Sustainable Design MA

Introduction

MA Sustainable Design Brighton
Image: Left to right: Louis Joseph (Head of Global Strategy, Puma) addresses the students, ‘Stain Sneakers’ by Emma Whiting

MA Sustainable Design engages you in rethinking the parameters of good design in an unsustainable age. This course introduces new ways to contribute to a dynamic and emerging field, and helps you innovate dynamic, and sustainable solutions, through design. Working alongside thought-leaders in ecology, psychology, design and business, this course gives you the knowledge, skills and confidence to focus your practice, and become a more effective agent of change. Through this course, you will:

  • Transform your understanding of sustainable design
  • Add theoretical depth to your work
  • Claim distinctive territories of expertise
  • Grow confidence in asserting change
  • Reinvigorate your passion for transformation
  • Master radical new ways of thinking
  • Develop new skills and capabilities

Who this course is for

This multidisciplinary course is for individuals who want to redefine their practice, and become part of the solution. Many of our students come from established and successful careers in a range of creative fields, including:

  • Product & Furniture
  • Graphics & Illustration
  • Branding, PR & advertising
  • 3D Design & Craft
  • Architecture & Interiors
  • Fashion & Textiles
  • Design Education
  • Ecology & Natural Sciences
  • Politics & Philosophy

Graduate employment

On graduation, our students secure influential positions within major global businesses, charities and NGOs, which have included:

  • Shelter (UK)
  • Puma (Germany)
  • COS (UK)
  • Ford Motors (UK)
  • Forum for the Future (UK)
  • Graphic Thought Facility (Ireland)
  • Oliver Heath Design (UK)
  • National Institute of Design (India)
  • Forster Communications (UK)
  • Lomography (Austria)
  • ACT II Architects (UK)
  • Superuse-Studios (The Netherlands)
  • Suwon Science College (South Korea)
  • Ethical Fashion Forum (UK)

A number of our students establish independent design agencies, social innovation labs and research centres. Many decide to continue their research in the form of a PhD, and have a particularly strong record of achieving fully funded studentships, both here at Brighton, and internationally.

Our tutors

In addition to our core staff team – each of whom are globally-acclaimed leaders in the field – the course enjoys a dynamic roster of guest tutors, including:

  • Oliver Lawder (Planner, Futerra Sustainability Communications)
  • Louis Joseph (Head of Global Strategy, Puma)
  • Karen Blincoe (Director, Schumacher College)
  • Gareth Neal (Director, Gareth Neal Furniture)
  • Rodrigo Bautista (Innovation Lead, Forum for the Future)
  • Julie Doyle (Author, Mediating Climate Change)
  • Richard Gilbert (Director, The Agency of Design)
  • Oliver Heath (Founder, OH Designs)

Course context

As a cultivated form of invention, design shapes, modifies and alters the world around us – for better or worse. The need for modern design to be more sustainable and ethically responsible has never been more important. Many multinational companies, research centres, governments and individuals acknowledge that a change in attitude to the way we design products, spaces, communications and communities is both a positive step, and long overdue. Indeed, over the last 10 years, commercial understanding of sustainable design has revolutionised – shifting from being about risk and compliance, to a dynamic leadership issue.

Find out more

To find out more, or to arrange a visit, email: mds@brighton.ac.uk

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Key facts

UCAS code

Duration Help

Full-time: 1 year

Part-time: 2 years

Typical entry requirements Help
individual offers may vary

Location Help Grand Parade

For non-native speakers of English:
IELTS 6.5 overall and 6.0 in writing.

Other:
There is no formal deadline for receipt of applications, and applications may be made at any time. At the point of admission, students are expected to have clear reasoning behind their choice to undertake this programme, nominal understanding of the context of sustainable design underpinned by a desire and determination to know more. Direct access to semester 3 of the programme will be considered only where applicants have accrued appropriate number of credits at either masters-level or postgraduate study in a relevant subject.

Applicants must demonstrate through their personal statement within the application form, and where appropriate, at interview:
- a clear motivation to engage with issues of sustainability and design through demonstrating
- an ability to articulate individual perceptions and understandings of sustainable design
- an ability to positively engage in critical discussion regarding their work and its broader implications in relation to sustainability
- to present a body of work that demonstrates experience and competency
- an ambition to critically appraise and develop their practice within the context of sustainability.

