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Postgraduate

MA Graphic Communication Design

Close up shot of moulded shapes in a variety of pastel colours
Clockwise from top left: Anna Niklova, Off The Grid; Stephanie Jin, Lorem Ipsum, Where’s Your Daddy?; Sachi Patil, Decaying: Conversations with Machines on Human Life; Lily Kong, I’m Fine; Matt Urpani, An Array of Constraints; Owen Lewis, Eating Ortolan in the Hammock of Reality; Klara Blazek, Self-Cities
College
Central Saint Martins
Start date
September 2023
Course length
Two years (60 weeks)
Extended full-time

MA Graphic Communication Design brings critical depth and rigour to an increasingly noisy and disorienting visual landscape.

The course intervenes meaningfully in a world continuously reconfigured by its modes of communication and knowledge production. It is part of the Graphic Communication Design programme.

Why choose this course at Central Saint Martins

  • Open practice: This course provides a structured and open framework for the development of a critical practice in an expanding field of graphic communication design. Our community of designers works across established specialisms such as typography, book design, and illustration, as well as emerging digital and social practices.
  • Enquiry through experimentation: We engage with graphic communication design and writing practice as forms of research. Through rigorous experimentation with visual media and tools of communication we ask questions, interrogate existing knowledge, and propose new forms of knowledge.
  • Contextualized practice: We position graphic design as a relational practice that not only reflects but actively reconfigures its cultural, social, and environmental contexts.
  • Critical exchange: This course gathers together a highly international student and staff community, and the wide variety of their individual experiences provides a foundation for critical examination of historical and contemporary contexts for practice.

Open days

Find out more about this course on Monday 28 November, as part of our Postgraduate Online Discovery Week. Book now

Scholarships, bursaries and awards

Course overview

MA Graphic Communication Design explores how the production of knowledge is intertwined with its form, context, and circulation. The course takes an expanded approach to the idea of research, combining studio and writing practice to engage critically with graphic design as both a creative practice and a subject of study. Through iterative and open-ended experimentation with visual media and tools of communication, students develop work that investigates existing knowledge, activates positions, and projects new forms of knowledge—within and beyond the discipline.

Engaging with studio and writing practice as a form of rigorous enquiry, students and staff together explore how graphic design is a situated and relational discipline that both reflects and reconfigures its cultural, social, and environmental conditions. From this position, our community of practitioners critically interrogates the academic and professional contexts for practice as well as the very nature of the discipline itself, continually co-defining and re-defining the expanding field of graphic design.

MA Graphic Communication Design, along with BA Graphic Communication Design and a small group of PhD students, is part of the Graphic Communication Design programme. In addition to sharing an academic team and studio spaces, the programme offers a range of extracurricular events, lectures, live briefs, and other activities.

Course units

On MA Graphic Communication Design, coursework and learning build successively across three units. In response to project briefs set by tutors and through independent planning, you will develop a body of studio and written work that explores graphic design as a research practice, articulates your positions, and extends the propositions of your work through attention to form and production.

Presentation, discussion, and critique are essential to the development of your practice and provide the foundation for learning on the course. This will happen in group and individual tutorials as well as through tutor-led, peer-to-peer, and self-reflective assessment. In addition, you will interrogate existing and new contexts of practice through reading groups and seminars, and you will develop a critical engagement with form through short making-led workshops.

A series of course lectures consolidates knowledge across all units and further supports progression through the curriculum by providing broader context for the study and practice of graphic communication design.

A note on unit titles: In the field of logic, the arrow symbol [→] is used to indicate a material implication. For example, Methods → Positions could be read as Methods imply Positions. The double-headed arrow [↔] is used to indicate a material equivalence. Thus, Methods ↔ Positions could be read as either Methods means the same as Positions or Methods if and only if Positions. In the case of unit titles in MA Graphic Communication Design, these symbols are used to indicate that differentiated aspects of practice are, in fact, not only cumulative but co-defining.

