skip to main content

Essential coronavirus info
Your safety is our first priority.

Postgraduate

MA Biodesign

two images, one shows hands holding a large test tube, the other shows two petri dishes containing green matter

College
Central Saint Martins
Start date
October 2021
Course length
Two years (60 weeks)
Extended full-time

MA Biodesign explores bio-informed design strategies as a driver for sustainable innovation.

The course incorporates the inherent life-conducive principles of biological living systems into the design process. It is part Jewellery, Textiles and Materials programme.

Why choose this course at Central Saint Martins

  • Emergent discipline: You can be part of the emergent biodesign movement, targeting contemporary challenges such as climate change, low energy manufacturing, natural resources depletion, human and environmental health.
  • Grow Lab: You will have access to the Grow Lab, a new bio laboratory facility at Central Saint Martins with full technical support.
  • Research networks: You will benefit from the College’s pioneering, extensive body of research and international scientific networks, including the Design and Living Systems Lab.
  • Knowledge exchange: There will be opportunities to work with industry partners on knowledge exchange and research-oriented projects in the rapidly emerging field of biodesign.

Open days

Future open days will be scheduled from December 2021 until May 2022. Please check back here by November 2021 to register.

Scholarships, bursaries and awards

UAL EU Transitional Awards
UAL Home Postgraduate £5,000 Scholarships
UAL International Postgraduate £40,000 Scholarships
UAL International Postgraduate £5,000 Scholarships

Podcast – Course Leader Nancy Diniz on Design Drives

Facilities

Course overview

Biodesign is an emerging discipline. Despite a growing number of publications and exhibitions, there is no universal definition of biodesign as such. Other terminologies exist, such as biophilic design, bio-integrated design, biomimetic design and bio-informed design. While they vary in definition, they all relate to a similar principle: that we can learn from nature to create more sustainable ways of living. The MA Biodesign at Central Saint Martins specifically understands biodesign as a means to incorporate the inherent life-conducive principles of biological living systems into design processes – to transition into a more holistic, sustainable future.  

MA Biodesign explores bio-informed design strategies as a driver for sustainable innovation. You will articulate alternative and new innovative design propositions for the emerging bio-circular economy. Through this work, you will redefine the use of energy, water, air, waste and materials. The course proposes questions such as:  

  • How can we collaborate with living systems to prototype new sustainable materials? 
  • How can we incorporate life-conducive values in the design process towards biocompatible solutions with surrounding ecosystems? 
  • How can we engineer biological systems in order to tackle contemporary challenges, such as urban resilience, human and environmental health? 
  • How can biodesign contribute to the circular economy? 
  • Can bio-computation simulate and model living systems towards energy and material efficiency? 

The course will introduce designers from multidisciplinary design backgrounds to whole system thinking, biomimicry principles, biological systems, bio-computational design, digital and bio-fabrication techniques. You will apply these principles to designing new sustainable materials, products, services, systems and architectural propositions. There is a strong emphasis on ethical issues and on learning through making. Theoretical, global cultural and socio-environmental contexts will inform the development of your personal biodesign agenda. 

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 27 September 2021 – Friday 10 December 2021
Spring term
Monday 10 January 2022 – Friday 18 March 2022
Summer term
Tuesday 19 April 2022 – Friday 24 June 2022

Course units

MA Biodesign guides you towards a design enquiry. You will develop a personal biodesign agenda which can facilitate our transition to a sustainable way of life. As such, you will be expected to engage with relevant theoretical, scientific and cultural references. Throughout the course, there is a strong emphasis on ethical issues related to sustainability and biodesign practice. The units are designed to allow you to become more and more independent in the development of your practice. 

Unit 1: Seed 

This unit establishes the foundations of biodesign. You will explore a range of bio-informed design strategies. This will be done via a series of laboratory and studio workshops, inductions, lectures and design projects. The course begins with a significant level of teaching and will require both individual and group work. You will be expected to be proactive, responsive and collaborative in your learning.  

Some projects in this unit may incorporate external scientific or industrial partners. Others will be focused on your own learning and development. You will also undertake a series of knowledge-gathering and mapping workshops. These will help you to integrate and discuss relevant theoretical and contextual references. They will also guide you towards the development of an annotated bibliography. Unit 1 concludes with the submission of a biodesign portfolio which will evidence your learning. You will also submit an oral and visual presentation which will test how you articulate and communicate your work. 

Unit 2: Grow 

Unit 2 allows you to build on the foundations in Unit 1. You will develop your personal biodesign agenda. This will culminate in the submission of your MA Biodesign project proposal. You will submit this along with relevant ethics and risk assessment forms and a research and development portfolio. We will encourage you to be proactive and to seek relevant external expertise or collaborations. This will allow you to test your ideas and enrich your learning against external stakeholders.  

In this unit, there will be a range of design and research methodologies workshops. These are designed to support and challenge the development and delivery of your project proposal. While self-directed study will be prominent in this unit, peer-learning activities will also encourage you to articulate and discuss your personal agenda.  