Degree and/or experience:
Candidates will normally have a previous degree, although this does not have to be in a design subject, or equivalent

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Fees

The fees listed here are for full-time courses for the upcoming academic year only. Further fees are payable for subsequent years of study.

The tuition fee you have to pay depends on a number of factors including the kind of course you take, whether you study full- or part-time and whether or not you already have a higher education qualification. If you are studying part-time you will normally be charged on a pro rata basis depending on the number of modules you take. Different rules apply to research degrees - contact the course team for up-to-date information.

Visit www.brighton.ac.uk/money for more information, including advice on international and island fee paying status, and the government's Equivalent or Lower Qualification (ELQ) policy.

UK/EU (FT) - 5,580 GBP

Island Students (FT) - 5,580 GBP

International (FT) - 13,840 GBP

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Syllabus

MA Sustainable Design Brighton Syllabus
Left to right: ‘Power of One’ by Pete Sequoia, ‘Bottle Lamps’ by Rebecca Thewlis, ‘Sparrow Factory’ by Jim Wilson

The University of Brighton MA Sustainable Design consists of 5 units of study, as follows:


Sustainable Design: Present(s)

20 Credits / Semester 1

This unit provides students with a comprehensive foundation of established sustainable design principles, theories and methodologies.

Regardless of sustainable design experience or knowledge, this unit is accessible to those with the ambition and ‘will’ to orient their work in this direction, and as such, provides both an enabling platform through the establishing of core competencies essential to effective engagement with sustainability design, today; themes covered include cradle to cradle, low-carbon building & production, design for recycling, biodegradability, biomimicry, alternative energy, ecological thinking, permaculture, disassembly and systems thinking for example.

Spanning the first semester, this unit takes the form of a series of seminars, workshops and discussion groups, which collectively provide students with a comprehensive understanding of established sustainable design principles.

Students create a video manifesto lasting 5-minutes, through which the key problems and opportunities for sustainable design through their individual practice are framed and clearly articulated; a workbook of research, process and development undertaken throughout this unit of study is also submitted for assessment.


Research Methods

20 Credits / Semester 1

This unit provides an overview of design research methods to engender a critical ‘spirit of enquiry’ through experimentation, exploration, observation, writing and testing.

The individual’s research skills are developed to enable them to construct research questions, hypotheses and methodologies to underpin the development of innovation. The module utilises both conceptual and real spaces within which exploration and experimentation can take place and where hypotheses can be interrogated.

It promotes a scholarly approach to original investigation to gain knowledge and understanding. It will focus on the student gaining a broad understanding of the principles of research methods and their practical application.

This unit provides a student with an opportunity to reflect on and consolidate the research skills and knowledge learnt during undergraduate study and to integrate, employ and extend these in the development of a research proposal. The research unit will support the student to gain a more autonomous position in the process of critical enquiry and research methodologies. The unit activities and tasks will be conducted both independently and as a collaborative group.


Studio

60 Credits / Semester 1 & 2

This unit provides a reflective and productive environment to create, realize and critique new and innovative sustainable concepts, models and strategies.

The emphasis of the Studio unit is on the individual, and it provides a reflective and productive environment within which students create, realize and critique new and innovative design concepts, theoretical positions and practice based research methods, particular to sustainable design. This unit aims to situate the student in a position of authority, enabling them to confidently and critically take ownership of their individually defined practice.

This unit spans two projects – entitled ‘Behaviours’ and ’Matters’ – in semesters one and two. The ‘Behaviours’ project takes place in semester 1, and provides students with a theoretical context for the studio-based investigation, analysis and generation of essential design criteria that shape patterns of consumption. In semester 2, students undertake the ‘Matters’ project; a studio-based experience that places emphasis on materiality, and the nature of physical experience as mediated through the design, production and physical manifestation of things. In this way, the investigative nature of this unit is split into two fundamental streams of enquiry.


Sustainable Design: Future(s)

20 Credits / Semester 2  

This unit pushes the edges of the discipline outwards to colonise new territories of expertise, whilst developing a more expansive comprehension of contemporary issues relating to sustainability and design.

