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MA in Design & Environment

  • Length
    1 year full-time or 2 years part-time
  • Department
    Design
Work by Grace Henry

Course overview

The MA in Design and Environment addresses the intersection of design and environmental issues from the perspectives of both theory and practice-based study.

The MA considers design's relationship to, and impact upon, our environment from a holistic perspective. Drawing on more conventional ideas of green material culture, we investigate philosophies, theories and practice concerned with sustainability and ecology to produce new social and cultural contexts for environmental design. 

We therefore welcome students from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines to create projects and undertake research that contributes to reinvigorated definitions of 'green design'. 

In distinction to other programmes in the area, the programme undertakes an intensive inquiry into environmental discourses and practices, and maintains that such an inquiry enables creative projects that would not be possible in other contexts.

Challenge existing theory and practice

In this sense, the MA establishes a critical-creative setting in which you can challenge existing theory and practice and explore ways to expand your own research and practice.

Develop your practice

The MA is transdisciplinary in focus, and offers you the opportunity to develop a specific design practice or area of research at Masters level in relation to environment topics.

Students may have training in design, arts, architecture and landscape architecture. In addition, the programme offers a thesis pathway option, which may be suitable for applicants with training in cultural and social theory, environmental studies, and geography.

The MA helps you to:

  • develop a systematic understanding of relationships and connections between design and environment, as informed by both theory and practice
  • develop reflective abilities through exploring new practices and discourses in design and environment
  • review methods and processes used in design and environment practice and research
  • research, explore and extend understanding of sustainable practices and their social impact in design and related fields
  • develop new approaches and skills to a high level to inform and develop practical and intellectual domains of professional work

Depending on their area of focus, graduates from the programme will also develop strong conceptual and critical design skills alongside a broad range of transferable skills in areas such as project management, creative facilitation, research methods, and also a working understanding of contemporary environmental topics in relation to creative practice.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Duncan Fairfax

Modules & structure

The MA in Environment and Design is structured around core modules, options modules and a major project.

Core modules Module title Credits
  Design and Environment 30 credits
  Researching Design and Environment 30 credits

You can also choose from a number of option modules that have been planned in collaboration with other MA programmes within the Department of Design.

Option modules include:

  • Design Ecologies
  • Technonatures
  • Materialities
  • Sustainability

The core and option modules allow students to develop understandings and expertise that they can draw together and utilise in their final project.

The final project will enable students to engage in a significant research undertaking in a context of their choosing that will inform understandings of design and environment.

The project can be undertaken as either practice-based research supported by theory or theory-based research supported by inquiries into practice.

The MA in Environment and Design is structured around core modules, options modules and a major project.

Core modules

Module title Credits
  Design and Environment 30 credits
  Researching Design and Environment 30 credits

Option modules

You can also choose from a number of option modules that have been planned in collaboration with other MA programmes within the Department of Design. Option modules include: 

  • Design Ecologies
  • Technonatures
  • Materialities
  • Sustainability

Final project

The core and option modules allow you to develop understandings and expertise that you can draw together and utilise in you final project. 

The final project will enable students to engage in a significant research undertaking in a context of your choosing that will inform understandings of design and environment.

The project can be undertaken as either practice-based research supported by theory or theory-based research supported by inquiries into practice.

Assessment

Assessment is through peer review, tutor appraisal, student self-evaluation and student-tutor consultation. The assessment may be both formal and informal. In discussions through seminars and tutorials, tutors and students will be able to assess learning through process to final outcome. Depending on a student’s focus, the outcomes may consist of essays, design work, portfolios, and formal presentations.

Download the programme specification for this degree to find out more about what you'll learn and how you'll be taught and assessed.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

Department

Design at Goldsmiths is ranked:
1st in the UK**
11th in the world***

Design

We’ve also been ranked by LinkedIn as one of the top graduate universities for designers, because so many of our graduates go on to find jobs in the industry.

Critique the status quo

We want you to go on to have your own self-sustaining practice that can change over time, so you’ll learn about design not just as a commercial enterprise, but also as a way to question and critique the status quo. 

The freedom to experiment

You don’t have to know what kind of a designer you’ll be: we give you the time and the freedom to experiment, use tools, explore materials and discover different modes of making. Many of our students have already worked in the design industry and are keen to develop their theoretical understanding of the discipline, and have the opportunity to explore their practice without the confines of commercial restrictions.

