Advertising and Design MA

Year of entry

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Start date
September 2024
Delivery type
On campus
12 months full time
Entry requirements
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons)
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component
UK fees
£15,250 (Total)
International fees
£30,250 (Total)

Course overview

Academic giving a seminar talk to students in the Glass Studio in the School of Design

The MA Advertising and Design programme gives students the opportunity to prepare for careers in advertising and well as correlated fields in communication design. Based on an interdisciplinary approach, the programme is supported by three pillars: Design, Research, and Business.

The Design pillar approaches the elaboration of communication campaigns as a design process, providing a framework for its development, as well as equipping students with an understanding of design principles across specialised areas such as graphic, typographic and digital design.

The Business pillar is offered in collaboration with the Leeds University Business School - a top 100 business schools worldwide - and introduces students to essential knowledge in consumer behaviour and media planning, enabling them to develop effective communication strategies based on market insights and brand positioning.

Finally, the Research pillar focuses on skills that are valuable to both academia and industry. Students will explore primary and secondary research methods, seamlessly integrating those into the design process, informing and evaluating their production using both quantitative and qualitative data. Moreover, students will have the option to expand those skills further by working on dissertations or research papers.

Assessment employs diverse approaches tailored to evaluate academic, professional, and digital literacies. Assessment components in design modules reflect authentic professional practices, incorporating industry briefs and student competitions. Criteria for assessments are flexible, accommodating individual skills and career choices. Exams and reflective reports evaluate theoretical comprehension and critical thinking applied to design processes. Students have the option to pursue an academic-focused dissertation or an industry-focused final project, both supported by a research-led approach.

Upon completion of the program, students will have acquired a wide range of skills, including evaluating market trends, analysing brand positioning, and formulating objectives and strategies to address communication challenges. They also develop the ability to generate creative concepts, design effective solutions, and conduct research to inform and reflect on design outcomes.

Specialist facilities

The School of Design offers excellent facilities and technical support for developing your creative skills. We have a range of dedicated spaces where students can work independently. We also have a number of practical workshops, studios and specialist facilities: Sculpture Studio; 2D Art Studio; Fashion Design Studio; Knit and Weave Studio; Photography Studio; Digital Print workshop; Laser cutting and 3D Print workshop; Printmaking Workshop; XLab for Immersive Technologies and 3D workshop. We provide access to a team of excellent technicians across the full range of skills who can help you to realise your work to reach its potential.   

The School also provides a range of other support to enhance the student experience and prepare students for the workplace: free dedicated software; a wide range of technical induction programmes; free access to Linked-in-Learning Tutorials; free cameras and video recorder on loan; supporting a Degree Show; external promotion; Visiting Speakers, who are well known figures from industry or other institutions around the world. 

Course details

The MA Advertising and Design programme is structured around its three pillars: Design, Research, and Business.

The Design pillar comprises a two-semester long module on Design and Advertising, and its importance is twofold: on the one hand, it structures the development of advertising campaigns within the framework and stages of a design process, from discovery and initial research to delivery of final execution. On the other hand, the Design pillar presents principles and practices within a wide range of specialist areas, from graphic to digital design.

As a student from a research-intensive institution, you will also develop Research skills that can be valuable for problem-solving in both academia and industry settings. In semesters 1 and 2, you will be introduced to an overview of the research process, as well as to diverse primary and secondary research methods. During the summer term, you will exercise those skills, applying them in a seamless fashion to the design process, making use of quantitative and qualitative data to inform and evaluate your final project or dissertation.

The Business pillar consists of modules and content delivered by the Leeds University Business School (LUBS), comprising consumer behaviour, marketing, and media planning. Those should provide you with planning and strategic skills from a business-oriented perspective that should inform design decisions and creative endeavours. Business modules will be delivered in semesters 1 and 2.

When put together, those pillars allow for students to evaluate emerging market trends, supported by analytical frameworks of reference; analyse brands’ positioning and communication strategies; formulate objectives and strategies to solve communication problems; develop creative concepts and generate ideas that address identified challenges and opportunities, taking in consideration a range of communication channels, constraints, and creative approaches; design and develop effective design solutions, plan and conduct research using diverse methods to inform and reflect on design outcomes.

The Programme Leader for this course is Dr Francisco Queiroz.

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.

Compulsory modules

Design Process and Principles in Advertising (Semesters 1 and 2, 60 credits)
This module’s aim is twofold: on the one hand, it frames the elaboration of advertising campaigns as a design process, providing theoretical knowledge and practical experience that reflects the structure of creative agencies. As such, students will work throughout all stages of the design process – discovery, definition, development and delivery - from initial research to concept generation and campaign execution. On the other hand, the module introduces principles from various design specialist areas, such as graphic design and user experience design, and their application in advertising to support design outcomes for different media that communicate effectively and are executed to a professional level.

The module focuses on solving client communication problems, combining creative and strategic thinking, informed by research and relevant theories and principles, to generate effective planning, creative ideas, copywriting, and art direction. Content and areas to be taught include strategic frameworks such as Brand positioning grid, PESTLE and SWOT analysis; theories such as semiotics, Gestalt, rhetoric; idea generation techniques such as brainstorming and morphological matrix; design specialist areas such as graphic and typographic design, and UX/UI design. Assessment components include presentations and portfolios.

