Product Design - MA
Understand the Thinking behind the Design of Systems, Services and Products.Take a look
Understand the Thinking behind the Design of Systems, Services and Products.
The Masters in Product Design at Ulster is not simply an interpretation of Product Design as 3D work in the traditional design and engineering context, but it encompasses Service Design Innovation, UX and App Design, Internet of Things (IOT), Smart Product and Textiles, Wearables, User Centred Design, Designer-Maker activities, Social Innovation and Enterprise, Design for Empathy and Interaction Design.
Projects on the Masters course centre around actual need and with an enterprise focus, but underpinned with a research led teaching methodology and discourse. A holistic understanding of design and the ‘Design Thinking’ and Design Process is evident in a range of diverse projects. The learning and teaching methods – tutorials, lectures, project specific workshops, contemporary reading lists and design tool resources all effectively support students in their learning through a thematically diverse product design curriculum.
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About this course
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The MA Product Design is predominantly about Research, Disruption, Commercialisation and Strategy of Product Design. It has been designed to be different than but a natural pathway for graduates of any traditional practice based Design Program or industry, to elevate Thinking, Strategic Planning, Ethical Testing, Commercialisation and Execution of Design Development Projects.
The course aims to develop critical thinkers, risk takers, resilient , independent, resourceful, flexible and creative designers, intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs to lead and innovate within the Creative Industries. The course gives graduates and industry returners the opportunity to engage with Research knowledge, Design Thinking methods, disruptive ideas and perspectives and creative skills demanded by practice. Students will investigate the larger 'wicked' issues that effect modern society, via disruptive technologies, innovative creative practices, user experience, co-design, ethics, sustainability and potential futures.
The course has strong links to Industry that it nurtures and these flourish from a two way process of being fed by and feeding Industry what it requires, whilst still identifying and future proofing the sector with a strong Research led student that will engage in ‘Live briefs’ via the University's Research and Impact Office, SMEs, Charities, Government departments and regional funding bodies.
The Diversity in the current academic Product Design team offers a contemporary view of the field and represents the plurality in what product design is today. This view will be recognised in the range of projects offered to students and in the overall Masters curriculum design. The curriculum structure will accommodate this plurality in practice and present opportunities for diverse student responses.
The course team are specialists in their field and are research active publishing, exhibiting and sharing their practice both nationally and internationally. Staff also engage with academic enterprise and scholarship in learning and teaching. Staff have excellent relationships with industry and employers and a range of funding bodies. This experience in all areas informs the learning and teaching on the program.
70% of staff are recognised by the Higher Education Academy as Fellows or Senior Fellows.
MA Product Design is delivered in full-time and part-time mode, with full online provision being offered in Sept 2019, taught over one calendar year, with delivery scheduled for one day per week. We recognise the changing nature of the student population and wish to offer a program that is accessible to a range of potential students.
However, a full-time commitment to the course is expected, with studios, workshops and library resources available for use throughout the week.
- September 2020
Teaching, Learning and Assessment
The course is delivered through a range of teaching methods. You will be taught in lectures, seminars, group crits, individual and group tutorials and peer feedback sessions. Due to the nature of art and design teaching, formative feedback is given on a regular basis, with summative feedback being provided in written and verbal form after each assessment. You will work independently, and engage in both practical and written research. Access to discipline specific workshops will be available to enable you to develop, experiment and produce work.
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
- the relevant generic national Qualification Descriptor
- the applicable Subject Benchmark Statement
- the requirements of any professional, regulatory, statutory and accrediting bodies.
Attendance and Independent Study
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.
Calculation of the Final Award
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (18%) or Lecturers (57%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
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This module aims to provide students with an understanding of the role business plays within the creative industries. By focusing on developing students'entrepreneurship awareness it seeks to ensure that they are equipped with the skills needed to establish sustainable creative practices
This module enables students to develop an understanding of the user needs and challenging the existing through independent, innovative and disruptive thinking. Students will observe and develop empathy with the target user. This module will enable students in the process of questioning: questioning the problem, questioning the assumptions, and questioning the implications, allowing deeper investigation and critical evaluation of knowledge and understanding of the wider theoretical development of design as a discipline.
Students will develop their specific themes or practice based projects, by extending their product research hypothesis, in respect of user evaluation and innovation specification. They will learn about the standards, regulations and protocols associated with different types of product categories and the intellectual challenges in bringing these further along the commercialisation pathway.
