MA Graphic Design Communication

MA Graphic Design Communication at Chelsea College of Arts encourages a broad and diverse approach to thinking and practice that helps students shape engaging and imaginative design solutions through material, media, technologies and systems of public engagement.


Course Director

Sadhna Jain

Course Location

Chelsea College of Arts, John Islip Street


Study LevelPostgraduate
Study ModeFull time
Course Length1 year
Home/EU Fee

£8,500 (2017/18).

Course fees may be paid in instalments.

Use UAL’s fees and funding calculator as a guide to how much your studies may cost.

International Fee

£17,920 (2017/18).

Course fees may be paid in instalments.

Use UAL’s fees and funding calculator as a guide to how much your studies may cost.

Start DateOctober 2017
Autumn Term DatesMonday 9 October - Friday 22 December 2017
Spring Term DatesMonday 8 January - Friday 23 March 2018
Summer Term DatesMonday 9 April - Friday 14 September 2018
Application DeadlineHome / EU - Monday 31 July 2017.
International - No deadline, but students are advised to apply as early as possible.

Content and structure

The course aims to align current social and cultural issues alongside emerging design practices.

It will give you a solid introduction to the debates and methodologies that are at the forefront of contemporary design. You will learn how to challenge and expand this knowledge within your personal design practice.

The course will enable you to become an advanced thinker and versatile practitioner with the ability to respond to both familiar and unfamiliar challenges.

Content: what students can expect

  • A practice led course underpinned by critical design thinking and exploration
  • To be taught by a team of highly experienced postgraduate tutors each with their own personal specialist design / art practice and research
  • A creative campus environment with a range of workshops, library and special collection resources, shared studio spaces, and professional exhibition spaces. View the Chelsea facilities section
  • A themed introduction to stimulate knowledge of contemporary design practice and discourse 
  • To seek inspiration and knowledge from course tutors, college wide professional lectures, UAL postgraduate community events and London’s cultural industries  
  • To develop a rigorous design process, providing the means to employ critical thinking, shape materials and forms, generate and communicate content, develop prototypes and engage with audience testing


Phase 1: Exploring Emergent Design Contexts and Practices

In the first phase of the course you will address emergent design practices and issues by selecting one of the following three themes:

  • Proximities and Encounters - The focus of this theme is on users, spaces of experience and interaction. You will look at how people's behaviour is evolving as a result of their changing relationships to community, environment and policy
  • Mobilising the Studio - This theme will explore discourses and practices around co-created knowledge as a consequence of designers becoming mobile. Both, physically through activities for shared knowledge and skills, and intellectually through the renewed definition of interdisciplinary practice. You will consider how co-creation with audiences and other professionals changes concepts and practices within graphic design communication
  • Materiality and the Post Real - This theme will explore a wide range of interpretations of materiality and the ways in which its' meaning is formed through practices of graphic design communication

Once you have selected one of the themes you will organise yourselves into groups. Within these groups you will be asked to share knowledge, test responses, and grow creative ideas and practices in response to set briefs and tasks.

You will learn how to use methods of analysis and experimentation to assemble your own findings and responses in relation to the issues raised. This will lead to a defined position for a personal project.

This introduction to the course is designed to bring into focus different components of a design framework - critical context, conceptual enquiry and advanced practice.

Phase 2: Initiating a Framework for Design Enquiry and Practice

At this stage you will start to build your individual major project proposal.

You will apply your knowledge and creative thinking through different modes of studio practice, reflective writing, prototyping, display and demonstration.

This will enable you to synthesize your own intellectual and creative experiences using the knowledge and experience of other experts. This includes occupying and performing within spaces beyond the college.

This phase of the course includes a short external studio residency at various cultural centres across London.

The studio residency is an additional creative opportunity designed to inspire intellectual and physical interaction with existing and emerging bodies of knowledge and sites of practice. 

This initiative aims to create a relevant and engaging mode of professional practice activity for Masters students and encourage excellence in practice-based research.

Phase 3: Innovating Modes of Communication and Dissemination

You will use the final stage of the course to learn how to refine your project outcomes in relation to a specific audience.

You will learn how to differentiate between the terms - communication, engagement, interaction and participation. You will find inventive ways to involve these in the final form and behaviour of your work.

Building upon the international context of the subject area you will also experiment with remote and local platforms for publishing, distribution and intervention. 

