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Postgraduate

MA Biodesign

Sheathed pink beads on a bed of pink grain
Malu Luecking
College
Central Saint Martins
Start date
September 2024
Course length
Two years (60 weeks)
Extended full-time

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

This course is still open to applications and will remain open until all places are filled.

Applying for more than 1 course

You can apply for more than 1 postgraduate course at UAL but we recommend that you apply for no more than 3. Find out more in the Apply Now section.

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

There are currently no open days scheduled for this course, please check back at a later date.

Recordings

Watch a recording of the recent MA Biodesign open day.

Scholarships, bursaries and awards

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. 

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.  

Important note concerning academic progression through your course: If you are required to retake a unit you will need to cease further study on the course until you have passed the unit concerned. Once you have successfully passed this unit, you will be able to proceed onto the next unit. Retaking a unit might require you to take time out of study, which could affect other things such as student loans or the visa status for international students. 

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

The learning and teaching methods devised for this course include:

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

Graduate Showcase

Explore work by our recent students on the UAL Showcase

  • Make Like a Leaf: Architecture as Atmosphere
    Make Like a Leaf: Architecture as Atmosphere, Lucia Giron, 2023 MA Biodesign, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • MELWEAR
    MELWEAR, Maca Barrera, 2023 MA Biodesign, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • The Alginator
    The Alginator, Jessica Evans, 2023 MA Biodesign, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • SOUNDWALL the rooted frequencies
    SOUNDWALL the rooted frequencies, Mathilde Wittock, 2023 MA Biodesign, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • The Sweeeet Side
    The Sweeeet Side, Liv Tsim, 2023 MA Biodesign, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • Phytonet - the Internet of water
    Phytonet - the Internet of water, Maria Li, 2023 MA Biodesign, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • Pearlescence of the Future
    Pearlescence of the Future, Mia Luong, 2023 MA Biodesign, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • GROWN BLUR
    GROWN BLUR, BOQUN HUANG, 2023 MA Biodesign, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • Bio-invasive Texitle Library
    Bio-invasive Texitle Library, Xue Chen, 2023 MA Biodesign, Central Saint Martins, UAL
  • Frankenflowers
    Frankenflowers, Millicent Sutton, 2023 MA Biodesign, Central Saint Martins, UAL

Facilities

Staff

Associate Lecturer in Sustainability and Circular Economy: Dr Anouk Zeeum Van Der Lann
Director of Maison/0: Carole Collet
Multimedia Designer, Associate Lecturer: Vassilis Skandalis

Fees and funding

Home fee

£7,680 per year

This fee is correct for 2024/25 entry and is subject to change for 2025/26 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

£20,505 per year

This fee is correct for 2024/25 entry and is subject to change for 2025/26 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 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.

Apply now

Application deadline

Deadline

Round 1:

13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)

Round 2:

3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)

Digital portfolio deadline

Round 1:

16 January 2024

Round 2:

16 April 2024

Decision outcome

Round 1:

End of March 2024

Round 2:

End of June 2024

Round 1
Round 2
Deadline
13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)
3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)
Digital portfolio deadline
16 January 2024
16 April 2024
Decision outcome
End of March 2024
End of June 2024

The deadline has now passed. However, this course is still open to applications and will remain open until all places are filled.

Read more about deadlines

Apply now

Application deadline

Deadline

Round 1:

13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)

Round 2:

3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)

Digital portfolio deadline

Round 1:

16 January 2024

Round 2:

16 April 2024

Decision outcome

Round 1:

End of March 2024

Round 2:

End of June 2024

Round 1
Round 2
Deadline
13 December 2023 at 1pm (UK time)
3 April 2024 at 1pm (UK time)
Digital portfolio deadline
16 January 2024
16 April 2024
Decision outcome
End of March 2024
End of June 2024

The deadline has now passed. However, this course is still open to applications and will remain open until all places are filled.

Read more about deadlines

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How to apply

Follow this step-by-step guide to apply for this course

Step 1: Initial application

You will need to submit an initial application including your personal statement and CV.

Personal statement advice

Your personal statement should be maximum 500 words and include:

  • your reasons for choosing the course
  • your current creative practice and how this course will help you achieve your future plans
  • any relevant education and experience, especially if you do not have any formal academic qualifications.

Visit our personal statement page for more advice.

CV advice

Please provide a CV detailing your education, qualifications and any relevant work or voluntary experience. If you have any web projects or other media that you would like to share, please include links in your CV. If English is not your first language, please also include your most recent English language test score.

Step 2: Digital portfolio

We will review your initial application. If you have met the standard entry requirements, we will ask you to submit a digital portfolio.

You’ll need to submit this via PebblePad, our online portfolio tool.

Digital portfolio advice

Your portfolio should consist of recent work that reflects your creative strengths.

It should:

  • be maximum 25 pages
  • demonstrate your skills and fluency in design thinking and processes
  • demonstrate a personal commitment to sustainable change
  • illustrate your ability to articulate and reflect on issues relating to biodesign practices, climate change and sustainable innovation.

For more support, see our Portfolio advice and PebblePad advice.

Step 3: Interview

You may be invited to an interview following our review of your application. All interviews are held online and last 15 to 20 minutes.

For top tips, see our Interview advice.

You also need to know

Communicating with you

Once you have submitted your initial application, we will email you with your login details for our Applicant portal.

Requests for supplementary documents like qualifications and English language tests will be made through the applicant portal. You can also use it to ask questions regarding your application. Visit our After you apply page for more information.

Applying to more than 1 course

You can apply for more than 1 postgraduate course at UAL but we recommend that you apply for no more than 3 courses. You need to tailor your application, supporting documents and portfolio to each course, so applying for many different courses could risk the overall quality of your application. If you receive offers for multiple courses, you'll only be able to accept 1 offer. UAL doesn't accept repeat applications to the same course in the same academic year.

Visas and immigration history check

All non-UK nationals must complete an immigration history check. Your application may be considered by our course teams before this check takes place. This means that we may request your portfolio and/or video task before we identify any issues arising from your immigration history check. Sometimes your history may mean that we are not able to continue considering your application. Visit our Immigration and visas advice page for more information.

External student transfer policy

UAL accepts transfers from other institutions on a case-by-case basis. Read our Student transfer policy for more information.

Alternative offers

If your application is really strong, but we believe your strengths and skillset are better suited to a different course, we may make you an alternative offer. This means you will be offered a place on a different course or at a different UAL College.

Deferring your place

We do not accept any deferral requests for our postgraduate courses. This means that you must apply in the year that you plan to start your course and you will not be able to defer your place to start at a later date.

Application deadlines

For postgraduate courses at UAL there are 2 equal consideration deadlines to ensure fairness for all our applicants. If you apply ahead of either of these deadlines, your application will be considered on an equal basis with all other applications in that round. If there are places available after the second deadline, the course will remain open to applications until places have been filled.