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All you need to know about MA Media and Communication

Image of digital showcase on screens
  • Written byLondon College of Fashion
  • Published date 02 February 2021
Image of digital showcase on screens

We spoke with Daniel Felstead, course leader of the newly launched MA Fashion Media and Communication at LCF, for a detailed look at what prospective students can expect through the duration of the course.

Who does the course cater to?

The course is aimed at recent graduates and young professionals with varied backgrounds and work experience in fields including fashion, media, communication, design, and creative direction.

The core ethos of the course is collaboration and trans-disciplinarity, by which we mean a non-hierarchical creating and learning approach that crosses through existing disciplinary boundaries in order to form hybrid and agile ways of working and thinking. The reason why we place such importance on collaboration is that the contemporary creative practitioner is likely to be working across a wide spectrum of projects, diverse in their scale, scope and requirements.

One day, a student might be working with an engineer on a prototype for a branded experiential installation, and tomorrow, they'll be putting the finishing touches to a strategy deck for an activist community initiative. The day after that, they'll be working with a screenwriter on a series of speculative scenarios to get buy-in from investors for a new AR platform service.

This hybridised way of working is only going to intensify in the coming years as the convergence of pervasive computational and new media advancements, the ecological crisis, and the rise of experiential and community-driven models continue to reshape the fashion and creative landscape.

Which modules can students expect to study?

The course has been designed around three sequential stages – Explore, Situate, and Integrate.

In Stage 1, students will be introduced to the core theories, skills, and methods of experience design through an exploratory hands-on engagement with emerging technologies such as VR, AR, gaming and platform software.

Stage 2 builds on this knowledge by situating it within an applied strategic and speculative design context with an engagement with advanced technologies such as AI, blockchain and biotech.

Stage 3 consolidates these skills and expands them further by enabling students to identify, develop, and realise their own extended research-driven, practice-based Master’s Project.

The course curriculum is composed of a series of focused practice-based units that are structured around students working either individually or in small squads. The units are organised around a combination of short assignment ‘sprints’ designed to encourage collaborative, innovative and entrepreneurial ways of working and more in-depth investigations that encourage analytic and critical research approaches.

Would you be able to break down these modules in further detail?

With a focus on our own sensory body, the first unit, Prototyping Practices enables students to explore extended-reality technologies such as AR and VR through a series of short sprint briefs. The aim of this unit is for students to become familiar and confident in engaging with these technologies as well as developing conceptual and creative skills in rapid idea generation. They will do this through the making of a string of working prototypes of varying fidelity.

Using the knowledge gained from this unit, students will then move on to the Experiential Ecologies unit. Here, the conceptual attention expands from the immediate and singular body towards a focus on ideas of designing for the collective and community. Working in small squads made up of members with a diverse and complementary skillset, students will design, plan and communicate a concept for a hybrid fashion experience. Through the use of existing platform technologies as well as exploring emerging decentralised organisational infrastructure, the proposed hybrid fashion experiences will involve multiple physical and digital touch points and enable students to engage with experiential design, project planning and community design.

Moving into the Situate stage, the Emergent Futures unit builds on the knowledge gained in the previous units by situating it within an applied strategic and speculative future context. On Emergent Futures, students will be introduced to insight generation, strategic thinking, and speculative world-building and explore advanced system technologies such as machine learning, the blockchain and web3. Students will also explore how methods of co-design with individuals, organisations, and non-human systems can be used to generate new ideas and empower others to design their own vision of futures.

Working in small squads, students will develop and present an insight report that addresses a real-world issue by responding to the potential implications of social, technological and environmental drivers. Then, working either independently or collaboratively, students will produce and present a speculative design outcome that offers a compelling vision of an alternative future and will operate as a projective model of how to conceive and initiate systemic transformation within a fashion media and communication context.

The Master’s Project unit is the final stage of the course and will provide students with a space to synthesize all the knowledge and skills that they have gained on the course so far. Working independently or collaboratively, their projects will be self-directed and will showcase their practice as well as act as a platform for their future career.

What career options are open to prospective students after graduating?

For students with hands-on design-making skills there would be potential roles in Creative Direction and Experiential Design. For those students interested in designing new processes and facilitating the protocols by which people interact with one another, the rapidly expanding roles of Organisation and Community Design would be well suited; and thirdly, those students whose work is focused on research, strategy and speculative thinking will be ideally placed to move into roles in Design Research, Strategic Design, and Futuring.

I should also add that these pathways are by no means conclusive, and will inevitably intersect with one another in exciting and unforeseen ways. This, in turn, will help form exciting new roles, modes of working, and career opportunities. Similarly, whilst the course positions itself within a fashion future context, it is our strong belief that the value and relevance of the skillsets developed on the course will only increase as the broader creative and cultural industries catch up with the pioneering vision, thinking, and approaches developed by the course and its students.

Can you explain some of the goals you have set for the course as its leader?

My goals for the course centre principally on relevance. Are we, as a course, able to reflect and help shape the changing fashion and creative landscape? Are we able to understand and intervene in the most pressing issues of our time? If we are able to answer positively to both these questions then my goals will have been met. Certainly, as the rate of technological, social and climate change continues to intensify, the need for a space capable of responding to this new paradigm has never been greater. My goal is that MA Fashion Media and Communication becomes such a space.  

In order to create this kind of space, it has been useful to envision the course as a kind of speculative media think tank, made up of three interconnected elements: media lab, creative incubator and learning community. By understanding the course in this way the exciting research activities being undertaken by students and staff can be recognised as creating compelling projective models of how this new paradigm can be refashioned.