MA in Design: Expanded Practice

  • Length
    15 months full-time
  • Department

Course overview

This is a radical post-disciplinary programme for practitioners who want to push the boundaries of what design can be and do. In MA Design we work with you to transform your practice as a critical and social undertaking.

You will choose to situate yourself within one of the following studios:

  • Cities & Urbanism
  • Communication & Experience
  • Fashions & Embodiment
  • Innovation & Service
  • Interaction & Technology 
  • Participation & Politics

You will spend about a day a week in your studio of choice, where you will be exploring discourses through talks and seminars, engaging with methods and processes appropriate to the studio's focus. This will give you a body of knowledge that will equip you to act in design in your area of interest.

The studio projects will take the rest of the week for the first term of your masters with a wide range of design staff from the department and guest speakers. This initial project will be a shared project brief across the whole masters programme, to build your practice working alongside and in collaboration with wide range of design students.

In the second and third term you will be selecting a project from a choice of three projects each term along with the other MA Design students. Each of these projects will be made up of students from all of the studios. The aim is to bring your interests to the particular project to shape it for the development of your own practice.

In the Summer there are options to do a externally focused projects, like our annual summer school in Paris (Design and Performance 2017), or a placement with an external organisation.

You return to Goldsmiths for a final fifth term to pull together your body of work and concluding design outcomes for public engagement through exhibitions and symposiums.


Designers and non-designers are accepted on the MA Design programme. Whatever your background or previous degree we expect you to examine your own practice. 


Explore answers to some frequently asked questions about the approach of this programme.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Tobie Kerridge


Cities & Urbanism

This studio explores ways of rethinking spatial practice through human, non-human, and post-human (eg data, nature, and hybrid life) dimensions. We engage in deconstructing and exposing governing frameworks to repurpose political agendas, analyse how space is occupied, and redress concepts of the urban fabric. We consider the notion of agency in infrastructures and networks to propose new forms of circulation, distribution and production, to create alternative narratives or ways of reading the city. The studio intends to reposition architecture as a profession and practice: to move beyond its traditional confines.

Communication & Experience

This studio focuses on investigation and communication, acknowledging a clear interdependency between ‘content’ (that being investigated) and ‘container’ (the exploration of the means of communication). Following an interpretative or curatorial process, we encourage the exploration of new formats and languages of communication using all means and media, through an interplay of space, objects, film, comics, gaming, language, graphics, etc. The work we support seeks to engage with the public, not as audience, but as co-respondents, co-authors and co-inspirators.

Fashions & Embodiment

This studio is a platform for conversations between bodies and clothes, making and unmaking, global and local, ethics and aesthetics, object and system. These conversations will challenge the accepted boundaries, hierarchy and spectacle and explore fashion as a mode of collective agency, service, repair and exchange. This requires rethinking the relationship between fashion and consumption and actively generating knowledge and approaches that foster the inclusive and transformative capacities of fashion. The studio aims to broaden and reposition fashion practice to actually affect or activate through multiple forms such as image, text, garment, performance or space.

Innovation & Service

This studio reaches out to emerging areas of design and wider forms of knowledge to expand innovation. At the centre of this is the development of new processes that shape the future of innovation, and the practices that constitute it. We explore how design can empower society, from the individual citizen to larger organisations that make up our social and cultural worlds. We want our students to take responsibility through their practice, developing creative precision in their analysis and application of design in the world. The studio embraces an informed and critical understanding of the context of innovation projects, generating values that have a positive effect.

Interaction & Technology

This studio explores how modes of engagement with interactive technologies shape and mediate society and culture. In this, technology is not neutral and we resist hardware-generated descriptions. We analyse inherited modes of engagement (such as co-design, public engagement, user centred design, human computer interaction) and data collections to extend and challenge the understanding of methodological innovation. We draw on science and technology studies (STS), empirical speculation and biotech industries to develop experimental modes of engagement that reconsider the nature of emerging technologies in society.   

Participation & Politics

This studio locates design, in an active and transformative capacity, within complex socio-political networks. We believe designers are fully equipped political agitators, who are capable of manifesting or revealing the obscure networks that shape contemporary societies. We explore 'ways of acting' within systems of control and regulation, investigating new modes of public participation, engagement and activism. By questioning existing forms of engagement (within art and design practice) we aim to redraw the parameters for social engagement, educational and political enrichment.

Modules & structure

The programme is largely delivered through shared project briefs, which allow an experimental and exploratory design process. The projects open up opportunities for you to work collectively on research projects, external industry briefs and wider design research themes. Through this process, you'll evolve a design practice that is progressive but also thoughtful, critical and grounded in the complex realities of the world.

Throughout your projects you'll benefit from the input of experienced practice-based staff, as well as world-class visiting practitioners. The projects that you work on will focus on a particular curricular lens, designed to nurture openness and post-disciplinarity in your practice. These lenses underpin the formation of your Expanded Practice major project, and will respond to themes such as:

  • Education & Pedagogy
  • Nature & Environment
  • Curation & Heritage
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Policy & Governance
  • Science & Infrastructure
  • Activism & Citizenship
  • Fiction & Narrative
  • Data & Information

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these project lenses may be available each year. 

Modules Module title Credits
  Studio Expanded Practice 120 credits
  Design Transfocality 60 credits
  Extended Study 30 credits

Download the programme specification, relating to the 2017-18 intake. If you would like an earlier version of the programme specification, please contact the Quality Office.

