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Product & Furniture Design MA

Why choose this course?

This course recognises the diversity of design practice and prepares you for employment within the design industry.

You'll be given time to develop a personal design approach, learn new skills and apply them to carefully structured projects with industry partners, that prepare you for your preferred career direction. The course requires you to challenge yourself, your perceptions of design and your role as a designer.

Live client projects are an integrated feature of the course providing valuable industry experience; recently the course has worked with brands including MADE.com and Tefal. We additionally encourage independent external collaboration. You'll work in an enviable learning environment that includes newly renovated studio spaces and workshops supported by attentive academic and technical staff.

Faculty-wide technical resources available to students on this course include the 3D workshop with ceramics, big build, woodworking, metalworking, blacksmithing and bronze-casting; CNC, Laser, Zund, 3D print, state-of-the-art filming environment and animation suite; industry standard photographic suite with two new digital darkrooms; newly-specified digital media workshops with hardware and software upgraded to a professional level.

Mode Duration Attendance Start date
Full time 1 year 2 days a week September 2020
Full time 2 years including professional placement 2 days a week, plus placement year September 2020
Part time 2 years Contact the course leader for details September 2020
Location Kingston School of Art, Knights Park

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • Lecturers are industry specialists and bring a broad mix of experience and opinion to the course. The combined teaching team of lecturers, visiting lecturers and guest lecturers includes David Weatherhead, Lucy Kurrein, Sebastian Bergne, Ian Ferguson, Rosemary Anrude, Kacper Hamilton, Matthew Long and Sophie Smallhorn.
  • The action of "making" is the signature of the course: we seek critical thinkers and makers that seek to challenge and evolve contemporary practice through the physical domain.
  • This course is part of the Design School's Postgraduate Framework, which promotes interdisciplinary practice opportunities, underpins research, supports personal trajectory and industry contact, and includes a supporting lecture series.

What you will study

The course offers a hands-on approach to design, encompassing research techniques, collaboration, learning through making and developing finished objects intended for craft, industrial production or conceptual prototype. You'll work in the studio and workshops on specific projects reflective of the modules comprising the course. Activities can include specialist lectures, workshop inductions, group and personal tutorials, seminars and symposiums.

You'll need to be self-directed, reflective and practical in your approach, with direction and purpose.


This course is part of the Design School's postgraduate programme. The structure, shared with students from other design courses, enables you to explore your individual specialist interests within an integrative learning environment that provides an understanding of the value and role of interdisciplinary methods and ways of working. The influences and impact of thinking from other related design subjects on your own specialist study is an important aspect of the identity and the community of interdisciplinary practice at master's level in the Design School.

This structure is designed to help progress and develop your independent learning, encouraging you to construct and explore projects concerned with areas of particular personal interests. The overarching course philosophy, based upon an emphasis on research, methodology and design thinking, allows individual and personal concerns to be explored through focused study in product and furniture design.

Modules

Professional placement year

The two shared modules of the Design School's postgraduate framework both commence with a symposium, in which high-profile external speakers present their work and contribute to a debate on a topic of relevance to all courses in the Framework.

Core modules

Designing Research

30 credits

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.

Creative Futures

30 credits

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.

Creative Practice 1: Design Thinking & Making

30 credits

This module provides dedicated product and furniture design study opportunity. It occurs in teaching block 1. Students are offered a number of optional and compulsory briefs engaging both practical and theoretical design faculties. Briefs are open to individual interpretation, designed to promote creative independence and establish the benchmark of Level 7 critical expectation at the outset of the student experience.

They encourage engagement with a number of key principles and processes students need to develop in order to be able to undertake a capstone project later in their studies.

Critical Practice

30 credits

This teaching block 2 module extends and builds directly upon the dedicated product and furniture design study experience of teaching block 1. It runs in parallel with the Creative Futures module DE7301 on the full time mode and exercises independent, focused practical design research to underpin the Major Project proposal undertaken within DE7301.

The module aims to position students in readiness to commence realisation of their Major (capstone) Project upon completion. Students take responsibility for either continuing to develop their thematic practical design enquiries already established in Context I, refining and editing material and developing new research and study as necessary, or embarking upon new self-initiated enquiries.

The module consolidates the role of practical design experimentation as a key element of the design research process and helps establish credibility for progression on to the Major Project. Students should become increasingly confident about moving into realms of uncertainty and exploring unfamiliar design territory, taking risks and articulating personal viewpoint. They are encouraged to explore and utilise industry networks and contacts outside the Faculty to expand their knowledge and outlook, further lending their study rigour and credibility.

The Major Project

60 credits

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.

Optional modules

Professional Placement

120 credits

The Professional Placement module is a core module for those students following a Master's programme that incorporates professional placement learning, following completion of 120 credits. It provides students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in an appropriate working environment, and to develop and enhance key employability skills and subject specific professional skills in their chosen subject. You may wish to use the placement experience as a platform for their subsequent major project module, and would be expected to use it to help inform their 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.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

  • A good honours degree or equivalent in a related art, design or craft subject and/or appropriate professional experience.
  • A portfolio of work reflecting your experience and skills working in 2D and 3D.
  • We also welcome applicants with relevant professional or vocational experience.

International

English language requirements

All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirements. For this course it is Academic IELTS of 6.5 overall with 7.0 in Writing and 5.5 in all other elements. Please make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we'll consider.

