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The MA Graphic Design programme at Kingston School of Art takes a practice-based, research-orientated approach to anticipating the future potential and practice of graphic design. The course will explore and challenge assumptions about the designer, as a researcher, facilitator, producer, artist, storyteller, teacher, author, entrepreneur, provocateur, leader, and agent of change.
We are ambitious for our students and invested in pushing the boundaries of the discipline through socially and ecologically responsible thinking and making in a discursive studio-based community of practice. Risk, play, and experimentation are valued within, and alongside, a rigorous academic framework.
We embrace process as a mode of meaning-making in a dynamic studio-based culture to generate new modalities of knowledge for local and global audiences. The diverse positions and experiences our students bring to the course are integral to our key aim of examining and challenging graphic design.
We align ourselves to SHAPE (Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts for People and the Economy), a collective name for social sciences, humanities, and the arts, developed by the British Academy as a tool to tell the story of these subjects as a ‘powerful and inclusive way to inform, illustrate and inspire people about the value of understanding our human world'.
Please note: this course was previously called Communication Design: Graphic Design MA.
As part of Kingston School of Art, students on this course benefit from joining a creative community where collaborative working and critical practice are encouraged.
Our workshops and studios are open to all disciplines, enabling students and staff to work together, share ideas and explore multi-disciplinary making.
Through tutorials, field trips, lectures, seminars, workshops and research projects, you will gain the technical skills, critical tools, knowledge and confidence needed to contribute to the development of the subject and its practice. You will be asked to examine your own practice and identify existing practice-based research methods, which will then be developed by introducing discipline specific notions of rigour, originality, play, experimentation, ethics, positioning and inclusivity.
Modules have been designed and aligned to ensure that students are able to make intellectual links between practice, critical theory and real-world scenarios. In doing so, this programme prioritises the development of individual and/or collective practices through creative thinking and making.
There is an emphasis on independent and self-directed learning where students are given autonomy to develop an individual and/or collective practice that supports their aspirations and ambitions. Skills in critical reflection and analysis provide you with the tools necessary to make decisions about your practice and learning trajectory. Students are provided with the opportunity to initiate, propose, and realise an Extended Research Project (Capstone Project), that is ambitious in scale and scope.
Studio modules include development of illustration skills, concepts and practice through project work and utilise the studio as a site for making. Reading modules focus on critical and contextual theory or issues and positioning practice critically. Presentation modules orientate students within a professional landscape and include preparation for employment through development of future skills and career planning.
You will be encouraged to develop your understanding of the relationship between words, pictures and their means of communication and transmission.
This module introduces critical making as a method of reflecting on and reconfiguring your individual and/or collective practice in an expanded mode of graphic design.
Critical Making challenges design conventions and finds new ways of giving shape to contemporary issues and ideas through the visual and material tools of graphic design. A radical critical function is assigned to the act of designing in a synthesis of thinking and making. This process is enabled through play, experiment and risk-taking within and alongside academic rigour.
You will gain the necessary critical awareness and practical understanding of how to embed meaning within the media, artefacts, and networks of visual communication. In an immersive studio culture, social and interactive relations will be explored to help build and apply a more in-depth knowledge of how meaning is constructed and communicated. You will initiate research into the process of ‘making design public' in the form of community collaborations, exhibitions, and digital publications as modes of engaging for, and with diverse audiences.
We will explore and analyse the diverse roles and responsibilities of a graphic designer as; producer, provocateur, artist, researcher, activist, facilitator, leader, entertainer, author, and entrepreneur to build confidence, independence, agile thinking, and collective resilience. We will map the pluriverse of design opportunities and professions together as a means of positioning your practice within a rapidly-changing world.
This module introduces ways of theorising contemporary and historical design to enable you to locate your practice within wider professional, social and political contexts and an interdisciplinary framework. You will investigate key current issues within design and participate in urgent critical debates, developing a theoretical and conceptual vocabulary with which to position what you do as a practitioner.
You will not only develop your understanding of design theory and histories but critically examine different ways of knowing about, and through, design. You are encouraged to question established norms and challenge Eurocentric models of knowledge production, engaging with discourses of decolonisation, design pedagogy, sustainability, participation, accessibility, speculation and design for social change. Exploring a range of different research methods will support you to reflect on your own position, values and ethics as a researcher, and to articulate how that underpins your practice.
This module focuses on anticipating future modes of graphic design, helping you to formulate a space for your future individual and/or collective work and/or further study. Drawing on personal experiences and contemporary design debate you will work with your peers, tutors, and visiting lecturers as co-researchers in the future field of graphic design, to position the form and context of your future practice, education, research and/or profession. Through projects and workshops, we will anticipate new multidimensional and/or hybrid practices in local and global contexts. As a community of practice, we will work to forge more sustainable, critical, and imaginative links between, culture and commerce, the individual and collective, the environment and design innovation.
