Postgraduate study
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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 theoretical and design skills needed for you to practice that definition.

We will encourage you to:

  • question, provoke and expand current thinking
  • address key contemporary issues in the field such as:

    • equality
    • diversity
    • inclusion
    • sustainability
  • investigate your own innovative design solutions that address the future of interior, architectural and spatial design.

Around 50 to 60 students from various countries and backgrounds participate in our programme, allowing all to benefit from multiple viewpoints on the subject.

Design projects

We use Edinburgh as a focus for our projects, and define interiors in the context of the city. Each year we base the design projects within a particular site, or institution.

You will:

  • explore the design potential of this by proposing new uses for old or redundant spaces within the site or institution
  • engage with a variety of research and analysis methods, to support your iterative design process and theoretical development
  • work on design projects of varying scale and complexity
  • develop your interior practice in a professional context
  • receive support through engagement with relevant industry codes; but at the same time, we encourage you to find innovative and abstract design solutions
  • look at the subject through varying lenses from an urban to a material and detail scale
  • need to have a robust working knowledge of digital and manual drawing skills in both two and three-dimensions to support the creation and presentation of your work
  • engage in art school studio culture and collaborate with colleagues and staff in a studio setting

    Self-directed study

Working with our experienced staff, we expect you to take charge of the direction of your coursework, and undertake self-directed study utilising the various facilities provided by the University.

On completion of the course, we expect you to produce a reflective body of work summarising your journey and development as a Master of Interior, Architectural and Spatial Design.

This programme runs over three consecutive semesters. It integrates design work with theoretical and written studies to develop you as a designer and prepare you for a future in 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 and is full-time.

Semesters 1 and 2 are both split into 3 courses of 20 Credits each covering design practice and theoretical studies within the field of design. The summer semester consists of a single 60 credit course.

Semester 1

In Semester 1, the two core courses are:

  • Adapting Interior
  • Reading Interiors

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

The remaining 20 credit course is an elective choice. The courses available have a more theoretical and written focus and are delivered by other colleagues in ECA.

Semester 2

In Semester 2, the two core courses are:

  • Connecting Interiors (taught by IASD staff and focusing on the chosen site)
  • Disseminating Design Practice (delivered by other colleagues in ECA)

Your final course in this semester is an elective choice. You are encouraged to undertake a course that will develop your design thinking beyond interiors to gain valuable experience in a related field.

You may take suitable electives courses from anywhere within the University. Options vary each year and are dependent on level, availability and timetable suitability.

Summer semester

The final summer semester consists of a single core course:

  • Intersections

In this course, you will be required to undertake three different tasks. You will be required to synthesise a final design project, focusing on the chosen site. The brief for this project will be determined by yourself, and evolve from the lenses through which you have already investigated the chosen site.

Within this semester you will also engage with a dissemination project to showcase your work in progress. This may take the form of a theoretical solution or part of a live event. It will include group and individual engagement in relation to a proposed solution.

At the end of this semester, you will produce a critically reflective and professionally produced portfolio, which summarises your experiences on all courses, in relation to your own interior, architectural and spatial design paradigm.

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)Interior, Architectural and Spatial Design1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2023/24

To successfully engage and complete this programme, we expect students 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 to 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, write 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.
  • Show independence 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 on completion of the programme.

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

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 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 submission, you should 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.

Selection will be made on a variety of key criteria:

  • engagement with existing buildings: how does your work demonstrate an understanding of and engagement with the opportunities of a specific building or site?
  • 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.

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 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 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 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 59 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:

Additional costs

Students should allow up to £500 a year for material costs to cover the four core design courses (£125 per course) in relation to items such as:

  • sketchbooks
  • drawing equipment
  • printing
  • artefact
  • model and artefact making materials

Depending on students' choice of materials this could be less, and the use of recycled and reused materials is encouraged.

Printing requirements on the programme will be kept to a minimum with electronic submissions used in the majority of situations. Please note other courses may have associated costs and students should contact the course organiser of those directly with any further queries.

Tuition fees

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
  • 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.

Please be aware that applications must be submitted and be complete, i.e. all required documents uploaded, by the relevant application deadline in order to be considered in that round. Your application will still be considered if you have not yet met the English language requirement for the programme.

Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2024/25:

Round Application deadline Places awarded by
1 06 November 2023 14 December 2023
2 08 January 2024 29 February 2024
3 20 March 2024 10 May 2024
4 14 June 2024 24 July 2024

(Revised 26 October 2023 to add application deadlines)

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