School of Art, Design and Architecture

MDes Design

Programme code 7661

1 year

Course type


Study location Plymouth

This programme aligns with contemporary trends stressing the role of designers for global prosperity, driving innovation, and speculating with new, sustainable, and material futures. Using both traditional processes and emerging technological innovations the MDes allows you to develop as an Interior Designer (spaces), Designer Maker (materials) or Industrial Designer (product) with opportunities to collaborate with design practices such as Creative Media, Architecture or Games Design.


Careers with this subject

Our design projects and programme develops and creates adaptable graduates with a variety of industry skills, who are knowledgeable and professionally aligned to today's job opportunities. Our masters could lead to a career as a startup, a consultant or designer working in a design agency, urban and interior design, a service designer or bespoke maker, or many other roles in the industry. Your transferable creative and technology skills could also lead to employment as a designer, consultant or employee in other creative and tech industries. Career development, entrepreneurship and employability are integral to the course through partnerships with industry and public sector partners.

Key features

  • Personalise your masters. Choose an exit award to reflect your interest in a specific area of expertise.
  • Explore modern specalisations. You will develop design projects aligned with contemporary and emerging specialisations in the design sector such as interiors, products and new materials.
  • Choose your format. You can choose the final format of your research project, options include standard text-based dissertations, a design business proposal or a body of exhibited creative work.
  • Live projects. Gain valuable experience working on live projects with partners across Plymouth and abroad, respondng to real contexts and ethical issues.
  • Collaborate. Engage with students from areas such as experience design, architecture, creative media and games design.
  • Learn by doing. Through a process of learning-by-doing, students develop the skills required to produce creative outputs and research-oriented studies, gain an understanding of the application of technical knowledge to creative situations, and explore how theory and action inform each other.

Course details

  • Year 1

  • This programme offers a curriculum built to capitalise on the resources, expertise and cutting-edge skills training available in our Digital Fabrication and Immersive Media Labs and research-informed pedagogies built around key global challenges and social innovation.
    As part of a school-wide integrated approach to core module delivery, the programme also includes modules shared across the School of Art, Design and Architecture.

    Core modules

    • Situated Practice and Knowledge Exchange (ADA7200)

      This module supports students’ employability and career prospects by engaging with local communities, industrial partners and their broader professional field. Students will be able to situate their ideas within real world contexts, develop entrepreneurial skills, and deliver an external engagement proposition outlining the broader social, environmental, or economic extensions and impacts of their work.

    • Research Project / Dissertation (ADA7300)

      This module supports students’ delivery of their final research project / dissertation through combinations of group and individual work. It includes broader disciplinary research skills, methods and ethical practices, as well as subject-specific supervisory arrangements for each students’ research interests. This can include practice-based, text-based or entrepreneurial research outputs.

    • Design Terrains (MDES7101)

      Through a short series of fast-paced mini projects students will experience and complete a comprehensive design cycle, from inspiration to innovation. This will provide students with an understanding and appreciation of creative design processes that puts ‘users’ at the centre of design.

    • Design Catalysts (MDES7201)

      This module provides the opportunity to develop a design project and a critically underpinned project report. The practice-based project encourages innovation in addition to refinement of practice and skills and will result in a body of work on a selected topic, which will be underpinned by relevant research, analysis, critical reflection and professional preparation.

    Optional modules

    • Interaction Design (ADA7106E)

      This module will provide students with the creative and technical skills to apply interaction design strategies to develop and support their practice across a range of disciplines. Drawing from the technologies, techniques and tools typical of the Smart City, ubiquitous, mobile and wearable computing and Internet of Things (IoT), students will design and develop prototype systems that allow them to explore key issues relating to our lived environment.

    • Digital Fabrication (ADA7101E)

      This Module provides students with the advanced technical knowledge to develop their skills based on experimentation with novel materials, and cutting edge digital fabrication processes. Through a combination of technical inductions, lectures, and self-directed work in our Digital Fabrication Laboratory, students will be able to experiment with technologies such as advanced 3D printing and industrial CNC milling.

    • Spatial Storytelling (ADA7103E)

      Students will explore using narrative space to create emotionally engaging audience experiences by experimenting with a range of spatial storytelling methods and technologies. The development of skills as narrative architects and storytellers in immersive, interactive, locative, game, sound, art, film and/or performance-based experiences and installations will result in the creation of a spatial storytelling project.

    • Low Carbon Material Systems (ADA7104E)

      This Module will provide students with technical knowledge and understanding of the emerging low carbon agenda including concepts such as embodied carbon, sustainable supply chains, and circular economies, and will support students’ learning across a range of design, architecture, and built environment subjects.

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

MDes Design programme specification_7661

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Design your degree

Through the selection of a focused elective module, the MDes Design allows you to create a personalised program of study that aligns with topics relevant and important to you. 

