Postgraduate study
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Design and Digital Media MSc

Awards: MSc

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Design and Digital Media

The Design and Digital Media programme offers opportunities for you to develop skills and insights in the creative use of design practices and technologies for digital media across a range of uses and platforms. Based in a lively, collaborative environment, the programme provides a critical and reflective framework to explore practice-led design and digital media in commercial, cultural and social contexts.

What will I study?

Digital media technology is at the heart of modern life. At work, in education, in leisure and entertainment, even in sport, digital tools and devices are everywhere. How we communicate, our social life, the core of our society, is now based on digital media.

Design also continually shapes contemporary experience. The products and services we use, the environment we inhabit, the information we use, or are presented with, are all designed with specific intent. Things that are not themselves digital are commonly designed digitally.

Digital design requires a multi-perspective approach to developing media and interactive experiences, and this programme deals with the complex relationships between design and digital media.

Our programme is practice-led and there are significant demands on our students to create innovative design for, and with, digital media and technologies across a range of creative contexts that can include:

  • visual design
  • user interface and experience
  • interactive media
  • mobile web applications
  • animation
  • gaming
  • virtual environments

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical sessions and critique. Projects encourage original thinking and independent achievement within a framework of team-working and creative ability.

In the first semester, the programme focuses on developing design thinking and digital skills. You will explore approaches to design of interactive media and discussion of cultural theories about living and working with digital media. Teaching is through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical sessions and studios.

In the second semester, the focus moves to dynamic and data-driven web applications, immersive experiences such as game design, cross-disciplinary design and the artistic dimensions of design as creative practice. Students are given the option to include subjects offered by other Schools within ECA and across the wider University of Edinburgh.

The programme concludes with a self-directed but supervised research-led final design project over the summer period in an appropriate area of design and digital media.

Students will:

  • acquire and develop specific practice-led design knowledge in a context of a broadly-based foundation of digital media
  • develop their ability to work cooperatively in groups in the context of design
  • gain an understanding of reflective, analytical and critical frameworks that will enable them to identify and articulate the potential for advanced creative design with and for emerging media
  • understand of the scope and limitations of digital applications and practices in design
  • develop creative and commercial skills and experience appropriate to professional employment in design and digital media

Prospects for employment are diverse. During this programme, students create project work that may include:

  • integrated elements of graphic design and three dimensional modelling
  • interactive and immersive media
  • moving image and animation
  • user interfaces and user experience
  • augmented and virtual reality
  • web and mobile applications
  • creative coding
  • data visualisations
  • digital art installations

Our graduates work in all these areas, as well as:

  • advertising
  • education
  • journalism

The programme’s critical and reflective framework is also ideal if you are considering continuing on to advanced research at a doctoral level.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

Normally a UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent. The subject discipline is not as important as aptitude and commitment to study in this area.

Evidence of prior practical design and/or technology experience, either as part of your undergraduate degree or for personal and professional projects, is one of the criteria that we use when considering applications, and this will normally be reflected in academic transcripts. We may also consider your application if you have equivalent professional experience.

You must submit a portfolio as part of your application. Your portfolio should be a single PDF file. Please provide examples of your creative design and/or technology work to demonstrate your aptitude and commitment to working in this area, especially if your previous study is not primarily design and/or technology focused.

Examples of work can include images of your design work (e.g. illustration, graphic design, installations etc.), stills from and links to examples of your animations and motion graphics, application or website design and coding and other examples of interactive media. Make it clear which parts of the work you are responsible for and outline the context, processes and design thinking involved in producing the work.

For applicants without a design/technology-led degree, but with industry or other relevant experience, please outline your contribution to the development and delivery of design and digital projects.

As part of the application process, you must submit a personal statement and CV. You may also be asked to provide additional supporting material.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Additional costs

No additional costs

Tuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Postgraduate Admissions Office
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 57 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JU

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines. We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline when we will offer a proportion of the places available to applicants selected through a competitive process.

Please be aware that applications must be submitted and be complete, i.e. all required documents uploaded, by the relevant application deadline in order to be considered in that round. Your application will still be considered if you have not yet met the English language requirement for the programme.

Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2024/25:

Round Application deadline Places awarded by
1 06 November 2023 14 December 2023
2 08 January 2024 29 February 2024
3 20 March 2024 10 May 2024
4 14 June 2024 24 July 2024

(Revised 18 October 2023 to add in the staged admissions deadlines for the 2024/25 academic year)

Admission to this programme is highly competitive. Offers are rarely made to applicants who are not able to support their application with examples of high-quality creative activity.

You must submit a portfolio as part of your application. You won't be able to submit your portfolio immediately, but you'll receive an email prompt within a few days of submitting your application that will explain how to upload your portfolio.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Postgraduate Admissions Office
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 57 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JU