Postgraduate study

Product Design

Awards: MA (eca)

Study modes: Full-time

Funding available

Programme website: Product Design

Our programme centres on the exploration of problem spaces, understanding that much of what product designers do is redefine and reinterpret products and their contexts, enabling people to lead engaged, productive and meaningful lives.

Product design is a broad discipline, which we understand through an ethnomethodological lens. At the heart of our programme are people; particularly those who currently struggle with existing objects in identified circumstances. We embrace a variety of approaches to people-centred design practice including participatory action research; affective design; design for disruption and inclusive design. The core of our approach is to speculate and build preferred futures, based on design-led evidence constructed through observation and engagement with others. Our aim is to understand the agency of objects and configure intended impacts on communities of people moving through and across various services and systems.

You will join a vibrant, international community of creative practitioners and researchers. We are involved in a variety of research interests relevant to design production, maintaining partnerships in allied disciplines such as engineering, informatics, anthropology, sociology, health and business.

There are two semesters in your first year, each providing the opportunity to engage three courses: one core requirement, and two elective options from supporting programmes relevant to the ethos of the programme.

Core courses foster exploration and development of ethnomethodological approaches to product design research and development, with a strong emphasis on action research, ethnographic observation, participation and prototyping, driven through a strong iterative approach to practice.

One-year MA degree

If you choose to pursue the one year MA degree, you will engage your dissertation in the summer period following the first year of study, focusing on the development of an individual project which emphasises product theory in context.

Emphasis on the MA degree pathway is to prepare students with interests in design management, policy or direction, or pursuing further academic research programmes such as the PhD.

Two-year MFA degree (Under review for 2018 entry)

Students enrolled on the two year MFA degree demonstrate interest in pursuing a career as autonomous designers, often establishing their own studios of practice.

In Year 2 of the MFA, you will undertake an additional four courses, with a core component in semester 1 entitled "Incubator", which is designed to help develop your skills in researching, developing and delivering a practice-led thesis.

The MFA dissertation takes place in your final semester, and culminates in the presentation of a significant body of work presented in exhibition format, showcasing exceptional skills in making, prototyping and manufacturing of high-quality, proof of concept models which articulate your understanding of theory in practice through artefacts, images and text relevant to people-centred design.

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 ArtProduct Design21 MonthsFull-timeProgramme structure 2018/19
MA (eca)Product Design1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2018/19

The professional knowledge, skills and abilities developed on this programme will prepare you for a rewarding career as a product/industrial designer, designer-maker, user-experience designer, user-interface designer, design manager, production manager, or a variety of other related roles within design-related industries.

Our graduates have an excellent track record moving into employment in a variety of sectors following graduation.

Normally a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a subject relevant to designing products with an emphasis on people, such as: product design, 3d design interior design and/or architecture.

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

  • excellent ability to think critically through drawing and making
  • strong ability to critically analyse current situations involving the interactions between people and products​
  • strong ability to communicate preferred design-​led future situations through the development and resolution of drawings, models, prototypes, and mock-ups in various physical and material media formats
  • strong understanding of contemporary design challenges and themes relevant to designed products and the people for whom they are designed
  • ability to engage people centred research activities relevant to product design
  • a high level of individuality, originality and creativity

Your portfolio should also include a personal video, no more than 3 minutes long​, in which you give insights into three artefacts. After introducing yourself to the camera you should describe:

  • the qualities of an old artefact and why it interests you
  • a contemporary artefact and why you consider it relevant
  • an artefact from your portfolio (from the future) and why it embodies your interests​

We would like to see these artefacts in your hands and will listen carefully to how you express ideas about each artefact.

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

For 2018/19 entry, all applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS: total 6.5 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 (at least 20 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 61 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

For 2019/20 entry, all applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)
  • PTE(A): 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

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than three years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
  • College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Postgraduate Office, The University of Edinburgh
  • David Hume Tower, George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JX

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. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit a reference with your application.

Your application should demonstrate being informed by allied disciplines in the humanities, including (but not limited to) social anthropology, sociology, science and technology studies, business.

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

  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
  • College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Postgraduate Office, The University of Edinburgh
  • David Hume Tower, George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JX