skip to main content

Essential coronavirus info
Your safety is our first priority.

Postgraduate

MA Design for Social Innovation and Sustainable Futures

Hands holding up a piece of rough wood, against a blue sky and urban setting.
Pipi Yuan and Giulia Capasso, The Adventure in a Future of Rewilding 2120, 2020, MA Design for Social Innovation and Sustainable Futures, London College of Communication, UAL.
College
London College of Communication
Start date
September 2021
Course length
1 year 3 months full time (45 weeks across a four-term model)

This course invites people from different creative backgrounds to come together around a shared interest in complex global issues, criticality, collective action and the future of design practice.

Why choose this course at London College of Communication

  • Create real impact - this course invites you to generate work that will have a positive influence and impact on the world. At different scales and in different ways.
  • Collaborate widely - The open studio culture within this course will involve you working with people with a variety of backgrounds and lived experiences, from all over the world, inside and outside the university walls.
  • Expand your network and your mind - The course will introduce you to a range of people and places working in the field of social innovation and sustainable futures. Through workshops, talks, visits, exhibitions and events you will take a critical look at existing practice and theory while developing your own knowledge.
  • Figure out your unique values and purpose - This course will give you opportunities to explore what matters most to you, what change you want to make in the world now and in the future.
  • Future-facing skills - Develop a range of fundamental transferable skills such as design research, impact evaluation, participatory design, social entrepreneurship and critical analysis. Setting you up for your unique professional future as a responsible creative practitioner.

Open Evenings

The next online Open Day for this course will be announced soon.

A recording of our latest online Open Day for this course is now available. Watch online now

Course films

Online Open Day

(Recorded March 2021)

Course Leader, Ella Britton, gives an overview of studying MA Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability at London College of Communication.

Student work

  • pipi-yuan-giulia-capasso-the-adventure-in-a-future-of-rewilding-2120-9.jpg
    , Pipi Yan and Giulia Capasso, The Adventure in a Future of Rewilding, 2020.
  • student-rrun-sessions.jpg
  • working-from-home-ma-dsfsf.jpg
    , MA Social Innovation and Sustainable Futures cohort working collaboratively from home.
  • workshop-gallery-design-innovation-2.jpg
  • Rebecca-Ghim-_-Decolonising-Futures_1.jpg
    , Rebecca Ghim, Decolonising Sadaejuui in Korean History Through Speculative Letter from the Future
  • Haneen-Jamal-and-Muneera-al-barrak-cleair.jpg
    , Haneen Jamal and Muneera al Barrak, Cle/Air
  • PiPi-Yuan-and-Giulia-Capasso_The-adventure-in-a-future-of-rewilding-2120-13.jpg

Student Voices

Course stories

Facilities

  • Red light indicating recording is taking place.
    Image © Vladimir Molico
    Lens-based and Audio-visual

    Find out about the workspaces and studios that support Lens-based and Audio-visual practice.

  • A tutor in the process of producing a print.
    Image © Lewis Bush
    Printmaking

    Have a look around the places and spaces that make up LCC and get an idea of what it's like to be here.

  • The Digital Space, London College of Communication.
    Image © Ana Escobar
    The Digital Space

    The Digital Space is an open-plan, creative hub with computers set up with specialist software.

Course overview

MA Design for Social Innovation and Sustainable Futures has been established as a collaborative, creative and generative studio for designers interested in working with complex global issues.

The course will explore the future of design practice and its interdependency with humanitarian and ecological concerns. Whether you are a graphic designer, systems designers, animator, filmmaker or architect, you will be invited to explore and question your design discipline in relation to the global systems you inhabit. Looking at the environment, materiality, empathy, ethics and responsibility within broad and dynamic socio-cultural, economic and political contexts. It is both a practical and thoughtful course with an emphasis on innovative practice, collective action, plurality and real-world change.

The MA will culminate in a final ‘Design in Action’, creating demonstrable eco-social impact.

What can you expect?

You will work fast. You will work slow. You will think deeply. You will make quickly. You might fail periodically. You might play intensely. You should learn continuously.