Unit 1: Methods

In Unit 1 you will challenge conventional notions of research by exploring how the media, methods, and skills of graphic communication design practice can be used to enquire, to interrogate, or to speculate new forms of knowledge. Guided by studio briefs set by tutors, you will initiate a series of iterative and process-led experiments. These experiments will develop your understanding of, and capacity to engage in, open-ended enquiry through making. In lieu of singular and closed outcomes, each of your projects will grow through systematic engagement in a method. 

Unit 2: Methods ↔ Positions

In Unit 2 you will explore how positions arise through, or are inherent in, experimentation with methods and media. You will situate yourself within the discipline of graphic design, such as in context of a medium, production process, or mode of distribution. You will also explore how graphic design frames your engagement with broader contexts, such as social and environmental conditions, institutions, markets, technologies, other fields of study, etc.

Your coursework will develop through continued iterative and process-led experimentation, and by critically contextualising your practice through reading, writing, and association. This will enable you to explore how a research practice articulates, enacts, and publishes (makes public) new forms of knowledge through and about graphic design.

Unit 3: Methods ↔ Positions ↔ Projections

In Unit 3 you will project your research practice into new territory through a more critical interrogation of the relationship between the form of a message, its medium, and its context. Building on your iterative, experimental, and process-led work from previous units, you will consider how engaging with the details of production opens more possibilities for your work.

You will also consider how projections, as acts of publication, distribution, and/or circulation, are relational and contextual. You will explore how your practice develops though its interaction with networks, publics, and audiences. 

Mode of study

MA Graphic Communication Design is offered in extended full-time mode which runs for 60 weeks over two academic years. You will be expected to commit to 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:

  • Staff-led briefs
  • Negotiated briefs
  • Lectures
  • Workshops
  • Tutorials
  • Discussions and critiques
  • Tutor-led, peer-to-peer, and self-reflective assessment

Defining graphic communication design: A film by graduate Xiaoying Liang

Graduate Showcase

Explore work by our recent students on the UAL Graduate Showcase

  • WOW! (6EQUJ5) Vol. 2 – A Space Message to Earth
    WOW! (6EQUJ5) Vol. 2 – A Space Message to Earth, Sandy Christ, 2022 MA Graphic Communication Design, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • https://poetic.cargo.site
    https://poetic.cargo.site, Linran Jiang, 2022 MA Graphic Communication Design, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • Monomaniacal
    Monomaniacal, Lila Meyer, 2022 MA Graphic Communication Design, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • A Brainful of Diagrams
    A Brainful of Diagrams, Andreas Panayi, 2022 MA Graphic Communication Design, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • Fuck Recycling: We Need a Revolution
    Fuck Recycling: We Need a Revolution, Daisy Pearson, 2022 MA Graphic Communication Design, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • An Array of Constraints
    An Array of Constraints, Matthew Urpani, 2022 MA Graphic Communication Design, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • The Library of Babble
    The Library of Babble, Stephanie Jin, 2021 MA Graphic Communication Design, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • I'm Fine
    I'm Fine, Yuet (Lily) Kong, 2021 MA Graphic Communication Design, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • OFF THE GRID
    OFF THE GRID, Anna Niklova, 2021 MA Graphic Communication Design, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • Decaying Conversations with Machines on Human Life
    Decaying Conversations with Machines on Human Life, Sachi Patil, 2021 MA Graphic Communication Design, Central Saint Martins, UAL

Facilities

MA Graphic Communication Design stories

  • Central Saint Martins Shows 2022
    Central Saint Martins Shows 2022 (photo: Martim Miguel)

    Central Saint Martins Shows 2022

    After two years without end-of-year shows at the College, we opened our doors to celebrate the people and place that make up our community.