Spanning the second semester, this unit takes the form of a series of seminars, workshops and discussion groups, which collectively provoke and establish a ‘critical laboratory space’, which invites a broad range of specialist practitioners, writers, researchers, manufacturers and theorists to present their work in the context of sustainability; examining themes including consumer motivation, behaviour, phenomenology, deep ecology, temporality, consciousness, emotional durability, materiality, defuturing and experience-authoring, for example.

Following this, students are asked to present a ‘model of sustainable design’ at a review event, through which the role and potential of sustainable design through their individual practice is framed and clearly articulated.

In addition to these ‘models of sustainable design’, a workbook of research, process and development undertaken throughout this unit of study is also submitted for assessment.


Master

60 Credits / Semester 3

This unit represents the culmination, integration and application of experiences, methods, skills and mastery accrued throughout the programme thus far.

Throughout this unit of study, each student's work is structured by an individually-defined 'statement of intent'; assessment is aligned with the intentions laid out in this statement. Assessment of final master work is aligned with the intentions laid out in this statement, and the critical framework that it explicitly articulates.

This process enables creative practitioners to explore and pioneer distinctive territories of expertise - a form of engagement that enables one to establish new ways of working, characterized by an individually-defined approach to pervasive issues of sustainability and design.

The final body of master work must be developed through practice(s) relevant to each particular student, and their enquiry; these might include the development and production of design proposals, a written thesis, a documentary, an ad campaign, an article for a leading publication, a touring exhibition, for example, or a combination of the above.

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Application

MA Sustainable Design Brighton Key Facts
Left to right: ‘Mourning Jewelry’ by Lizzie Lee, ‘Emotionally Durable Design’ by Rodrigo Bautista, ‘Local Cape’ by Eva Russo

Full-time: 1 year (3 years max)

Part-time: 2 years (5 years max)

Location: Grand Parade Campus

There is no formal deadline for receipt of applications, and applications may be made at any time.

At the point of admission, students are expected to have clear reasoning behind their choice to undertake this programme, nominal understanding of the context of sustainable design underpinned by a desire and determination to know more.

Candidates will normally have a previous degree, although this does not have to be in a design subject, or equivalent professional experience.

Direct access to semester 3 of the programme will be considered only where applicants have accrued appropriate number of credits at either M-Level or postgraduate study in a relevant subject.

Applicants must demonstrate - through their ‘personal statement’ within the application form, and where appropriate, at interview - a clear motivation to engage with issues of sustainability and design through demonstrating:

  • an ability to articulate individual perceptions and understandings of sustainable design
  • an ability to positively engage in critical discussion regarding their work and its broader implications in relation  to sustainability
  • an ambition to critically appraise and develop their practice within the context of sustainability

Overseas applicants must meet the above entry requirements, and additionally have proven competence in written and spoken English at an appropriate level of fluency (equivalent to an IELTS score of 6).

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Planner

Planner by units - click to download full version of MA Sustainable Design course planner

2013 / 2014 Planner

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Yearbook

MA Sustainable Design Yearbook from University of BrightonImage: MA Sustainable Design Yearbooks (2011, 2012, 2013)

Following completion of the course, a book is produced in which each student writes a contributing chapter, illustrated by their work undertaken throughout the year. Importantly, these chapters within this collective portfolio do not attempt to create sweeping definitions of sustainable design in its entirety. Rather, these short, critical texts serve to distill each individual's scholarly and refined position within the broader sustainable design debate, and examine the key questions that drive their research and process. Through doing this, the book provides a multitude of discreet angles and approaches, with the collective aim of recalibrating the parameters of 'good design' in an unsustainable age.

Download the pdf e-book from the group graduating in 2013, Way Changing: MA Sustainable Design 2013

Download the pdf e-book from the group graduating in 2012, CTRL + ALT + DEL: Ideas for a changing world 

Download the pdf e-book from the group graduating in 2011, The 'S' Word: Collective Pathways to Sustainability

Download the pdf e-book from the group graduating in 2010, Lost & Found: Adventures in the sustainability space

or visit our student work pages for MA Sustainable Design 

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