Entry requirements

A 2:2 degree in Design (or similar design-related discipline such as Product Design, Digital Design, Design Engineering, Manufacturing, Interior Design, among others).
Suitable references from previous academic institutions and/or employers.
Applications must include a portfolio of work. Ideally, the portfolio of work includes evidence of work experience in the design sector.
English language requirements
If your first language is not English then evidence of English proficiency is required. The minimum IELTS score for acceptable English proficiency for entry is normally 6.5 with a minimum 5.5 in all four components.
We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary. 
For further advice on the appropriateness of overseas qualification and proficiency in the use of English, please contact our International Office at
If you would like an informal chat about MDes Master in Design please contact the programme leader at

Fees, costs and funding

Student 2023-2024 2024-2025
Home £9,500 £9,500
International £16,500 £17,600
Part time (Home) £530 £530
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. More information about fees and funding.

Postgraduate scholarships for international students

We offer several scholarships for international students wishing to study on this programme, including the  Postgraduate Taught International Student Scholarship, worth £2000 off your tuition fees.

Tuition fee discount for University of Plymouth graduates

If you studied your undergraduate degree at Plymouth, you may be eligible for a fee discount if you complete your postgraduate studies here as well.
  • 10% or 20% discount on tuition fees for home students 
  • For 2024/2025 entry, a 20% discount on tuition fees for international students (International alumni who have applied to the University through an agent are not eligible to receive the discount)

How to apply

When to apply
Most of our taught programmes begin in September. Applications can usually be made throughout the year, and are considered until programmes are full.
Before you apply
Familiarise yourself with the information required to complete your application form. You will usually be required to supply:
  • evidence of qualifications (degree certificates or transcripts), with translations if not in English, to show that you meet, or expect to meet the entry requirements
  • evidence of English language proficiency, if English is not your first language
  • a personal statement of approximately 250-400 words about the reasons for your interest in the course and outlining the nature of previous and current related experience. You can write this into the online application form, or include it as a separate document
  • your curriculum vitae or résumé, including details of relevant professional/voluntary experience, professional registration/s and visa status for overseas workers
  • proof of sponsorship, if applicable.
If you require further information take a look at our application guidance. 
Disability Inclusion Services
If you have an impairment, health condition or disability, learn about the additional support the University provides.
International students
Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office. Take a look at our how to apply information or email
Submitting an application
Once you are happy that you have all of the information required you can apply using our online postgraduate application form (the blue 'Apply now' icon on this page). 
What happens after I apply?
You will normally receive a decision on your application within four weeksof us receiving your application. You may be asked to provide additional information; two academic/professional references, confirming your suitability for the course; or to take part in an interview (which in the case of overseas students may be by telephone or video conference) and you will be sent a decision by letter or email.
We aim to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. Our Admissions and Course Enquiries team is on hand to offer help and can put you in touch with the appropriate faculty if you wish to discuss any programme in detail. 
If you would like any further information please contact the Admissions and Course Enquiries team:
Telephone: +44 (0)1752 585858
Admissions policy
More information and advice for applicants can be referenced in our admissions policy which can be found on the student regulations, policies and procedures page. Prospective students are advised to read the policy before making an application to the University.

Experiment with our state-of-the-art facilities

From printing workshops to dedicated photography darkrooms, you’ll have access to all the professional tools you need.

new test ceramics

Ceramics, casting and mould making workshops
Offering specialist ceramics, casting and mould making workshops for our arts students.

3D printer, digital fabrication laboratory

Digital Fabrication and Immersive Media Laboratories
Experiment with cutting-edge technology such as, 3D printing, motion-capture, augmented and extended reality.

Letterpress studio, Scott building

Printing and press studios
Students have access to a screen print studio, a letterpress studio and a traditional print studio

Metal Fabrication in the state-of-the-art Babbage Building

Our specialist open-access Metal Fabrication facility enables students to be exploratory and experimental, placing making at the core of their practice. Here they can discover hot and cold working and understand how metal as a material is applied and performs.

Learn from experienced professionals

  • Associate Head of School
    Design practice interests - craft, digital, material culture and sustainability
  • Lecturer in Industrial Design
    Furniture designer and a maker of objects interested in the notion of use
  • Associate Head of School (Marketing and Recruitment)
    Interested in impact of future focussed speculative spatial design on behaviour
  • Associate Lecturer
    Product design, industrial design, design, 3D design, creative industries
  • Lecturer in 3D Design - Design Maker
    Exploring the interrelations between digital fabrication and craft

International applicants

Postgraduate scholarships for international students
We offer several scholarships for international students wishing to study on this programme, including the International Academic Excellence Scholarship worth 50% off your tuition fees and the Postgraduate Taught International Student Scholarship worth £2000 off tuition fees.
Study with us
At the University of Plymouth, we have a thriving international community made up of 2,000 students from over 100 different countries.
International students at a welecome event at the University of Plymouth