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Postgraduate

MA Regenerative Design

Close up shot of moulded shapes in a variety of pastel colours

College
Central Saint Martins
Start date
September 2023
Course length
Two years (60 weeks)
Extended full-time

Sustainability is not enough: MA Regenerative Design goes further, helping you to develop your creative practice for a more-than-human world.

This course equips you to place biodiversity, climate, cultural and socio-economic equity at the heart of your work. This course is part of the Jewellery, Textiles and Materials programme.

Why choose this course at Central Saint Martins

    A living systems approach: You will learn how to adopt living system thinking and deep ecology principles in your practice to design at the service of the regeneration of earth’s systems and communities.

    Hybrid and interdisciplinary expertise: The core course team consists of a designer, an ecologist and a cultural anthropologist.

    Situated learning: The course is online and “ultra-local”. You will be embedded within your home biosphere and community to develop a locally specific regenerative design project.

    Action research: You will learn to design for a more-than-human world through an individual, localised and bespoke action research project that integrates multi-species thinking.

    Ethical and holistic principles: This course focuses on holistic and ethical skillsets to work with ecological restoration, indigenous knowledges and local communities.

Open days

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

Scholarships, bursaries and awards

Course overview

In the context of a fast-accelerating climate and biodiversity emergency, sustainable design is not enough (Whal). Over the past few decades, the integration of environmental considerations in the design process has focused on strategies such as more efficient use of natural resources (i.e. zero waste design) or the reduction of our environmental impact (i.e. using less toxic materials, carbon-neutral design).   

Regenerative Design goes beyond sustainability and actively contributes to restore and replenish what human activities have radically deteriorated. From intensive agriculture, to expanding mega cities, energy production, design and manufacture, global economics and finance systems, the majority of human endeavours manifests a worldview in which the natural world is understood as a resource to be exploited. Designers materialise their creative vision by specifying and orchestrating transformative processes and materials which, renewables or not come from Earth. As such they carry a large responsibility when it comes to climate and biodiversity impact. With a fast-expanding human population, one million species at risk of extinction, and a looming global climate shift, we need to transition towards a new culture of repair. Regenerative Design is a rising discipline that incorporates principles of deep ecology and living system thinking (Naess, Capra, Reed), regenerative cultures (Whal), circular design (Webster, Ellen MacArthur Foundation), autonomous design (Escobar) and a fundamental understanding of planetary health to develop new creative propositions that can help restore our biodiversity, climate and empower communities through design. Instead of perpetuating an anthropocentric mindset which leads to the depletion of our underlying life-support systems, regenerative design goes beyond sustainable and circular design principles to actively promote a multi-species approach where human and non-human species co-habit holistically. 

This course proposes to engage with an online community of designers who will be studying from their local contexts to develop an action research project in regenerative design and actively contribute to holistically restore their local biosphere taking into account endemic cultures, indigenous voices and socio-cultural tenets as appropriate. Students will come from a range of craft and design backgrounds (fashion, textiles, jewellery, product, service, architecture, craft, ceramics...) and will learn how to revisit their respective creative practice via a regenerative lens whether they live in a rural or urban context. 

Fundamentally the course aims to enable students to adopt living systems principles for the development of holistic and regenerative design proposals.

Design questions addressed through the teaching and curriculum content include:  

  • How can design participate as nature (Whal, Naess)?  
  • How does multi-species thinking manifest in design? How do we design craft artefacts, products, services or systems for a more than human world? 
  • What are the distinctive features of regenerative design in an urban setting Vs. a rural environment? 
  • How do we translate permaculture principles into life-enhancing design proposals at the service of planetary health?  
  • How do we design to restore our biodiversity and climate whilst empowering local communities and protecting endangered crafts?  
  • How do we integrate and respect indigenous knowledge and ways of life in the design agenda? 
  • Can regenerative design be a pivotal agent of change for an interconnected decarbonisation, decolonisation and de-extinction agenda?   
  • What can design learn from cultural anthropology and indigenous knowledges to adopt new locally and culturally-specific regenerative models across creative disciplines (fashion, textiles, jewellery, product, service, architecture)?

Course units

The course is fully online and builds on an integrated mode of learning where the knowledge acquired in one unit provides the foundation for the learning in the next unit with a total of four units over two academic years.  

The first unit is ‘front-loaded’ in terms of formal teaching as it forms the foundational platform for the rest of the course. As the units progress, the proportion of self-directed and independent study will increase and formal teaching time will be reduced. This is to provide you with space to become confident in developing an individual and creative approach to regenerative design.  

Annual ‘knowledge gathering workshops’ will bring the students’ cohort together to exchange and share knowledge and help build and sustain an enriching online community.  

Unit two is designed as a collaborative elective unit to broaden access to the wider students’ postgraduate community via interdisciplinary group work addressing theme-based global challenges.  

