Sustainable Fashion: Business and Practices MA

Why choose this course?

The programme sets out to affect systemic change in the fashion industry by offering alternatives to the mainstream fashion system. It focuses on developing a deep understanding of the multi-dimensionality of sustainability as it relates to fashion. Sustainable solutions are embedded in all coursework, using fashion as a medium to affect social change, resulting in innovative and ethical solutions, transformational systems, and organisations.

Based on critical thinking and problem solving, the program offers the opportunity to plot a new future for the fashion industry that challenges existing practices with practical and inspirational alternatives. Project work adheres to the four pillars of sustainability: economic, environmental, social, and cultural as an alternative to fashions unsustainable footprint.

This is a practice-based MA offering a multitude of tangible outcomes that make a positive contribution to society, culture, and ecology. Students can choose their area of focus with either a practice, business, or a systems-design outcome. The creative freedom offered by the program results in a variety of degree outputs, from websites and apps, services, new systems and models, exhibitions, installations, and product development, all based on design futuring. This is the business of design as a problem-solving tool, not a means to produce more stuff.

Mode Duration Attendance Start date
Full time 1 year 2 or 3 days a week September 2022
Location Kingston Business School and Kingston School of Art, Knights Park

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • This course learning environment employs a creative and collaborative ethos.
  • It focuses on the tangible application of ideas into practice.
  • You will be able to tailor your project work based on your individual motivations.

What you will study

Students will study the human and environmental impacts of the mainstream fashion system throughout the entirety of the value chain. The programme will offer sustainable methodologies for the development of fashion businesses, services and practices. It will provide students with the knowledge and skills required to effect positive change through creative problem solving, and equip them with the management, business and creative decision-making skills to develop their own career path.

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Modules

Core modules for Teaching Block 1

The System of Fashion 1: Fashions impact

30 credits

This module addresses the diversity of impacts and challenges within the fashion system, giving students an in-depth understanding of the problems that perpetuate the unsustainability of the fashion industry from an ethical as well an environmental perspective. It connects the dots between appropriation, marginalisation, practice, and process by giving voice to alternative systems, people, and places. Lectures, presentations, and site visits will provide insight into the challenges the fashion system engenders, acting as a baseline for the exploration and identification of individual values to inform future work.

Sustainable and Ethical Practices

30 credits

This is a live project with direct interaction with an external stakeholder, intended to have a tangible outcome and based on human-centric design solutions for an under-represented group. Adaptive and universal design is used to tackle societal bias and stereotyping by presenting and sharing other stories, experiences, and histories. This is socially-centred design, with the objective of encouraging critical discourse about the culture of fashion inclusion and exclusion, diversity, and representation.

Core modules for Teaching Block 2

Design for Social Impact

30 credits

This module focuses on universal design in a broad context, with students working with either a local or global community in the development a collaborative response to a set of objectives and problems. This is an opportunity to revaluate the hierarchies embedded within the fashion system in the development of projects, skills, strategies, and trainings to support employability and integration into the greater community or industry. This is not a project ‘for' them, but ‘with' them, intended to develop products and skills and provide a focus for the community outside of their experience and history, offering new possible futures.

The System of Fashion 2: Design, Business and Operational Responses

30 credits

This module reviews the various business types and operational strategies that act as an alternative to business-as-usual profit only businesses. Content evaluates sustainable businesses that positively impact people, planet, or both, with a particular focus on the role that technology plays in the sustainability of business, product and operations. Lectures, workshops, and site visits provide insight into the breadth of creative responses to the fashion industry's challenges, by sharing concrete examples of designers, brands, agencies, and technologies disrupting the system effectively.

Core modules for Teaching Block 3

Capstone Project

60 credits

The capstone project offers students the opportunity to challenge the status quo through their personal practice, impacting social, cultural, environmental, and ethical norms across a myriad of expressions and outputs, by encouraging them to push boundaries with radical outputs with transformational potential. Outcomes must be implementable and can include business or brand development, products, services, systems, strategies, websites, apps, communication vehicles, magazines, websites, film, e-zines and exhibitions without restriction, as long as they affect positive change in some aspect of the fashion industry.

