MA in Design Futures & Metadesign

  • Length
    1 year full-time or 2 years part-time
  • Department

Course overview

The MA in Design Futures and Metadesign aims to broaden and deepen your understanding of design practice in its full context, introducing deep ethical and ecological perspectives into the design agenda.

If you're interested in future-orientating your professional practice it will provide you with new and distinctive tools and methods to do this. 

You'll be encouraged to challenge the existing boundaries and purposes of design as both a professional discipline and creative practice.

On this Masters, we celebrate design as an emergent, diverse, interdisciplinary and co-creative activity; design as research and facilitation, change agency and activism; and designers as important spokespersons for futures of sustainability.

Re-designing design

You will be encouraged to explore and employ design beyond ‘design as usual’ and even to re-design design itself. We use the term ‘metadesign’ to refer to this growing culture of collaborative design practice. 

Engaging with cutting-edge theoretical discourses and imaginative live projects, you will be prepared for a future in advanced design practice, visionary academic research and emerging designer roles within social, educational, political and business sectors.

We use radical and deeply reflective methodological approaches to design and writing in our teaching. We draw upon the interests that emerge from our rich, diverse and international student groups as well as our metadesign research. 

Our unique approach to thinking and writing enables you to find a deeper meaning and value in things that really interest you.

The aims of the programme are:

  • To provide a rich learning experience that brings together theory, practice, experience and articulation
  • To develop a systemic understanding of sustainability (and the world at large), its complex interrelationships and the opportunities for design contributions to this field
  • To develop in-depth knowledge of metadesign principles and their applications
  • To introduce design-led research methods, and support you in developing methods
  • To introduce a unique approach to design thinking and writing, which includes mapping design proposals, their contexts, users and your own futures designer role
  • To develop the qualities and skills necessary for employment – initiative and personal responsibility, decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations and independent and creative learning.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Hannah Jones

Modules & structure

The MA in Design Futures is delivered through a three-term programme over 12 months.

It's structured around the following core and option modules:

  • Metadesign and Futures of Sustainability
  • Metadesign and Futures of Sociability
  • Futures of Technology, Culture and Change
  • Metadesign live projects 
  • Department Shared Methods and Processes
  • Dissertation project

Throughout the course of the year, you will be assessed on a series of individual and collaborative written proposals of 3,000-words, utilising our unique approach to design-led writing.

By the end of the programme, you submit an individually written 10,000-word dissertation and a 4,000-word collaboratively written report. This can address any design-related issue you choose. Part of its purpose is to give you the opportunity to reflect on your existing design concerns and beliefs in more depth.

The Masters is delivered through group seminars and workshops, lectures, presentation forums, one-on-one tutorials and live-projects. It includes the opportunity to present your work to academia and industry at a design symposium and an end-of-year MA Design show. 

We encourage collaboration between the other Design Masters through a shared studio space and a shared Methods and Processes module. We also support all postgraduates with technical studies and design and language modules.

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.


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

**The Guardian University Guide 2016

***QS World University Rankings by subject 2016


The course is led by Hannah Jones and Mathilda Tham, experienced members of the department’s metadesign research group.

The programme is supported by the Metadesigners Open Network, which is headed by Emeritus Professor John Wood, with network members and members of the MA Design Futures alumni contributing to the delivery of the course.

Skills & careers

Since 1994, we have been producing 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).

Others have gone on to work at NASA, the British Museum, Aga Khan Foundation, Sony, Reos Partners, and Futerra Sustainable Communications.

Our graduates have also gone on to write important design literature such as Jonathan Chapman and ‘Emotionally Durable Design’, to set up design networks in Japan and the Netherlands, and to take up academic positions in Sweden, Denmark, Portugal, the UK, Korea, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, China and South America.

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths

Entry requirements

You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree in a relevant/related subject and some experience in an area of professional practice.

You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.

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 7.0 (including 7.0 in the written test)

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)

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 to 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

Admission to many programmes is by interview, unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally, we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application, qualifications and portfolio alone.

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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