Research in Design and Enterprise (Semester 1 and 2, 30 credits)
This module provides students with an understanding and insight into research processes that can be applied to both design and academic research. It introduces a broad range of advanced research methods, focused on techniques and issues appropriate to academia, design, enterprise, management and marketing. Students will develop essential skills and competencies to enable them to become critical, reflective and creative researchers, able to problem-solve and contextualise research for a range of real-world contexts and applications.

Consumer Behaviour (Semester 1, 15 credits)
The proliferation of consumer data has profoundly changed how businesses reach, engage, interact, and maintain relationships with consumers. However, understanding of consumer behaviour is vital. The course will provide students with a critical understanding of how consumers behave and how the key consumer behaviour concepts could be integrated within broader consumer analytics and marketing strategies. By providing an in-depth knowledge of the core features and characteristics of various consumer behaviour elements, students will be able to appreciate the scope and breadth of consume behaviour. Finally, the course will provide students with the basic knowledge and skills to evaluate and optimize marketing strategies. Opportunities to analyse marketing phenomenon from the perspective of consumer behaviour will be assessed through individual assignment and seminar case studies and group works.

Advertising and Media Planning (Semester 2, 15 credits)
The module combines creative advertising approaches with media planning to enable students to acquire relevant practical skills to work in contemporary advertising and marketing industries. Learning is achieved through a combination of lectures, seminars and practical workshops to integrate theoretical aspects of the course with creative practical applications through ‘live’ agency briefs. These activities will be supplemented with archival research, class discussions, advertising and media critique.

Advertising and Design Major Project (Semesters 3, 60 credits)
This module allows students to develop either (a) an integrated communication campaign; (b) a dissertation; or (c) an academic paper on topics connected to the programme’s areas of interest. Students will be expected to work independently, assisted by supervision sessions. The module’s outcome should reflect design and research skills exercised throughout the programme. Objectives of the module are to achieve professional level standards in creative problem solving, critical thinking, independent working, and persuasive verbal and visual presentation in either academic or industry-related contexts.

Learning and teaching

Creative problem solving and design thinking methods are central our teaching in the School of Design.  Your learning will be enhanced by a range of contemporary teaching methods which encourage active learning and are underpinned by inclusive and authentic learning activities, including team working, creative sprints and industry facing scenarios. 

We follow a campus based blended learning approach; you’ll have a range of resources in the virtual learning environment which are accessible at all times, including videos and pre-work to help you prepare. You’ll attend lectures which are carefully designed to invite engagement and participation, seminars enable you to delve deeper into key topics, workshops to learn and practise design making, crit sessions and tutorials to discuss work in progress.  

Your module tutors have dedicated office hours, which means there’s always the opportunity to ask questions.  

Collaboration with staff and your peers is the foundation of our teaching and learning, giving students input into their learning journey. Two of your core modules will be studied with students from other design disciplines, here you will benefit from our community of learners, to contribute their diverse perspectives, and to encounter those of others, with global industry practices in mind.  

A typical week may include person and online study, workshop and studio session, regular personal tutor sessions. These activities provide a rich resource to support further investigation in your private study time.  Private study is important at university and a potentially significant change from the way you have been taught previously. This is space where you can reflect and critique materials from taught session, including further reading, writing, designing and making. You will be guided through this process by your tutors to help you develop your knowledge and research skills. The ability to work independently is key skill to your development as creative professional and thinker. 

You’ll also have the ongoing support of your Academic Personal Tutor. 

On the MA Advertising and Design programme you’ll be taught by expert academics, many of which have also industry practise. There is an active visiting lecturer programme, formed on industry and academic experts, including alumni. 

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.


You will be assessed through a variety of approaches, from oral/visual presentations to portfolios, reflective reports and exams. Those will be tailored to evaluate academic, professional, and digital literacies within contexts that are relevant to the programme and students’ aspirations, also taking in consideration how those literacies inform each other. Some of your assessments will be based upon collaboration with your peers. This collaboration could be in the development of artefacts, proposals and/or various forms of visual and textual communication in response to problem-based issues. 

Throughout the year, it is to be expected that you will find that assessments are progressively more challenging. To support you as you navigate assessment, we provide formative as well as summative assessment. Formative assessment gives staff an opportunity to give you feedback on personal progress, in good time before a summative deadline. Given the range of assessment types in any one level of study, formative assessment and feedback enables you to reflect upon your personal progress and establish which forms of assessment allow you to play to your strengths.  

The nature of assessment will change as you progress through your programme:

  • Semester 1:  Assessments will focus on your understanding and acquisition of new knowledge, academic, digital and professional skills.  
  • Semester 2:  Assessments will focus more on establishing how well you understand, analyse and apply this new knowledge and these new skills in relation to real-world, local and global settings.    
  • Semester 3: Study will become more self-directed major project often being negotiated and agreed with tutors.  

