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Postgraduate

MA Narrative Environments

Two hands emerging through hole in a pink screen holding a green item
Image courtesy of UAL, Setup by Lucy Hayhoe in the photographic studios. Photo: Alys Tomlinson
College
Central Saint Martins
Start date
September 2022
Course length
Two years (60 weeks)
Extended full-time

MA Narrative Environments designs spatial stories.

Narrative environments are spatial stories that can be found across cultural, civic, technological and digital spaces. Narrative environments activate dynamic histories, forward immersive presents and propose futures. On this course, you will develop theoretical and practical expertise in designing narrative environments. Working across spatial design, speculative design, social and systems design, you will learn to compose interactive stories that explore systems and phenomena of science, technology, politics, society and culture in new ways. Narrative environments is part of the Spatial Practices programme.

Why choose this course at Central Saint Martins

  • Live projects: The course offers opportunities for live projects. Previously, this has included work with Arup, European Space Agency, National Trust, London Festival of Architecture, Camden Council, Cisco, LVMH, Southbank Centre and Volkswagen.
  • Wide-ranging practice: You will work on a range of design projects – taking up narratives in and about cities and infrastructure, public culture, social innovation, technological systems and climate change. You will draw upon design methodologies from speculative design, spatial design, graphics, systems design, experience design, social and participatory design, and interaction design. This will help you to define your future career in either the commercial, cultural or creative industries or continue to PhD study.
  • Industry mentorship: You will learn from leading industry figures. We will help you connect with a mentor who can support you at key moments in your studies, providing you with real-world, professional advice.
  • Industry placement: You will have the opportunity to undertake a work placement or industry case study. This could be in a design company, an architect’s practice, a museum or a related business or government organisation, giving you a sense of the global market for jobs in narrative environments.

Student work

  • Ronnie-Chou-Cafe-Odyssey.jpg
    , Ronnie Chou | Cafe Odyssey
  • Pauline-Chiang-The-Memory-Bank.jpg
    , Pauline Chiang | The Memory Bank
  • Narrative-Environments-Work-in-Progress-Show.jpg
    , MA Narrative Environments Work in Progress Show
  • MANE-Final-Show-build-2018.jpg
    , MA Narrative Environments Degree Show build 2018
  • Lillian-Li-Patient-Partners.jpg
    , Lillian Li | Patient Partners
  • He-Zhang-final-project-Running-River.jpeg
    , He Zhang | Running Rivers

Course catalogues

Narrative Environments stories

Facilities

Course overview

MA Narrative Environments responds to the growing need for multidisciplinary collaboration and critical, socially-engaged design. It addresses the demand for meaningful visitor experiences in cultural, commercial and community environments. This encompasses heritage sites, museums, retail, travel and leisure destinations, urban public spaces, libraries, health and educational environments. 

Increasingly, organisations want to communicate their stories through the physical environment. They may need to inform their communities; overcome social divides; develop their reputation; and increase visitor numbers or attract new audiences. Narrative environments constitute a core part of “the global experience economy”. This addresses the desire for transformational encounters, providing opportunities for learning, discovery, social interaction and cohesion as well as the purchase of products and services.  

On MA Narrative Environments, you will explore how story and time can be mapped onto place to create engaging visitor experiences. You will do this through sound, image, object, space. The course addresses current market opportunities by promoting methods which are participatory, multi-layered and meaningful and support economic, social, cultural, environmental sustainability and democracy. You will also be encouraged to employ new technologies to support connectivity and communication.  

This course will equip you with the theoretical, practical and critical skills to envision new narrative environments. You will be supported to create work which addresses the complex context and contradictions of a globalised and turbulent world. As such, you will be encouraged to be outward-facing. You will use the city of London as a lab, collaborating with real communities, external institutions and businesses. You will develop proposals through an iterative design process and when possible, build and test them. The course also addresses the need for advanced research in spatial practices. It provides a grounding in design research, narrative environments and intellectual, scholarly debate. This can lead you to MPhil and PhD research degrees. 

Contact us

For queries relating to the Coronavirus outbreak, read our Coronavirus guidance for prospective students.

To register your interest and receive information and updates about studying at UAL, please complete this form.

