skip to main content
an image

MA Design for Social Innovation and Sustainable Futures

Start date
September 2019
Course length
1 year 3 months full time (45 weeks across a four-term model)

Course summary

Please note: This is a new course for 2019/20 entry and is subject to validation.

Validation is the process by which the university develops new courses to ensure students get a high quality academic experience. During validation there may be some changes to the course content displayed on this page. Please contact us if you have any questions about this course.

About this course

MA Design for Social Innovation and Sustainable Futures is aimed at enthusiastic and agile designers who want to concentrate their practice on working strategically and creatively as agents of positive change.

Five reasons to apply

  • Purpose driven – Apply design thinking to real-world challenges; engage with and empower diverse societal voices; undertake sustainable 'design in action'.
  • Systematic approach – Acquire skill-sets to interrogate the interrelated dynamics of design practice within the world; imagine models geared towards paradigm shift and innovation.
  • Communication-centric – Use communication design as a tool to explore, engage, manage and enterprise for societal and ecological transformation.
  • Co-creative and transdisciplinary – Co-design with stakeholders; learn from multiple disciplines and perspectives; collaborate with peers, organisations and communities.
  • Resilient learning – Develop strategic and adaptive skills to deal with uncertainty and complexity that promote advocacy, leadership and employability.

Open evenings

The next Open Evening for this course will be announced soon.


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


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 details

MA Design for Social Innovation and Sustainable Futures course will 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.

Design is realised via the disciplines of communication, strategy, interaction and innovation; placing systems-thinking at its core.

You will be invited to explore and question these disciplines in relation to the global systems they inhabit, looking at the environment, materiality, empathy, ethics and responsibility as they are set within broad and dynamic socio-cultural, economic and political contexts.

What can you expect?

The course design methodologies combine rigorous research approaches with a ‘lean start-up’ attitude to exploring, managing, and enterprising. Through collaboration (with peers, industry partners and organisations) and via co-design with stakeholders, you'll learn to connect, frame, reimagine and plan for transformation.

You will be given opportunities to participate in a diverse range of experiences including workshops, presentation, exhibitions, symposia, knowledge exchange and skills sharing. Teaching is led by course teams who draw on expertise in social innovation, sustainable design, design activism and design theory and practice.

The Design School at LCC believes in ‘design as the site of action and agency to radically transform our world.’ This postgraduate course is aimed at enthusiastic and agile designers who want to concentrate their practice on working strategically and creatively as agents of positive change.

Who is this course for?

  • Enthusiastic and agile designers who want to concentrate their practice on working strategically and creatively as agents of positive change.
  • Have a visual communication technical/practical background with commitment to critical thinking, research and ambitious project development.
  • Proactive, contextually aware and curious thinkers interested in exploring themes in social innovation and sustainable design.
  • Global citizens able to interact effectively within an international student cohort and to engage with project stakeholders or collaborative partners.

Course units

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.

Course units:

  • Researching and framing (20 credits)
  • Social impact and enterprise (40 credits)
  • Co-design for sustainable futures (40 credits)
  • Collaborative unit (20 credits)
  • Design in action major project (60 credits)

Changes to courses

Information provided by the University is accurate at the time of first publication. Courses, however, remain subject to change. Changes may be necessary to improve the quality of educational services, in order to meet the latest requirements of a commissioning or accrediting body, in order to bring course content in line with best practice activities across the Higher Education sector, in response to student feedback, and/or due to a lack of student demand for certain units or options.

Events may arise outside of the reasonable control of the University which lead to changes to courses. Such events may include industrial action, civil disorder, severe weather, and changes in applicable laws and/or safety requirements.

If you have accepted a place on a course, we shall notify you of any changes as soon as reasonably practicable.

Webpage updates

We will update this webpage from time to time with new information as it becomes available. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact a member of the course team.


Programme director

Dr Noemi Sadowska

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 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 (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) 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.


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.

Portfolio and interview advice

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 may be asked to participate in an interview conducted by the course team before a place can be offered. Interviews will take place at LCC, or via Skype/telephone.


Deferring an offer

If you are offered a place for 2019/20 but wish to defer to 2020/21, information on how to do this and who to contact can be found in your offer letter. Additionally, International applicants should pay the deposit in order to defer. In all cases, deferred places will be held for one year.

Making a deferred application (during 2018/19 for entry in 2020/21)

Home/EU applicants are permitted to make a deferred application. International applicants are not permitted to make a deferred application.

UAL Language Development

We offer English Language Development for Overseas students. See how we can help you with your studies.

Learn More

Making your application

We ask all applicants to complete an online application and upload additional digital items, via the Apply now link, below. Before you apply, we recommend you take some time to read the course Entry Requirements section to learn about the application process and additional items you would need to supply.

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.

Required information for all postgraduate course applications

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

  • 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

Before submitting your application, you will need to agree to the terms and conditions for how we process your data – these are explained in the application form. Once you have submitted the online application, we will send you a confirmation email.

Please note: if you’re an international applicant we will ask you 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

You will be asked to supply:

  • Portfolio

After you have submitted your application, the course leader will then review your work, and may invite you to interview in person or conduct the interview via Skype, and will then make a decision on your application.

The admissions team will be in touch soon 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 are made throughout the year, however, early application is advised.

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.

As you progress through the application process we will send you emails with important information, so do check your inbox regularly (and junk folder, just in case).

After you apply

Successful applicants will be guided through the rest of our admissions stages and towards enrolment on the course.

Fees & Funding

Home / EU fee

£10,890  (2019/20).

There is an additional £900 residential fee for International Residential Summer School and Events costs.

UAL alumni receive a £1,000 discount

Course fees may be paid in instalments

International fee

£19,930  (2019/20).

There is an additional £900 residential fee for International Residential Summer School and Events costs.

UAL alumni receive a £1,000 discount

Course fees may be paid in instalments

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.


Find out about the accommodation options available and how much they will cost.

Scholarships and awards

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

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.

Home / EU and International students

Funding opportunities available for this course:

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.

View college guides



Follow us