MA Graphic Communication Design

As the ‘carrier signal of the 21st century’, graphic communication design touches every sphere of human life, impacting profoundly on culture, technology, social justice, economics, the built environment, globalisation, policy, sustainability and much more. MA Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins promotes a shared exploration of an ever-changing subject while enabling your development as an individual designer.

This course is part of the Graphic Communication Design Programme.

Scholarships, Awards and Funding available:

Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarships: Home/EU | International
Alan Fletcher Scholarship
Jane Rapley Scholarships

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.

Insun Jang – Hunger

Insun Jang – Hunger

Emil Kozole – Project Seen

Yuki Shimara – Me and Tiny Me

Wei Shao – Blank City

Wei Shao – Blank City

Emil Kozole – Project Seen

Emil Kozole – Project Seen

5 great reasons to apply

  • Our graduates are versatile makers, astute commentators, and agents of positive socio-economic, cultural, and technological change.
  • We take a critically informed and experimental approach to the production, form, and circulation of knowledge bringing together the traditional studio and craft traditions of graphic design with research driven approaches. 
  • We experiment openly with existing specialisms such as illustration and web design but also develop our own new ones.
  • Our students have access to a diverse range of workshops including letterpress, print-making, photography, video, sound and digital facilities.
  • Our individual and collective practices benefit from a highly international and diverse student and staff community.


Course Leader

Rebecca Ross

Course Location

King's Cross, London. Tel: +44 (0)20 7514 7023

Study LevelPostgraduate
Study ModeFull time
Course LengthFull time: 2 years (60 weeks)
Home/EU Fee

Tuition fees for 2017/18: £5,050 per year.

Please note that fees for second year of study will be subject to inflationary increase.

£500 per annum discount for all students who have completed a PG Dip/Cert or an undergraduate course including Grad Dip/Cert, at UAL.

You can pay course tuition fees in instalments for this course. 

Use our Fees and Funding Calculator to estimate how much your studies may cost you in your first year, and what funding may be available to you.

International Fee

Tuition fees for 2017/18: £12,860 per year.

£500 per annum discount for all students who have completed a PG Dip/Cert or an undergraduate course including Grad Dip/Cert, at UAL.

You can pay course tuition fees in instalments for this course. 

Use our Fees and Funding Calculator to estimate how much your studies may cost you in your first year, and what funding may be available to you.

Start DateSeptember 2016
Autumn Term DatesMonday 26 September 2016 – Friday 9 December 2016
Spring Term DatesMonday 9 January 2017 – Friday 17 March 2017
Summer Term DatesTuesday 18 April 2017 – Friday 23 June 2017
Application Route

Direct application

Content and structure

MA Graphic Communication Design pursues a direct and in-depth connection between the ‘applied arts’ tradition of graphic design and a critical and creative approach to communication. A carrier signal, in any form of communication, is the baseline flow of information. It is continuously modulated to transmit messages; it refigures meaning. If music can be understood as a carrier signal for the twentieth century, both expressing and amplifying waves of cultural change, then graphic communication design reveals itself to be the carrier signal of the twenty-first.

MA Graphic Communication Design cultivates a considered stance towards visual and other media. Through this course, you will be challenged to simultaneously develop critical positions, through and about graphic communication design, and innovate its new forms. The curriculum synthesises research driven and hands on approaches to graphic and communication design.

The course is delivered over two three term academic years across three 60 credit units, each lasting two terms.

Unit 1: Graphic Communication Design as Research

The purpose of Unit 1 is to introduce you to graphic communication design as a knowledge practice as well as a subject of study. If indeed, as Marshall McLuhan asserted ‘the medium is the message’, it then holds that the production of knowledge is intertwined closely with its form and circulation. By positioning graphic communication design as research, we open up new opportunities and ways of working, new kinds of integrity and effectiveness, challenging the conventional understandings of what knowledge is and how it could be deployed. Unit 1 is delivered through a series of five project briefs. A sequence of three briefs will introduce you to a range of themes and approaches within graphic and communication design. These are followed by an external client brief completed in groups. The unit concludes with a negotiated brief that supports the development of your individual areas of interest leading into the start of Unit 2.

Unit 2­: Situated Practice in Graphic Communication Design

Where the intention of Unit 1 is to expose you to a diverse range of perspectives, Unit 2 sees you strengthen your particular stance as a designer. Individual reflection and authorship are part of this process. However equally important are how your work interacts critically with the wider frames of reference to which it is related. During this unit, you will develop and contextualise an in-depth position regarding graphic communication design related to your broader practice in the form of a research paper. Your paper will form the basis of your contribution to a cohort-wide publication. Your cohort will also plan a symposium to which you will each contribute a presentation of your work. On behalf of the cohort and the course, the symposium and publication are intended to articulate and question the present landscape of the discipline.

