Skip to content | Accessibility Information

Product Design

MA/MSc/MFA
Product Design
MA 1 year (full-time), 2 or 3 years (part-time)
MSc 1 year (full-time), 2 or 3 years (part-time)
MFA 2 years (full-time), 4 or 5 years (part-time)

This course is at the forefront of production design and manufacturing practices and brings together students from creative and technical backgrounds, to foster original approaches to product design for manufacture. It supports you to explore and develop personal design methodologies and philosophies, and locate these within a deep understanding of historical, contemporary and future design practices, and wider social and cultural contexts.

You will undertake core units, delivered by production design specialists, consisting of design theory and practice lectures, material and manufacturing workshops, group seminars, individual tutorials, live external projects, and research study trips. Practical design development is supported by extensive hand and machine workshops for wood, metal, ceramics, glass and plastics, and digital workshops for laser cutting and large scale CNC routing.

Optional units facilitate innovative cross-disciplinary opportunities, supporting the development of collaborative working with students from within the material making and manufacturing cluster of MA/MSc/MFA Craft and MA/MSc/MFA Textile, and across the wider postgraduate design community. There are cross-faculty options to study within the faculty of “Science and Engineering”, acquiring advanced 3D CAD skills for industrial production, and utilising the latest advanced 3D printing processes. The Manchester Metropolitan Business School option addresses commercial aspects of design, enabling students to locate their ambitions within a defined financial model.

You will able to explore and challenge all aspects of product design, embracing opportunities for innovation across markets and production levels, from one-off making and batch fabrication, to flexible digital manufacture and high volume industrial production.

Your programme of study is managed through personal learning plans, developed in response to your individual creative and professional ambitions. The final Synthesis unit determines the postgraduate award, with the MSc reflecting work that has a more technically and functionally innovative focus, and the MA for work that addresses more materially creative or culturally focussed agendas. This innovative structure provides students with the opportunity to convert their practice from BA to MSc, and vice versa.

Features

  • While studying towards a particular qualification at MA/MFA level, students experience their subject in the broader context of contemporary design practice.
  • Dedicated spaces for the postgraduate community have been developed to enable the postgraduate community to flourish. These spaces, for thinking and practice, are based in the heart of Manchester School of Art, allowing easy access to an extensive range of workshops where the combination of traditional and state of the art equipment opens up a world of exciting possibilities.
  • You will be taught by research active staff who are part of the Manchester School of Art Research Centre and experts in their field. 
  • The University library has outstanding Art and Design holdings, including a special collection of artist's books and ephemera.

Ye Yuan, a Product Design graduate who tells stories through is creations, discusses his time at Manchester School of Art, his move to Manchester and how the city’s inspired him.

Course Content

Year 1 (MA Full-Time)

The MA/MSc in Product Design is composed of four core units plus one option unit, totalling 180 credits.

Option Units (Subject to Change)

Researching, Mapping and Locating

This unit will enable you to gain an understanding of design practices, perspectives and contexts. You will establish a substantive individual position for personal practice within the expanded field of design. During the unit you will work towards the production of a project proposal which will determine the ongoing research, mapping and locating of your position within contemporary design practice.

Design Thinking

This unit introduces an applied understanding of how design can be used as an iterative process for creative problem solving. It will enable you to understand how to apply design thinking processes to your specialist area through understanding users, challenging assumptions, redefining problems and creating innovative solutions to prototype and test. The unit will also provide a broad introduction to research methodologies, strategic research planning and research design. A range of design thinking tools will be introduced and explored before you undertake an in-depth project that provides opportunities for experimentation leading to innovative solutions.

Synthesis Project: Product Design (MSc)

This final MSc unit will support you to develop and resolve a significant body of specialist product design practice. Your learning journey will be synthesised by the presentation of an innovatively ambitious project, located within a defined area of technical, market orientated or advanced digital product design.

The unit accommodates opportunities for external collaborative, industry based or international learning experiences and enables you to undertake and submit work developed within professional placements and/or live projects. The unit features a presentation of your work in progress to test ideas, gain feedback and to engage in interdisciplinary critique to support the development of your final body of work.

The content of your practice is negotiated with specialist product design staff and you will manage your learning via the development of a Synthesis project proposal. The unit features a flexible assessment submission process which combines written and practical elements, the weighting of which being responsive and appropriate to your individual future ambitions, be they professionally or academically focussed.

Synthesis Project: Product Design (MA)

The final Synthesis MA unit will support you to develop, resolve and present a significant body of work, located within a defined area of product design practice. The unit accommodates opportunities for external collaborative, industry based or international learning experiences, and enables you to undertake and submit work developed within professional placements and/or live projects.