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


Design at Goldsmiths is ranked:
1st in the UK*
15th in the world**


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.

*Guardian University Guide League Tables 2017
**QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017


Fundamental to every programme within the department, the workshops and computing lab provide an accessible and vibrant environment for making and experimentation. The Department of Design's facilities are based in the Lockwood Building: the workshop, textile, fabrication facility and computing labs are staffed by people from diverse design backgrounds, with wide-ranging skillsets and experience.

Student profiles


Conceptual thinking in design practice

Eunji is not the kind of designer that wants to only create “pretty images”, or to make a product more marketable or saleable; instead, she is looking for projects where conceptual thinking is allowed in design practice.

Her graduation project is a study of stereotypes and social expectations called “The average woman, Sarah Smith”. The project started as a research (mainly numerical data) on the characteristics of “the average woman” in Britain according to various sources such as newspapers and national statistics. After these measurements were collected, Eunji compiled a profile and tried to transform herself into Sarah Smith using different props.

This approach is something of a motif in her design work: gathering data, then interpreting it for empirical use and a more personal experience. Another of her projects based on this principle, “Weather Makes You”, involved recording daily clothing decisions in accordance to temperature variations, then using this research to understand the connection between the insulating abilities of clothes and temperature values. Taking the project further, clothes could be tagged according to the temperature for which they are adequate. It sounds like a great idea: when we hear the weather forecast expressed as a number of degrees, does it instantly give us any clues of what we should wear tomorrow? Probably not. Eunji’s idea helps make weather a more personal experience.


"I feel as though I’m part of a wonderfully vibrant and dynamic community that embraces new ideas and personal experimentation."

"I found out about Goldsmiths through UCAS and I chose to come here to do my PGCE. Since doing my PGCE I have become infatuated with the place and wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I'm now doing an MA in the Design department. 

I have improved in confidence and self esteem while here, both through my studies and my role as a student ambassador, and have made many wonderful connections both in terms of my career and friendships. 

Goldsmiths has given me the confidence to not only pursue my aspirations but also to constantly place myself in unfamiliar activities which challenge me. I find that the environment of Goldsmiths is welcoming and friendly, it is so easy to approach people and I feel as though I’m part of a wonderfully vibrant and dynamic community that embraces new ideas and personal experimentation. I plan on gaining more teaching experience before commencing with further study as my career goal is to become a researcher and lecturer in the area of sustainable fashion design.

While at Goldsmiths I became a student ambassador, which has been the most wonderful experience - I’ve enjoyed the range of tasks that I get to engage in and it is fascinating to be able to be part of the work that Goldsmiths does, both internally and externally, it is truly inspiring. 

As I am originally from the local area it is wonderful to be part of the process of giving back to the community by encouraging students from primary to further education to have their own personal aspirations for their future, the moment you see their faces light up with the thought of “I could do that" is so wonderful."


"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 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.

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.

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

Entry requirements

You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least second class standard in a relevant/related subject.

If you don't have a related undergraduate degree we also welcome those who have significant practical experience in a design-related field: you will be judged on the relevance of your previous work experience, and on your art and/or design work. We will also consider applicants who do not have a design-related background but who have engaged in research either in academia (as students or academics) or at work.

We expect a high standard of achievement in design or other creative practice, and competencies in the use of equipment used to produce design work (IT and/or manufacture workshop skills).

You need to present, in portfolio and at interview, evidence of evolved critical and creative thinking in design.

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 6.5 in writing

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

For the MA Design: Expanded Practive, 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
  • 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)
  • A personal statement (this can either be uploaded as a Word document or PDF, or completed online). Your personal statement should answer the following:
    • What is your educational/professional background and how has this shaped your current practice?
    • What are your expectations/what do you want to achieve through the MA?
    • Why/how do you think this MA at Goldsmiths particularly aligns with your future goals/aspirations?
    • What are your first and second Studio preferences and why?
  • Applicants with a design background: submit a portfolio comprising 5 relevant projects and a short piece of writing that explains your selection (500-1,000 words) Please upload both your portfolio and writing in two separate PDFs
  • Applicants with a non-design background: you should submit a short piece of writing (500-1,000 words) around a topic relevant to the programme (use this as an opportunity to articulate your views on topics that align with your chosen studio) and a 10-page visual document related to this topic. Your visual document provides a platform for inventive, insightful and idiosyncratic treatments of that topic. As an example to support your own approach, this visual document was developed during the exploratory phase of a sustainability project.
  • Please upload both your visual document and writing in two separate PDFs
  • 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 have two application deadlines for 2017 entry to the programme as well as two rounds of interviews.

We encourage you to apply early as this will secure your place on the programme and enable you to apply for scholarships etc. well before the start of the programme.

  • Application Deadline First Round: 28 February 2017
    (Applicants selected will be interviewed in March and April)
  • Application Deadline Second Round: 30 April 2017
    (Applicants selected will be interviewed in May)

Applications after the April deadline will only be considered if there are spaces available.

Selection and interview process

There are no places offered on the programme via application alone. Selected applicants must attend an interview that will be arranged to suit your requirements, at Goldsmiths or via Skype.

At interview you will present a portfolio of work that may include a range of material including sketchbooks, and samples of written assignments. The interview is also an opportunity to have a conversation about Studio preferences and your portfolio and meet some of the staff working on the programme.

Find out more about applying.

Fees, funding & scholarships

Find out more about tuition fees.

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.

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