Course details

Study options

Full-time: 1 year, Part-time: 2 years

UK fee

£7,175 for the full course or £800 per 20 credits* (2023/24)

International fee

£14,900 for the full course (2023/24)

Course level




Start dates

September, January


Markeaton Street and Britannia Mill, Derby Campus

Course description

The highlights

A future-facing Masters in Design

This new MA/MDes Design will help you develop your creativity and grow into a more adaptable, resourceful and collaborative designer. It looks to the future of design and the big challenges facing global society and equips you with the core knowledge, skills and competencies you will need to face the uncertainties of the next few decades. The programme has been designed to prepare you for the challenges and opportunities provided by changing industries, economies, cultures and societies, and to develop a personal practice which makes a positive contribution to that future. 

Britannia Mill surrounded by greenery and a river
Britannia Mill

Choose your qualification

Uniquely, you can choose to graduate with either a broad MA Design qualification or an MDes in your preferred specialism: Graphic Design, Illustration, Fashion, Textile Design, Interior and Spatial Design, or Product Design.

The MA Design qualification is ideal if you want to craft a personal design identity and practice, which crosses the conventional borders between disciplines. However, if you are keen to graduate with a qualification rooted in a specific design discipline, then one of the MDes awards would suit you better.

Experiment, collaborate, reflect, evolve

We expect you to direct your own learning throughout this MA/MDes and think critically, always questioning and testing the subject. We encourage creative disruption, risk-taking, innovation and originality across a range of situations, contexts and practices in design.

The programme integrates theory, research and practice, guiding you through a process of personal-development and self-awareness. We begin with a diagnostic module, called Design Propositions, in which you will re-evaluate your knowledge, skills and competencies and propose a direction for the rest of your programme and your professional future.

Throughout the course, you will have regular professional development seminars, critiques and concept panels, where you will review your work with fellow students, academics and professional partners, and have the opportunity to review and readjust your practice and professional direction in the light of that feedback and reflection.

You could then develop some of this work through the Design Synthesis module, which is an independent study module running over two semesters. It’s where you bring together your practice, research and all you have learnt so far, into an integrated design project and thesis, which captures your personal and professional ambitions, and sets a clear direction for your future.

A pink, blue and white fluffy garment over a pastel knitted top
Colourful hand-painted bowls on a tablecloth

Images: Work by Design graduates Maddy Oakley and Lucy Docker 

Work on live design projects

You will be able to choose from a variety of Design Lab modules, which focus on different themes such as ‘experiencing the past’ or ‘creative futures.’ During these, you will collaborate on live design projects with industry, academic and/or community stakeholders, which will test your own practice and research methods in a new environment. These will help you develop your portfolio, experience and networks.

Develop your own enterprise

The optional module, Creative Entrepreneurial Business, supports the development of your ideas into a viable business proposition. It is taught in collaboration with the University Enterprise services which include the incubation units at Banks Mill Studios. This provides a foundation and support for you to develop your proposition further during the Design Synthesis module to be an active business by the time you graduate.  

A multi-skilled teaching team

You will be learning from a multidisciplinary teaching team made up of academic and technical staff with expertise in critical practice, experiential design, interior architecture, fashion and textiles, illustration, animation, graphic design, and product design. You will be exposed to a wide range of perspectives and approaches, which enable original and exciting work.

Get involved in research

As a postgraduate student, we will encourage you to join our Civic Lab research group, which focuses on how participatory culture, creative dialogue and experiential design can be used for social impact — particularly in the City of Derby. It considers how we build communities, and how we create the conditions in which those communities can sustainably develop, innovate and thrive within the social, economic, environmental and cultural challenges of the 21st century.

Through this and other research groups, you could get involved in a wide range of multidisciplinary creative research activities, working with external cultural partners, public, commercial and third sector organisations, educational institutions and international networks.

Multi-Faith Centre, Kedleston Road

Postgraduate Open Event

Join us at an upcoming Postgraduate Open Event, where you will get the opportunity to meet our expert academics and find out more about your course.

Book your Postgraduate Open EventBook your Postgraduate Open Event

What you will study

You will study modules such as: 

Design Lab Option (20 credits)

These are intensive projects which are intended to stimulate and challenge the student’s practice within a collaborative environment. Each module is orientated around a specific theme which is applicable to all Design contexts, and aims to immerse students into a complex Design problem in collaboration with external stakeholders, who may be derived from industry, community or academia. Students are expected to collaborate and co-create, testing their own practice and research methods in a new environment which is designed to both broaden and deepen the scope of their thinking.  

Choose one of:

  • Image / Identity / Ethos
  • Experiencing the Past
  • Consuming Nature
  • Creative Futures
  • Technologies Hi & Lo
  • Systems & Services
  • Place & Civility
  • Play & Playfulness
  • Creative Entrepreneurial Business.
Design Propositions (40 credits)

This module enables students to understand, articulate and develop their creative practice as practice based research and as a value proposition for distinctive and diverse contexts. It also serves as a diagnostic and orientation module which will embed the student purposefully in the design studio environment and community.  

Design Lab Option (20 credits each)

These are intensive projects which are intended to stimulate and challenge the student’s practice within a collaborative environment. Each module is orientated around a specific theme which is applicable to all Design contexts, and aims to immerse students into a complex Design problem in collaboration with external stakeholders, who may be derived from industry, community or academia. Students are expected to collaborate and co-create, testing their own practice and research methods in a new environment which is designed to both broaden and deepen the scope of their thinking.  

Choose three of the below modules which are each worth 20 credits. 

