opportunity to develop a specialist professional or research-oriented project, enabling pathways to advanced practice or towards doctoral study."

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Industry on campus

See how our students get on delivering a live brief for the famous design agency, Taxi.

Course details

Students in a university design studio.

Course outline

The MDes Graphic Design course gives you the opportunity to extend your portfolio and move your creative work into new spaces and career directions.

We see design thinking as being at the heart of design innovation. As a designer, learning to manage complex ideas can be the key to finding solutions and developing strategies for clients that can be applied across a range of disciplines as a creative, manager, entrepreneur or design business owner.

The course will challenge you to build upon your communication and design research skills and apply these to successful problem-solving at a master’s level. You will explore contemporary issues in graphic design whilst gaining insights into global trends and dialogues in design by crossing genres and disciplines.

The UK produces world-class designers who are sought after internationally – our MDes Graphic Design course sets out to help you realise your ambitions in a global context that takes you from the day-to-day to a global exploration of the discipline. Allowing you the time to evaluate your career and set its direction with the insights and critical reflection now demanded of graphic design in the 21st Century.

If you are an undergraduate wanting to progress your studies – or a professional designer looking to enhance your career outside of the daily routine – our approach to spatial, visual, kinesthetic and active learning will help develop your approach to design and the world around you.


  • Design Process                                            
  • Design Research Methods                               
  • Design Citizenship                                          
  • Design Studio                                                 
  • Design Management                                       
  • Applied Creativity                                           
  • Masters Thesis or Major Research Project     

The course is part of the newly established Design Centre at Park Campus, giving students the opportunity to work in a multi-disciplinary setting with animators, advertisers, film, fashion, Media and computing students with space and time to work with professional practitioners, pracademics, academics and researchers from a variety of disciplines.

Design Process

This module allows students to gain a holistic appreciation of the strategic dimensions of design. Built on relevant theoretical perspectives, the module focuses on contemporary design process models and frameworks that take into consideration not only the designer, and the client, but also the target audience, and the wider socio-cultural context. Knowledge acquired is integrated in the development of an effective plan of action, and the compilation of the creative brief. The module encourages a methodical research-informed approach to design practice, bridging academic literature and professional practice, and aiming to equip students with a comprehensive appreciation of the process of design.

Design Citizenship

This module encourages students to develop a critical view to current socio-cultural and political debates relevant to design practice. The module consists of a series of pre-recorded or live presentations, followed by active learning sessions. The topics will be decided on a yearly basis and in accordance with contemporary developments within design research and practice. The schedule will be tailored based on the research interests of staff and students.This module aims to assist students in:

  • Developing an interdisciplinary outward-looking understanding of design research and practice;
  • Reflecting on current social, cultural, economic, and political themes and their relationship to design research and practice;
  • Analysing real life problems and producing critical responses.

Design Studio

This module draws together the work completed so far on the Masters providing students with the opportunity to apply what they have learned within the context of real world design agencies and their clients. The unit will commence with a taught element comprising preparation and master class opportunities, students look to work with clients and design briefs for up to two weeks, they will then have the opportunity to reflect on and present their view on their employability and future in the global design sector in the form of a career plan.By the end of the module, students will be able to draw on real world experience, (and if work experience is not appropriate) case studies, to start to develop their professional careers, capitalise on networking opportunities and evaluate and plan their own career trajectories.

Design Management

The design industry in the UK alone is worth over £3bn a year  and forms one part of an increasingly important part of the economy ‘the creative industries’. The design industry is changing rapidly and this has led to it facing some common strategic issues. This module is set within this ‘big picture’ context.

The module seeks to explore central issues concerning the management of a design agency in a contemporary, therefore global setting. It looks at how agencies as ‘manufacturers of creativity’ are currently managed and why this is so. It seeks to uncover and explore the inherent tensions of managing both creative processes and organisations primarily concerned with relationships (clients and consumers). Finally, it considers strategic leadership in terms of potential future ways of enacting design management, in a changing and highly competitive marketplace.

Masters Thesis or Major Research Project

This module allows students to combine the knowledge acquired during Semester 1 and 2 in order to produce an independent design research thesis that demonstrates their capacity as critical design researchers and practitioners. During the length of the module, specialist staff (allocated Masters supervisors) will guide and support each student with their project through one-to-one tutorials. Aims of this module:

  • Produce a substantial body of work that demonstrates self-initiative, self-direction, self-management and design research and practice innovation;
  • Investigate a specific design theme and produce research that provides new insights;
  • Demonstrate an advanced sophisticated and authoritative understanding of contemporary design research and practice;
  • Demonstrate a capacity to effectively and appropriately communicate design research and practice to audiences within and/or outside the design sector.

(The research undertaken during the Masters Thesis module could later be used as the basis for an MPhil or PhD proposal).

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Study style

Learn through practical experience, with staff and industry professionals, work with design thinking theory in supporting lectures and workshops. Explore design management scenarios, global trends, ethics, gender and sustainability. You will be working through a range of project and research-based assignments with a professional focus on your future career aspirations.

Course modules

Take a look at the course content for full details of all the modules you'll study on this course.


  • Creative director
  • Creative strategist
  • Design consultant
  • Design strategist
  • Educator
  • Research consultant
  • PhD Researcher

Study mode

Full-Time or Part-Time


Park, Cheltenham

Meet the Lecturer

Discover more about your course by visiting the university to speak with one of our lecturers. Learn about the modules, teaching style and the modes of assessment by speaking to our experts, and get a feel for the facilities you'll be using. Visit our Meet the Lecturer page to find out more and book your place.

Entry requirements

  • At least a 2.2 honours degree or equivalent in a design related subject
  • We usually interview and will want to see a portfolio of work
  • EU and international students need IELTS 6.0 overall (no less than 5.5 in any band) or equivalent.


Fees - 2020/21 Academic Year
Home and EU Students
Full-Time Fees
Masters £6700
International Students
Full-Time Fees
Masters £14700

The fee displayed is the total course fee for full-time or part-time study; see also the details of potential extra costs. Please refer to the Tuition Fee and Bursary Policy for payment methods and timescales.

School of Arts

Our School of Arts provides specialist studios with the latest industry technology so you can develop your creative talent. You will collaborate with other artists and designers and be inspired by practising professionals to refine your own authentic voice.

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