Research & Disruptors
This module provides a specialist introduction to a range of systematic Product Design research methods. It will assist students in conception, development, documentation, delivery and reporting of both their creative design practice and their written activity on the course. Whilst this module will emphasise the tools needed for disruptive thinking and academic research via the use of exemplars of how it will apply to practice and critical work, this module will also address the wider problems and issues that challenge Product Design research.
Design Implementation- Masters Major Project
This module involves the consolidation of a body of resolved design work supported by a
research paper. Product Design and all its sub categories, such as design for Healthcare, Wearables, Furniture, Consumer goods, Industrial Design, Services & Systems projects are all supported as either single or multidiscipline proposals within this module. Students will work independently for the most part and liaise with structured tutorials and meetings with collaborators and academic staff.
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
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The specific requirements for admission are detailed below:
Applicants must hold a degree (with at least 2:2 Honours standard) or equivalent or be able to demonstrate their ability to undertake the course through the accreditation of prior learning.
i) Applicants should normally hold an honours degree in any Art, Computer Science, Engineering, Design practice, Visual Arts or cognate subject from a University of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, from the Council of National Academic Awards, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council or from an institution of another country which is recognised as being of an equivalent standard.
ii) Applicants will be interviewed along with the presentation of a body of work that can take the form of, but is not limited to, a portfolio and/or show reel and proposal. Applicants must be able to satisfy the panel at interview that their work is of a standard that will allow them to deal with the intellectual and practical rigours of the programme.
iii) Applications are welcomed from diverse backgrounds however where there is a discipline shift the applicant must represent a coherent rationale for this shift and evidence prerequisite knowledge, skills and experience.
The programme is devised specifically to support continuing lifelong learning for professions in a rapidly changing field. Therefore Accreditation for Prior Learning (APL) will be considered as evidence of exceptional ability appropriate to recruitment to the programme. Applications from professionals with extensive professional, industrial and/or commercial experience but lacking recent or higher level academic qualifications will be encouraged. APL will be considered as evidence of exceptional ability appropriate to the course.
English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Exemptions and transferability
Studies pursued and examinations passed in respect of other qualifications awarded by the University or by another university or other educational institution, or evidence from the accreditation of prior experiential learning, may be accepted as exempting candidates from part of the programme provided that:
(a) they shall register as students of the University for modules amounting to at least the final third of the credit value of the award at the highest level.
(b) no exemption shall be permitted from the Masters Major Project.
Careers & opportunities
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Graduates from Design at Ulster have gained employment with a wide range of organisations. Here are some examples:
- Duku Design
- Big Small Design
- Movement Biomedical
- Zespoke Design
- Dolmen Design
- Lava Group
Graduates from this course are employed in many different roles. Here are some examples:
- Design for Healthcare
- Service Design
- System Designer
- Quality Control
- Design Engineer
- Furniture Designer
- Designer Maker
- TV & Film
- Set Design
- Prop Maker
- Academic & research
- Product Development
- Packaging Design
- Sports Wear
Work placement / study abroad
Students are encouraged to take on relevant work placement or internships, but there is not dedicated module on the Masters course.
ApplyHow to apply Request a prospectus
Applications are received throughout the year. All applicants must attend an interview to discuss their portfolio. The majority of interviews take place between January and May, with exceptional late submissions considered between June and September. Interviews end in September preceding the start of the course.
Applicants are encouraged to apply early and to contact the course director with any questions: E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Applications to our postgraduate courses are made through the University’s online application system.
- September 2018
- September 2020
Fees and funding
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Additional mandatory costs
Students purchase materials for their own coursework.
Consumable workshop contribution of up to £100 is optional and contributes to materials used by students.
Field trips may incur additional costs.
Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.
Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.
We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.
There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.
Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.
Please contact the course team for more information.
- The University endeavours to deliver courses and programmes of study in accordance with the description set out in this prospectus. The University’s prospectus is produced at the earliest possible date in order to provide maximum assistance to individuals considering applying for a course of study offered by the University. The University makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in the prospectus is accurate but it is possible that some changes will occur between the date of printing and the start of the academic year to which it relates. Please note that the University’s website is the most up-to-date source of information regarding courses and facilities and we strongly recommend that you always visit the website before making any commitments.
- Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
- If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
- The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
- The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.