MA/MFA Graphic Design and Art Direction

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The MA in Graphic Design & Art Direction programme is designed for creative practitioners who wish to advance their knowledge, skills and specialism within the field of visual communication.

Each student will develop a practice-led investigation within this broader context, actively constructing a bespoke body of design knowledge which combines theory, practice, research, entrepreneurship and innovation from a wide range of creative activities.

They will be taught to question and expand their creative thinking and generic design process by developing their analytical skills; engaging in critical dialogues; work independently, collaboratively and interdisciplinary; experimenting in a range of directions before delivering professional and innovative outcomes to defined audiences with confidence. All creative activities are supported by strategic thinking, robust methodologies and informed by practice-led research.

This programme aims to develop a deeper understanding and fuel a personal obsession with the visual communication of ideas, continually asking: What is possible within the visual realm of text and image?

Features and Benefits

Career Prospects

We cultivate highly motivated, independent and creative thinkers who can transfer their skills into the creative marketplace, as entrepreneurial innovators, freelance practitioners and innovative team players. Past graduates predominantly achieve graduate-level positions or practise as sole traders, design studio artists, exhibiting artists, museum curators, archivists, researchers, academics, community practitioners, specialist technicians and filmmakers at national and international levels.

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Entry requirements

A minimum of 2:2 Honours degree is required. Equivalent EU/international qualifications are also accepted. Applicants who do not meet these criteria will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Other professional qualifications or degree disciplines will be considered on merit and/or with relevant professional experience.

We require the submission of a digital portfolio to evidence design practice and research, and may request an interview as part of the application process.

Overseas applicants will require IELTS with an overall score of 6.5 with no less than 5.5 in any category, or an equivalent accepted English qualification.

Course details

The MA in Graphic Design and Art Direction is composed of five units, totalling 180 credits.

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Core Units

Design Thinking

This unit introduces an applied understanding of how design can be used as an iterative process for creative problem solving. It will enable you to understand how to apply design thinking processes to your specialist area through understanding users, challenging assumptions, redefining problems and creating innovative solutions to prototype and test. The unit will also provide a broad introduction to research methodologies, strategic research planning and research design. A range of design thinking tools will be introduced and explored before you undertake an in-depth project that provides opportunities for experimentation leading to innovative solutions.

Design Practice 1: Graphic Behaviours

The first part of this unit is intended to acclimatise you to the challenges of MA level research and practice, enabling you to identify and describe a clear direction for your postgraduate design study. The second part involves developing your individual design proposals and establishing the context for Design Practice 2. Through the use of projects, you will examine a range of graphic behaviours in relation to a defined ‘host’ project. Practice-led research focusing on analysis, experimentation and delivery of project solutions, underpinned with ongoing self-evaluation.


This unit is concerned with the development and production of a body of work realising your individual creative ambition within the fields of Graphic Design and Art Direction and Illustration. The work will expand on the research and development undertaken during the Graphic Behaviours units. You will be encouraged to collaborate with peers, external partners and virtual communities and expose your work to critical appraisal. You will prototype, finesse and resolve projects which deliver strategic messages to defined audiences.

Synthesis Project: Graphic Design & Art Direction

The Synthesis final MA unit will support you to develop, resolve and present a significant body of work, located within the field of graphic design and art direction. The unit accommodates opportunities for collaborative, industry based or international learning experiences, and enables you to undertake and submit work developed within professional placements and/or live projects

The unit synthesises specialist design practice which you will have developed throughout the programme. The unit accommodates the opportunity to present your work in progress and to engage in interdisciplinary critiques to test ideas, gain feedback and support the development of your final body of work.

The content of your practice is negotiated with specialist staff and you will manage your learning via the development of a Synthesis project proposal. The unit features a flexible assessment submission process which combines written and practical elements, the weighting of which being responsive and appropriate to your individual future ambitions, be they professionally or academically focussed.

Culture & Context

This unit offers focussed opportunity for you to extend and enhance your practice by including working in a wider art and design research community. The study of the cultural and critical contexts of art and design practice is vital to any student of the creative disciplines, this unit will develop your abilities to contextualise your practice through one of a series of themes addressing contemporary issue in art and design.

