MA Design Management and Cultures

Develop high-level leadership, management, communication and analytical skills for a career in the creative and cultural industries. MA Design Management and Cultures combines academic study with creative and professional practice in a project-led curriculum that draws on a range of interdisciplinary perspectives from business and the arts.

Students from MA Design Management & Cultures talk about their projects and life on the course.

Watch // Student Voices: Tari Eguruze – MA Design Managment and Cultures

MA Design Management and Cultures students work on a project with ANS

Watch // Postgraduate Shows 2016: Design School

Reasons to Apply

  • Study business and management from an art and design perspective in a world-leading institution that has strong links to the creative industries.
  • An interdisciplinary course informed by theories drawn from a range of design, business and humanities disciplines and delivered through projects, crits and collaborations. 
  • Studying management in combination with cultures provides greater insight into creative briefs and target audiences/markets, aiding both solutions and articulation.
  • A focus on professional practice and the development of high-level leadership, management, communication and analytical skills. 
  • Diverse potential employment routes including setting up your own business, in-house and external design leadership roles, cultural positions and agency management jobs.

Funding opportunities

Find out about the range of funding options available for postgraduate study.

Use UAL's 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.

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.


Course Leader

Kathryn Best 

Course Location

London College of Communication 
Elephant and Castle
Find Us

Study LevelPostgraduate
Study ModeFull time
Course Length1 year 3 months full time (45 weeks across a four-term model)
Home/EU Fee

2017/18: £8,500 (Full-time)

UAL alumni receive a £1,000 discount
Course fees may be paid in instalments

A range of scholarships, bursaries and awards are available to postgraduate students at UAL. 

International Fee

2017/18: £17,920 (Full-time)

UAL alumni receive a £1,000 discount
Course fees may be paid in instalments

A range of scholarships, bursaries and awards are available to postgraduate students at UAL.

Start Date25 September 2017
Application Route

Direct to College

Application DeadlineApplications are accepted, and offers made, throughout the year. Early application is advised.

Content and Structure


MA Design Management and Cultures combines academic study with creative and professional practice in a project-led curriculum that draws on a range of interdisciplinary perspectives from business and the arts.

The content of the course reflects current knowledge, debates and issues within the disciplines. You will interrogate, through practical projects, a range of perspectives including: design research methods; design thinking for the cultural and creative industries; branding; the role of creative interventions in brand communications; trend forecasting; strategies for the management of brand experiences; design for social needs and sustainability; project management; entrepreneurship and innovation; change management; and design leadership.

High-level skills and industry development

The course is designed to support employability and employer engagement by developing both transferable and industries specific high-level skills. You will develop research, analytical, communication, business, management and problem-solving capabilities that are directed towards careers within the cultural and creative industries.

You will be equipped with a set of practical skills in project management, change management, enterprise, leadership, branding and critical writing and practice. You will also have the opportunity to customise your studies through major project selection according to your own particular business and cultural design interests and career aspirations.

Throughout the course there will be regular contact with industry professionals through studio and industry visits, live briefs and guest speaker and networking events. In addition, mentoring programmes will be developed via industry contacts, where students can spend time in real working environments observing management systems in action.

The growth of design management

Academic and instructional writing on design management has significantly increased with articles on the subject appearing in major publications such as The Economist, Harvard Business Review, Business Week and The New York Times. The continuing growth of the creative industries in the UK, now estimated at 6% of GDP, has created employment opportunities for design leaders, design managers and innovative thinkers in this burgeoning sector. The strength of demand for design management skills in a range of enterprises and organisations is reflected in the career sections of professional networking and employment sites.

Growing job opportunities in turn create a demand for educational courses such as MA Design Management and Cultures, which prepares future design leaders and managers for work in both traditional and new economy models. The last decade has witnessed a growing emphasis by government on the economic value of culture at the same time as business and management studies have experienced a ‘cultural turn’.

The cross-fertilisation between business and culture has opened up opportunities for subjects that bridge this disciplinary divide such as MA Design Management and Cultures. The course combines theory with practice through projects, which draw on perspectives from a range of disciplines across business and the arts, covering a breadth of topics from branding, design and innovation processes to anthropology, culture, history and meaning. 

Design and cultural management opportunities

Design managers oversee design teams and departments to create the optimum product presence, design or brand identity. They are responsible for the operation of corporate design functions and design agencies. Design managers create quality and consistency of studio output, and are required to have strong project management and communication skills. Design leaders strategically champion design across an organisation as a means of innovation and differentiation. They stimulate and facilitate a culture of innovation, collaboration and enterprise within and across disciplines, cultures, companies and industries.