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for or to ask a question, please contact us.

Course dates

Autumn term
Monday 26 September 2022 – Friday 9 December 2022
Spring term
Monday 9 January 2023 – Friday 17 March 2023

Summer term
Monday 17 April 2023 – Friday 23 June 2023

Related content

Course units

Narratives are told through artefacts, text, sound, images and film, which are integrated into the physical environment. This is achieved in three ways. Firstly, through the design of hard physical structures, materials and form, which tend to remain fairly fixed over time. Secondly, through text, light, image, sound and digital media which can change rapidly. Thirdly, through the soft and most unpredictable dimension of human presence and interaction. 

On this course, theories of space and narrative will be introduced and debated through lectures, seminars and conferences. You will also have access to an online compendium. Theory is integrated with practice in team projects. You will gain insight into professional practice through placements, live projects and visiting practitioners. During the course, you will progress towards independent thinking. You will establish your own critical position, allowing you to graduate with a clear set of principles to underpin your future career.  

Unit 1: Methodology and Scope of the Design of Narrative Environments

This unit consists of a series of short, group projects. It will introduce you to a variety of research methods, multidisciplinary collaboration and the scope of narrative environment design. You will also be introduced to the theoretical, socio-economic and cultural context of practice. Unit 1 also integrates personal and professional development. This will enable you to become an active member of a learning community. You will develop your skills in research, communication, reflection, planning, decision-making and creative practice.  

Unit 2: Challenging, Originating and Repositioning Narrative

On this unit, you will have the opportunity to define your own direction. You will research and design a major project proposition. You may opt to do an industry case study or a placement to gain direct insight into opportunities and working methods in industry. The case study or placement will enable you to appraise your own abilities, ambitions and career direction. 

The major project proposition is self-directed. You will define your own research question, aims and objectives. You will compile a research document and assemble your own collaborative team to develop a visual design proposition. This unit allows you to engage with the professional world and become a reflective, creative and critical practitioner, as well as explore your career options.  

Unit 3: Challenging, Originating and Repositioning Narrative Environments 2

In this unit, you will write a project rationale which will contextualise and justify your direction. You will prototype, test, produce and install your major project where feasible. Unit 3 concludes with a critical evaluation of your major project. This project enables you to define your own professional and personal goals. It also encourages you to reflect on the dynamics of the industry, to consolidate your experience and advance your skills and knowledge. 

Mode of study

MA Narrative Environments is offered in extended full-time mode which runs for 60 weeks over two academic years. You will be expected to commit 30 hours per week to study, which includes teaching time and independent study.

The course has been designed in this way to enable you to pursue studies, while also undertaking part-time employment, internships or care responsibilities.  

Credit and award requirements

The course is credit-rated at 180 credits.  

On successfully completing the course, you will gain a Master of Arts (MA degree).  

Under the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, an MA is Level 7. All units must be passed in order to achieve the MA but the classification of the award is derived from the mark for the final unit only.  

If you are unable to continue on the course, a Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert) will normally be offered following the successful completion of 60 credits, or a Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) following the successful completion of 120 credits.

Learning and teaching methods

During your course you will engage with learning and teaching that includes both online and face-to-face modes. Typically, this will include:

  • Unit and project briefings 
  • Set and self-initiated project briefs 
  • Inductions, lectures and seminars 
  • Collaboration and interdisciplinary team-working 
  • Peer learning 
  • Self and peer assessment 
  • Guest speakers 
  • Group discussions, reviews and critiques 
  • Working with clients on live projects
  • Mentoring
  • Industry case study or placement
  • Collaborative field research 
  • Dissertation teaching 
  • Independent study 

Assessment methods

  • Group presentations 
  • Audits and reports 
  • Reflective journal 
  • Learning log 
  • Project output 
  • Placement diary 
  • Major project 
  • Written critical appraisal 
  • Degree Show display

Museum Specialist and Historian: Kevin Flude
Second Year Tutor: Jan Rose
Second Year Tutor: Claire Healy
Second Year Tutor: Ingrid Hu
Theory Tutor: Tom Butler
Mentor and Placement Broker/Second Year Tutor: Simon Banos
Communications Assistant: Stephanie Romig-Orr
Associate Lecturer: Allan Parsons

How to apply

Opportunities for all

We are committed to making university education an achievable option for a wider range of people and to supporting all of our students in achieving their potential both during and after their courses.