  • Image / Identity / Ethos
  • Experiencing the Past
  • Consuming Nature
  • Creative Futures
  • Technologies Hi & Lo
  • Systems & Services
  • Place & Civility
  • Play & Playfulness
  • Creative Entrepreneurial Business.
Design Synthesis (60 credits)

This is an independent study module running over 2 semesters where the student brings together their practice, research and learning to date into an integrative Design project which captures their personal and professional ambitions. The project is proposed, agreed and developed through a Negotiated Learning Agreement (NLA) which is reviewed regularly throughout the module where students will present their findings to Concept Panels and receive feedback from tutors, peers and their personal supervisor. Projects in Design Synthesis will be situated in and supported through the collaborative studio environment and will be exhibited to the profession and the public. 

Choose one module on the third and final stage of the programme:

  • Design Synthesis: Core to MA Design 
  • Design Synthesis: Graphic Design, core to MDes Graphic Design
  • Design Synthesis: Illustration, core to MDes Illustration
  • Design Synthesis: Fashion, core to MDes Fashion
  • Design Synthesis: Textile Design, core to MDes Textile Design
  • Design Synthesis: Interior and Spatial Design, core to MDes Interior and Spatial Design
  • Design Synthesis: Product Design, core to MDes Product Design 


Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

How you will learn

You will learn mostly though integrative studio practice, which involves collaborative thinking and production. You will be able to use a range of facilities, including dedicated Apple Mac suites, the Digital Design Hub, wood and metal workshops, 3D printing equipment, fashion studios, textile workshops, print studios, plus digital and photographic equipment and industry-standard software.

There will also be regular live design projects, professional development seminars, and concept panels to ensure you are regularly challenged and asked to articulate and reflect on your learning. Through these you will develop and refine your design practice for a dynamic professional future.

How are you assessed?

We’ll use a range of assessment methods, including:

An industrial looking building with a colourful mural on the wall next to it

Explore Chandos Pole Street

Our Fashion and Textiles students learn in light and airy studio spaces and have access to industry-standard equipment and design facilities.

Take a look around our Fashion and Textiles centreTake a look around our Fashion and Textiles centre

Who will teach you

Programme leader

Jo Ray

Entry requirements

You'll usually need an undergraduate degree (at least second class), in a related subject, or an equivalent qualification and a portfolio of your practice.

Selection for the Programme is based on a portfolio interview. The interview experience is an exciting opportunity for applicants to demonstrate their passion for Design. Applicants will have the opportunity to show teaching staff their interests and experimentation in the subject and they will have time to ask the questions that are important to their study. During the interview, applicants will be expected to discuss the potential focus of study that they would like to undertake, including specific pathways, and to show and discuss their previous work.

If English is not your first language, you'll also need an IELTS score of 6.0 (with 5.5 in each skills area) or equivalent.

Interview information

Fees and funding

2023/24 (August 2023 - July 2024)


£7,175 for the full course or £800 per 20 credits*

£800 per 20 credits


£14,900 for the full course


Please note fees normally increase in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees, which is reviewed on an annual basis. The total fee you pay may therefore increase after one year of study.

* UK full-time fees paid within one academic year are rounded down to the nearest £50 if applicable

Additional costs and optional extras

About postgraduate awards

Please note at postgraduate level, you’ll need to gain the following number of credits in total to obtain the respective awards. If you have any questions please contact us.

Postgraduate Certificate60 Credits
Postgraduate Diploma120 Credits
MA or MSc180 Credits

This means you will gain 180 credits in total to complete the full MA or MSc. If you are studying part time you will normally complete your studies over two or three years, depending on the course structure.

Alumni discount for Derby graduates

We offer a discount on postgraduate course fees for all Derby alumni.

Find out about the Alumni discountFind out about the Alumni discount

Students chatting to each other

International student scholarships

We have a range of scholarships and discounts available to international students which can be used together to offer a reduction in your tuition fees.

Find out if you're eligible for an international scholarship Find out if you're eligible for an international scholarship

How to apply

Please look at our application deadlines before you apply.

UK students

Students should apply directly to the University.

Apply directly to the University
International students

Applications for September 2023 are now open. On-campus courses staring in January 2023 are now closed to new applications from international students due to unprecedented demand. Please take a look at our useful information for international applicants. If you have any questions, please email

Apply directly to the University

Guidance for international applicants applying for a postgraduate degree


The enterprise elements of this MA/Des Design, particularly the live projects, ensure that you will graduate with the knowledge, skills and networks to find employment. Graduates from previous Design programmes at Derby have become independent designers, worked in an array of creative careers and set up their own freelance businesses across the creative industies. For instance, they have worked for organsiations like BBC Creative, The Partners, Superunion, Design for Good, Derby Football Club, Three Guru, Studio East, and many more.

Alternatively, with your advanced research skills, you will be able to progress on to a PhD or Professional Doctorate.

A close up of a mill building with a sign that says Banks Mill Studios

Banks Mill Studios

We also provide support for graduates starting out in the creative industries in the form of Banks Mill, an innovative space for creative and digital industries located in a landmark building within the heart of Derby city centre.

Find out more about support servicesFind out more about support services

Contact us

If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.

Contact us Contact us

Additional information about your studies

Teaching hours

Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.

Additional costs and optional extras

We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, excellent facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.

The information provided on this page is correct at the time of publication but course content, costs and other individual course details do change from time to time and are updated as often as possible, so please do check these pages again when making your final decision to apply for a course. Any updated course details will also be confirmed to you at application, enrolment and in your offer letter.

Included in your fees
Mandatory costs not included in your fees
Optional costs not included in your fees

Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.