Professional roles that encompass design management skills include: department managers, creative directors, heads of design, design strategists and researchers, in addition to executives with responsibility for making decisions about design and innovation. 

Career opportunities that emerge from the study of design business and management are further strengthened by exposure to cultural and critical studies. The latter is a diverse area that draws on sociology, anthropology, philosophy, politics, museum studies, history and feminist theory and develops discursive capacity for critical analysis and debate.

MA Design Management and Cultures combines an understanding of management and organisation from perspectives drawn from business, the arts and humanities. The curriculum has a professional focus with a strong emphasis on the development of leadership, management, communication and analytical skills.


MA Design Management and Cultures is a four-term, full-time programme. Each course is divided into units, which are credit-rated. The minimum unit size is 20 credits. The MA course structure involves six units, totalling 180 credits.

Autumn, Term 1

Units Summary:

  • Design, Management, Leadership and Innovation (40 credits)
  • Design Research Methods and Critical (20 credits)

In the Autumn Term you will critically engage with ‘design thinking’ and concepts and theories of leadership and innovation and experiment with a range of interdisciplinary research methods.

Spring, Term 2

Units Summary:

  • Global Design Futures (20 credits)
  • Design and Cultural Meaning (20 credits)
  • Collaborative Unit (20 credits)

At the start of the Spring Term you will take the collaborative unit, which is common to all courses at Masters level. Mid-way through the spring term you will consider how design management can bring about transformation within a global context, and explore the role of design in the creation of social, political and cultural meaning.

Summer, Term 3

Units Summary:

  • Global Design Futures (continued)
  • Design and Cultural Meaning (continued)
  • Final Major Project and Thesis (60 credits)

In the Summer Term you take the knowledge, skills and experience from the units studied to date on the course and synthesise these through the production of a self-directed major project and associated thesis.

Autumn, Term 4

Units Summary:

  • Final Major Project and Thesis (continued)

If you are unable to continue or decide to exit the course, there are two possible exit awards. A Postgraduate Certificate will be awarded on successful completion of the first 60 credits and a Postgraduate Diploma will be awarded on successful completion of the first 120 credits.

Additional costs

In addition to tuition fees you are very likely to incur additional costs such as travel expenses and the cost of materials. We strongly suggest you read the information on our Additional Costs page

Course Structure

The information outlined is an indicative structure of the course. Whilst we will aim to deliver the course as described on this page, there may be situations where it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, for example because of regulatory requirements or operational efficiencies, before or after enrolment. If this occurs, we will communicate all major changes to all applicants and students who have either applied or enrolled on the course.

Please note that due to staff research agreements or availability, not all of the optional modules listed may be available every year.

In addition, the provision of course options which depend upon the availability of specialist teaching, or on a placement at another institution, cannot be guaranteed. Please check this element of the course with the course team before making a decision to apply.


The course will be delivered by a range of full time, part time and visiting staff all of whom are experts and practitioners in their fields.

Course Leader: Kathryn Best
Lecturer: Sara Ekenger

Louise Healy - Lecturer, Trend Forcaster and Futurist 
Sunita Yeomans - Lecturer and Design Consultant, Sshy Creative
Sevra Davis - Director of the RSA Student Design Awards
Anna Jones - Language and Cultural Advisor, UK Trade & Investment
Josef Hargrave - Associate and Global Foresight Manager, Arup Foresight, Research and Innovation



Career Pathways

Graduates of MA Design Management and Cultures will be equipped to make a contribution to both private and public sectors in areas such as private enterprise, public sector service provision and the voluntary sector.

They will leave with an in-depth understanding of design business and management with the skills of critical analysis and debate usually associated with the humanities and social sciences.

Career opportunities include setting up your own business, managing design projects, leadership in a variety of industries, consultancy, research and entrepreneurship.

You could take up a career within a wide range of creative industries or organisations such as museums, galleries, auction houses, publishing, arts administration, PR, marketing, advertising and retail. Alternatively, they may go on to work as editors, design critics, journalists, event and exhibition curators or educators.

There are also opportunities to study for further professional qualifications or research degrees such as a PhD or MPhil at LCC/UAL.

Student Jobs and Careers at UAL

We are here to help you establish your career and achieve success in your chosen field. Our strong relationships with industry give our students exclusive opportunities and access to networks and funding.

Careers and Employability is dedicated to helping students build up work-relevant skills, knowledge, experience and networks throughout your time here. 

