Postgraduate study

Material Practice

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time

Funding available

Programme website: Material Practice

We live in a material world, materials form the spaces in which we live and the objects that we use. Materials create and, unfortunately, may destroy the environments that we inhabit. Even in an increasing digital age in which the global economy and market continues to expand, the physical nature of materials is always present but it changes and is subject to contextual particularities, such as traditional practices, availability of resource and skills, emerging materials and technologies such as digital fabrication.

The programme focuses on process; the direct experience of using and making with materials; how materials are used in creative works, design and production; how new opportunities and ideas may evolve through reflective practice.

The programme employs a cross disciplinary approach and uses the workshops and expertise across Edinburgh College of Art. You will work with many materials including glass, textiles, metals, timber and concrete. You will also access and use various methods of digital fabrication such as additive manufacture and CNC routing and laser cutting.

The programme addresses directly important contemporary issues of economy, inclusion and sustainability, through the practical, collaborative and individual projects.

The programme is available to students from a variety of design and creative material practice, art, design, craft, and architecture backgrounds and from more traditional technologically based disciplines, such as engineering, looking to expand their skills and understanding in both material techniques and collaborative practice.

The programme is largely workshop- and studio-based. You will gain experience and expertise from a variety of tutors, support staff and technicians.

Periods will be spent in different workshops of the ECA, to explore materials and technique including: metals, glass, textiles and architecture.

As you progress through the programme you will acquire both skills and understanding of various materials, apply these in a series of projects that consider contemporary issues, culminating in a self-directed project, developed from your own experience.

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
MScMaterial Practice1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2017/18

The MSc in Material Practice seeks to provide core learning outcomes:

  • To understand and develop further skills in materials technique and processes
  • To explore and develop cross disciplinary design and creative practice
  • To understand the evolving nature of material practice and digital fabrication
  • To understand explore contemporary issues and themes through material investigations
  • To formulate and undertake cross-disciplinary research in materials and material practice

Opportunities exist with the many and various cross-disciplinary practices that operate in design professions such as product design, manufacturing, architecture and art practice.

Graduates can direct their career, having furthered their skills, explored and developed cross disciplinary design and creative practice and explored contemporary issues and themes. During the programme there will be opportunities to meet with other designers and industries.

The programme will also help those that wish to develop their own practice as fabricators, designers, artists or contractors.

Normally a UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent.

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

  • engagement with materials, through practice or design
  • that you understand the importance of material processes, that you document the fabrication, the construction and assembly of projects that you have worked on (portfolios often focus only on the finished objects; we are interested to see the development stages of the objects, experiments, trials and prototypes)
  • some evidence of an ability to work directly with materials, such as casting, printing fabrication etc

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

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

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.

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