You will assimilate learning from the modules in Teaching Block 1 in a synthesis of thinking and making to produce creative outputs that communicate with empathy, intelligence and responsibility in the public domain. Research groups – named Platform spaces on MA Graphic Design – will be co-created to provide a broad scope of shared resources and new modalities of knowledge. The Platform themes and aims will be identified by you and your peers and formulated with tutors in this module as catalysts for new ways of positioning and thinking about your design practice. Platforms are adaptable and responsive to topical issues and emerging student interests in relation to contemporary graphic design practices.
You will be supported to develop skills in appropriate research methods, analysis, testing, evaluation, project management and realisation. This will enable you to produce a research question and proposal plan for your independent and/or collective Extended Research Project For Graphic Design.
This module asks you to think about the role of the designer now and what it might be in the future. It takes the position that many of the jobs you may have in the future do not yet exist – it is you that will create them.
You will work on projects individually and collectively that ask you to communicate across disciplinary boundaries in diverse environments with hybrid ways of making and thinking drawn from different contexts, methods and philosophies. Real-world scenarios set by external partners will be examined through elective collaborative projects that situate your creative practice within the contemporary paradigms of precarity and uncertainty, providing a space to address issues such as climate literacy, design education and the future of work, and in doing so anticipate contexts for your practice within the cultural and creative industries and beyond.
This module helps you to build a space for your future practice through enquiry-led learning, conceptual depth, critical imagination, and practice-based research. You will embrace creative agency as a means of initiating, testing, and completing your research project individually or in collaboration with internal or external partners. By assimilating the learning established so far on the course, you will have built an individual critical position on graphic design, identifying real-world contexts for your practice, and innovative modes of communication in an expanded notion of the discipline.
You are expected to work autonomously as a critical agent, setting your own programme of learning. You will be supported through peer-to-peer activities, tutorials and reviews in a community of practice. Project proposals will be used to construct student-led research groups based on your chosen fields of practice and a set of specific workshops will support research methods and professional practice. At the end of the module, you will have resolved and realised your intended ideas and ambitions and made this public with and/or for chosen audiences.
The Extended Research Project (capstone project) provides a framework for you to recognise and engage with a range of transferable skills e.g., time-management, art direction, community collaboration, ethical responsibility, performative presentation, sustainable practices, convivial discourse, social and technological networks. You will consolidate your design practice by taking part in researching, reflecting on, theorising, testing, and communicating the field of graphic design and your place in it.
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 Student Route 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.
A 2:2 or above honours degree, or equivalent qualification, in graphic design or a related creative arts subject.
Applicants with other academic qualifications, or relevant work experience, will be considered on an individual basis.
We would like to understand more about you and your practice, as well as your aptitude and motivations for studying on this course. Your portfolio should demonstrate research and development of ideas through practice, critical knowledge of contemporary issues, conceptual curiosity and a willingness to explore the discipline and practice of graphic design and experiment with its media and methods. Consider including documentation of your research methodologies, intellectual engagement, design processes and iteration, and conceptual development.
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 will find more information on country specific entry requirements in the International section of our website.
Find your country:
Students will benefit from a variety of different learning and teaching approaches including brief-led project work, workshops that encourage creative experimentation and individual critical reflection. We take a dialogic and discursive approach to learning and teaching, through peer-led learning, discussion groups and seminars as well as opportunities to co-construct the curriculum. An elective range of assessment strategies and methods allows students to take responsibility for their own learning.
Kingston School of Art has an established an ethos of Thinking Through Making, underpinned by a policy that supports equal access for all students to the 2D and 3D workshops. Students are encouraged to explore new and unfamiliar processes and techniques and use these to experiment and innovate within their own disciplines and individual creative 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 documents 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: 19% of your time is spent in timetabled learning and teaching activity.
Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.
Type of learning and learning
Assessment typically comprises exams (e.g. test or exam), practical (e.g. presentations, performance) and coursework (e.g. essays, reports, self-assessment, portfolios, dissertation).
The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows:
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. Seminars and reviews are usually 12 to 25 students and group tutorials usually 6 to 12 students. However, this can vary by module and academic year.
You'll be taught by academics who are practising designers and researchers. There is also a regular programme of lectures and online workshops with nationally and internationally recognised professionals. To gain insights into the world of work we arrange online discussion and links with international studios, and set up visits to local/London-based studios and making spaces. Postgraduate students may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader.
If you start your second year straight after Year 1, you will pay the same fee for both years.
If you take a break before starting your second year, or if you repeat modules from Year 1 in Year 2, the fee for your second year may increase.
If you are a UK student, resident in England and are aged under the age of 60, you will be able to apply for a loan to study for a postgraduate degree. For more information, read the postgraduate loan information on the government's website.
