This course encourages the exploration and understanding of the methods and processes at work in contemporary visual communication, and will develop your personal practice and approach to graphic design.
It focuses on individual research and inquiry and helps you to better understand the significance of the wider cultural role of the visual designer. In addition, you will be introduced to disciplinary and interdisciplinary models of thinking that will underpin your own focused study on the course.
The emphasis on problem-finding, research methods and critical thinking is intended to enhance your long-term employment possibilities through an understanding of the changing global, technological and social context of design.
You'll be taught by academics who are practising designers and researchers. You'll visit studios and hear from guest speakers from industry, work on live projects, competitions, lectures and workshops.
Project work will challenge you to develop and enhance your existing ways of working. You will explore the importance of research in underpinning your practice and will be encouraged to build your own visual language and ‘tools' in response to set briefs within each module. In the final stage of the course, you will propose and develop your independent major project.
This specialist pathway of the Communication Design MA course is part of the School of Design's postgraduate programme. The structure – shared with other postgraduate students – enables you to explore your individual specialist interests in graphic design within an integrated learning environment that provides a comprehensive understanding of the value and role of interdisciplinary methods and ways of working.
You will be encouraged to develop your understanding of the relationship between words, pictures and their means of communication and transmission.
This module explores the fundamental and underpinning aspects of communication design and the key skills related to visual thinking and is intended to introduce you to the expected ways of working whilst undertaking study on the course. The module places an emphasis on the nature of individual enquiry and the process of questioning. The primary focus of the module is problem finding, and simply put at this stage of the course: the point of a good research question is a better research question. You will be required to revisit the fundamental aspects of your practice through the exploration of form and context and their relationship to how meaning is established and importantly, communicated. This will build upon your existing ways of working and is a building block in the further development of your field of operation as designer on the course and your future career. The focus during this first module is upon visual grammar and how the essential elements of visual communication are related to the relationships between objects, patterns, and processes: the manner in which things relate to each other and the viewer/user.
Your understanding of form and the (inter)relationship between word and image; how meaning is established and communicated (context) will be explored through a process of de-thinking and re-thinking whereby established ways of working and developing ideas are challenged and (re)built upon. You will be expected to demonstrate through the visual documentation you produce how you have explored and tested your ideas.
The aim of the module is to give you understanding of the design research tools and methods that are available to you, to inform and support the development of your practical study, and to provide the basis of your further study on your course. Practical research methods are explored, with an emphasis on the development of creative and evidence-based approaches to experimentation, and critical reflection on practical design work.
This module encourages you to look critically at the role of storytelling within the practice of communication design, in particular the relationship between narrative and sequential thinking using visual means. Contemporary culture is influenced by rapid technological change and this has a profound effect on how we transmit, receive and understand messages and information. Increasingly the role and relationship between the single and serial image in sequential and non-sequential forms has become more significant.
The existing relationship between the image and the word has become more complex as both old and new media are (re)defined by both the means of production and transmission. These changes are creating new dialogues between users and creators in both commercial and social arenas that employ narrative/storytelling devices and techniques. Storytelling is central to the many forms of visual communication that now exist whether fixed in traditional linear and sequential ways or based in dynamic and interactive screen-based environments. This presents new challenges and opportunities to designers, in particular to develop new and sustainable ways of thinking and working that are also able to transcend the technology of the moment.
The module allows you to develop your individual practice whether you are focused on the creation of content as a key aspect of your making or whether you situate your practice in relation to the interpretation and adaption of existing 'texts' and content in the act of storytelling. It is also the understanding of the history of visual storytelling and the diverse approaches to narrativity and seriality that are influenced by culture, language and technology.
This module is based on the assumption that the best jobs/careers in the creative industries do not exist – they are invented from individual creative ambitions. The module explores how this can be approached in practical terms. The programme of study encourages you to develop a personal and critical approach to your future career, and how this can inform the development of your individual major project for the Major Project.
The Major Project – the capstone project – consolidates the knowledge gained in earlier modules, and is informed by your prior learning within the Design School's postgraduate interdisciplinary framework and course-specific specialist study. You will extend your work on the course thus far in the form of a practical design proposal, defining and developing a substantive solution to an individually defined design-related problem. In so doing, you will demonstrate advanced understanding and application of contemporary design practice as it can be brought to bear on a specific challenge of sustainability.
Many postgraduate courses at Kingston University allow students to do a 12-month work placement as part of their course. The responsibility for finding the work placement is with the student; we cannot guarantee the work placement, just the opportunity to undertake it. As the work placement is an assessed part of the course, it is covered by a student's Tier 4 visa.
Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.
The Professional Placement module is a core module for those students following a masters programme that incorporates professional placement learning, following completion of 120 credits. It provides you with the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills to an appropriate working environment, and to develop and enhance key employability skills and subject-specific professional skills in your chosen subject. You may wish to use the placement experience as a platform for your subsequent major project module, and would be expected to use it to help inform your decisions about future careers.
The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.
Applicants should have a good BA (Hons) degree, or equivalent qualification, in graphic design or a related subject, such as moving image, graphic communication, illustration, 3D design, advertising, photography, packaging, computer-related design, architecture or fine art.
We also welcome applicants with relevant experience that demonstrates the necessary skills and intellectual achievement needed to undertake the course.
You must submit a portfolio.
Please see our Portfolio Preparation short course for help with your portfolio.
We will invite all shortlisted candidates to an interview, asking you to:
We can make alternative arrangements for international students based overseas.
All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirement, which is Academic IELTS of 6.5 overall, with no element below 5.5. Make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we consider.
Applicants who do not meet the English language requirements could be eligible to join our pre-sessional English language course.
Applicants from a recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.