Creative Opportunities is the UAL job and work placement website for students and graduates, advertising hundreds of creative opportunities each month. This includes ArtsTemps in-house recruitment agency, placing students and graduates in paid temping roles within the University.

UAL houses a number of organisations which promote aspects of career development in the arts and media, and which hold regular workshops and careers fairs. These include:

  • Own-It (intellectual property issues)
  • ArtQuest (career development resource for artists and designers)

Entry Requirements

Recruitment and admissions

The MA Design Management and Cultures team recognises that applicants come from a broad spectrum of backgrounds from across the world. We are actively seeking open-minded graduates from diverse academic and industry/professional backgrounds who want to explore design management and cultures at a high level.

A key characteristic of our candidates will be the desire to work across disciplinary and professional boundaries to explore the future of design management of rapid change and disruption.

Language requirements (International/EU)

All classes are conducted in English. If English is not your first language, we strongly recommend you let us know your English language test score in your application. If you have booked a test or are awaiting your results, please indicate this in your application. When asked to upload a CV as part of your application, please include any information about your English test score.

  • IELTS 6.5 or equivalent, with a minimum of 5.5 in any one paper.
  • You can check you have achieved the correct IELTS level in English on the Language Requirements page.

Selection criteria

All applications will be considered by the course team who will consider key elements when making a decision on your suitability to join the course:

  1. Firstly they will look at your qualifications and transcript (or projected results)
  2. Then they will scrutinise your personal statement, portfolio of work, major project proposal and any previous work experience

Academic or professional references are not required for this course.

Offers will be made based on the following selection criteria, which applicants are expected to demonstrate:

  • Desire to explore design management and cultures at a high level
  • Relevant work experience from design, culture, business, marketing, engineering, sciences, social sciences and humanities
  • Desire to work across discipline and professional boundaries to explore the future of design management of rapid change and disruption

Personal statement

Your personal statement (300-500 words) should give us information about yourself and why you want to join the course. What are you doing at the moment educationally, professionally and personally? Why do you want to study MA Design Management and Cultures? Do you have any relevant experience? Why do you think you are a suitable candidate?


Please provide a CV detailing your education, qualifications and any relevant work or voluntary experience. If English is not your first language it is important that you also include in your CV details of your most recent English language test score.

Your portfolio

Your portfolio should demonstrate your practical and conceptual skills, and working processes. It should include a maximum of six projects with supporting material and be clearly annotated and organised. 
The selected work will depend on your field of expertise and can cover examples from your most recent commercial or academic activity supported with documents showing your working processes and research. You can include reports, reviews, essays, creative projects, etc. Also include any other examples that indicate your personal areas of interest in the field of design management and cultures. 

Applicants with a background in design should include:

  • Examples of visual work in PDF format
  • Cross platform moving image work if appropriate
  • Developmental research material
  • Samples of written work

Applicants from all other backgrounds should include:

  • A detailed professional CV with project descriptions
  • Documentation of work where possible including report, presentations or research projects for which you have been responsible

Major Project Proposal (1500 words)

All applicants will be expected to outline their major project ideas in the application.

It is important to recognise that these ideas will inevitably develop and change during your study on the course and only serve to inform your application at this stage. You will have opportunities within the course to revise and submit updated versions of the Major Project Proposal before you complete the major project itself. 

Please download and read the template below which provides structure of how to develop and identify your Major Project Proposal:

Interview advice

Applicants are usually interviewed by the course team before a place can be offered. Interviews will take place at LCC, or via Skype/telephone. 


Home / EU and International students

Funding opportunities available for this course:

If you need more information about funding please email or visit Postgraduate Funding page.

How to Apply

You can begin your application for this course using our online application form – the link to this is below. Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the course Entry Requirements section to learn about the application process, including detailed guidance on the extra information we will ask you to provide later in the process. 

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

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.

Please note, if you’re an international applicant we will need to contact you separately to ask for copies of certain documents (for example, English language qualification/certificate and copies of any previous UK study visas).

Extra information required for applications to this course

Once you have submitted the online application form, we will send you a confirmation email.

From January 2017 you will be emailed a link to our online application tool, where you should submit the extra information we require for the selection process:

Personal statement



Major Project Proposal

The course leader will then review your work, may invite you to interview, and will then make a decision on your application, from January 2017.

The admissions team will be in touch after that to let you know the outcome and to guide you through the next steps. 

Start your application now

Applications are accepted, and offers made, throughout the year. Early application is advised.

Apply now

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.

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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