Design for Communication MA
View course-specific entry requirements
You should normally have a good first degree or a professional qualification in an area of art, design or visual media. Students with other first degrees will be considered, but will be required to show evidence that they possess some knowledge of, and a practice in, visual art or design. Home applicants will be asked to attend an interview with the course team. Overseas students will be asked to submit a portfolio either by post or electronically. It is essential that you have a good command of spoken and written English language (an IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent overall, with 5.5 in each element).
This Masters reflects the multidisciplinary nature of contemporary communications, bringing together key subject disciplines in visual communication including graphic design, moving image, digital media and illustration. The course will help you to develop the analytical skills and generate conceptual thinking needed to prepare for high-level professional practice.
We are committed to having a broad scope of activities on the course, from traditional graphic skills to future communication delivery methods. The course offers strong links to new media industries, and we work in collaboration with them, and use their advice and expertise, in the ongoing development of the course content.
This is an ambitious programme for students who want to realise their creative potential and self-reliance, working as a freelance or small business operators in the challenging and changing world of the creative communication industries.
The content of the course is industry focused, and encompasses issues central to contemporary design practice through a process of analysis, experimentation and the practical testing and implementation of creative ideas.
The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course. For more details on course structure and modules, and how you will be taught and assessed, see the full course document.
BUSINESS FOR DESIGN
In this module you will examine the professional context for design business, management and enterprise. Through a series of lectures and seminars the module will focus on practices appropriate to freelance and small businesses. You will examine key elements of professional practice, and gain insights into the design business through site visits and guest lectures from industry professionals. The module will give practical advice for starting up in business, covering topics including forming and naming your business, choosing and setting up premises, creative thinking and project management, copyright and intellectual property rights, and marketing and managing your business.
CRITICAL DEBATES IN DESIGN
You will address and review current visual, social and technological debates in design, and develop informed views on contemporary topics in design. The module will explore the role of the designer’s responsibilities in a social, cultural and economic sense, the role of the designer in communicating to audiences, and the construction of meaning in verbal and visual language. You will increase your awareness of debates and issues in the design field and hone your incisive thinking skills alongside technical abilities. You will develop an engaged reflective practice to make more effective use of your perceptions and discoveries, and work practically and creatively with reference to a wider cultural context.
DESIGN PROJECT A: VISUAL IDENTITY
During this module you will focus on visual identity and how an entity declares itself within an environment. Visual identity is one of the central tasks of design. Organisations previously described their identities as their ‘house style’, then their ‘corporate identity’; more recently the term ‘branding’ has been preferred. The module encourages the development of distinctive graphic and typographic visual language through visual identity for specific target audiences. You will develop a range of graphic and image-based solutions, through collaboration, group working and presentations of case studies, while building contacts with industry.
DESIGN PROJECT B: DESIGN AUTHORSHIP
Building on the experience you gain in Project A, in this module you will focus on publishing and design authorship, acquiring skills in areas such as editorial, magazine, book design, e-book, interactive and website design. You will examine the traditional role of the designer as facilitator, the use of design to communicate other peoples’ messages, and the notion of ‘designer as author’. You can work on competitions, external projects, collaborative cross-course projects, and self-defined projects, as appropriate, and wherever possible we will run training sessions and workshops, to give you the chance to improve your existing visual communication skills and develop new ones.
DESIGN RESEARCH METHODS
This module enables you to develop your research skills and methods at a deeper level, in preparation for further study at doctorate level and for professional practice. It introduces the field of design research as an analytical and practical tool for designers, and establishes the role of critical thinking as a support to the development of an engaged design practice. Theoretical models of design analysis covered include semiotics, communication theory, systematic approaches, semantics and discourse theory. The emphasis will be on why we do what we do and how we can ensure it is effective, through research testing, feedback and a rigorous approach to design.
This module enables individual students and student teams to initiate, produce, manage and present a comprehensive design project. The major project is a summation of experience in which you focus your interests, skills and aspirations as designers, and express them in a substantial project. The intended target audience, design strategy, design exploration, research testing, concept development and the chosen mode of presentation of the finished concepts, are among the key issues you will cover and implement. This project will showcase your potential as a visual communication designer and demonstrate your ability to work at a high level of professional practice.
As a graduate from this course you will be well placed to work across all sectors of the design and visual communications industries. You will have the knowledge and background to consider setting up your own design company, or to work on a freelance basis within this lively and expanding sector, building on your expertise and potential to be influential within the visual communication industry.
Peter Smith, Course Leader
Peter is a branding and communications design consultant at Openmind Design Consultancy. His strengths are brand strategy development, communications audits, brand and visual identity design, internal and external communications design.
His experience covers working as a creative director on major international and European brand identity programmes for Accenture, Aer Lingus, BAA, Barclays, Courtaulds, ECA, Heritage Lottery Fund, Hogg Robinson, KONE, National Museum Wales, Odeon Cinemas, Sasol Chevron, Toyota, and VisitBritain.
His previous experience with Luxon Carra, Dialog and Lloyd Northover was as a director in creative and project management roles. He has been responsible for naming, brand design, literature design, conventional and online design guidelines, online communications, corporate advertising and interior design projects for a wide range of clients in a variety of business sectors.