You'll be strongly encouraged to develop your own informed and creative approach, taking into account contemporary research, current industry and design practices.
When not attending timetabled sessions, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically involves reading and analysing articles, regulations, policy document and key texts, documenting individual projects, preparing coursework assignments and completing your PEDRs, etc.
Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the University's online virtual learning platform.
At Kingston University, we know that postgraduate students have particular needs and therefore we have a range of support available to help you during your time here.
Year 1: 11% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity.
Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.
Type of teaching and learning
Assessment typically comprises exams (eg test or exam), practical (eg presentations, performance) and coursework (eg essays, reports, self-assessment, portfolios, dissertation).
The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows, though depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose:
Type of assessment
We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.
To give you an indication of class sizes, this course normally enrols 55-65 students and lecture sizes are normally 15-65. Platform group sizes are 10-15. However, this can vary by module and academic year.
You'll be taught by academics who are practising designers and researchers. You'll visit studios and hear from guest speakers from industry, work on live projects, competitions, lectures and workshops. Postgraduate students may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader.
If you choose to take a placement as part of this course, you will be invoiced for the placement fee in Year 2. Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme and the costs for the placement year.
Kingston University offers a range of postgraduate scholarships, including:
If you are an international student, find out more about scholarships and bursaries.
We also offer the following discounts for Kingston University alumni:
There is a wide range of fantastic facilities at Knights Park, where this course is based. The workshops and studios are open for creative exploration and offer you plenty of opportunities to collaborate on projects and share ideas, whether you are studying or researching. Building on this open approach, there are many adaptable Architecture studio and workshop spaces, designed by Stirling Prize winning Haworth Tompkins, alongside active breakout spaces.
At the heart of the building are new state of the art workshop facilities, which include:
All our facilities are open access, meaning you can use them whenever you want, and irrespective of what degree you're studying.
The University also has its own on-site galleries, including:
Kingston is just a 30 minute train journey away from central London. Here you can access world-famous museums and galleries.
There are several factors that make the MA Graphics amazing. Firstly, the tutors are always available to you; they encourage you and your ideas by providing guidance and subject expertise. Crucially, you are also able to seek advice from tutors from the other courses should your projects venture into different disciplines.
Secondly, the facilities at Kingston allowed us to bring our projects to another level. There was an amazing 3D workshop, but for me the print workshop was a godsend. The skills I acquired there built my confidence and pushed me to discover new techniques, and the help from technicians is second to none!
Thirdly, having an atmosphere you feel comfortable in is so important and aids productivity and you learn from your peers. I met like minded people from all backgrounds (that ended up as great friends), and we all helped each other by either by exchanging knowledge, support and encouragement.
Finally, a highlight of the course was the awesome European field trip. We went to Berlin by coach via many interesting cities. It was amazing! We visited SO many great galleries and inspirational studios on the trip.
Alex Medhurst (Luxembourg)
Studying Communication Design: Graphic Design MA at Kingston was, without any doubt, the best decision of my life so far. Not only as a graphic designer but as a person as well.
I met creative people who I still keep in touch with and are now great friends of mine; tutors whose encouragement and knowledge I cannot be grateful enough for; and the chance to studying in a cool, relaxed and inspiring space where I could research and do anything that I (literally) wished for.
If you get up with the wild idea of making an alphabet out of 2m long wooden letters, or to research and screen print rainbows for a month – and you can also explain why you want to do it – you will not just have a proper technical and theoretical background to support you, but also people who will encourage you to start doing it and will go with you on that road.
Anna Hidvegi (Budapest, Hungary)
The first thing you should know about this course is that you will not be handed your MA on a silver platter, and that's the best part. You learn to widen your skill set and get different perspectives from a very lovely, international community. You will get to know some amazing and inspiring tutors who will always help you find the right questions to ask, and you will also learn from a variety of guest lecturers.
If I could do it again I would, because I have never felt as challenged yet so free as I felt during my time at Kingston.
Kjerstin Asak (Oslo, Norway)
I had a really great experience on the Communication Design: Graphic Design MA at Kingston. We undertook group as well as personal projects. For the group project we worked with students from different design disciplines. This was not easy for me as English is not my native language, but these projects inspired me a lot during discussions, and I was positively influenced by the different perspectives from the diverse fields of design, and the cultural backgrounds of my fellow group members.
In the individual projects, we had two tutors who focused on different aspects of graphic design. They helped us to make our personal projects ambitious and perfect. During the course I learned a lot of new skills and developed my knowledge of graphic design. I am really grateful to be graduate of Kingston University.
Rubbie Chong (Taipei, Taiwan)
Choosing Kingston University has been the best choice for my development as a designer. Through its interdisciplinary format this course stands out for any individual seeking to indulge in a thorough and informed design practice. The various studio facilities available made it possible to experiment and try out innovative concepts.
The curriculum is set out perfectly and provides various opportunities to prepare yourself for the professional world. The course has been challenging and very intense at times but there is no lack of support from the faculty and other technical staff.
The tutors are very competent, encouraging and supportive to each and every student and go that extra mile to further boost our contemplations without any compromise. The overall programme was very rewarding and enriching and a worthwhile experience.
Natasha Coutinho (Goa, India)
My year at Kingston altered my perspective in a profound way. The manner in which I approach problems, work and situations is completely different from when I turned up on the first day, and I continually feel the benefits of the course every day that I work in design.
It is a course which feeds creative thinking and encouraged me to really push concepts much further than I had envisaged before through hands on experience, trial and error. The Communication Design: Graphic Design MA fully repays what each individual puts in and has had such a strong hand in shaping my career since finishing.
Jack Smyth (Dublin, Ireland)