Design MA

Year of entry

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Start date
September 2023
Delivery type
On campus
12 months full time
Entry requirements
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in a relevant design subject.
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component
UK fees
£14,500 (total)
International fees
£27,500 (total)

Course overview

Students in class

This Masters course focuses on human and user-centred design and focuses on developing research and practice-based design solutions to respond to a demanding industry and rapidly changing society.

Whether your background is in design or in another discipline, you’ll gain the skills and knowledge you need to develop, test and evaluate innovative design solutions in real-life scenarios. You’ll gain first-hand experience of current needs and trends across a range of sectors, and focus on a large-scale design project within one of the specialisms offered.

Taught by diverse staff with internationally recognised profiles in research and practice, you’ll build an interdisciplinary approach to design in a stimulating environment while being exposed to and involved in cutting-edge research. You’ll gain practical and research skills to prepare you for a wide range of careers.

Specialist facilities

We have plenty of facilities to help you make the most of your time at Leeds. We have an impressive range of resources that you can use to develop your projects.

For those interested in engaging with immersive technologies, we offer standalone Android-based Virtual Reality headsets, enabling VR prototype testing and development of MA Design research and design projects. Other excellent research facilities include our eye-tracking measurement system including mobile glasses, which are used to understand how users interact with design. We also have EEG (electroencephalography) equipment to understand how users interact with the world. We have a lighting and colour lab with the latest colour measurement and communication tools to explore the role of colour in the design and retail industry and the effect of light on health and wellbeing.

We also house the M&S Company Archive including documents, advertising, photos, films, clothing and merchandise from throughout Marks & Spencer’s history.

You’ll be able to develop your practice in well-equipped studios and workshops, and have access to the latest design software, as well as some of the latest design technology, such as digital printing, screen-printing, 3D printing, and laser cutting.

Course details

In the first semester, you’ll study a set of compulsory modules that will allow you to develop a range of research, conceptual and practical design skills and tools to lay the foundations for the rest of the programme. You’ll have the chance to learn through case studies, practical exercises and work on briefs encompassing all specialisms offered.

In the second semester, you’ll have a choice of optional modules that focus on current trends in design practice and research. These optional modules will give you the opportunity to work on live projects from industry and/or live research projects being conducted in the School of Design. You’ll work on group and/or individual projects to explore more specific and advanced skills and tools in your areas of interest.

In Semester 2 you’ll also choose and develop a specialist project in which the tools and skills learnt in Semester 1 are applied. Projects are interdisciplinary and can be developed in a wide range of topics that suit your interests and career ambitions. These include: Art and Design, Colour Design, Design for Social Innovation, Digital and Interactive Design, Information Design, Instructional Design, Graphic and Visual Communication Design, Service Design, Sustainable Design, and Typographic Design.

In Semester 3 you can choose one of two pathways: 1) Continue with your specialist design project, develop it at a professional level and apply it in a real-life context (with suitable users) for evaluation; 2) Produce an independent research dissertation based around a relevant field or topic within the specialisms offered.

The Programme Leader for this course is Dr Nina Hansopaheluwakan.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Design MA in the course catalogue

Year 1 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Design Theory and Practice 30
Design Research and Integration 45
Research Methods for Design 30

Year 1 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

Module Name Credits
Design Dissertation 45
Graphic, Typographic and Colour Design 30
Service and Social Design for Innovation 30
Design Prototyping and Evaluation 45
Design Management: Design Thinking and Strategic Innovation 30
Interdisciplinary Art and Design 30
Information, Digital and Interactive Design 30

Learning and teaching

You’ll be taught and guided by a diverse team of staff who are leaders in their fields, with a wide variety of research interests and years of experience as design practitioners.

We use a range of teaching and learning methods so you can benefit from their expertise. These may include lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops, group learning and meetings with your tutor or supervisor. However, independent study is crucial to this degree, as it allows you to develop your skills and explore your own ideas.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


Depending on the modules you choose you’ll be assessed by different methods. They’ll include individual and group projects, project proposals and reports, presentations and reflective reports.


Entry requirements

You’ll need a bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) or equivalent qualification in a design or art degree specialising in one the following subjects: graphic design, visual communication design, information design, branding, design for sustainability, colour design.

You’ll be required to submit a portfolio of recent practical work. You’ll also be required to respond to the questions in the supporting statement section of the online application form, including details of the design specialism they wish to study as part of the MA Design.

Please note that meeting the entry requirements of this course doesn't guarantee an offer of a place.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Arts and Humanities (6 weeks) and Language for Social Science and Arts: Arts and Humanities (10 weeks).

We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. You could study a part-time online course starting in January, or a full-time course in summer. Find out more about online pre-sessionals.

You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.

How to apply

Application deadline:

We operate a staged admissions process for our courses, with selection deadlines throughout the year.

If you do not receive an offer at a particular stage in the process, you will be either notified that your application has been unsuccessful, or that is has been carried forward to be considered at the next stage.