Industry leaders

Our graduates are industry leaders: many have gone on to work at top organisations and design companies such as Pentagram, Dyson and Selfridges, while many others have set up their own studios and enterprises.

Find out more about the Department of Design.

**The Guardian University Guide 2016

***QS World University Rankings by subject 2016

Skills & careers

Skills

You will develop strong conceptual and critical design skills alongside a broad range of transferable skills in areas such as project management, creative facilitation, research methods, and a working understanding of contemporary environmental topics in relation to creative practice.

Careers

We produce graduates of consistently high calibre, including many who have become leaders in the creative industries of a number of countries, including China, Japan and Korea.

Our students have won numerous awards (including UK Young Designer of the Year and Eco-Designer of the Year) and their shows have attracted positive attention in the media and achieved great acclaim in the design community.

A number of graduates are now working in top London design consultancies (Fitch, Thomas Heatherwick Studios, Imagination, Pentagram) and major UK companies (John Lewis Partnership, Eden Project, Harvey Nichols).

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths

Student profiles

Tom

"The teaching is great within the department, and anyone can talk to any of the tutors about their projects."

"Before coming to Goldsmiths I had previously completed a BSc in Architecture and Environmental Design at Sheffield Hallam University. Since completing that degree I worked for Broadway Malyan, an international architecture firm, along with a few shorter placements at other architectural firms.

It was at this point I realised I was not as interested in the architectural side of my degree as the environmental aspects. I took a year away, working in a ski resort in France, when I applied to Goldsmiths. I applied to Goldsmiths as I heard that it had a great reputation for design.

I was accepted and joined the Design and Environment MA in September. 

I have very much enjoyed my year at Goldsmiths. The campus is very welcoming and also doesn't feel like it is in a busy area of London with its quad with buildings surrounding it.

The Design Department is very well equipped with all the tools and technology you could need for any design project. The postgraduate studios have also been refurbished, making a great working environment, with breakout spaces and kitchen too allowing you to work all day.

My course, Design and Environment, looks to break the ideas formed in designers' heads as to how design and the environment are linked. There is a great deal of freedom within the course to do projects on a wide variety of things, as many people on the course are from very different design backgrounds and also different nations. This can lead to interesting discussions in tutorials and seminars which can sometimes change how you think about issues you are looking into.

The teaching is great within the department, and anyone can talk to any of the tutors about their projects and one may have a speciality that another doesn't.

Overall, the course is great for anyone who wishes to improve their overall knowledge of design, while improving their environmental knowledge – not just attempting to 'green' designs but linked to almost every decision within the design process from the impact upon society to the life of the product.

After I graduate I am hoping to working for a company, charity or consultancy interested in environmental studies."

Entry requirements

You should have an undergraduate degree of at least upper second class standard in Design, Architecture, Art, Geography, Sociology, Cultural Studies or a related field.

Equivalent qualifications
We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us.

For this programme we require:

IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.5 in the written test and no individual test lower than 6.0)

If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

How to apply

You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system. 

Before submitting your application you’ll need to have:

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
  • The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
  • personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online
  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory)
  • Examples of your work: slides (approximately 12), a CD-ROM, or another appropriate representation accessible on generally used software; please include an index which outlines the concerns and ideas in what you have submitted (200-500 words) and a brief description of individual pieces (including scale, materials and collaborators and object performance where relevant)
  • You should also submit a brief written statement (approximately 250 words), outlining your reasons for wishing to undertake this degree

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

When to apply

We accept applications from 1 October until 1 March for students wanting to start the following September (late applications may be considered).

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place that is conditional on you achieving a particular qualification. 

If you're applying for funding you may be subject to an application deadline.

Selection process

You will need to present, in portfolio and at interview, evidence of developed critical and creative thinking related to environment topics through creative practice and/or written work. We expect a high standard of achievement in creative practice and/or written work, and competencies in the use of technology used to produce practice-based projects. If you can't attend in person, we will ask you to send a portfolio (slides or photographs or CD-ROMs accessible on generally used software) of your art/design work with written explanations of selected pieces. Copies of essays in English are also required. If possible we also conduct a telephone interview.

Find out more about applying.

Fees & funding

Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

Find out more about tuition fees.

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