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 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.

The programme covers the study and design of interior spatial solutions in relation to a wide range of public and private environments. We will encourage and support you in investigating your own innovative design solutions. You will explore the design potential of existing buildings and find new uses for old or redundant spaces through the design of contemporary insertions. We use the city of Edinburgh as a focus for our projects, and define interiors in the context of the city.

Working on 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.

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 practical studio 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.

Semesters 1 and 2 are both split into three courses of 20 Credits. In semester 1 these are divided between design practice and theoretical studies within the field of design. In semester 2 you will undertake further design and theoretical courses, but also have an elective choice. For this elective element 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.

The final semester consists of a single 60 credit course in which you are required to reflect upon and summarise your experiences on all courses, in relation to your interior paradigm. Within this third semester you will also be required to engage with an exhibition project, to showcase your work in progress, either in Edinburgh or as part of the Interior Educators Free Range Show in London. At the end of this semester you will demonstrate this learning through the production of a critically reflective and professionally produced portfolio.

Both design and theoretical projects are based in historic or significant buildings in Edinburgh, often in need of regeneration, or important to communities and the wider city. You will be required to engage with these sites through a variety of research and analysis methods to support your iterative design process, and theoretical development.

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

  • Critically engage with and analyse the characteristics 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 a given interior.
  • Communicate, using appropriate methods, diverse understandings and proposals for the adaptation 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 a critically constructed, original and personal definition of ‘the interior’
  • Apply the theory of social spaces theory, through a range of special research techniques and enquiry in the formulation of a brief.
  • Exercise autonomy and initiative in developing responses to complex problems.
  • Communicate to a range of audiences a cohesive creative solution.
  • Apply critical analysis to a body of work, and using informed judgement, demonstrate its relationship to current issues in interior design.
  • Develop and realise an original creative response to the practice of professional display and exhibition within the context of interior, architectural and spatial design.
  • Communicate professionally a range of original techniques and practices in response to the presentation of a body of self-generated work.

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.

(*Revised 1 October 2019 to reflect changes in the CV and personal statement submission process.)

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

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

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)

  • 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, PTE Academic 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)Interior, Architectural and Spatial Design1 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, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Acting Programme Director, Professor Ed Hollis
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5724
  • Contact:
  • 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

  • Acting Programme Director, Professor Ed Hollis
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5724
  • Contact:
  • Postgraduate Admissions Office
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 57 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JU