Unit 3: Graphic Communication Design Project

Development, editing and refinement are crucial sites of signification in graphic design practice. Unit 3 further develops your understanding of graphic communication design as research by carrying this proposition through to the interrogation of the details and processes of production across an individually negotiated body of work. Important to this unit are the details of production across multiple visual, textual, and/or other media based outcomes that build upon your Unit 2 coursework. The experience of committing and attending specifically to these aspects of graphic communication design practice will inevitably give rise to new insights and questions that should ultimately support new directions and lines of inquiry for your work. During Unit 3, your cohort will also plan an exhibition as part of Central Saint Martins’ annual degree show which receive tens of thousands of visitors.


Course Leader: Dr. Rebecca Ross

Programme Leader: Rebecca Wright

Graphic Communication Design Lecturer: Luise Vormittag
Graphic Communication Design Lecturer: Jaap de Maat

Associate Lecturer: Sheena Calvert
Associate Lecturer: Marcus Leis Alion
Associate Lecturer: Paul Finn
Associate Lecturer: Max Colson
Associate Lecturer: Ken Hollings
Associate Lecturer: Andrea Lioy

Typography Subject Leader: Professor Phil Baines
Printmaking & Bookbinding Subject Leader: Douglas Bevans
Advertising Subject Leader: Clive Challis
Moving Image Subject Leader: Esteban Gitton
Illustration Subject Leader: Andrew Hall
Context Subject Leader: Dr Paul Rennie
Photography Subject Leader: Gary Wallis

Practitioner in Residence: Paul Elliman

Visiting Practitioner: Guglielmo Rossi


It's easier and more affordable to print a newspaper or a book, publish a web page, or shoot and edit a video than it's ever been before. This democratisation of media is energising, but what becomes of the professional designer? By asking important questions such as why we design, what it means to claim identities as graphic communication designers, and where being a designer may take us, graduates of MA Graphic Communication Design are well equipped to take a pro-active and innovative approach to building their futures.

Our interrogative approach to careers is underpinned by a wide range of practical exposure and support. Students attend weekly Graphic Communication Design programme lectures by contemporary practitioners, which explore a variety of professional practices and offer insights into life as a designer. The programme also hosts alumni events where graduates share their experiences and network with students. The university also provides a wide range of practical careers support available to all students at UAL. For more information on this, please visit the Student Jobs And Careers section

Our graduates have gone on to launch their own studios and publishing companies, work for large-scale institutions and corporations around the world, freelance in their chosen areas, or develop their own new models for design practice. An increasing number of our graduates are following the MA with PhD study and choosing to pursue a design research career.

Entry requirements

Selection to MA Graphic Communication Design is determined by the quality of your application (including a written statement and supporting material). You'll also need to meet the minimum entry requirements as indicated below, but please note that these qualifications alone won't be sufficient to secure entry to the course. 

Minimum entry requirements

We consider applicants who have already achieved an educational level equivalent to an Honours degree. You can demonstrate this educational level by:

  • Having a relevant Honours degree or an equivalent academic qualification
  • Having a professional qualification recognised as equivalent to an Honours degree
  • Evidence of experiential learning equivalent to a degree
  • A combination of formal qualifications and experiential learning that, taken together, can be shown to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required.

English language requirement 

All classes are conducted in English. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend you send us an English language test score together with your application to prove your level of proficiency. If you have booked a test or are awaiting your results, please clearly indicate this on your application form. When you have received your test score, please send it to us immediately. The standard English language requirement for entry is IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in any one paper, or equivalent. For further information visit the Language Centre website.

Applicants who will need a Tier 4 General Student Visa should check the External English Tests page which provides important information about UK Border Agency (UKBA) requirements.

What we look for

MA Graphic Communication Design is aimed at graduates with a suitable background in any creative discipline. This includes graphic design, photography, illustration, film, or a similar studio-based discipline or a high level of achievement in any related academic field. Immediately related academic fields include media and communication studies but applications are invited from backgrounds ranging from engineering to anthropology.

Students applying with an undergraduate degree in art and design, in addition to demonstrating a depth of craft and visual agility in their portfolio, should demonstrate an interest in and capacity for approaching their work from an intellectually informed perspective.

Students applying without a relevant studio background at degree level do not necessarily need to submit polished design work but will need to demonstrate a capacity for meaningful visual experimentation.