Please see our How to Apply page for full details and the application deadlines for each stage.

The ‘Apply’ link at the top of this page takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.

If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Documents and information you need

  • A copy of your degree certificate and transcripts, or a partial transcript if you’re still studying (please submit an official English translation if necessary)
  • Evidence of your English language qualifications, if English is not your first language
  • A personal statement in response to the questions asked in the supporting statement section of the application form, which explains why you wish to study this particular course and your career plans
  • An electronic link or pdf to your digital portfolio. The portfolio will demonstrate research, idea development and presentation of final concepts for each project. If any group work is included, the candidate must clearly state this and indicate what their individual role in the project was.
  • ​​​​​​​Applicants from non-design backgrounds must also have a portfolio – this can include a variety of materials which you feel best demonstrates your creative ability

Watch a video giving advice on your application

Next steps

Applicants may be invited to attend an interview with the programme manager either by phone, Skype or in person.

The Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures receives very large numbers of high-quality applications and regrets that it cannot make offers to all of its applicants. Some particularly popular schools may have to reject many that hold the necessary academic qualifications.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Taught Admissions Policy 2024

This course is taught by

School of Design

Contact us

Postgraduate Administrator



UK: £14,500 (total)

International: £27,500 (total)

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

Additional cost information

Computers and digital equipment

To ensure you can make the most of your studies at Leeds, you’ll need to make sure your laptop meets the system requirements for your course.

Depending on your circumstances you can benefit from a laptop loan or further support from our Financial Assistance Fund.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

Career opportunities

This programme will equip you with a range of design skills using different media, as well as allowing you to hone your specialist skills in an area of your choice. It will also equip you with advanced skills in research, analysis, teamwork, presentation and communication that will be valuable in a range of careers.

You’ll be well prepared for a career in design practice. You can set up your own freelance business or take up a key position in a design studio, agency or organisation.

You can also work in cross-disciplinary fields applying your design skills to business, marketing, applied psychology, healthcare communication, retail, government, the public or private sector, etc.

Many of our students also choose to continue benefiting from our cutting-edge and frontier research through our postgraduate research opportunities.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more about Careers support.


You’ll have the opportunity to develop projects in a wide range of topics. These fall into specialisms that reflect the research and expertise of School staff and are increasingly in demand from both industry and research bodies:

  • Colour Design: creative and effective communication of ideas and solutions to problems within the context of colour design, including colour in marketing, branding, packaging, websites and apps, motion, infographics, wayfinding, storytelling, etc. Learn more about colour design on the Colour Group of Great Britain and International Colour Association websites.
  • Digital and Interactive Design: creative and effective communication of ideas and solutions to problems within the context of digital and interactive design, including UI and UX Design, AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) as well as online, social and mobile media channels. Learn more about digital and interactive design on the Design Council website.
  • Graphic and Visual Communication Design: creative and effective communication of ideas and solutions using graphic design language and methods in areas such as editorial design, book design, experimental typography, branding, packaging, poster design, advertising, illustration, photography etc. Learn more about Graphic and Visual Communication Design on the Design Council website.
  • Information Design: creative and effective communication of information in order to make it easy to access and simple to use, such as health and financial information, instructions for products or services, educational materials, maps and transport routes, signage and wayfinding, data graphics, etc.; and by exploring techniques such as information visualisation, infographics, motion graphics, etc. Learn more about information design on the International Institute for Information Design website.
  • Service Design: creation or improvement of services to make them useful, usable and desirable for people as well as being effective for organisations within business, healthcare, retail, banking, transportation, utilities and other sectors. Some examples of successful cases are: Airbnb, Virgin Atlantic, GOV.UK, Spotify, etc. Learn more about service design on the Design Council website.
  • Social Design: creative and effective solutions to social and economic problems through collaborative working, experimentations and prototyping. Social Design directly benefits social, community, environmental and humanitarian causes with the aim of increasing inclusivity, equality, sustainability, social justice, creativity, etc. Consequently, it also benefits businesses, governments, city councils, communities, and so on. Learn more about social design on the Social Academy Innovation website.
  • Typographic Design: creative and effective communication of ideas and solutions using typography as the main design element and as an inherent part of the design process. Typographic design and legibility are vital in numerous design contexts: design for reading, design for inclusivity (to include people with special needs, with low literacy, older people and children, etc.), as well as design to communicate, to inform, to instruct, to persuade, etc. Learn more about typographic design on the International Society of Typographic Designers website.
  • Interdisciplinary Art and Design: reflects the trend of the increasingly hybrid nature of art and design. Practice that operates at this interface in contemporary culture often provokes diverse audiences to speak out and think critically and creatively. Examples of these integrated/hybrid Art and Design practices might include participatory and community arts/design projects, digital and physical mapping projects, artist books, publication as practice, interpretation of archival and historical materials, speculative design projects, environmental, landscape and place-based work. Here's an exhibition which explores the common ground between design and art.