Live projects:

Past collaborative projects and workshops have included partnerships with:


Sadhna Jain - Course Leader

Sadhna Jain previously led the interaction design and digital media subject area at Central Saint Martins for MA and BA Graphic Design. Her personal research and practice has evolved from ways graphic data and language is informed by interactive experiences.

Jain's research has been presented at various International Symposia of Electronic Arts, as well as design and media conferences in Canada, Brazil and the United Kingdom. Recent research, “Relocating Vision in an Auditory Environment” involves a body of work incorporating physicality of sound, notations and scores within different sites and geographies.

Jain was awarded a UAL White Square teaching award in 2014.

Sadhna Jain


Entry requirements

  • BA (Hons) degree or equivalent academic qualifications
  • Alternative qualifications and experience will also be taken into consideration
  • Portfolio of work
  • Study plan

If English isn’t your first language

All classes are taught in English. If English isn't your first language you must provide evidence at enrolment of the following:

Portfolio Advice

Portfolios should show the following:

  • A range of practical project work which demonstrates conceptual thinking, design iteration and effective outcomes
  • Aspects of development work which explore experimentation beyond obvious conventions of graphic design communication practice. This can include inventive and engaging responses in relation to a brief / commercial environment
  • Clarity of communications
  • A willingness to engage with emergent practices of graphic design communication or to approach it as inter disciplinary practice

Study Plan

The study plan is a statement of approximately 800 words describing your current practice and an opportunity for you to explore potential areas that you want to develop in your studies. 

The plan is the starting point for discussions about your postgraduate studies and will evolve during the time you study with us.

When writing your plan you are not expected to have complete answers to all the questions. 

However, you should be able to:

  • Examine your knowledge and experience in relation to your practice
  • Identify questions and areas that you do not know about
  • Demonstrate how you may intend to tackle these questions and areas

How to structure a study plan

You should include links to referenced text or images where appropriate. 

Each of the following sections should be approximately 200 words.


  • Briefly describe your work
  • Outline recent developments
  • Identify those aspects you would like to take further at postgraduate level


Describe specific areas, issues and critical ideas that are central to your area of interest.


How will you go about exploring your area of interest?  

Are there particular methods you will use? For example - drawing, model making, photography.


Are there resources or equipment that you need to access in order for you to successfully engage in your research?

At interview and portfolio review

We look for:

  • Evidence of creative, expressive and analytical responses to projects 
  • A willingness to explore graphic design communication beyond traditional  thinking and practice
  • An eagerness to exploit the university MA community as part of personal creative and professional development 
  • Sufficiently strong verbal and written skills in order to fully participate in the course 
  • An understanding of how context informs practice in a variety of ways, and a willingness to progress this knowledge and associated skillset  

Successful applicants will be invited to attend an interview and should bring their portfolio.  

Applicants may be offered a place on an alternative MA or Graduate Diploma course at Camberwell, Chelsea or Wimbledon. This decision will be based on our assessment of an applicants' creative potential and interests.


Many graduates are employed in interdisciplinary design studios and as senior designers in graphic and communication design companies. Graduates have also founded their own design studios working across digital environments and physical spaces as well as specialist publishing and new forms of graphic content.


  • André Arruda - Partner, Papanapa, São Paulo, Brazil
  • Ana-Maria Grigoriu - Co-founder LOOT studio, Bucharest, Romania 
  • Mayuko Hari - Art Director, Grey Advertising, New York, United States of America
  • Alistair Owen - Senior Designer, Forth, London


Use UAL’s scholarship search to find out what funding may be available to you.

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are now available for eligible UK and EU students. A full list of eligibility criteria and information on applying can be found on the postgraduate loans webpage.

How to apply

Home / EU deadline is Monday 31 July 2017.

There is no deadline for international applications, but students are advised to apply as early as possible.

You can apply for this course using our online application form.


Required information for all postgraduate course applications

You will need to enter the following information in the online application form:

  • Personal details
  • Current and/or previous education and qualification details
  • Employment history

Extra information required for applications to this course

Once you have submitted the form you will receive a confirmation email.

You will be emailed a link to our online application tool, where you should submit the extra information we require for the selection process:

  • Portfolio of work (30 images)
  • Study plan

The course leader will review your work, may invite you to interview, and will then make a decision on your application.

Please note:

We will send you emails throughout the application process that will contain important information about your application. Please check your inbox.

We will contact you separately to ask for copies of certain documents. For example, your English language certificate and copies of any previous UK study visas.

Enquire about this course

If you haven’t found the information you’re looking for or want to ask us a question about this course, please fill out our enquiry form.

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