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

In order to apply, you'll need:

  • A 2:1 or above honours degree in a fashion or business-related undergraduate course including, but not limited to, fashion design, fashion buying, international business, retail, communication, product design or marketing.
  • A 300-word personal statement will be required as part of the submission criteria, that highlights your motivation for application.
  • Evidence of 3-to-5 examples of creative exploration that demonstrate forms of creative thinking via projects that show concern for social and environmental sustainability.  Examples can be in the form of writing (articles or essays that you've written); a website or app that you've built; a video, blog or social media account; products that you've made (i.e. garments, furniture, graphic design). You should include your development process, including notes, sketches, wire frames and prototypes that led to the final outcome. The selection of work should represent you and reflect your own interests, values and approach to problem solving and should be saved with all images combined into one PDF file not larger than 10MB in size.

International

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 recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Country-specific information

You will find more information on country specific entry requirements in the International section of our website.

Find your country:

Teaching and assessment

Guided independent study (self-managed time)

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.

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

15–25% of your time is spent in timetabled learning and teaching activity.

  • Scheduled learning and teaching: 360 hours
  • Guided independent study (self-managed time): 1,440 hours
  • Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.

How you will be assessed

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.

  • 100% coursework

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 20 students and group sizes are normally 10–12. However, this can vary by module and academic year.

Who teaches this course?

This course will be taught by leading academics and practitioners in sustainable and ethical fashion, business and technology.

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.

Postgraduate students may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader.

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
  • project work and workshops with visiting lecturers and industry specialists.

Our excellent reputation means that industry leaders regularly visit our student shows to see the best of the new talent.

Fees for this course

2023/24 fees for this course

Home 2023/24

  • MA full time £10,900
  • MA part time £5,995

International 2023/24

  • MA full time £18,700
  • MA part time £10,285

2022/23 fees for this course

Home 2022/23

  • MA full time £10,640

International 2022/23

  • MA full time £18,200

Funding and bursaries

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:

Additional costs

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.

Textbooks

Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. You may prefer to buy your own copy of key textbooks, this can cost between £50 and £250 per year.

Computer equipment

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 Wi-Fi 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.

Photocopying and printing

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

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.

Facilities

You'll use our studio spaces and facilities to experiment and explore new ways to push the boundaries of projects and open discourse across disciplines. As a Fashion student, you'll have access to our working dress archive, the Benenden Fashion Archive, which features pieces dating from 1750 to present day.

Collaborative and multi-disciplinary teamwork is actively encouraged between students, across faculty courses, international institutions and with industry.

Throughout the course, you'll be encouraged to explore and develop expertise in current design approaches, techniques, media, and application including branding, editorial, interactive design, packaging and 3D design, advertising, information design, digital moving image, sustainable and experiential design.

After you graduate

The Sustainable Fashion Business and Practices curriculum helps to prepare students for a multitude of sustainably-focused undertakings and employment opportunities. These range from brand development, products, systems, models, and services, communication vehicles, not limited to medium, and expressed both physically as well as digitally through to websites, blogs, aps, magazines, e-zines, exhibitions, installations and more. This course will address the gap between intent and the in-depth knowledge required for diverse application.

The curriculum prepares students for a rapidly shifting industry where the old models of career development no longer apply, impacted as they have been by the fourth industrial revolution, climate change, the global pandemic and a myriad of social and cultural movements that have shifted our collective value systems. Students may choose to set up their own international business or freelance across the creative and production industries.

Students are trained to develop their own work profiles as independent practitioners and advisors as well as to integrate into the brand and corporate world across markets, with sustainability an increasing focus for all entities, allowing students the flexibility to enter into non-fashion specific roles.

We encourage research practice during the MA programme, with the potential to develop postgraduate practice at MPhil and PhD level.

Links with business and industry

This course incorporates live briefs with sector partners that encompass for-profit brands, social enterprises, not for profits and governmental and non-governmental agencies such as the Design Council, Ethical Fashion Initiative, Fashion Revolution, and ReDress in pursuit of social and environmental sustainability. A characteristic of the programme is a shared connection with other like-minded individuals and organisations that share values and purpose, whether between peers, faculty, guest lecturers, or external organisations.

Research areas

  • Sustainability (economic, environmental, social & cultural) including CSR.
  • Textile and production innovation.
  • Fashion systems including supply & value chain.
  • Innovation & technology in fashion services.