This course has been designed using principles from human-centered design, building on the concept of humanity-centered design. You will delve deeply into research methodologies, prototyping and experimentation, ideation, service design and systems thinking. 

Through various forms of collaboration inside and outside the university, you will learn to connect, frame, re-imagine and build for more sustainable futures. You will be exposed to different theories in social innovation and sustainable practice. You will be invited to critique these and build your own knowledge.

You’ll be given opportunities to participate in a diverse range of experiences including workshops, presentations, exhibitions, symposia, knowledge exchange and skills sharing. The course has been designed to be designed. All students involved will be shape-shifting this course through their own critical and practical work.

The Design School at London College of Communication believes in ‘design as the site of action and agency to radically transform our world’. This course will be putting thinking into practice, giving you the chance to make real social impact through a Final Project.

Who is this course for? 

  • Students who care about the world they inhabit. Who make work with purpose and intent. Enthusiastic, collaborative and responsive designers who want to concentrate their practice on working as agents of positive change. 
  • Students curious about both the systematic power of design in shaping the future, and the limitations, ethics and critical dialogue around social innovation practices.
  • Students with a creative background and with practical design experience. Able to take initiative, try things out, take risks, disrupt, put their values into practice, and lead through uncertainty.
  • Students who want to work with people who are not the same as them. Able to create productive ecosystems of collective action. Able to cross boundaries of discipline, experience, identity and believes.

Mode of Study

MA Design for Social Innovation and Sustainable Futures is in full time mode which runs for 45 weeks over 15 months. You will access learning through a blended model of online and offline experiences. You will be expected to commit 40 hours per week to study.

Course units

In 2019 UAL declared a Climate Emergency and pledged to ‘make sustainability a required part of the student learning experience’. In response to the climate and ecological crisis the Design School set in place an ambitious Sustainability Action Plan to fully embed responsible practices within the curriculum and in everything we do.

As part of this initiative we have updated our course handbooks against a set of social and environmental sustainability principles to ensure that learning outcomes reflect the urgent need to equip students with the understanding, skills and values to foster a more sustainable planet. Our aim is to change the way students think and to empower them to work towards a sustainable future.  

Each course is divided into units, which are credit-rated. The minimum unit size is 20 credits. The MA course structure involves five units, totalling 180 credits.

Researching and framing for innovation (20 credits)

Understand the range of different design research methods and apply these to a real-world enquiry. Explore the ethics of research practice, the complexity of the global issues within our different personal and cultural contexts, and the importance of getting the question right.

Eco-Social Innovation and Impact (40 credits)

Explore an expansive range of theories, models, and literature around the subject of social innovation and sustainability. Dive into examples of practice and take a critical look at the past, present and future.

Collaborative unit (20 credits)

A chance to do a real project with other people across the university and beyond. Put your knowledge, thinking, and ideas into practice.

Co-design for sustainable futures (40 credits)

Speculate, imagine, and make more plural, collaborative and sustainable futures.

Design in action: major project (60 credits)

A chance for you to roll your sleeves up and start your own piece of work in direct reaction to a situation or issue in the world that you want to change. 

Learning and teaching methods

  • Collaborative learning
  • Peer-to-peer exchange
  • Hands on workshops
  • Reading groups
  • Peer-led seminar learning
  • Individual and group tutorials
  • Self-directed learning
  • Visiting practitioners
  • Study trips
  • Formative and summative assessment

Assessment methods

  • Documentary and reflective process blogs
  • Presentations (group and individual) of insights in response to real-world problems
  • Portfolios (group and individual)
  • Critical, evaluative and self-reflective reports
  • Sustainably designed outputs of the written work
  • Outcomes: proof of concepts, interventions, prototypes

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 MA Design for Social Innovation and Sustainable Futures course welcomes applicants who are keen to explore design in terms of its human-centred and strategic approach, its collaborative potential, and as a leading force for driving meaningful and contextually relevant societal and ecological transformation.

Applicants may come from a range of design disciplines or related creative industry experiences with a 2:1 or above Honours degree course, or have other equivalent qualifications.