Peter qualified as a fellow and membership assessor for the Chartered Society of Designers and gained an MA from the Royal College of Art. He has won awards from the New York Art Directors Club and the New York Type Directors Club. He is a recipient of the Minerva Award for corporate identity design.
He has lectured in graphic design at De Montfort University, Central Saint Martins, University of Plymouth, Ravensbourne, Middlesex University, and the University of Westminster.
Visit Peter Smith's profile page.
Andy Vella, Senior Lecturer
Graphic designer and photographer andy vella was still at art school when he encountered the cure guitarist porl thompson on a train. This chance meeting led to a 30 year career documenting the cult heroes at their peak, photographing them on tour and designing some of their most iconic record covers. He has since worked on album art for many bands including mogwai, pavement and silver pools, and designed striking book covers for stieg larsson and margaret atwood, he also branded xfm radio and planet rock radio and has seen his profile grow as an influential figure in graphic design for music and publishing.
He recently authored a best-selling photographic book called Obscure which tells the story of The Cure from 1981 to the present day.
Visit Andy Vella's profile page.
Throughout the course you will attend additional lectures that will bring relevance and outside knowledge to all aspects of your study. Past guest lecturers have included:
- Sean Perkins, North Design
- Gordon Young
- Victoria Talbot
- Riccie Janus, Accenture
- Tony Kaye
- Yoko Akama, Akama Design
- Bernie Bowers, Appleby Bowers Creative Associates
- Neville Brody, Research Studios
- Ivan Chermayeff, Chermayeff & Geismar
- David Hillman, Pentagram
- Harry Pearce, Pentagram
- Paula Scher, Pentagram
- Andy Vella, Vella Design
Our dedicated Career Development Centre is actively working with an ever-expanding network of over 3,000 employers to provide you with exceptional employability support and guidance. As a result we were nominated as finalists for a significant industry award – the NUE Awards Most Improved Commitment to Employability 2016.
We provide our students with work placements and international opportunities to support them in becoming highly employable, globally engaged graduates, and with one million businesses operating within 20 miles of the University of Westminster, over 84% of our students are in work or further study six months after graduation. Our graduates work in a variety of sectors and organisations, from small/medium-sized companies and start-ups to large not-for-profit organisations and corporates.
During your time at Westminster you will be able to use our comprehensive online vacancy service and meet with our experienced careers consultants, providing you with thorough training and support on CV writing, application forms, interview preparation and assessment centres.
In addition to this, you will receive careers support from academic staff and faculty work placement teams, offering targeted course-specific careers advice and assistance in securing a work placement during your time at Westminster. You can find out more about course-specific career opportunities by visiting the Prospects website.
For more details, visit the employability section on our site.
Career Development Centre
Our Career Development Centre can help and support you throughout your study and after graduation.
We can help you to:
- find part-time/vacation, placement and graduate jobs, including voluntary experience
- explore how to develop the skills that employers are looking for
- plan your career development
- identify your career options
- market yourself effectively in CVs, application forms and at interviews
- develop your enterprise skills
We also organise a range of presentations and networking events with employers, professional bodies, alumni and other organisations throughout the year to help you with career planning.
Find out more about the Career Development Centre.
Our Work Placement Teams are based in your Faculty Registry Office and can help you find a suitable placement, as well as support you in making applications, writing CVs and improving your interview technique.
More details on work placements can be found on our Work placements page.
Study in the city
If you study at the University of Westminster, everything that London has to offer is on your doorstep.
Our central London campuses are ideally located for the city's fantastic learning institutions including libraries, archives and museums, as well as opportunities for shopping, eating out, enjoying London's nightlife or just simply relaxing.
After choosing your course, one of your biggest decisions will be where to live, and we aim to make that choice as easy as possible. Whether you want to apply for our Halls of Residence or live in private housing, we can help you to find the right accommodation.
Fees, funding, bursaries and scholarships
In recent years the University of Westminster's scholarship scheme has been the largest university scholarships scheme in the UK, and our Scholarships Department won the Times Higher Education inaugural Award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students.
All students on courses of a year or more and who are registered for more than three modules will be allocated a personal tutor.
Your personal tutor will be there to support you from induction onwards, helping you to integrate into the University, academically and socially, at an early stage. They will be able to give you advice and support on academic and personal matters affecting your study, as well as developmental advice through regular individual and group tutorials.
Polylang is a University-wide programme through which you can study a language as a free choice module.
Personal advice and counselling
While most students overcome any problems with help from friends, family or a personal tutor, the University's free counselling and advice services are there if you need them.
With one of the UK's largest international student populations, the University of Westminster has plenty of experience in giving you the help and support you need to make the most of your time with us.
Study Abroad and Summer School programmes
Westminster's Study Abroad programme has been running for more than 15 years, and is one of the largest in the UK – each year we welcome hundreds of visiting students from universities all over the world.
If you are already studying outside the UK, the programme offers you the opportunity to study with us for one or two semesters, or for a period in the summer.
Sport and recreation
The University has extensive sport and recreation facilities, with a sports hall and gym at Harrow, a state-of-the-art gym at Regent Campus, and the University sports ground by the River Thames at Chiswick.
University of Westminster Students' Union (UWSU) aims to make sure you have the best university experience possible by providing a range of activities and support, from sports clubs to society groups, educational advice and social events.