This course is an innovative collaboration between Manchester School of Art, the University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering, and Business School. It brings together students from creative and manufacturing backgrounds to study on projects that challenge and develop personal philosophies within product design, and explore the creative use of materials and processes from hand making to digital production. In support of the project work, students develop advanced skills in contemporary digital design and manufacturing, embracing the opportunities they offer product designers.
Finally, students contextualise their design ambitions within a business unit that develops project planning and management skills, raises understanding of markets and marketing opportunities, and highlights financial factors that impact on product design and production within commercial environments.
Graduates will develop theoretical and practical skills suitable for roles in; design consultancy; design for engineering and manufacturing; design management; and design research for industry or academic research and teaching. The programme will also prepare graduates who wish to go on to self-employment, establishing and running their own design/manufacturing businesses.
“To be a successful product designer is a challenge – you have to be an assimilator of knowledge, a creative force at the centre of many disciplines – learning, collating, distilling, responding – a catalyst for change.
Designers must engage with the world at all levels, taking everything into consideration. They must be an expert on materials & process, knowing how things are made across the full range of making opportunities, from hand-crafting, to industrial manufacture, to future digital production. Their ideas need to touch with the past, engage with the present, and be speculative of the future. Their work must respond to ever changing personal, social, cultural, material, environmental and economic agendas, and be clearly located within these complex contexts.
The resulting products can be practical, critical, functional, fanciful, beautiful, challenging, crafted, generated – informed by life, created by passion, existing in society.”
Students develop advanced knowledge of design theories and philosophies, and skills in contemporary digital design and manufacturing technologies. The business unit develops project planning and management skills, raises understanding of markets and marketing opportunities, and highlights the financial factors that impact on product design, development and production in commercial environments.
Students build a portfolio of projects that develop and resolve individual design philosophies and ambitions, and are reflective of a range of professional practices that exist in contemporary design and manufacturing environments. In addition to the project work, students are required to reflect on their own development throughout the year via a personal on-line blog, and this acts as a key resource from which written submissions are developed.
The MA and MSc Product Design pathways are made up of five units totalling 180 credits.
The unit contextualises your existing personal design practice, extends understanding, and initiates the identification and development of personal design methodologies, and professional ambitions within the broad context of product design practices.
The unit extends the understanding of the complex and often conflicting requirements and constraints within the design of new products for industrial production.
The final unit is an extended and self initiated major project period that synthesises and resolves the learning of the MA/MSc programme. It resolves and locates the personal design methodology, and with the option of live external collaboration, it aligns the project work to an identified professional ambition.
The unit extends understanding of personal and emotional connections to objects, the historical and contemporary contexts of objects within society, and develops a creative approach to the use of materials and processes.
This unit includes topics such as market research and service design; consumer behaviour – needs and attitudes; diffusion of innovation; commercial aspects of product design including bringing product to market eg; production and distribution channels, costing and pricing, and advertising and promotion.
This unit will address the contested nature of the conceptual and material territories upon which human identities and cultures are developed.
This unit offers focused opportunity for students to extend and enhance their practice by including, exploring and developing digital content in a wider research community.
This unit focuses on public health and wellbeing with an emphasis on Inequalities; Prevention; Promotion and Protection. By building on the strong legacy of art/design in clinical environments, this unit will expand your understanding of theory and practice in the emerging public health agenda and through real-life research opportunities, will offer exploration of individual practice in diverse contexts: e.g. mental health, long-term conditions, healthy ageing and proactive wellbeing.
This unit explores theoretical, critical and practical perspectives on art, photography and the archive.
This unit will address the future conceptually, tangibly and critically through ecological arts and sustainable design practices. Adopting a 'question-based learning' approach to 'real world' challenges, students will consider the potential to intervene into and re-invent social and cultural lifestyles, economics, technologies, and their impact on Climate Change, species extinction, natural resources depletion and diminishing civic services. How will we make our futures? How can arts and design promote resilience for adaptation?
This unit offers you an individual focused opportunity to extend and enhance your practice by including a self-negotiated study. This will enable students to:
This unit will introduce you to notions, ideas, principles and practices concerning objects. A series of delivered lectures, seminars and workshops will discuss and explore the role of objects in design. It will enable the location of these ideas into individual or collaborative practice and give experience of individual and collaborative practice.
You will learn about the interdisciplinary field of SciArt by developing a body of personal work that is technically proficient and intellectually resolved.
The unit explores the relationship between the museum and the city and the city as museum. Attention shifts between theoretical and historical models, as well as making use of specific locations and institutions within the city.
An introduction to writing proposals to funding bodies such as the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Arts Council England (ACE). This unit will cover such topics as: generating fundable ideas; developing critical and conceptual frameworks; establishing credible methodologies and approaches; awareness of the the parameters of the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership, AHRC and ACE; the importance of collaboration; working in groups, public engagement and impact; presenting ideas to the group, giving and receiving informed criticism; developing an effective writing style; structuring proposals and writing to length; writing a budget and the importance of cost-effectiveness and match-funding; time management; familiarity with Je-S.
The MFA Product Design continues with the following two units totalling 120 credits.
This unit is centred on continuation of your practice aligned to the research and selection of appropriate public or professional venues or platforms with which to disseminate a significant body of work. Through the unit you will be asked to approach, propose, negotiate and progress a plan for the dissemination of your body of work.
This is the final unit towards an MFA award in which you are required to realise a significant body of work for a public audience in whatever form is most appropriate along with any implicit publicity and dissemination material. Work at this level is significantly self-determined and as such you will be asked to define and appraise your own learning outcomes through negotiation.
Assessment is through the submission of physical project work, supported by individual presentations and written submissions.
You can find further details about the curriculum in the Programme Specification Document
We have developed a dedicated postgraduate area occupying an entire floor of the main School of Art building, offering an exciting space to be, both intellectually and practically. The centre is located in the newly refurbished Chatham Tower with studios, design laboratories, seminar rooms and extensive workshops that form the nucleus of this vibrant, cross-disciplinary learning environment.
Find out more about Manchester School of Art's facilities.
Visit our online MA Show galleries to see the work of recent Product Design graduates.
Or download the 2015 Catalogue
Graduates will develop skills suitable for employment in design, and design management roles, in manufacturing and consultancy. Skills in research and contemporary design philosophies also lead to opportunities for roles in academic research and teaching.
The programme also prepares graduates for self-employment routes – developing business knowledge in support of the challenges inherent in establishing and running your own product design and manufacturing business.
At least a second class UK honours degree in an art, engineering or business related discipline is usually required. EU/international equivalents or equivalent usually professional qualifications, or unclassified degrees in engineering or product design with relevant professional experience are also accepted. Other equivalent qualifications will be considered on merit.
Please apply online using the link below.
UK and EU students: Full-time fee: £1410 per 30 credits per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
UK and EU students: Part-time fee: £1410 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Full-time fee: £2400 per 30 credits per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Part-time fee: £2400 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
A Masters qualification typically comprises 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits, and an MFA 300 credits. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of study provided the course is completed in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).
Eligible alumni receive a 20% discount on their postgraduate tuition fees. Find out more about our Alumni Loyalty Discount.