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MA in Design: Expanded Practice – Frequently Asked Questions

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We have considered a range of conceptual and practical questions to help you understand how this MA works.  

Why are there no specialist individual Masters programmes available in design disciplines?

The MA in Design: Expanded Practice programme moves beyond traditional design disciplines (eg product, graphics etc). We believe in creating an environment that supports the expansion and acceleration of interests and approaches that respond to evolving changes in the design industry. In doing this we focus on topics and issues that shape contemporary society and requiring responsive and fluid approaches to design - rather than being bound by outdated models of what constitutes a discipline.

Can I specialise in a design discipline?

Yes, through five thematic areas of investigation or Studios. Each Studio is encouraged to build its own identity and understanding of how design addresses and affects change within contemporary society. Studios aim to build collaborative and practical skills through project based learning, seminars, and workshops where collective investigation is carried out alongside department tutors and visiting experts.

The set of Studios for 2017/18 are:

  • Spaces & Participation
  • Interaction & Technology
  • Innovation & Service
  • Fashions & Embodiment
  • Communication & Experience

We expect you to bring your previous disciplinary knowledge and skills with the aim of transforming them through interaction and synthesis with others disciplines. 

Is this a practical design programme?

Yes, this programme places emphasis on practice through projects. Your design practice might be in a traditional field of design (graphic, product, interior, fashion, etc) or another field of study (such as sociology, psychology, teaching, social work, science and engineering), all forms of practice are welcomed on the programme. The programme will support you to challenge the role and norms of your practice, within the context of contemporary design. 

Is there work experience built into the programme?

Yes. The Extended Study module allows you to undertake a placement, as well as other kinds of external activity including fieldwork in professional settings, summer schools or conferences. Students are supported by their Studio tutors in identifying an approach, and then making their own arrangements to find a relevant context in which to expand their practice. 

Why is this degree 15 months long?

Developing a new understanding and approach to your own design practice is challenging and takes time. The length of the programme is optimised to enable you to deeply examine your practice, whilst developing a body of work to a high standard, and also expanding your professional network beyond Goldsmiths. Additionally, the opportunity for existing and new cohorts to share experiences during the autumn term allows a dynamic and evolving culture to be established.

Will international students need a special visa to be able to stay for 15 months?

For this programme, students will simply apply for a 15-month visa rather than a 12-month visa. There is an overall cap for the total duration of study in the UK that international students are able to undertake, and the Immigration Advisory Service at Goldsmiths will be able identify any issues with your case.

Will there be a final degree show at the end of the programme?

Yes, there will be an exhibition of your work in December, at the end of your programme. You will lead on the production of this event, with the guidance of your Studio tutors and the support of the new cohort. There is an emphasis on taking an experimental approach to curation and exhibition, so that outcomes from various modes of practice can be presented. The timing of this event provides a distinctive public platform at Goldsmiths, outside of the summer exhibition circuit. 

What type of students are you looking for?

We are looking for students who are passionate about expanding their practice in new ways.  Students who are looking forward to developing novel expressions of design, contributing to the production of studio culture and knowledge, those who are able to push their individual work in collaborative groups. 

I already have a Masters qualification in Design, will this programme challenge me?

This programme will provide an environment for experimentation and risk taking that will allow you to move outside of the disciplinary format of your previous postgraduate experiences. Here is an opportunity also to apply specific competencies to alternative settings, in order to reconfigure practice. 

I’ve not studied design before, what kind of skills or academic qualifications will I need to be able to join the programme?

You will need to have a degree or equivalent prior learning/professional experience in a field that can be developed through studying the MA Design: Expanded Practice. Skills might include those related to making, creativity, idea generation, project management and lateral thinking. We would expect applicants to be able to communicate a critical understanding of design that relates to their field of study and/or professional experience.        

Will all the studios be available each year?

Yes and no... Studios are seen as temporary sites for inventive activity. There is an ambition that the MA Design: Expanded Practice will have the flexibility to respond to emerging research focus, new matters of concern, lively policy issues and methodological innovation. Therefore, there is scope and intention for the initial six thematic areas of investigation to develop and shift over time. 

Do I apply for a specific studio or set of studios?

Yes, in your application statement you express a preference for working in two of the Studios. At interview, we talk through those preferences in order to make an allocation.

Is there scope for students in different Studios to undertake collaborative projects?

Curricular lenses have been developed to allow students and staff from different Studios to share interests and approaches through a set of projects. The Design Transfocality module gives students the opportunity to undertake two briefs that have been shaped to respond to these curricular lenses.  

Do I need to send you my portfolio to apply?

The submission of a digital portfolio, preferably as a single pdf, is a core part of your application material. We also encourage applicants attending in-person interviews to bring physical portfolios. Please do not send unsolicited physical portfolios. You'll find further details about the requirements for how to apply on the main programme page

I don't have a design portfolio, what should I include in my piece of writing and visual document? 

We aim to take excellent students with diverse backgrounds. As an alternative to submitting a portfolio, applicants with a non-design background can submit a short piece of writing (500-1,000 words) and a 10-page visual document related to the topic of the writing.

Use the writing as an opportunity to articulate views on topics that align with your chosen studio. 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 writing and visual document as two separate PDFs, as described in the 'How to apply' section on the .

Will there be an interview as part of the admission process?

Yes. There are no places offered via application alone. Most applicants attend an interview at Goldsmiths and we also arrange Skype interviews on request. The interview is an opportunity to have a conversation about Studio preferences and your portfolio.  

What information should I put in the personal statement of my application form?

Instead of a general personal statement we ask that you answer a series of specific questions in your application to help us gain insight into your practice and experience, why you believe this programme aligns with your future goals/aspirations, what your expectations are of the programme as well as your first and second Studio preferences. You'll find further details about how to apply on the . 

I can only commit to a year's worth of study, can I still qualify in that time frame?

No, this is a full-time 15-month programme with an expectation that students commit at least four days a week to their studies.

Will Goldsmiths provide accommodation for the length of this programme?

Yes, Accommodation Services are able to support students undertaking 15-month programmes. Postgraduate contracts are 51 weeks and students can re-apply for the final term and will be allocated again depending on availability and demand. Support will also be given to students who wish to spend their final term in alternative local accommodation.