Postgraduate study

Design and Digital Media MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Design and Digital Media

The Design and Digital Media programme offers opportunities for you to develop new and existing skills and insights in the creative use of current and emerging 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

Teaching is 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, exploring 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.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MSc1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2020/21
MSc2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2020/21

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 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.

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; please contact us to check before you apply.

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 or participate in an interview via Skype.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

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

English language tests

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 20 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

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 or Trinity ISE, 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.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MSc1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MSc2 YearsPart-timeTuition 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, and your residency 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.

Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2021/22:

Round Application deadline Places awarded by
1 6 November 2020 18 December 2020
2 15 January 2021 2 March 2021
3 22 March 2021 10 May 2021
4 28 May 2021 9 July 2021
5 30 June 2021 9 August 2021

You must submit one reference with your application.

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