About this course
MA Communication Design is the study of information and interface design. This course is research driven and combines creativity, critical analysis of contemporary media, with knowledge of the latest methodologies and tools.
A focus on digital media practice and theory sets this course apart from traditional communication design courses, preparing you for an exciting career in a range of design roles. We’ll encourage you to explore systems for the making and communication of text and image while you redefine your own practice through various media formats of experimental publishing and interaction design.
This course is for recent graduates or those with professional experience who wish to extend their creative skills and design knowledge into hybrid publishing, user experience design, and design research.
The core curriculum is practice based, supported by workshops, lectures and both individual and group tutorials. In our modern, well-equipped studios you’ll learn how to develop effective concepts and prototypes for current and emergent platforms, informed by graphic design and user experience design principles.
Throughout this master’s you’ll have opportunities to:
- build your own tools through creative coding and modular design experimentation
- take field trips to London and across Europe
- use excellent facilities like the Interaction and Prototyping Laboratory, 3D printing and laser cutting as well as traditional design and print equipment
- learn from academics with industry experience in graphic design, interaction design and design for experimental media
- create a portfolio of high-quality design work
Towards the end of the course you'll carry out a practice-led research project, which is an exciting opportunity for you to engage with key debates shaping the communication design field.
The course lead for our Communication Design master’s course is Danny Aldred. Danny is a visual artist and experienced commercial graphic designer. His current practice centres on publishing as creative practice with a focus on the artist book. His own publishing projects have been chosen for numerous international exhibitions, events and collections including the V&A Museum, Whitechapel Gallery, Freies Museum in Berlin and Printed Matter in New York. He is a passionate educator who believes in the transformative ability of education.
Learn more about this subject area
This course is based at Winchester.
This qualification is awarded by the University of Southampton.
Download the Course Description Document
The Course Description Document details your course overview, your course structure and how your course is taught and assessed.
You’ll need a minimum of a 2:2 degree in a design, communication, or media subject. Or an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the university.
Find the equivalent international qualifications for your country.
You will also have to submit a portfolio of your work which should include:
- evidence of exploring how design responds to developments in media and digital culture
- examples of work that shows an innovative and experimental approach to tackling a design challenge
- examples of work that demonstrates an engagement with the full range of contemporary communication design not just graphics design
English language requirements
If English isn't your first language, you'll need to complete an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to demonstrate your competence in English. You'll need all of the following scores as a minimum:
IELTS score requirements
- overall score
We accept other English language tests. Find out which English language tests we accept.
If you don't have the qualifications or English language skills to meet the entry requirements of a master's degree at Southampton, studying one of our pre-master's programmes can help you. Learn more about what they are and which courses are currently available.
Recognition of professional experience
If you don't have the exact entry requirements, but you have significant work experience in this sector we’ll assess your relevant professional experience, your subject knowledge and your aptitude for learning.
Your application will be considered on individual merit and you may be asked to attend an interview.
Got a question?
Please contact us if you're not sure you have the right experience or qualifications to get onto this course.
Tel: +44(0)23 8059 5000
This is a 1-year master’s degree running from September to the following September. Modules are taught in semesters 1and 2, and you’ll complete the course with a supervised independent final project over the summer.
In semester 1, you’ll study modules that everyone on the course studies. This includes a Professional and Academic Skills module, giving you the chance to develop your professional competencies through activities such as CV workshops, portfolio feedback and sessions with our industry-experienced academics on how to position yourself as a practitioner.
In semester 2, you’ll use your learning to apply your skills and prepare for your final project. You’ll also be able to choose a module from different options, that complements your communication design studies.
Want more detail? See all the modules in the course.
The modules outlined provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. As a research-led University, we undertake a continuous review of our course to ensure quality enhancement and to manage our resources. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand. Find out why, when and how we might make changes.
Learning and assessment
You’ll be mainly studio-based for the core modules and you’ll work on a series of themed briefs while exploring related techniques, tutorials and workshops. Alongside this you’ll learn essential transferable skills for the workplace.
As well as lectures and seminars, you’ll learn through:
- guest lectures
- studio visits
- problem-solving exercises
- reflective writing and blogging
- critically assessing your own work
We’ll assess you on your design process and outcomes, as well as a variety of individual written assignments.
You'll complete a supervised independent final project as part of this course. You'll create a portfolio with a supporting report which will be assessed.
The final project is your chance to build a body of work that reflects the professional or academic context you wish to go into after graduation.
You'll be able to choose from a range of subject areas.
You'll be allocated a personal academic tutor who can offer advice and support on academic and other matters. You’ll also have access to a wide range of University of Southampton support services should you need them. Weekly English language support sessions are currently available for international students.
For practical support, our skilled technicians can help you to get the most from our facilities and equipment – from photography or screen printing through to building a website or video editing.
Throughout the course you’ll generate a portfolio of work based on your areas of interest and build on professional skills needed for employment, starting your own businesses, or carrying out further research.
Our Excel Southampton placement programme can also give you potential opportunities to collaborate on external projects and undertake work placement positions.
You can use this master’s to build or further a career in digital and media design roles including:
- digital or graphic designer
- web designer,
- user experience designer
- mobile designer
- digital product developer
- brand/content manager
- visual or digital publisher
- project manager
- interaction or front end designer
Careers services at Southampton
We're a top 20 UK university for employability (QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022). Our Careers, Employability and Student Enterprise team will support you throughout your time as a student and for up to 5 years after graduation. This support includes:
- work experience schemes
- CV/resume and interview skills workshops
- networking events
- careers fairs attended by top employers
- a wealth of volunteering opportunities
- study abroad and summer school opportunities
We have a thriving entrepreneurship culture. You'll be able to take advantage of:
Fees, costs and funding
Fees for a year's study:
- UK students pay £9,250.