The course team also welcomes students with relevant technical/ practical background experience who have worked in creative industries and who show a commitment to design and experiential learning, being keen to explore their practice as a place of sustainable action and social transformation.

The teaching team is looking for applicants who value critical thinking and socially and environmentally focused design, and are looking to question the relationship of design industry and the global systems it inhabits.

Educational level may be demonstrated by:

  • Honours degree at 2:1 or first-class
  • Possession of equivalent qualifications;
  • Prior experiential learning, the outcome of which can be demonstrated to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required;
  • Or a combination of formal qualifications and experiential learning which, taken together, can be demonstrated to be equivalent to formal qualifications otherwise required.

Language requirements

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) is required, with a minimum of 6.0 in speaking and reading, and 5.5 in writing and listening.
  • If your first language is not English, you can check you have achieved the correct IELTS level in English on the Language Requirements page.

For further details regarding international admissions and advice please visit the International Applications page.

Selection criteria

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

  • Sufficient prior knowledge and experience of and/or potential in a specialist subject area to be able to successfully complete the programme of study and have an academic or professional background in design for social innovation
  • A willingness to work as a team player, excellent language skills in speaking, reading and writing, the ability to work independently/be self-motivated and work collaboratively.
  • A proactive team attitude, with strong communication skills and the ability to work both collaboratively and independently.
  • Critical knowledge of and enthusiasm for design as place of social transformation and capacity for research-led design, intellectual inquiry and reflective thought through: contextual awareness (professional, cultural, social, historical, environmental); evidence of investigation, analysis, development and evaluation (from previous academic study and/or employment) and a grounded understanding of the world of design cultures and be able to engage in and contribute to critical discussion.
  • Via the ‘Personal Statement’ – a curiosity to explore responsible and ethical design practice in order to transform society and enable sustainable futures.
  • Via the ‘Portfolio’ – creative and research-based projects, that show problem-solving, experimentation and making processes.

Making your application

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

  • First, they will look at your qualifications and transcript (or projected results)
  • Secondly, they will review your personal statement and portfolio
  • There is no requirement for an academic or professional reference.

Deferring your place

This course allows offer holders to defer. If you have an offer of a place, but you would like to defer starting for a year, please contact our Admissions Service as soon as possible via your UAL Portal. Make sure you check our Admissions Policy before requesting a deferral.

If you are an EU offer holder, it is important to consider that, from 2021-22, you may be charged International fees, which are higher. Read our Coronavirus guidance for prospective students for details.

Required information for all postgraduate course applications

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following items and upload documents when completing 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
  • CV
  • Personal statement

Extra information required for applications to this course

  • Portfolio

Start your application now

Apply now

The online application 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 press submit.

External Student Transfer Policy

If you are currently studying at another institution and have successfully completed 60 credits in the equivalent units/modules on your current PG course and wish to continue your studies at London College of Communication, 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.

Further information about the external student transfer policy can be found on the Office for Students Information page.

CV

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.

Personal statement advice

Your statement should be 500 words

Please say why you are applying for this course, in particular giving examples of your enthusiasm for, and inquiry into, ‘design as an agent of transformative change’.

Your personal statement should also outline relevant prior experience (design or otherwise) demonstrating current knowledge of social innovation and socially focused design developments and discourses.

Ensure that your personal statement is well written, clear and free of any spelling mistakes.

It is your chance to impress the course team by showing a strong interest in the subject, demonstrating what you feel you would bring to the course, your appreciation of what the course can offer you and how you feel it might help you in the future. This can be demonstrated through work experience, previous studies and your personal experience.

Application deadline

15 May 2021

We recommend you apply as soon as possible before this date, for equal consideration. We may still be able to accept applications after this date, depending on availability.

When you’ll hear from us

Once you’ve sent in your application, this will be sent through to our course teams for review. We’ll be in touch shortly after you apply with information about next steps. Find out more about what happens after you apply.

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

  • First, they will look at your qualifications and transcript (or projected results)
  • Secondly, they will review your personal statement and portfolio\
  • There is no requirement for an academic or professional reference.

Start your application now

There are two ways international students can apply:

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.