We value flexibility, self-awareness, independence, and open-ness to new ways of thinking and making

Student selection criteria

In the first instance, we will assess your application and supporting materials according to the following criteria:

  • Creative intelligence and aesthetic sensitivity demonstrated by design portfolio
  • Flexibility, self-awareness and ability to think critically
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Awareness and understanding of the field
  • Personal vision and a sense of purpose
  • Relevant previous experience
  • Alignment of personal aims and objectives to the course

If we are considering offering you a place, we will invite you for interview.

Portfolio and interview advice

References and interviews help determine whether your personal and professional aspirations are compatible with the aims and outcomes of the postgraduate course. The interview also gives you an opportunity to demonstrate an objective, critical and reflective relationship to your work. If possible, it's a good idea to bring examples of current work.

How to apply

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

Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the following details about the application process, including guidance on the extra information we will ask you to provide.

Required information for all postgraduate course applications

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

  • Personal details (including full name; date of birth; nationality; permanent address and English language level)
  • Current and/or previous education and qualification details
  • Employment history
  • Referee details (this course requires two, one of which should be an academic or professional reference). 

Before you can submit the form, you’ll also need to agree to the terms and conditions for how we process your data – these are explained in the form.

Extra information required for applications to this course

Once you have submitted the form, you will receive a confirmation email that includes links to where you should submit the extra information we require for the selection process:

Personal statement

You’ll need to submit a personal statement addressing the following (200-250 words on each):

  • What are your motivations for applying to MA Communication Design at Central Saint Martins? What kind of background, skills, interests and ambitions would you bring to your studies?
  • Choose any work of design or art (besides your own) that you think is important. Explain to us why you believe the chosen work is important and how it relates to your own academic or design practice. You may wish to reference relevant literature.


Please submit a PDF portfolio of between 15 and 40 pages: The first 1-2 pages of the portfolio should be a current CV detailing all professional and academic experience. For academic credentials, please include any marks or grades. Your CV should be followed by images from between 5 and 10 projects that demonstrate your interests and experience. Please provide captions or short explanations that put things into context but keep them brief (a sentence or two). If you have worked on a project as part of a group or team, be sure to indicate the specific nature of your role or involvement in the particular project. Feel free to include hyperlinks to web-sites, videos, or other media on the internet.

Note that the portfolio form does not allow you to upload files. Please upload your PDF to a personal web site or online service of your choice (such as dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive) and provide us with the URL for direct download. A PDF is strongly preferred to any other web-based format.

Start your application now

Applications can be submitted throughout the year. Places are limited, however, so we advise you to submit your application as early as possible (March/April) to avoid disappointment. We start interviews in February.

The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you don’t need to complete it all at once. You will also have the chance to review all the information and make any necessary amendments before you submit the application form.

We will send you emails as you progress through the application process, so do check your inbox (and junk folder, just in case). These emails will contain important information about your application, and links to the online forms you should use to submit the extra information required.

What happens next?

We read and consider all application forms and personal references. Please note in making selections for interview, we give particular attention to your portfolio, personal statement and references.

Subject to your meeting the entry requirements and consideration of your application form, preliminary selection is based on your communication programme of study documentation of work and supporting information. You may then be invited to attend an interview. For candidates applying for external funding, interviews will be scheduled prior to funding body deadlines.

Can’t attend the interview

If you’re a home/EU or international applicant unable to attend for interview, the MA Communication Design Course Leader would hope to discuss your application by telephone or email.

In the case of applicants unable to attend for interview and unable to discuss their application by telephone or email, a decision regarding the offer of a place on the course will be made on the basis of a review of the application materials. We keep notes about decisions made following the initial application review and the interview process.

Selection is by the Course Leader and offers of places are made on the basis of our selection criteria. Applicants are informed of the decision via either the Student Administration or the International Office.

Open days 

Open days are a great opportunity to meet staff and students and to find out at first hand about courses, teaching and student life. Visit the open day section for dates to book your session. Bookings can only be made online, not by phone or email.

Industry collaborations

During Unit 1 you will work on a client brief which is set collaboratively by the client and academic staff. During this project you are explicitly encouraged to re-write the brief and actively interrogate the conventions of design-client relationships and different models of employment which you might pursue in future. You are also encouraged reflect on the institutional context of a university, and hence your own stance regarding the purpose of your education relative to industry and employment.

In addition to this required element of the course, you are encouraged to engage with co-curricular and extra-curricular opportunities provided by GCD at programme level. These include live and sponsored project opportunities ranging from competitive commercial briefs for multi-national companies to explorative projects and challenges set by local government or NGOs, providing a choice of focus and the opportunity to build a portfolio of client based work alongside your main coursework. 

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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