  • Shortlist for MullenLowe NOVA Awards 2022
    Chloe Kang, MA Industrial Design

    Shortlist for MullenLowe NOVA Awards 2022

    We are delighted to share the shortlist for this year's MullenLowe NOVA Awards that ranges from the futures of food to the experiences of diaspora.

  • Nominations for MullenLowe NOVA Awards 2022 announced
    Fran Hayes, BA Fine Art

    Nominations for MullenLowe NOVA Awards 2022 announced

    As we prepare to open our doors to celebrate our graduating students in Central Saint Martins Shows, we can share the nominations for this year's MullenLowe NOVA Awards for Fresh Creative Talent.

  • Students repaint hearts at the National COVID Memorial Wall
    BA Graphic Communication student painting the National COVID Memorial Wall (Photo: Ellen Huynh)

    Students repaint hearts at the National COVID Memorial Wall

    In collaboration with Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice and activists Led By Donkeys, students from our Graphic Communication Design programme repainted the memorial for those who died from COVID-19, helping to set it in perpetuity.

Lecturers

  • Andrew Brash

Associate Lecturers

  • Jayoon Choi
  • Max Colson
  • Abbie Vickress

Graduate Teaching Assistants

  • Lily Kong
  • Owen Lewis

Fees and funding

Home fee

£7,315 per year

This fee is correct for 2023/24 entry and is subject to change for 2024/25 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 nationals and UK residents who meet the rules. However, the rules are complex. Find out more about our tuition fees and determining your fee status.

International fee

£18,640 per year

This fee is correct for 2023/24 entry and is subject to change for 2024/25 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.

Students from countries outside of the UK will generally be charged international fees. The rules are complex so read more about tuition fees and determining your fee status.

Scholarship search

Entry requirements

The standard entry requirements for this course are as follows:

  • An honours degree
  • Or an equivalent EU/international qualification.

AP(E)L – 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:

  • Creative intelligence and aesthetic sensitivity demonstrated by design portfolio
  • Flexibility, self-awareness and capacity to cultivate a research-driven practice
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Capacity to reflect critically on graphic communication design
  • Independence, sense of purpose and a capacity to commit to coursework
  • Relevant previous experience
  • Alignment of personal aims and objectives to the curriculum.

Apply now

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

We do not requirea personal statement.  Please add any information you want to include in the Essay (see below).

Essay

Part 1 (200-300 words)

What do you hope to achieve through postgraduate study on MA Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins? If your undergraduate degree was in another subject, how do you think studying graphic communication design will extend and expand upon your existing experience? Making clear and specific references to the course description as found on the course website, explain how the course aligns with your goals or suggests new possibilities that excite you.

Part 2 (200-300 words)

The field of graphic communication design is always changing, as are the contexts within which it operates. Identify a piece of design that you’ve seen recently that challenges current presumptions about graphic communication design—whether in its form, its use, or its relationship to other disciplines or areas of concern—and describe how the piece does this.

Because graphic communication design is an expanding field, your example could come from a range of media and practices, but you should be able to clearly explain its relevance.

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.

Application deadline

19 December 2022 and 3 April 2023

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 for 19 December 2022 for Round 1 or by 3 April 2023 for Round 2.

The round 1 deadline has been changed to 19 December to give you more time to make your application.

When you'll hear from us

If this course requires a digital portfolio as part of the application process, we will contact you to invite you to submit this through UAL’s online submission tool, PebblePad. For Round 1 applications, you will need to submit your portfolio by 9 January 2023 at the latest and by 20 April 2023 for Round 2.

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 2 rounds, after each application deadline date. This means you won’t hear from us about the outcome of your application until after the relevant application deadline date. Outcomes for Round 1 will be released by (at the latest) end of March and outcomes for Round 2 will be released by end of June 2023.

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

We do not requirea personal statement.  Please add any information you want to include in the Essay (see below).