Deferring your place

This course allows offer holders to defer. If you have an offer of a place, but you would like to defer starting for a year, please contact our Admissions Service as soon as possible via your UAL Portal. Make sure you check our Admissions Policy before requesting a deferral.

Required information for all postgraduate course applications

Before you apply, please take time to read the guidance below. You will be asked to provide the following items and upload documents when completing 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
  • CV
  • Personal statement

Please note: we will ask you for copies of certain documents (for example, English language qualification/certificate and copies of any previous UK study visas).

For further advice on how to apply please visit the UAL International Application page. International applicants can alternatively apply through one of our official representatives in your country.

Extra information required for applications to this course

  • Portfolio

External Student Transfer Policy

If you are currently studying at another institution and have successfully completed 60 credits in the equivalent units/modules on your current PG course and wish to continue your studies at London College of Communication, 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.

Further information about the external student transfer policy can be found on the Office for Students Information page.

Immigration history check

Whether you are applying through a UAL representative or direct application you will need to complete an Immigration History check. If you do not complete the Immigration History Check we will not be able to proceed with your application.

CV

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.

Personal statement advice

Your statement should be 500 words

Please say why you are applying for this course, in particular giving examples of your enthusiasm for, and inquiry into, ‘design as an agent of transformative change’.

Your personal statement should also outline relevant prior experience (design or otherwise) demonstrating current knowledge of social innovation and socially focused design developments and discourses.

Ensure that your personal statement is well written, clear and free of any spelling mistakes.

It is your chance to impress the course team by showing a strong interest in the subject, demonstrating what you feel you would bring to the course, your appreciation of what the course can offer you and how you feel it might help you in the future. This can be demonstrated through work experience, previous studies and your personal experience.

Application deadline

15 March 2021

We recommend you apply as soon as possible before this date, for equal consideration. We may still be able to accept applications after this date, depending on availability.

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 all after the application deadline date. This means you won’t hear from us about any next steps until after this date. Find out more about what happens after you apply.


After you apply

Communicating with you

After you have successfully submitted your application online, you will receive an email confirming your application and providing your login details for the UAL Applicant Portal. Please add @arts.ac.uk to your contacts to ensure that you do not miss any important updates re: your application to UAL.

Please log into the portal, as this is where we will send you important updates and requests, and you can contact us with any questions you may have about your application.

What happens next

Portfolio and interview information

All applicants will be expected to submit an electronic portfolio of work, which includes maximum of six projects (10-20 images) with supporting material – demonstrating creativity, research and working process as well as the final outcome.

  • Examples of creative work (visual and written).
  • Evidence of developmental research and process competencies.
  • Evidence of personal areas of interest in the field of sustainability and social innovation.

If you have links to web projects or other media, please note these in your CV.

Applicants are usually interviewed by the course team before a place can be offered. Interviews will be held online, and details will be sent via the UAL Portal.

How we notify you of the outcome of your application

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

Requesting feedback

This course receives a high number of applications, and we can’t provide feedback to everyone who is unsuccessful. We can only provide feedback after you’ve had an interview.

If you would like to request feedback – please email lcc.ukeu@arts.ac.uk if you are a Home or EU applicant, or lcc.international@arts.ac.uk if International. We are only able to provide feedback to you directly, or to someone you have told us in writing can receive it on your behalf.

Fees and funding

Home fee

£11,220 per course

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

£22,920 per course

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

Careers paths

Demand in the public, private and third sectors for professionals with this knowledge-set and experience means that career options are diverse. Therefore, graduates might join/work with:

  • Creative practices and strategic design companies.
  • Corporate social responsibility departments.
  • Ethical businesses or social enterprises.
  • Government, policy-makers and government agencies/advisors.
  • Charities, NGOs and Not for Profits.

By combining strong practice-based learning and strategic thinking with an innovative and enterprising mind-set, students will also have the knowledge, confidence and competitive edge to:

  • Set up their own agencies, start-ups or incubators.
  • Become eco-social entrepreneurs, researchers and educators.
  • Act as ethical/sustainable consultants or advisors to business, organisations and enterprises.

Alumni