- EU and international students pay £26,500.
If you're an international student on a full-time course, we'll ask you to pay £2,000 of you tuition fees in advance, as a deposit.
Your offer letter will tell you when this should be paid and provide full terms and conditions.
Find out about exemptions, refunds and how to pay your deposit on our tuition fees for overseas students page.
What your fees pay for
Your tuition fee covers the full cost of tuition and any exams.
Find out how to pay your tuition fees.
Accommodation and living costs, such as travel and food, are not included in your tuition fees. Explore:
10% alumni discount
If you’re a graduate of the University of Southampton, you could be eligible for a 10% discount on your postgraduate tuition fees.
Postgraduate Master’s Loans (UK nationals only)
This can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate master's course. Find out if you're eligible.
International Postgraduate Taught Merit Scholarship
You are eligible for this scholarship if you:
• are an international student who hasn't taken a Master's with us before
• are enrolling to start a Master's in September 2021
• gained a 1st class honours degree at undergraduate level
If you meet these criteria you'll be awarded an automatic £3,000 scholarship. This will mean a £3,000 reduction in your tuition fees. We'll confirm your scholarship in your offer letter.
Unfortunately this offer isn't open to UK / EU students.
Winchester School of Art Postgraduate Global Talent Scholarship
Twenty scholarships of £5,000 each are available to international students joining our postgraduate master’s courses at the Winchester School of Art in September 2023.
Find out more about the Winchester School of Art PGT Global Talent Scholarship, including eligibility, deadlines and how to apply.
Southampton Arts and Humanities Deans Global Talent Scholarship
Ten scholarships of £10,000 each are available to international students studying for an undergraduate degree or a postgraduate master’s degree in Arts and Humanities.
Find out more about the Southampton Arts and Humanities Deans Global Talent Scholarship, including eligibility, deadlines and how to apply.
Other postgraduate funding options
A variety of additional funding options may be available to help you pay for your master’s study. Both from the University and other organisations.
Funding for EU and international students
Find out about funding you could get as an international student.
How to apply
- Use the 'apply for this course' button on this page to take you to our online application form.
- Search for the course you want to apply for.
- Complete the application form and upload any supporting documents.
- Submit your application.
For further details, read our step by step guide to postgraduate taught applications.
There are different deadlines for this course. Depending on which country you permanently reside in, applications are expected to close:
- Applicants permanently resident in China: Wednesday 29 November 2023 - midday UK time
- Applicants permanently resident in other countries: Wednesday 29 May 2024 - midday UK time
- Applicants permanently resident in the UK: Wednesday 3 July 2024 - midday UK time
We advise applying early as applications may close before the expected deadline if places are filled.
Our admissions process for this course means that we look at batches of applications together. We send offers to applicants on a continuous basis. Due to the high number of applications, we may not be able to make you an offer, even if you meet the course criteria.
Application assessment fee
We’ll ask you to pay a £50 application assessment fee if you’re applying for a postgraduate taught course.
This is an extra one-off charge which is separate to your tuition fees and is payable per application. It covers the work and time it takes us to assess your application. You’ll be prompted to pay when you submit your application which won’t progress until you've paid.
If you're a current or former University of Southampton student, or if you’re applying for certain scholarships, you will not need to pay the fee. PGCE applications through GOV.UK and Master of Research (MRes) degree applications are also exempt. Find out if you’re exempt on our terms and conditions page.
Your portfolio is one of the most important parts of your application. It is your opportunity to show us your work, and it is our opportunity to find out more about you.
Your portfolio should contain your most recent and relevant work. It should be clear, logical and a professional presentation of your work.
You can submit your portfolio in any of the following formats:
- PDF file under 10mb in size
- PowerPoint presentation
- YouTube video
We understand you may not be coming straight from an undergraduate course and we will accept older work in your portfolio. However, please include as much of your recent work as possible. We welcome and assess each application individually.
MA Communication Design
- Evidence of exploring how design responds to developments in
media and digital culture.
- Work that shows an innovative and experimental approach to
tackling a design challenge.
- Work that demonstrates an engagement with the full range of
contemporary ‘communication design’ not just graphics design.
When you apply you’ll need to submit a personal statement explaining why you want to take the course.
You’ll need to include information about:
- your knowledge of the subject area
- why you want to study a postgraduate qualification in this course
- how you intend to use your qualification
Please include the required paperwork showing your first degree and your IELTS English language test score (if you are a non-native English speaker) with your application. Without these, your application may be delayed.
You may also be asked to provide:
- a degree transcript
- a degree certificate
- an English language qualification
- a personal statement
- an art portfolio
- evidence of professional qualifications
What happens after you apply
You'll be able to track your application through our online Applicant Record System.
We receive a high volume of applications for this course. This means you may not receive a response to your application for up to 12 weeks.
If we offer you a place, you will need to accept the offer within 30 working days. If you do not meet this deadline, we will offer your place to another applicant.
Unfortunately, due to number of applications we receive, we may not be able to give you specific feedback on your application if you are unsuccessful.
Equality and diversity
We treat and select everyone in line with our Equality and Diversity Statement.
Got a question?
Please contact us if you're not sure you have the right experience or qualifications to get onto this course.
Tel: +44(0)23 8059 5000