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:
Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs that are not covered by tuition fees which students will need to consider when planning their studies. Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, access to shared IT equipment and other support services. Accommodation and living costs are not included in our fees.
Where a course has additional expenses, we make every effort to highlight them. These may include optional field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering), security checks such as DBS, uniforms, specialist clothing or professional memberships.
Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Many key texts can now be downloaded for free as PDFs, but you may prefer to buy your own copies of key textbooks; this can cost between £50 and £250 per year.
There are open-access networked computers available across the University, plus laptops available to loan. You may find it useful to have your own PC, laptop or tablet which you can use around campus and in halls of residences. Free WiFi is available on each of the campuses. You may wish to purchase your own computer, which can cost £100 to £3,000 depending on your course requirements.
In the majority of cases written coursework can be submitted online. There may be instances when you will be required to submit work in a printed format. Printing, binding and photocopying costs are not included in your tuition fees, this may cost up to £100 per year.
Travel costs are not included in your tuition fees but we do have a free intersite bus service which links the campuses, Surbiton train station, Kingston upon Thames train station, Norbiton train station and halls of residence.
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 from central London. Here you can access world-famous museums and galleries.
This workshop provides students with access to a dedicated animation and motion graphics studio, for hand-drawn, stop-frame, 2D and 3D animation. Two post-production studios feature 14 edit suites and four edit stations, along with facilities that support editing and effects technology. Disc production and streaming facilities are also sited here. Filming facilities are complete with a large studio enabled for broadcast-quality filming, a range of film recording equipment, flexible lighting rigs and controls, and a cyclorama facility. There are also specialist sound recording facilities, including a control room and audio booth.
The Digital Media workshop gives you access to a wide range of current design-related software, with 128 iMac workstations for 2D and 3D design and with two teaching rooms used for course specific software tutorials. Locally installed Adobe Suite CC 2017, Vectorworks and Microsoft Office, with Avid Media Composer and Cinema 4D are available in selected teaching rooms. Digital printing facilities are also housed here, with large-format scanners and two wide-format printers for poster printing and large photography and canvas prints as well as standard A3 and A4 multi-functional printers with scanning, bypass and booklet printing capabilities.
The printmaking and letterpress studios house extensive equipment across a diverse range of printing technologies, including intaglios, relief and screen printing. The workshop is also equipped with specialist technologies such as an A2 Risograph, a darkroom for UV photographic applications like cyanotypes, Epson large format inkjet printers and a laser engraver. Letterpress and bookbinding equipment is found in the newly-opened Noble Press. The workshop offers a good range of tools and presses from the 19th century to the 1960s.
The 3D workshops comprise a ceramics studio, a metal workshop, model making, a plaster room, a forge and foundry, a welding bay and a woodworking mill. We also have a digital suite which houses digital equipment and a hackSpace with 3D printers, 3D scanners, CAD and Arduino stations. The hackSpace enables students to learn, explore, experiment, invent, innovate and transform the 2D into 3D, bringing ideas to life using cutting-edge technologies.
There are two photographic studios for small and large photographic works, a digital imaging area for post-production, plus black-and-white and colour darkrooms.
Our new Immersive Lab for Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality technologies (VR, AR and XR) is based in Kingston School of Art and will be open to all KU students, researchers and staff from late 2022. Immersive technology brings with it huge potential for interdisciplinary, collaborative, and inclusive research as it is not affiliated with any one discipline or methodological approach. The Eadweard Muybridge Immersive Lab will accommodate 10 workspaces for students and researchers across KU, opening up new pedagogic, research funding and knowledge opportunities.
Our graduates have the necessary personal and professional attributes to thrive and make a difference in a rapidly-changing international context for the Graphic Design industry. The curriculum is designed to support students in developing the Future Skills needed by the design industry including problem solving, adaptability, critical thinking, teamwork, creativity and independence.
Through Graphic Design projects, students' individual and/or collective creativity and imagination is developed to enable them to have original ideas and find creative solutions. Group work and collaboration, fundamental to contemporary Graphic Design practice, will foster professional skills in effective team working, building networks and project leadership. Independence and autonomy are nurtured so that our graduates are collectively resilient and understand the importance of life-long learning.
Our graduates are influential in their field, by using their knowledge and skills to practice professionally at an advanced level and their commitment to positively tackle global, commercial and societal challenges.
Our graduates work in project management, event organisation, data visualisation and information design, visual identity, art direction, typography, interactions (UX/AI), filmmaking, brand strategy, and research. They also teach and lead higher education initiatives in the UK and internationally.
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. It 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.
Jack Smyth (Dublin, Ireland)
The information on this page reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. To improve your student experience and the quality of your degree, we may review and change the material information of this course. Course changes explained.
Programme Specifications for the course are published ahead of each academic year.
Regulations governing this course can be found on our website.