Essay

Part 1 (200-300 words)

What do you hope to achieve through postgraduate study on MA Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins? If your undergraduate degree was in another subject, how do you think studying graphic communication design will extend and expand upon your existing experience? Making clear and specific references to the course description as found on the course website, explain how the course aligns with your goals or suggests new possibilities that excite you.

Part 2 (200-300 words)

The field of graphic communication design is always changing, as are the contexts within which it operates. Identify a piece of design that you’ve seen recently that challenges current presumptions about graphic communication design—whether in its form, its use, or its relationship to other disciplines or areas of concern—and describe how the piece does this.

Because graphic communication design is an expanding field, your example could come from a range of media and practices, but you should be able to clearly explain its relevance.

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.

Application deadline

19 December 2022 and 3 April 2023

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 for 19 December 2022 for Round 1 or by 3 April 2023 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.

Portfolio Review

The digital portfolio should be a PDF of 25 pages including the following:

Images from 2–3 projects that demonstrate your understanding of the practical aspects of graphic communication design. This could include examples of work that:

  • is made for someone else (such as a client or community group)
  • fulfils a specific communication need and/or
  • demonstrates a visually and/or technically mature use of relevant media.

Images from 2–3 projects that demonstrate a more critical or experimental use of graphic communication design. This could include examples of work that:

  • is research-driven
  • experiments with relevant media in an open-ended way and/or
  • falls outside of accepted modes of professional practice.

Please follow this guidance in preparing your portfolio:

  • You may include projects from a range of media and practices, but you should be able to demonstrate their relevance to the field of graphic communication design
  • Feel free to include links to websites, videos, or other media on the internet
  • Show images at a large scale so that we can see the details of your work
  • Provide very brief captions or explanations to contextualise each project (1–2 sentences per project)
  • If you have worked on a project as part of a group or team, be sure to indicate the specific nature of your role or involvement in the project
  • Please provide a current CV/resume detailing all professional and academic experience. For academic credentials, please include any marks or grades.

We strongly recommend that you attend an online or in-person open day event for this course before submitting your application. These events provide an opportunity to ask questions about the course and discuss best approaches to preparing your portfolio (which is especially relevant to applicants coming from fields outside of graphic communication design).

Interview

Following the review of your application and 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.

The interview will be with a member of the course’s academic staff team, and will last approximately twenty minutes. We will ask you some standard questions that we ask of all candidates. There will be a few minutes toward the end for you to ask any questions that you might have. As part of the interview process, you will be asked to discuss the work you have submitted in your PDF portfolio, which we recommend that you have at hand during the discussion.

How we notify you of the outcome of your application

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

Feedback

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

If you would like to request feedback, please contact us via your portal.

Each and every application is carefully considered by a member(s) of our academic team. With so many strong applicants to choose from, it is often a very difficult decision to make. If you are unsuccessful, you are welcome to apply to us again in the future.

Deferring your place

This course accepts requests from offer holders to defer their place for one academic year. Deferral requests are granted on a first-come, first served basis until all deferral places are filled, or a deadline has been reached, whichever is sooner.

Careers

It's easier and more affordable to print a newspaper or a book, publish a web page, or shoot and edit a video than it's ever been before. This democratisation of media is energising, but what becomes of the professional designer? By asking important questions such as why we design, what it means to claim identities as graphic communication designers, and where being a designer may take us, graduates of MA Graphic Communication Design are well equipped to take a pro-active and innovative approach to building their futures.

Our interrogative approach to careers is underpinned by a wide range of practical exposure and support. Students attend weekly Graphic Communication Design programme lectures by contemporary practitioners, which explore a variety of professional practices and offer insights into life as a designer. The programme also hosts alumni events where graduates share their experiences and network with students. The university also provides a wide range of practical careers support available to all students at UAL.

Our graduates have gone on to launch their own studios and publishing companies, work for large-scale institutions and corporations around the world, freelance in their chosen areas, or develop their own new models for design practice. An increasing number of our graduates are following the MA with PhD study and choosing to pursue a design research career.