Unit 3: Harvest 

Unit 3 is dedicated to the creative production and communication of your final MA Biodesign project. The MA Biodesign project proposal submitted in Unit 2 will provide the framework for the development of your project. You will discuss and report on your progress in regular tutorials and group critiques.  

In this unit, there is a strong emphasis on communication. You will be expected to submit a short film or animation which will articulate the sustainable issues you are addressing. This will also showcase your research, development and final design outputs. You will also present your final project in an oral and visual presentation format. This will be followed by a Q&A session, in which you will be expected to clearly situate and debate related sustainability issues.  

Mode of study 

MA Biodesign 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:

  • Lectures 
  • Tutorials 
  • Group critique  
  • Workshops 
  • Field studies 
  • Technical demonstrations 
  • Lab work 
  • Making and prototyping 
  • Collaboration 
  • Debate 
  • Observation 

Please note: Whilst access restrictions are in place due to the Covid 19 pandemic, teaching will be a blend of in-college teaching (taking into account current UK government distancing guidelines) and on-line teaching. Teaching will be delivered mainly through online lectures and seminars.

Assessment methods

  • Portfolio
  • Annotated bibliographies
  • Presentations
  • Self-assessment
  • Project proposals
  • Position film/animation

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 design subject area 
  • Or an equivalent EU/international qualification

And normally at least one year of professional experience.

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 we 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:

  • Personal and professional aspirations are compatible with the aims and objectives of MA Biodesign (Personal Statement/Interview)
  • The necessary skill and fluency in your own design thinking and processes to benefit from the course (Portfolio Review/Personal Statement/Interview)
  • A strong personal commitment to sustainable change and an ability to articulate and reflect on issues relating to sustainability (Portfolio review/Personal Statement/Interview).

These criteria are assessed through a review of the Personal Statement, Portfolio and Interview. Interviews are only arranged on the basis that the Portfolio demonstrates the applicant’s ability to skilfully generate and communicate a range of ideas addressing problems relevant to the discipline of biodesign.

What we are looking for

We are looking for people who are personally committed to contributing to sustainable change through their own design practice and who are excited about the potential of biodesign practices to contribute to this. Successful applicants will be able to embrace iterative, speculative and experimental approaches to developing biodesign practices and will relish the opportunity to articulate and debate how their work can contribute to the wider issues relating to sustainability.

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

You will need to submit a short statement about why you want to study MA Biodesign. This gives us a clear sense of your interests and your suitability for our course.

Here are some tips for what should include:

  • Please give your reasons for applying to this course
  • Please provide details of your particular subject interests, relevant experience or abilities
  • Provide details of your engagement with sustainable issues and debates in your educational and professional experience to date and describe how these have informed your design process.
  • Describe what you wish to achieve on the course, and how you intend to use the experience to advance your career aspirations?

Indicative project proposal

The indicative proposal should demonstrate your understanding of contemporary art practice and thinking. The course sets no boundaries to the fields of possible interest, and it is understood that proposals will evolve and change during the course.  (Write between 800 - 1000 words).

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 all 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 queries and progress 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, after each application deadline date. This means you won’t hear from us about any next steps 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 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

You will need to submit a short statement about why you want to study MA Biodesign. This gives us a clear sense of your interests and your suitability for our course.

Here are some tips for what should include:

  • Please give your reasons for applying to this course
  • Please provide details of your particular subject interests, relevant experience or abilities
  • Provide details of your engagement with sustainable issues and debates in your educational and professional experience to date and describe how these have informed your design process.
  • Describe what you wish to achieve on the course, and how you intend to use the experience to advance your career aspirations?

Indicative project proposal

The indicative proposal should demonstrate your understanding of contemporary art practice and thinking. The course sets no boundaries to the fields of possible interest, and it is understood that proposals will evolve and change during the course.  (Write between 800 - 1000 words).

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 all 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 queries and progress 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, after each application deadline date. This means you won’t hear from us about any next steps 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 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 that:

  • You have the necessary skill and fluency in your own design thinking and processes to benefit from the course
  • You have a strong personal commitment to sustainable change and an ability to articulate and reflect on issues relating to sustainability

For more portfolio advice please visit our portfolio advice page.

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 of 15 to 20 minutes.  In addition to the skills demonstrated in the portfolio and in the written statement, the applicant’s potential ability will be assessed using the following criteria during the interview:

  • Demonstrate that your personal and professional aspirations are compatible with the aims and objectives of MA Biodesign (Personal Statement/Interview)
  • You can demonstrate the necessary skill and fluency in your own design thinking and processes to benefit from the course (Portfolio review/Personal Statement/Interview)
  • You can demonstrate a strong personal commitment to sustainable change and an ability to articulate and reflect on issues relating to sustainability (Portfolio review/Personal Statement/Interview).

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

Alumni