Unit 3 and 4 are dedicated to the development and realisation of an individual regenerative design project located in your home region. 

 

Unit 1: Design for Life   

A Living Systems Approach to Design 

In order to reach beyond the limitations and pitfalls of sustainable design, we need to facilitate a paradigm shift in how, what and why we design. Informed by deep ecology principles (Naess), living system thinking (Capra, Reed, Escobar, Meadows) and scenarios for regenerative cultures (Whal, Webster), this unit will deconstruct prior learning and challenge students to re-evaluate their design practice with radical new lenses that embody living systems thinking and place biodiversity, climate, cultural and socio-economic equity, and indigenous wisdom at the heart of their creative process.  

By integrating knowledge, tools and methodologies from the fields of ecology and cultural anthropology, this unit will enable students to build the foundations to create holistic and regenerative design outputs.  

The unit will start with a 3-day induction workshop to build an online cohort dynamic, share and exchange cultural values, design tales and backgrounds and introduce the course ethos as well as provide key induction sessions.  

The core of the unit is constituted of a series of short design briefs combined with lectures, knowledge gathering seminars, tutorials, group critiques, and workshops. These design briefs will provide a creative canvas for students to experiment with new knowledge informed by: planetary boundaries, permaculture, circular and regenerative systems, biodiversity framework, climate research and science-based targets, nature conservation and rewilding, international frameworks and governance (UN SDGs, COPs), cultural anthropology, decolonisation and indigenous knowledge, holism, and ethics of care.  

At the end of this unit students will submit an annotated portfolio of experimental design work; an annotated bibliography and glossary, a self-assessment and an oral presentation. 

This unit is cross-referenced with 

UN SDGs: all. 

UAL Creative attributes framework:

1 - Making things happen: Proactivity, Agility  

3 - Life-wide learning: Curiosity, Self-efficacity, Resilience 

 

Unit 2 (Elective): Design with Permaculture Principles 

Translating permaculture principles in design to address planetary challenges

This unit is shared with other design postgraduate courses at CSM. Students will work online in interdisciplinary groups to respond to a global planetary challenge via principles of permaculture (Holmgren, Mollison).  

The unit will start with an introduction to collaborative working practices so that all students on this elective can be acquainted and share their backgrounds and expertise. The unit will then introduce the design brief including the planetary challenge (identified on an annual basis) and present key principles of permaculture via a lecture and workshop. 

Permaculture is a defined school of thoughts based on (living) whole systems thinking. The ethos of permaculture is embedded in a set of clearly defined principles that promote life-conducive collaborations across species for a fair share of natural resources. Often associated with agriculture and gardening, these principles can be adopted in design and become an effective tool to systematically apply living systems thinking in creative practice. 

Examples of global design challenges include: How can we design to regenerate ocean life? How and what can we design to support the survival of endangered species?  How do we use the principle of reciprocity to regenerate our soils via design-led interventions? How can regenerative design help mitigate and adapt to localised climate shifts? 

At the end of the unit each group will submit their regenerative design proposal in the form of an online presentation.  

This unit is cross-referenced with: 

UN SDGs: a selection of SDGs as identified in the design brief. 

UAL Creative attributes framework:  

1 - Making things happen: Proactivity, Enterprise, Agility  

2 - Showcasing abilities and accomplishments with others: Communication, Connectivity, Storytelling 

 

Unit 3: Design For And With Your Local Biosphere  

Place-based action research

In this unit students will research, develop and frame an individual regenerative design brief related to their local biosphere via an action research project. They will use living system thinking tools to frame a pertinent research question, establish a relevant network of potential collaborators, and develop bespoke ecological and cultural surveys and observations as well as experimental design work.  

This unit will include lectures and workshops on ecological, anthropological and design research tools, ethics, as well as economic frameworks and business models (doughnut economics, circular economy) that can inform the development of a situated practice designed to promote reciprocal eco-cultural abundance.  

Regular tutorial support will enable students to discuss their progress and develop a bespoke approach to regenerative principles informed by their local context. At the end of this unit students will present their research proposal, situate their action research (including rationale, research methodology and stakeholder cartography) and map out the regenerative blueprint for their design practice in terms of biodiversity, climate and communities.  

For the final summative assessment, students will submit an annotated design portfolio which includes design brief, design experiments, material sampling, prototypes (as appropriate) and final design outputs, a bibliography and relevant documentation (surveys, interviews, analysis...), a legacy forecast, as well as a self-assessment and an oral presentation. 