We welcome applications from people with disabilities. If you have a disability (e.g. mobility difficulties, sensory impairments, medical or mental health conditions or Asperger’s syndrome) we strongly encourage you to contact us on disability@arts.ac.uk or +44 (0)20 7514 6156 so that we can plan the right support for you. All enquiries are treated confidentially. To find out more, visit our Disability & Dyslexia webpages.

Entry requirements

The standard entry requirements for this course are as follows:

  • An honours degree in a relevant field: architecture, exhibitions, graphics, interiors, performance, retail, spatial, theatre, 3D, multimedia or interaction design, museum studies or curatorship, writing and design management  
  • Or an equivalent EU/international qualification

And normally at least one year of relevant professional experience.

For further advice on entry requirements contact Tricia Austin, Course Leader on +44(0) 20 7514 8535 or email p.austin@csm.arts.ac.uk.

APEL - Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning

Exceptionally applicants who do not meet these course entry requirements may still be considered. The course team will consider each application that demonstrates additional strengths and alternative evidence. This might, for example, be demonstrated by:

  • Related academic or work experience
  • The quality of the personal statement
  • A strong academic or other professional reference

Or a combination of these factors.

Each application will be considered on its own merit but cannot guarantee an offer in each case.

English language requirements

IELTS level 6.5 or above, with at least 5.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking (please check our main English language requirements webpage).

Selection criteria

We select applicants according to potential and current ability in the following areas:

  • Skills and knowledge in your own discipline and preferably some examples of post college work in your particular field
  • Evidence of interest and understanding of narrative structure
  • Work demonstrating engagement with narrative in a spatial context, whether that is a real or virtual space
  • A reflective and critical approach
  • Evidence and experience of teamwork
  • Self-motivation, ambition and a commitment to the course.

What we are looking for

We actively seek graduates with some experience of architecture, curatorship, writing or design who want to grow their expertise within the cultural and commercial sectors. We seek resourceful, talented and ambitious individuals who work well in multidisciplinary teams. The college's strong international profile is reflected in the broad cultural mix of our students and our international studio placements and exchanges.

Making your application

You should apply by clicking on the link to the direct form below. The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you do not 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.

Deferred entry

Central Saint Martins does not accept applications for deferred entry. You should therefore apply in the year you wish to study.

Transfers

If you are currently studying at another institution and if you have successfully completed 60 credits in the equivalent units and modules on your current postgraduate course and wish to continue your studies at Central Saint Martins, you can apply to transfer. The Admissions Tutor will consider applications on a case by case basis, subject to places being available. You must apply directly to the course via the course webpage as early as possible.

Please check our Student Transfer Policy for more important information and be ready to provide us with your current course handbook and unit transcripts.

You will need to provide an official document (translated into English) from your current university, explaining the learning outcomes of the units you have completed.

Start your application now

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following information when completing the online application form:

General information

Personal details (including legal full name, preferred name, date of birth, nationality, addresses)

Current English language level

Current and/or previous education and qualification details

Employment history

Personal statement

Your personal statement should explain what role the course would play in your personal and professional development and where you aim to locate yourself within the cultural and commercial industries.

We cannot consider your application if you do not provide all the information above.

Communicating with you

After you have successfully submitted your application, you will receive an email confirming we have successfully received your application and providing you with your login details for the UAL Portal.  We will request any additional information from you, including inviting you to upload documents / portfolio / book an interview, through the portal.  You should check your UAL Portal regularly for any important updates and requests.

Please add csm.ukeu@arts.ac.uk to your contacts to ensure that you do not miss any important updates re: your application to UAL. Also consider altering your spam or junk mail filter to ensure that emails from @arts.ac.uk get through to you.

Application deadline

12 January 2022 or 13 April 2022

For postgraduate courses at UAL there are 2 rounds of applications. This is to ensure equal consideration and fairness for all of our applicants. You must apply by 12 January 2022 for Round 1 or by 13 April 2022 for Round 2. We recommend you submit your application as early as possible before these deadlines, to allow the Admissions team to resolve any initial queries about your application as quickly as possible.

