Postgraduate study
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Design Informatics MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Design Informatics

Design informatics combines data science with design thinking in a context of critical enquiry to create compelling and meaningful new data-driven experiences, products and services.

The central premise of design informatics 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.

Our programme focuses on providing foundational skills on the integration of design thinking and data science with an emphasis on exploring the role of data-driven technologies in society and the potential of such technologies to be a social good. Students are supported to develop an ethically aware, critically reflective technical 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 learn?

The programme will provide foundational and advanced knowledge in:

  • Fundamentals of data science and its integration into design processes
  • Methods of user research, end user co-design and speculative design
  • Programming for data visualisation, data physicalisation, physical computing and responsive materials
  • Data ethics and its application in research and practice

You will connect data-driven technology with contexts and domains, such as:

  • Societal challenges and sustainable development goals
  • Health and care
  • Fashion
  • Finance
  • Urban spaces and smart cities

You will also look at a host of other real-world contexts through case studies as well as individual and collaborative projects.

You will also touch on the ways in which emergent developments in artificial intelligence impact design processes and the ways in which we experience new products and services.

Throughout the programme, you will be working both individually and in teams of designers and computer scientists. Everyone will have to write code during the course, and everyone will have to make physical objects.

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

Compulsory courses

  • Design Informatics: Histories and Futures
  • Data Science for Design
  • Case Studies in Design Informatics 1
  • Design with Data
  • Design Informatics Project
  • Masters Dissertation

In Design with Data, you are likely to work with an external partner, such as the Royal Bank of Scotland, Edinburgh City Council, or the National Museum of Scotland.

Candidates with a background in digital design, industrial design, art, architecture, and related subjects are expected to apply to the MA in Design Informatics, which is the partner programme administered by Edinburgh College of Art.

Option courses

In addition to the compulsory courses, you can choose 1-2 elective courses from the Masters programmes in the:

  • School of Informatics
  • Edinburgh College of Art
  • Edinburgh Futures Institute
  • other schools in the College of Science and Engineering
  • other in schools in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

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
MScDesign Informatics1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2023/24

This degree will put you at the cutting edge of the intersection between data science, design, and information technology.

This will open a host of opportunities in working with companies, charities, and the public sector. We encourage entrepreneurship.

For those who wish to deepen their research practice, the course provides a solid foundation for a PhD in related areas.

You will be based in the School of Informatics’ main teaching building, Appleton Tower. The building provides purpose-built facilities and dedicated learning and teaching spaces, all located in the University's Central Area.

IT facilities include computer labs with more than 250 high-spec machines and comprehensive support provided by dedicated computing staff.

The Informatics Student Experience Team is based within the Student Services in Appleton Tower.

If you take courses from other Schools, these might be delivered in the Nucleus building, on the University's Kings Buildings Campus.

Take a virtual tour

Take a closer look at all our facilities on the University’s Virtual Visit site:

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.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in computer science, informatics, artificial intelligence, physics, engineering, psychology, philosophy, linguistics, or neuroscience.

Your application should show evidence of solid computer programming skills in a programming language; HTML and web design do not count, but relevant mathematical and statistical scripting languages such as R and Matlab do. This evidence can be either a certificate in a relevant MOOC, or a course in programming that you have successfully passed. If your degree involves a final project, your mark in that project should be a B or higher.

Your personal statement should discuss why you are interested in the programme, as outlined above and on the Centre for Design Informatics web site, your background or interest in design, art, and information visualisation, and your relevant programming skills.

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 6.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 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 176 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 62 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 three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Deposit

If you receive an offer of admission you will need to pay a deposit to secure your place.

  • £1,500 (this contributes towards your tuition fees)

Find out more about tuition fee deposits:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScDesign Informatics1 YearFull-timeTuition fees

School of Informatics scholarships

You can find funding opportunities, tuition fees and costs of living for prospective UK and international postgraduate students on the University website.

You are also encouraged to undertake your own research into the range of potential scholarships and other funding outside the University for which you may be eligible.

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Informatics
  • 11 Crichton Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LE
Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2024 31 March 2024

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines.

We strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications may close earlier than the published deadlines if there is exceptionally high demand.

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.

We aim to make the majority of decisions within eight weeks of the selection deadline.

If we have not made you an offer by a specific selection deadline this means one of two things:

  • your application has been unsuccessful, in which case we will contact you to let you know, or
  • your application is still being considered, will be carried forward for consideration in the next selection deadline and we will be in touch once a decision is made

Selection Deadlines

Round Application Deadline Decisions made or applications rolled to next deadline
1 15 December 1 March
2 31 March 31 May
3 31 May 31 July

You must submit one reference with your application.

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

Further information

  • School of Informatics
  • 11 Crichton Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9LE