In previous years, themes have included:

  • Contested Territories
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Negotiated Study
  • Space & Context
  • Digital Futures
  • Writing Research & Funding Proposals
  • Images And Archives
  • Art & Science Stories

Theme options may vary each year.

The MFA Graphic Design and Art Direction continues with the following two units totalling 120 credits.

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Core Units

Professional Practice

This unit is centred on the development of your specialist practice to enhance professional capabilities and career development. You will research suitable partners and agencies to inform a final significant body of work aligned to your chosen professional practice context. Throughout the unit you will be asked to approach, propose, negotiate and progress a plan for the establishment of a professional practice. You will be supported in the continuation of your practice via specialist practice based tutorial and professional practice support.

Realisation and Publication

This is the final unit towards an MFA award in which you are required to realize a significant body of work for a public audience. This unit builds upon practice initiated and developed in earlier units and as such will be used to realize and disseminate an ambitious and autonomous final outcome.

The aims of this unit are for you as an individual or as part of a collaborative team to realize an ambitious and significant body of work and to generate a professional launch pad suitable for its public presentation. Your final presentation of work will include the production of any necessary dissemination, intellectual property and publicity materials.

Placement options

Graduates will have interrogated the limits of their subject, developed a command over their conceptual skills and technical abilities, actively encouraged to challenge conventional modes of practice and have advanced their practice into new and unexpected areas.

Manchester School of Art

Our School of Art is the second oldest design school in Britain, offering courses designed to serve specialist industry needs and give students the tools for their chosen career.

Like the city of Manchester, the school prides itself on being creative, unconventional and professional, providing a broad range of architecture, art, design, media and theatre undergraduate and postgraduate courses in a unique creative environment that encourages creative collaboration across the disciplines.

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Taught by experts

Your studies are supported by a team of committed and enthusiastic teachers and researchers, experts in their chosen field. We also work with external professionals, many of whom are Manchester Met alumni, to enhance your learning and appreciation of the wider subject.

Meet our expert staff


UK and EU students

UK and EU students: Full-time fee: £1542 per 30 credits per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

UK and EU students: Part-time fee: £1542 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU and Channel Island students

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Full-time fee: £2834 per 30 credits per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Non-EU international and Channel Island students: Part-time fee: £2834 per 30 credits studied per year. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of your course providing you complete it in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional Information

A Masters qualification typically comprises 180 credits, a PGDip 120 credits, a PGCert 60 credits, and an MFA 300 credits. Tuition fees will remain the same for each year of study provided the course is completed in the normal timeframe (no repeat years or breaks in study).

Additional costs

All of the books required for the course are available from the library. The University also has PC labs and a laptop loan service. However, many students choose to buy some of the core textbooks for the course and/or a laptop. Students may also need to print their assignments and other documents. Campus printing costs start from 5p per page. Estimated costs are £300 for a laptop up to £100 for books and printing. Total optional cost: £400

Postgraduate Loan Scheme

Loans of up to £10,906 for many Postgraduate Courses

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Alumni Loyalty Discount

Rewarding our graduates

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How to apply

The quickest and most efficient way to apply for this course is to apply online. This way, you can also track your application at each stage of the process.

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If you are unable to apply online, you can apply for postgraduate taught courses by completing the postgraduate application form. There are exceptions for some professional courses – the course information on our on-line prospectus will give you more information in these cases.

Please note: to apply for this course, you only need to provide one reference.

You can review our current Terms and Conditions before you make your application. If you are successful with your application, we will send you up to date information alongside your offer letter.


Programme Review
Our programmes undergo an annual review and major review (normally at 6 year intervals) to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. For further information on when we may make changes to our programmes, please see the changes section of our Terms and Conditions.

Important Notice
This online prospectus provides an overview of our programmes of study and the University. We regularly update our online prospectus so that our published course information is accurate. Please check back to the online prospectus before making an application to us to access the most up to date information for your chosen course of study.

Confirmation of Regulator
The Manchester Metropolitan University is regulated by the Office for Students (OfS). The OfS is the independent regulator of higher education in England. More information on the role of the OfS and its regulatory framework can be found at

All higher education providers registered with the OfS must have a student protection plan in place. The student protection plan sets out what students can expect to happen should a course, campus, or institution close. Access our current Student Protection Plan.