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Postgraduate

MA Material Futures

  A cream trainer prototype
Jen Keane
College
Central Saint Martins
Start date
October 2024
Course length
Two years (60 weeks)
Extended full-time

Material Futures is where science, technology and design collide.

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.

We not only imagine a better future, but aim to actively change it today. This course is part of the Jewellery, Textiles and Materials Programme.

Why choose this course at Central Saint Martins

  • Future-facing design approach: The course curriculum will ask you to look beyond existing boundaries to anticipate future needs, desires, and challenges.
  • Embedded focus on sustainability: Using design and materiality as a platform to critically interrogate our sustainable future is a core component of the course.
  • Industry links: MA Material Futures continues to develop links with collaborative partners across a range of industry sectors. The course values the experience of live client briefs, as well as encouraging opportunities for students to gain external exposure and professional practice experience.
  • Multi-disciplinary and collaborative learning: The course encourages a multi-disciplinary approach. It explores the full spectrum of materiality, from low-tech analogue craft processes, to high-tech smart and interactive technologies.

Course overview

MA Material Futures encourages a wholly multi-disciplinary approach to design. Through trans-disciplinary practice and collaboration you will explore how we will live in the future. By working with experts, taking risks and blurring the boundaries between design, science and technology, you will look beyond existing disciplines, anticipating the future needs, desires and challenges that we face in the 21st Century.  

We believe that only by observing and analysing how we live today we can begin to explore how we might occupy tomorrow. Considering the current and future context of design decisions is key to our ethos. We will encourage you to combine social, scientific, political, environmental, ecological and economic inquiry. These insights will help inform future design scenarios, material propositions and research-led speculations.

Taking materiality as the starting point of the design process – literally the things we can touch, feel, interact with and observe – we integrate high and low technological materials and processes. Our students explore and come from a diverse range of disciplines. These include the worlds of fashion and architecture, as well as industrial, communication, textile, critical, digital and speculative design. 

We are committed to developing ethical Material Futures practices. To achieve this, we are working to embed UAL's Principles for Climate, Social and Racial Justice into the course. 

Course units

In MA Material Futures, units may include external workshops, lectures and projects. Through hands-on making, you will explore emerging sciences and technologies, processes and materials. You will also investigate current trends and behavioural insights. Through this, you will generate new design applications to contribute to a more sustainable tomorrow. 

Unit 1: Material Exploration

Unit 1 is intended to be a test bed for new ideas, approaches and design collisions. You will be encouraged to forget your previous disciplines and methodologies, and to experiment and be ambitious. You will be exposed to new technologies, science and design practices alongside methods of material and design research.  

Experimentation, innovation, contextual and critical knowledge and design-led personal research is key. The unit draws on academic research, industrial links and a programme of current speakers. It is engineered to stimulate debate and to engage you in the critical context of design. You will be encouraged to engage with emerging issues that will affect the future of your personal design practice. 

In this unit you will be expected to develop experimental design work and innovative design proposals. You will discuss and critically debate issues related to your practice. Your work in this unit will encourage you to create and propose sustainable concepts, artefacts and materials.

Unit 2: Material Proposition

In Unit 2 you will combine your new knowledge of emerging material practice with your previous skill set. You will create a personal research project proposal and critical journal. These will explore a topical issue in the field of material futures. This unit should be used as an opportunity to launch a physical and theoretical design proposition. You will identify and engage with relevant experts who can support you in your chosen field of design. They will help navigate the complexities of turning your design proposition into a reality.  

At the beginning of the unit, short projects or workshops may help you structure the critical framework for your final project. By the end of the unit, you will have framed a design issue. You will have identified relevant research methods to produce a final creative portfolio. This body of work and research investigation with culminate in an exhibition of design propositions.

Unit 3: Material Impact

In Unit 3 you will contextualise, construct and launch your design proposition. This is predominantly a self-initiated unit. It allows you the freedom to pursue your own research interests and personal approach within the discipline. 

What is the real-world impact? Why is this proposition pertinent now or in the future? You will also complete a critical text which explores and contextualises your work within a wider context. You Showcase your work at the college's annual degree show.

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 Material Futures is an extended full-time course 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:

  • Formative assessments;
  • Group critique;
  • Independent study;
  • Individual tutorials;
  • Lectures/workshops introducing research methodologies and techniques;
  • Peer learning;
  • Self-evaluation;
  • Technical demonstrations.

Future Tool workshop

Class of 2020

MA Material Futures x Baume and Mercier

MA Material Futures students trying out traditional coracle making workshop in the Brecon Beacons

Explore work by our recent students on the UAL Showcase

Course publications

MA Material Futures stories

410 Gone

410 Gone


openresty

Staff

Research Tutor: Professor Carole Collet
Academic Coordinator: Chloe Griffith
External Examiner: Fiona Raby
Visiting Practitioner: Attua Aparicio Torinos

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
  • Or an equivalent EU/international qualification

AP(E)L – Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning

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:

Portfolio

The quality of portfolio demonstrating:

  • Strong design and technical skills
  • A personal approach to developing a design concept (including research, design development and final outputs)
  • A knowledge and understanding of materials
  • A creative approach to visual communication and presentation.
Interview

In addition to the skills demonstrated in the portfolio, the applicant’s potential ability will be assessed using the following criteria:

  • The ability to discuss your portfolio demonstrating a critical perspective of your work
  • A clear understanding of your design context and an engagement with issues that affect your industry
  • The ability to have an informed conversation about your role as a designer
  • Motivation, commitment and understanding of the ethos of the MA Material Futures course.
What we are looking for

We are looking for people who are highly driven and passionate about design and who keep informed about the material, ethical, moral, social and political issues that affect the creative industries today, as well as how they locate themselves and their work within the global context of design.

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

All applications received by 3 April will be treated equally. If there are places available after this date, the course will remain open to applications until places have been 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

All applications received by 3 April will be treated equally. If there are places available after this date, the course will remain open to applications until places have been 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
  • include work that demonstrates your personal approach to design
  • demonstrate your design process from initial concept and research through to experimentation, design development and final outcomes
  • showcase your strong design and technical skills
  • illustrate your in-depth knowledge and understanding of materials
  • demonstrate your creative approach to visual communication and presentation
  • include captions to explain how your work engages with current industry practices and issues.

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.

Careers

MA Material Futures has established various links with industry in London and beyond, allowing students to work on international design projects and initiatives. MA Material Futures itself has contributed much to debate around design, both through the media and by organising and delivering papers at international conferences.

MA Material Futures students are expected to establish their own network of contacts and develop collaborations within industry as part of the development of their Masters project. Employers have included Adidas, Distance Lab, Banff New Media, Castelbajac, Donna Karan, Etam, Hussein Chayalan, Line Consultants, Louis Vuitton, Margiela, Media Lab Europe, Nicole Farhi, Speedo, Ted Baker, Design Lab, Trend Union and Nissan Design Europe.