When you'll hear from us

This course receives a high volume of applications. We need to make sure that we give all applications equal consideration, so the course team will review them in two rounds. This means that offers won’t be sent to successful applicants until after the relevant application deadline date. Outcomes for Round 1 will be released by 31 March 2022 and outcomes for Round 2 will be released by 30 June 2022.

Remember to check the outcome of your application in the UAL Portal. If you apply in Round 1 and don’t hear back from us, we will consider your application within Round 2.

Find out more about what happens after you apply.

There are two ways international students can apply:

You can only apply to the same course once per year.

If you are applying directly you click on the link to the direct form below. The application form can be saved as you fill it out, so you do not 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.

Transfers

If you are currently studying at another institution and if you have successfully completed 60 credits in the equivalent units and modules on your current postgraduate course and wish to continue your studies at Central Saint Martins, you can apply to transfer. The Admissions Tutor will consider applications on a case by case basis, subject to places being available. You must apply directly to the course via the course webpage as early as possible.

Please check our Student Transfer Policy for more important information and be ready to provide us with your current course handbook and unit transcripts.

You will need to provide an official document (translated into English) from your current university, explaining the learning outcomes of the units you have completed.

Deferred entry

Central Saint Martins does not accept applications for deferred entry. You should therefore apply in the year you wish to study.

Visas

Read our visit our immigration and visa advice page to find out whether you need a visa to study.

Start your application now

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following information when completing the online application form:

General information

  • Personal details (including legal full name, preferred name, date of birth, nationality, addresses)
  • Current English language level
  • Current and/or previous education and qualification details
  • Employment history

Personal statement

Your personal statement should explain what role the course would play in your personal and professional development and where you aim to locate yourself within the cultural and commercial industries.

Immigration history check

Whether you are applying online or through a UAL representative you will need to complete an immigration history check to establish whether you are eligible to study at UAL.  If you do not complete the check we will not be able to proceed with your application.

We cannot consider your application if you do not provide all the information above.

Communicating with you

After you have successfully submitted your application, you will receive an email confirming we have successfully received your application and providing you with your login details for the UAL Portal.  We will request any additional information from you, including inviting you to upload documents / portfolio / book an interview, through the portal.  You should check your UAL Portal regularly for any important updates and requests.

Please add csm.international@arts.ac.uk to your contacts to ensure that you do not miss any important updates re: your application to UAL. Also consider altering your spam or junk mail filter to ensure that emails from @arts.ac.uk get through to you.

Application deadline

12 January 2022 or 13 April 2022

For postgraduate courses at UAL there are 2 rounds of applications. This is to ensure equal consideration and fairness for all of our applicants. You must apply by 12 January 2022 for Round 1 or by 13 April 2022 for Round 2. We recommend you submit your application as early as possible before these deadlines, to allow the Admissions team to resolve any initial queries about your application as quickly as possible.

When you'll hear from us

This course receives a high volume of applications. We need to make sure that we give all applications equal consideration, so the course team will review them in two rounds. This means that offers won’t be sent to successful applicants until after the relevant application deadline date. Outcomes for Round 1 will be released by 31 March 2022 and outcomes for Round 2 will be released by 30 June 2022.

Remember to check the outcome of your application in the UAL Portal. If you apply in Round 1 and don’t hear back from us, we will consider your application within Round 2.

Find out more about what happens after you apply.

After you apply

What happens next

Initial application check

We check your application to see if you meet the standard entry requirements for the course.  If you do, you will be invited to submit a portfolio through your UAL Portal.

Digital portfolio

Your portfolio should be up to 15 pages and demonstrate your practical and conceptual skills as well as your working processes.

All applicants:

  • Your Video Task (details below) – the first page of your portfolio

The remaining content of your portfolio will depend on your field of expertise as follows:

Designers should include:

  • Images of visual work
  • Examples of moving image work if appropriate
  • Developmental research material
  • Samples of written work.