This unit is cross-referenced with 

UN SDGs: as identified by the students 

UAL Creative attributes framework:  

1 - Making things happen: Proactivity, Enterprise, Agility  

2 - Showcasing abilities and accomplishments with others: Communication, Connectivity, Storytelling 

3 - Life-wide learning: Curiosity, Self-efficacity, Resilience 

 

Unit 4: Design for Regenerative Futures

Regenerative design development and conclusions, critical evaluation and legacy forecast

In this concluding unit students will use the research and outcomes produced in unit three as a platform to develop a well resolved final regenerative design project. They will also evaluate and forecast the holistic impact and regenerative legacy of their project in terms bio-cultural abundance and reciprocity. The unit will start with a ‘knowledge gathering workshop’ when students will come together for a 3-day online workshop to share the outcomes of unit 3, map regional knowledge for regenerative design and generate a world view of key stakeholders based on their individual research and development.  

This unit will include a video editing, design narrative and visual communication workshops and regular individual and group tutorial support to develop the final project.  

Students will also be introduced to foresight techniques to develop an informed and situated legacy forecast for their regenerative design proposal. 

At the end of this unit students will submit a design portfolio, an analytical critical report, a short film and a project presentation at an online public symposium. This presentation will include a project legacy roadmap, a critical evaluation, and a short video to communicate the project. 

This unit is cross-referenced with 

UN SDGs: as identified by the students 

UAL Creative attributes framework:  

1 - Making things happen: Proactivity, Enterprise, Agility  

2 - Showcasing abilities and accomplishments with others: Communication, Connectivity, Storytelling 

3 - Life-wide learning: Curiosity, Self-efficacity, Resilience 

Learning and teaching methods

All the formal teaching including formative and summative assessments are delivered online (using UAL platforms such as moodle, blackboard ally, collaborate ultra, panopto) and include: lectures, knowledge gathering and mapping seminars, workshops, learning workshop, technical demonstrations, tutorials, group critiques and self-directed independent study. However some aspects of learning will be site-specific to the students’ geographical location as they will be conducting design research work and self-directed study in their home region. Activities such as ecological survey, data gathering, design prototyping and sampling, documentation of research may require analogue and site specific learning modes.    

There will be a strong emphasis on using a diverse range of digital tools to support and sustain continuous online learning and community building (Padlet, Workflow, Teams, Discord) as well as creative apps and encrypted communication apps such as Telegram. 

In addition to the UAL Creative Attributes Framework cross referenced in unit descriptions, formative assessments will encourage skills such as risk-taking, independent enquiry, effective negotiation skills, as well as critical, ecological and civic engagement. We also recognise that empathy and the ability to listen are key attributes when developing meaningful relationships with community stakeholders, with each other, and with other species. 

Each unit will include a briefing at the start and a debrief at the end to reaffirm what was learnt in the unit and how it will inform the following unit. 

Below are the UAL technical requirement for courses delivered online: 

  • Laptop or desktop computer, running Windows 10 or later operating system or OSX 10.13 or later operating system (Please check for operating system updates. While you can participate in most sessions and access material using a mobile platform, we recommend using a computer to do it, especially for assessments)
  • Microphone, speakers and headphones
  • Webcam (optional)
  • An up-to-date browser, Chrome or Firefox are recommended, with cookies and JavaScript enabled
  • Wi-Fi access

The underlying pedagogy of the course will take into consideration staff and students well-being and balance online learning with offline creative and self-directed modes of study.

Fees and funding

Home fee

£5,320 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

£13,345 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 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 Regenerative Design (interview, personal statement) 
  • Evidence of your ecological and civic commitment to planet justice and social equity (both as a designer and as a citizen of Earth) (interview, personal statement) 
  • Strong creative design and technical skills, excellent visual presentation and communication skills and a clear ability to develop self-directed creative briefs (portfolio) 
  • The ability to discuss your portfolio demonstrating a critical perspective of your work with a clear understanding of your design context and an engagement with global and local issues that affect your industry/craft practice 
  • A commitment to experiment and explore new creative avenues, new schools of thoughts and the ability to engage with a range of online learning tools and learning materials (interview, personal statement)

Interviews are only arranged on the basis that the Portfolio demonstrates the applicant’s ability to skilfully generate and communicate strong design concepts and well-considered informed design outputs.  

We are looking for people who are ecologically-driven and personally committed to use their creative skillsets to develop an ethical, holistic and design-led regenerative project bespoke to their home region.   

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

You will need to submit a short statement about why you want to study MA Regenerative Design. 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.

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, you will be invited to submit this through UAL’s online submission tool, PebblePad. We will request this separately after initial processing of your application is complete. Once we request your portfolio, you will have 7 days to submit it.

Once you’ve sent in your application, this will be sent through to our course teams for review. 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 Regenerative Design. 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.

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

Once you’ve sent in your application, this will be sent through to our course teams for review. 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 25 pages and demonstrate that:

  • You have the ability to skilfully generate and communicate strong design concepts and sophisticated, informed and well-resolved design outputs
  • 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 and an engagement with global and local issues that affect your industry/craft practice.

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, lasting 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 Regenerative Design (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 and an engagement with global and local issues that affect your industry/craft practice (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.

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.

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