Main assessment components for design modules will be modelled after authentic professional practices from advertising and design agencies, including the application of briefs from industry and student competitions. Moreover, considering the multi-disciplinary area of advertising and design, assessments’ criteria will be flexible to reflect an inclusive approach that takes in consideration your individual set of skills and career choices. Exams and reflective reports will evaluate your grasp of theoretical frameworks and critical thinking in applying those frameworks to their design processes.

Students interested in an academic-focused experience will have the opportunity to work on a dissertation, whilst industry-focused students will be able to work on a final project of their choice. Both will be supported by a research-led approach to design.

Dialogic teaching methods emphasise in-class discussion and support staff / student debate. This approach to teaching and learning enables staff to hear all student voices. In turn, for some modules, this in-class dynamic may facilitate and inform the co-production of assessment tasks. Co-production of assessment tasks means that staff and students work together to devise fair and inclusive assessment; both formative and summative. This allows staff to consider the requirements of a module alongside opportunities to allow students to harness their strengths.   

While remaining considerate of module and programme learning outcomes, where relevant and beneficial, we strive to adopt a flexible approach to assessment design. This flexibility allows us to respond to student voice, maintain an agility that allows us to react to global, social and cultural change and respond swiftly to opportunities to devise projects with our industrial partners. We aim for all assessment to be relevant, meaningful and engaging. 


Entry requirements

You’ll need a bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) or equivalent qualification in art or design (such as graphics, photography, film studies), psychology, marketing, business, English, sociology, or philosophy.

You’ll be required to submit a portfolio of recent practical work, and to explain your interest in the course in response to the questions provided in the supporting statement of your application.

Applicants with degrees in other subjects may be considered on an individual basis. In exceptional circumstances we may also consider people who do not have a degree, but do have relevant work experience.

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

Applying from China

Due to the large numbers of applications we receive, we’re only able to offer places to applicants who have attended selected Chinese institutions. With regret, any applications we receive from applicants awarded a qualification in China from an institution that isn’t on this list will be rejected.

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 Marketing (6 weeks) and Language for Business: Marketing (10 weeks).

We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. Find out more about our six week online pre-sessional.

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, or a notification that your application has been unsuccessful at a particular stage in the process, your application will be carried forward to be considered at the next stage.

Please see our How to Apply page for full details and the application timeline for the staged admissions process.

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’ll need

  • A copy of your degree certificate and transcripts, or a partial transcript if you’re still studying (including an official English translation if necessary)
  • 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 future career plans
  • Evidence of your English language qualifications, if English is not your first language
  • 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

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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 Admissions Policy 2025

This course is taught by

School of Design
Leeds University Business School

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UK: £15,250 (Total)

International: £30,250 (Total)

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

Read more about paying fees and charges.

Additional cost information

Additional cost information
There are additional costs of study that students need to cover. We estimate that these additional costs could be as described below, but this amount may vary depending on how you decide to respond to university briefs and the range of materials and techniques you decide to adopt.

Equipment and material costs
Students also need to cover costs of copying and supplying their own basic materials (eg pens, pencils, notebooks). The programme doesn’t require students to provide other materials to complete the programme successfully.

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.

Some of our courses require the development of work using Adobe Creative and other relevant software. If required by your programme, the School will provide you with a free Adobe CC account when you arrive. We also use a blended learning model where you’ll need to access course materials and video conference using a computer or mobile device (eg laptop, tablet, smartphone). Costs for a laptop will vary depending on the exact specification. You should expect to pay between £800–£2,500.

If you’re buying a new laptop for your studies, then we recommend that you wait until you’re registered as a student so that you take advantage of discounts given to university students. Delaying purchasing also allows you to find out from your programme leader what you need and what you do not need. Depending on your circumstances you can benefit from a laptop loan or further support from our Financial Assistance Fund.

You’ll also have access to further digital equipment in our studios and using our loan scheme. But, you may decide to purchase your own equipment which will result in additional optional costs. Examples are: Drawing tablet (£50–£500); Digital camera (£200–£1500); etc.

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.

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 on our living costs and budgeting page.

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

Flexibility, resilience and transferable skills are desirable attributes for creative industry professionals. In the School of Design, as well as providing you with research led, industry informed subject-specific knowledge, we aim to equip you with the best possible skills for a variety of future careers. This programme will equip you with the knowledge and skills to succeed in a dynamic and expanding sector.

You’ll be a confident strategist, planner, account executive or creative advertiser or designer who also understands the relationship between advertising, brand development and consumers. In addition, you’ll have important skills such as oral and written communication, presentations, research, analysis and commercial awareness.

We’ve designed the programme to prepare you for a range of opportunities working in the creative industries, traditional advertising and design agencies, digital and social media. Alternatively, you may want to explore different elements of advertising and design at PhD level.

Students from this programme have successfully gained employment at both traditional and non-traditional advertising agencies all over the world, and in a wide variety of roles including brand management, marketing and more. Graduates have gone into careers in a number of different fields. Many continue with their professional practice – our graduates have gone to work for companies like VCCP, McCann London, LNER, BBDO & Proximity Espana, ASDA, The Union, Deloitte Digital, United Communications Group Taiwan, Wunderman Thompson Portugal, and more.

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.