Postgraduate study

Interior, Architectural and Spatial Design MA (eca)

Awards: MA (eca)

Study modes: Full-time

Funding opportunities

The main aim of this programme is to support you in establishing your own definitions and approaches to the diverse and controversial subjects of interior, space and design. Addressing and questioning current spatial, interior and architectural theory, alongside the development of creative design projects, you will develop the skills needed for you to practice that definition.

We will encourage and support you in investigating your own innovative design solutions.

Design projects

We use the city of Edinburgh as a focus for our projects, and define interiors in the context of the city. Each year we base the design projects in an historic building often belonging to a key institution. You will explore the design potential of this by proposing new uses for old or redundant spaces through the design of contemporary insertions. You will be required to engage with the given site through a variety of research and analysis methods to support your iterative design process, and theoretical development. Working on design projects of varying scale and complexity, you will develop your interior practice within a professional context supported by engagement with relevant industry codes; but at the same time, innovative and abstract design solutions are encouraged.

Self-directed study

Working with our experienced staff, you will be required to take charge of the direction of your coursework, and undertake self-directed study. On completion of the course you will be expected to produce a reflective body of work summarising your journey and development as a Master of Interior, Architectural and Spatial Design.

Running over three consecutive semesters, this programme integrates design work with theoretical and written studies, including professional practice elements, to prepare you for employment in the industry or further academic study. The aim of the programme is to encourage and support postgraduate students who wish to explore interior, architectural and spatial design as a means of expressing ideas and opinions. The programme is composed of core and elective courses.

Semesters 1 and 2 are both split into three courses of 20 Credits covering design practice and theoretical studies within the field of design.

Semester 1

In semester 1 core courses are:

  • Adapting Interior
  • Reading Interiors

Both are taught by IASD staff and focus on the chosen site.

The remaining course is theoretical and you will have a series of options to choose from . It is delivered by colleagues in Design and Screen Cultures.

Semester 2

In semester 2 the core courses are:

  • Connecting Interiors (taught by IASD staff)
  • Disseminating Design Practice (taught by colleagues in Design and Screen Cultures)

Your final course in this semester is an elective choice, and you are encouraged to undertake a course outside of interior design to develop your design thinking beyond interiors, and to gain valuable experience in a related field.

Summer semester

The final summer semester consists of a single 60 credit course:

  • Intersections

You will be required to synthesise a final design project and reflect upon and summarise your experiences on all courses, in relation to your interior, architectural and spatial design paradigm.

Within this semester you will also engage with a dissemination project to showcase your work in progress. This may be in the form of:

  • a theoretical solution, or
  • part of a live event

At the end of this semester you will demonstrate your learning through the programme with the production of a critically reflective and professionally produced portfolio.

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
MA (eca)1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2020/21

To successfully engage and complete this programme students will be expected to do the following;

  • Critically engage with and analyse the characteristics of an aspect of a given interior, through a variety of theoretical lenses, with a view to making original proposals for its adaptation.

  • Use a significant range of forefront professional skill, techniques, practices and materials conceive, develop, and resolve original detailed designs for the adaptation of an aspect of a given interior.

  • Communicate, using appropriate methods, diverse understandings and proposals for the adaptation of an aspect of a given interior to a range of audiences with different levels of knowledge/expertise, including peers, more senior colleagues and specialists.

  • Using autonomy and judgement, compose in text a critically constructed, original and personal definition of ‘the interior’

  • Apply varying interior, architectural and spatial theories, through a range of special research techniques and enquiry in the formulation of a brief for a given interior.

  • Exercise autonomy and initiative in developing masterplan responses to complex problems in a given interior.

  • Communicate to a range of audiences a cohesive creative solution of outline scheme design.

  • Apply critical analysis to a body of work in relation to a given site, and using informed judgement, develop a synthesised design response to it.

  • Develop and realise an original creative response to the practice of professional dissemination within the context of interior, architectural and spatial design.

  • Communicate professionally an edited and critically analysed body of work practices in response to the presentation of a body of self-generated work relating to the programme.

We have a strong track record of graduates working in interior design and architectural practices both here in the UK and overseas, or setting up their own businesses.

Graduates have also gone on to undertake further academic study at masters or PhD level around the world.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent, in a relevant subject such as interior design, interior architecture, architecture, landscape architecture, product design or 3D design.

You must submit a portfolio as part of your application. Your portfolio should include:

  • completed interior, architectural, spatial or landscape projects undertaken individually or as part of a group (please note that you should state your involvement in the group projects)
  • evidence of hand drawing, sketching, model making, orthographic drawing and rendered visuals
  • engagement with materials and detailing
  • work demonstrating a range of research methods and lines of enquiry
  • development work, demonstrating the iterative design process, as well as finished projects.

As part of your portfolio, you are encouraged to include a personal video, no more than 2 minutes long, talking about your best piece of work.

As part of the application process, you must submit a personal statement and CV. Your personal statement should include why you want to study at ECA and what you feel you would contribute to the programme. You may also be invited to interview via phone or Skype.

Selection will be made on key criteria:

  • research: what has generated your design ideas and what methods did you use to support this?
  • conceptual ambition: what are the big ideas driving your work? How are you questioning current design thinking ?
  • development: how have you developed those ideas in your project work through the iterative design process?
  • resolution: how have projects been resolved and communicated?
  • awareness: what do you consider interior, architectural and spatial design to be, and where does your work sit within the discipline?
  • evidence of exploring interior, architectural and spatial design through a number of media including hand sketching, model making, 3D visualisations

If you do not meet the academic entry requirements, we may still consider your application on the basis of your portfolio and/or relevant professional experience.

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
MA (eca)1 YearFull-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
  • 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

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit one reference with your application.

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