Postgraduate study

Design for Change

Awards: MA (eca)

Study modes: Full-time

Funding available

Programme website: Design for Change

This exciting new programme is intended to foster a new breed of designer for the 21st century. As the world undergoes massive, accelerated change, communities, cultures and societies face various complex circumstances and systems, including disruptive technologies, aging populations, economic instability, conflict and displacement, and environmental degradation. This programme will address the complex, real world challenges these communities face through design-led interventions driven by tactical, critical, strategic and creative approaches. It places an expanded notion of design at the heart of the enterprise of social, technical and environmental change and nurtures an interdisciplinary approach to these complex circumstances.

Our approach understands designers as researchers. We combine traditional design practices with a sense of curiosity regarding uncertainty and instability and try to understand the diverse sociocultural perspectives and practices within these global challenges. The programme is ideal if you wish to broaden your existing specialist approaches with 21st century design skills that can be applied across intellectual and creative contexts including sociology, engineering, business, anthropology, geography, and design itself.

You will be taught through a series of Design Labs, which provide thematic focus to open project briefs, encouraging independent interpretation in the design studio. The labs aim to develop your skills, encouraging innovative use of analytical design research methods, application of contemporary synthetic approaches to producing and prototyping design-led insights and bleeding edge forms of communication, presentation and dissemination of design knowledge and future propositions for design-led interventions. You will choose option courses in design or from a range available across ECA and the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences. Finally, your independent dissertation will embrace student-led, situated and practical interventions and tackle real world contexts. It may be possible to undertake a work-based dissertation and apply your new skills in real world applications.

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)Design for Change1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2018/19

The programme will prepare you for a rewarding career as a designer, strategist, or consultant in a variety of private sector organisations, including design studios, and government or non-governmental organisations (NGOs). You may also consider a career in academia leading to new and exciting careers in emerging fields of inquiry including digital humanities, developmental studies, and emergent forms of design study and practice.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent

We also ask for evidence of your ability to communicate in non-textual forms as well as your motivation to engage in design-led practices which embrace a wide variety of media, materials and techniques. Each portfolio should contain two explicit components:

  • a 2 minute video where you introduce yourself and discuss a potential circumstance for change across one of the three programme themes (social, technical or environmental change). The video should showcase your ability to present complex subject matter supported by appropriate reference materials, which may include objects; images; visualisations; compositions; performance; drawing; writing; etc
  • a collection of visual support material (maximum 15 pages) which demonstrates your affinity and aptitude for engaging in creative, design-led, studio based work. This can be existing project work, a portfolio of drawings; sketchbook development; whatever exemplifies your creative approaches to thinking and communicating complex information and 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. Please contact us prior to applying for more information.

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 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.

You must submit a statement as part of 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