The unit synthesises the specialist product design practice you have developed throughout the programme. It also accommodates the opportunity to present your work in progress and to engage in interdisciplinary critiques to test ideas, gain feedback and support the development of your final body of work.

The content of your practice is negotiated with specialist product design staff and you will manage your learning via the development of a Synthesis project proposal. The unit features a flexible assessment submission process which combines written and practical elements, the weighting of which being responsive and appropriate to your individual future ambitions, be they professionally or academically focussed.

Colour, Material & Finish

This unit will enable you to explore the language of material making, process and enquiry. Briefs will stimulate you to generate a range of practice-based responses to questions of context, concept, making, manufacturing, materiality, visual language and sustainability.

Design Futures

This unit provides an in-depth understanding of the scope, nature and role of how design can be used to shape the future. A series of future-focussed tools will be explored from a creative perspective to understand how to employ design as a catalyst for new products, services and experiences that address contemporary societal and business-related challenges. It also will examine the role of design at strategic, tactical and operational levels and support an understanding of the relationship of the user to strategic goals over a range of time horizons. The unit will culminate in design provocations that demonstrate how design can engage with multiple futures that blend technology and business needs while providing user-focussed innovative solutions.

CUTE Values for Product Design

The unit extends the understanding of the complex and often conflicting requirements and constraints within the design of new products for volume industrial production.

Message / Audience / Context

This unit is concerned with the development and production of a body of work realising your individual creative ambition within the fields of Graphic Design and Art Direction and Illustration. The work will expand on the research and development undertaken during the Graphic Behaviours units. You will be encouraged to collaborate with peers, external partners and virtual communities and expose your work to critical appraisal. You will prototype, finesse and resolve projects which deliver strategic messages to defined audiences.

Culture & Context

This unit offers focussed opportunity for you to extend and enhance your practice by including working in a wider art and design research community. The study of the cultural and critical contexts of art and design practice is vital to any student of the creative disciplines, this unit will develop your abilities to contextualise your practice through one of a series of themes addressing contemporary issue in art and design.

In previous years, themes have included:

  • Contested Territories
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Negotiated Study
  • Space & Context
  • Digital Futures
  • Writing Research & Funding Proposals
  • Images And Archives
  • Art & Science Stories

Theme options may vary each year.

Year 2 (MFA Full-Time)

The MFA Product Design continues with the following two units totalling 120 credits.

Realisation and Publication

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. This unit builds upon practice initiated and developed in earlier units and as such will be used to realise and disseminate an ambitious and autonomous final outcome.

The aims of this unit are for you as an individual or as part of a collaborative team to realise an ambitious and significant body of work and to generate a professional launch pad suitable for its public presentation. Your final presentation of work will include the production of any necessary dissemination, intellectual property and publicity materials.

Professional Practice

This unit is centred on the development of your specialist practice to enhance professional capabilities and career development. You will research suitable partners and agencies to inform a final significant body of work aligned to your chosen professional practice context. Throughout the unit you will be asked to approach, propose, negotiate and progress a plan for the establishment of a professional practice. You will be supported in the continuation of your practice via specialist practice based tutorial and professional practice support.

Resources

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.

Student Work

Visit our online MA Show galleries to see examples of recent work by our postgraduate students.

MA Show 2019 - View Work Online       MA Show 2018 - View Work Online

MA Show 2017 - View Work Online       MA Show 2016 - View Work Online


Graduates

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.

Making an Application

Entry Requirements

A minimum of 2:2 Honours degree is required. Equivalent EU/international qualifications are also accepted. Applicants who do not meet these criteria will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Other professional qualifications or degree disciplines will be considered on merit and/or with relevant professional experience.

We require the submission of a digital portfolio to evidence design practice and research, and may request an interview as part of the application process.

Overseas applicants will require IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 with no less than 5.5 in any category, or an equivalent accepted English qualification.

How to Apply

Please apply online using the link below.

Apply Online

Fees 2020 Entry

UK and EU students

UK and EU students: Full-time fee: £1542 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: £1542 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 and Channel Island students

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Full-time fee: £2834 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: £2834 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).

Additional Information

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 10% discount on their postgraduate tuition fees. Find out more about our Alumni Loyalty Discount.

Also see Postgraduate funding and financial support.

Course Leader

  • David Grimshaw
    Programme Leader MA/MSc/MFA Product Design & MA/MSc/MFA Craft