Curators and museum studies graduates should include:

  • A link to a detailed professional CV with project descriptions
  • Documentation of work where possible

Architects should include:

  • Your degree project
  • Two other projects featuring concept drawings and process work that demonstrate your own concerns
  • Drawings, designs, visualisations and photographs of models appropriate to your experience and background.

Writers and humanities graduates should include:

  • A publications list or CV detailing recent projects (e.g. screenplays, scripts, art direction, articles from journals or newspapers, short stories, novels)
  • Details of membership of professional organisations (e.g. Writers Guild, NUJ)
  • At least three samples of work.

For more portfolio advice please visit our portfolio advice page.

Video task

We'd like you to submit a 2-3 minute video to help us learn more about you:

  • Please speak clearly in English and face the camera
  • Your video task is submitted along with your portfolio
  • Read our guidance for how to submit your video task and which file types we accept

As part of your video task please respond to the following direction:

  • We would like you to identify one project from your portfolio that exemplifies your interest in Narrative Environments and your capacity to create them.  Describe the project and your role in creating it. Explain how this experience inspired you to apply to the MA Narrative Environments program at CSM.

Interview

Following the review of the portfolio we select a small number of applicants to move on to the next stage of the process.  These applicants will be invited to an online interview, lasting 15 to 20 minutes.

How we notify you of the outcome of your application

You will receive the outcome of your application through the UAL Portal.

Fees and funding

Home fee

£6,455 per year

This fee is correct for 2021/22 entry and is subject to change for 2022/23 entry. Tuition fees may increase in future years for new and continuing students on courses lasting more than one year. For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

Home fees are currently charged to UK resident nationals. However, the rules are complex and you can find out more on our tuition fees pages.

From 2021/22 entry, most EU students will be charged the International tuition fee rate, although this may depend on your individual circumstances. If you started your course in October 2020 or earlier, you’ll continue to pay Home (UK) fees for the duration of your course. Read more advice for EU students on our Brexit information webpage

International fee

£16,450 per year

This fee is correct for 2021/22 entry and is subject to change for 2022/23 entry. Tuition fees for international students may increase by up to 5% in each future year of your course. For this course, you can pay tuition fees in instalments.

International fees are currently charged to students from countries outside of the UK. However, the rules are complex and more information can be found on our tuition fees pages.

From 2021/22 entry, most EU students will be charged the International tuition fee rate, although this may depend on your individual circumstances. If you started your course in October 2020 or earlier, you’ll continue to pay Home (UK) fees for the duration of your course. Read more advice for EU students on our Brexit information webpage

Scholarship search

Careers and alumni

MA Narrative Environments extends and enhances your employment opportunities in sectors such as exhibition, event, retail and interpretive design, visitor centre development, curating, scripting and creative direction, film and TV production, architecture, new media and interaction design, brand development and design for corporate environments.

The postgraduate course also addresses the need for advanced research in spatial practices. It provides a grounding in design research and intellectual, scholarly debate that can lead you to MPhil and PhD research degrees.

MA Narrative Environments has excellent links with renowned practitioners across the spectrum of narrative design. Professional fields include: interpretive design; production; architecture; interaction, media, graphic and communication design; brand communications; museums and galleries; planning and management.

Companies and institutions that are affiliates and sponsors of MA Narrative Environments include:

  • Arthesia HD, Switzerland
  • Arup Innovation Unit
  • The British Museum, London
  • Event Communication, London
  • Eyebeam, NY
  • FAT (Fashion Architecture Taste) London
  • The Freud Museum, London
  • Glasshouse Community-led Design, London
  • G.T.F, London
  • Hidden Art, London
  • IDEO London and Shanghai
  • Imagination, London and NY
  • Land Design Studio, London
  • LDJ lighting design, Yorkshire
  • MET London and Hong Kong
  • Metaphor, London
  • Participle, London
  • Ralph Appelbaum Associates London and NY
  • Selfridges, London
  • the Serpentine Gallery, London
  • The Science Museum, London
  • The Speaker's Corner Trust
  • Southbank Centre, London
  • Stanton Williams, London
  • Tate Modern, London
  • United Visual Artists, London
  • Wolf Olins, London
  • The Wellcome Trust, London.