Applicants from one of the recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Teaching and assessment

Assessment will be made at the completion of each module. Module marks are added to achieve a total final mark. Assessment will be made through practical design projects, presentations, main masters project and exhibition.

Guided independent study

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.

Support for postgraduate students

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.

Your workload

Approximately 22% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity.

Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.

Type of teaching and learning

Type of teaching and learning
  • Scheduled teaching and learning: 320 hours
  • Guided independent study: 1480 hours

How you will be assessed

Assessment typically comprises a practical project, visual summary, critical reflection and report
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

Type of assessment
  • Coursework: 100%

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Class sizes

To give you an indication of class sizes, this course normally enrols 25 students.

Who teaches this course?

You will be taught by leading academics and practitioners in product design, furniture design, product development, exhibition design, public commissions. Our excellent reputation means that industry leaders regularly visit our student shows to see the best of the new talent.

This course is delivered by Kingston School of Art, which has its roots in the studio-based approach of Britain's art school system (the original School of Art was founded in the 1890s). Today, for most courses, learning still takes place in our specialist studios, each subject area having its own fully-equipped studio, where you take part in classes, tutorials and critical reviews with fellow students. This strong studio culture also ensures regular interaction between students and tutors.

For non studio-based courses, learning takes place in classroom-based seminars, tutorials and lectures, alongside site visits to museums, galleries, auction houses and other creative professional environments.

Our students are encouraged to engage closely with the diverse businesses that make London one of the most important centres for the creative industries. Our industry connections mean we provide unique study opportunities, such as:

  • the chance to have your work seen by eminent members of your profession;
  • 'live' projects, site visits and placements in prestigious companies or institutions; and
  • project work and workshops with visiting lecturers and industry specialists.

Facilities

There is a wide range of facilities at our Knights Park campus, where this course is based. Kingston School of Art has recently completed an ambitious programme of investment, making significant improvements to our workshops and other resources, to ensure that students are exposed to as many creative pathways as possible.

The workshops and studios at Knights Park are open for creative exploration and allow opportunities for students and staff to collaborate on projects and share ideas, whether they are studying or researching. There are many adaptable studio and workshop spaces, active breakout spaces and stronger vertical and horizontal connections. Our ground-breaking facilities include:

  • 3D workshop, with ceramics, concrete, resin-casting, plastics, metalwork, woodwork and a bronze-casting foundry, as well as a Big Build space for Architecture, set design and large scale model making
  • Animation and post production studios
  • Digital Media workshop
  • Fashion (knitting and sewing workshops), with digital and analogue facilities, plus a working dress archive which includes pieces from 1750 to the present day
  • HackSpace (for collaborative, creative, solutions-focussed projects)
  • Letterpress and printmaking workshop, with digital and analogue facilities, to experiment creatively
  • Moving Image workshop, with studios, editing suite, and industry-standard equipment
  • Photography workshop, including studios, colour, and black and white darkrooms, processing facilities

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:

  • Dorich House - the former studio home of the sculptor Dora Gordine and her husband the Hon. Richard Hare, a scholar of Russian art and literature. Now Grade II listed, the building was completed in 1936, to Gordine's design, and is an exceptional example of a modern studio house created by and for a female artist.
  • Stanley Picker Gallery - one of the leading examples of a university gallery in the UK. Its public activities are dedicated to the research, commissioning and presentation of innovative new practice across the fields of art, design and architecture for general, academic and specialist audiences.
  • project spaces at Knights Park campus, which you can book for the exhibition of large-scale work. 

Resources in London

Kingston is just a 30 minute train journey away from central London. Here you can access world-famous museums and galleries.

Fees for this course

Home and European Union 2020/21

  • MA full time £9,500
  • MA part time £5,225

Overseas (not EU) 2020/21

  • MA full time £17,600
  • MA part time £9,680

Student work

You can see current projects and course activities on our Instagram page or view the project work of our past students from this course below.

Magnetic joint by Yuchun Cheng

The purpose of this project is for users to meet their needs in the process from buying the furniture to its delivery, packaging, assembly, use, storage and moving. The core of the concept is firstly to create a new kind of joint and secondly by doing so to create an alternative and convenient furniture system.

Links with business and industry

Our links with professional practice provide a real-world base for our courses. They also help us to ensure your studies are kept up-to-date and relevant to the workplace.

  • Lectures introduce students to a wide range of contemporary design practitioners and create opportunities for building contacts within the industry.
  • Where appropriate we link projects with manufacturing industry, commercial brands or organisations to maximise your learning experience and create further opportunities for you to build contacts for your own future careers.
  • Many members of staff are professional designers, which keeps your learning cutting-edge and allows you to benefit from their many years of experience.

Research in the Design Research Centre

The Design Research Centre provides a creative environment for researchers engaging with the cultural, environmental and presentational contexts of design practice in its widest sense. Research in this diverse area is developed through five interrelated areas:

  • Curating the contemporary- focusing on new initiatives and perspectives on curating, including the interface between design, craft and fine art;
  • Design innovation- focusing on the presentational contexts of contemporary design practice;
  • Design for environments- including design for wellbeing, health and micro-environments, as well as spatial, aesthetic and critical enquiries into building typologies and cultural analysis of urban and leisure environments;
  • Design for screen- focusing on interdisciplinary and practice-based enquiries into screen-based media; and
  • Sustainability- multidisciplinary design research into issues of environmental protection and social justice.
Postgraduate study
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