Postgraduate study

Design Informatics Master of Fine Art, MA (eca)

Awards: Master of Fine Art, MA (eca)

Study modes: Full-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Design Informatics

Design informatics combines data science with design thinking in a context of critical enquiry and speculation.

We build a value-aware, reflective practice at the interface between data and society by combining theory and research with an open-ended process of making and hacking. 

What will I study?

Human activity is being constantly shaped by the flow of data and the intelligences that process it, moving towards an algorithmically mediated society.

Design informatics asks how we can create products and services within this world, that learn and evolve, that are contextualised and humane.

It asks questions about what we should create, speculating about the different futures we might be building and the values behind them. 

The central premise is that data is a medium for design: by shaping data, we shape the world around us. Data science provides the groundwork for this, with design thinking underpinning reflective research through design.

You will use this in working with:

  • the internet of things and physical computing
  • machine learning
  • speech and language technology
  • usable privacy and security
  • data ethics
  • block chain technologies

You will connect technology with:

  • society
  • health
  • architecture
  • fashion
  • bio-design
  • craft
  • finance
  • tourism
  • other real world contexts

You will:

  • do this through case studies
  • individual and collaborative projects

You will also understand user experience in the wider sociocultural context, through an agile programme of hacking, making and materialising new products and services. 

Read more about the Design Informatics Masters on the programme website: 

Please be aware that the structure of this programme may change.

You will work both individually and in teams of designers and computer scientists. Everyone will have to write code and make physical objects during the programme.

Several courses, including your dissertation, will involve presenting the artefact, product, service, or interactive experience you have created to the general public.

What you will study

  • Design Informatics: Histories and Futures
  • Data Science for Design
  • Case Studies in Design Informatics 1
  • Design with Data and a Design Informatics Project (both likely to include work with an external partner such as the Royal Bank of Scotland, Amazon, Edinburgh City Council, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh or the National Museum of Scotland)
  • 20 credits of optional courses

MA students then complete their dissertation.

MFA students

MFA students will complete:

  • a summer placement with a digital organisation
  • case Studies in Design Informatics 2
  • 40 credits of optional courses
  • a dissertation

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
Master of Fine Art21 MonthsFull-timeProgramme structure 2020/21
MA (eca)1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2020/21

This programme will put you at the cutting edge of the intersection between:

  • data science
  • design
  • information technology

The programme will open a host of opportunities in working with:

  • companies
  • charities
  • the public sector

We encourage entrepreneurship.

For those who wish to stay in academia, the course provides a solid foundation for a PhD in related areas. 

Normally a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in any subject relevant to themes within design informatics.

You may be asked to provide a video or participate in an interview via Skype.

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

  • a high degree of contemporary thinking, creativity and originality

  • evidence of high quality and original research using recognisable methods (qualitative and/or quantitative)

  • examples of sketchbook work or design process development

  • examples of prototyping processes, including ability in manipulating materials or graphics

  • evidence of ability to use design thinking in the development of ideas

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
Master of Fine Art21 MonthsFull-timeTuition fees
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