Art and Design: Communication Design

Industrial Placement
Part-time study available
International Students can apply

3 good reasons to study Art and Design: Communication Design at Salford


Open to applicants from a range of backgrounds, including education and industry


Enhance your skills through creative thinking, research, visualisation, interactivity, social and multi-media


Future-proof your skill set for developments in the discipline

Course Summary

On this course, you will tackle issues central to contemporary design practice – such as design authorship and social engagement – through a process of analysis, experimentation and the implementation of creative ideas.

During your time with us, you will be encouraged to engage creatively with contemporary visual communication issues.

The course places an emphasis on problem setting rather than problem solving, through the development of self-initiated projects and briefs.

Watch our video

MA Communication Design student Amelia talks about her course and working at Edition, a student-led art event held in Manchester.

Course Details

This course embraces a range and diversity of practices and aims to:

  • Develop creative, critical, analytical and intellectual competencies informed by contemporary professional practice.
  • Develop an advanced understanding of research methods in general and those of importance to creative practice and industry in particular.
  • Enhance your knowledge and understanding of professional and collaborative frameworks
  • Provide the opportunity to develop industry experience and understanding through contact by placement, project and/or contact with professional practitioners.

Course Structure

The course has both full-time and part-time routes, comprising of three or five 14-week semesters, which you can take within one or up to three years respectively:  

For the full-time study option:

Semester 1 - October to February

Semester 2 - February to June

Semester 3 - June to September

You will take five core modules and will study one day a week for both full-time and part-time modes. Full-time students will have concentrated module delivery in both the morning and afternoon. Part-time students will only have module delivery in the morning or afternoon, depending on which year of study you are currently in, providing you with the opportunity to work independently on your current project for the remaining half a day a week whilst in attendance at the University.

Semester 1

During the first semester, focus is placed on you investigating and presenting ideas and findings; developing an understanding of research methods; and experiencing different points of view and a broad approach to the subject area.

  • the ability to manage and present ideas
  • the ability to integrate research findings and issues within a variety of projects
  • the ability to analyse, and present findings and outcomes.
This module identifies core research methods and activities for the art, design and creative and cultural industries sector in order to allow you to develop an individual approach to your postgraduate studies at MA level. Once core principles are established, you can tailor your approach to research and enquiry according to your individual perspectives.
This module enables you to identify your place in the context of the notion of specialist practice in the art, design and creative and cultural industries sector. You will define your intentions in terms of your personal programme of self-directed study in order to develop appropriate outcomes that relate to a specialist area of practice.

Semester 2

This semester focuses upon developing the knowledge and ability to explore different theoretical and practical issues relating to a variety of practices in art and design, and the creative and cultural industries.

This module deals with the theoretical and practical issues faced by practitioners in the context of art and design, and the creative and cultural industries. The module supports you in developing new ideas through research and practice and through an appraisal of the context in which they operate. Particular emphasis is placed on contexts that emerge from international perspectives and from contemporary debates around creativity.
This module deals with the theoretical and practical issues faced by practitioners in the context of art and design, and the creative and cultural industries. The module supports you in developing new ideas through research and practice and through an appraisal of the context in which they operate. Particular emphasis is placed on contexts that emerge from international perspectives and from contemporary debates around creativity.

Semester 3

This semester focuses exclusively on the dissertation project/major project.

The aims of the major project are to offer you the opportunity to critically engage in a major research project in which the emphasis will be on defining, analysing and developing a constructive response to a research question.Linked closely to the core Research Methods module, you are provided with a supporting supervisor and a programmed series of tutorials. Individual tutorials and group discussions are integral to the development of your dissertation.

The aims of the major project are to offer you the opportunity to critically engage in a major research project in which the emphasis will be on defining, analyzing, through action research and developing a constructive practical response to a line of inquiry or research question and to formulate your own resolutions or conclusions from your body of work.

Entry Requirements

A relevant undergraduate degree, normally at 2:1 or above, and supporting portfolio of practice. Applicants with an undergraduate degree of 2:2 will be considered where a high quality portfolio of practice is presented.

You may be asked to attend an interview for a place on this course. You should bring an appropriate portfolio of work, clearly evidencing ideas and concept development. A portfolio should contain work that shows a good range of skills, an interest in design and knowledge of the industry.

Accreditation for Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

Appropriately experienced applicants will be considered in line with the University’s Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) procedure.

English Language Requirements

International applicants must also provide evidence of proficiency in English (some countries are exempt from this- detailed information can be obtained from the International Relations Office). Evidence of proficiency in English takes the form of IELTS 6.5 band score.

If your current English language qualification is below this level, you may be able to take one of the many pre-sessional English courses in our School of Languages. For further details, please search for English on Course Finder.

Suitable For

Graduates or professionals from a wide range of creative disciplines wishing to pursue a particular individual line of enquiry via in-depth research, personal practice and business acumen.

This course is for you if you are a committed practitioner wishing to develop your personal creative practice to a higher, professional level. Your individual agenda for study and personal choice of media/disciplines will be actively encouraged, selected from the range of practices within the field of communication design.

There is an emphasis on ‘problem setting’ rather than ‘problem solving’, through the identification and development of self-initiated projects and briefs.

You will contextualise your work via rigorous analysis of relevant cultural discussion and reflective studio-based practice.


This course uses a range of teaching and learning settings including lectures, seminars/workshops, tutorials, situated learning (such as ‘live’ projects) and independent learning. The combination of these aims is to develop an environment that allows you to progressively take ownership and direction of your learning so that you may develop as independent, life-long learners. This is achieved by including self-directed projects where you will have the opportunity to negotiate your learning and assessment requirements.

Indicative to the course are:

  • Formal lectures
  • Seminar presentations
  • Workshops
  • Critical analysis and independent learning.

Award specific learning activities include exercises, team based learning, site visits, visiting professionals, work placements, online activities and critical debates. You will have the opportunity to engage in a range of coursework activities in order to foster active learning through contribution to participatory exercises and through formal and informal presentations of your work.


Assessment methods used on the course include: 

  • Practical, oral and written assignments (80%)
  • Group presentations (20%)
You will be assessed throughout the course on your:
  • Body of work and contextual research: e.g. studio/portfolio/workshop outcomes/ exhibitions
  • Reflective journals: log or sketch-book/statement/seminar or other presentation 

Postgraduate Staff Profile

Tim Isherwood

Award leader for the Communication Design Pathway

Current research interests and investigations include a continued dialogue, developed in varying forms over several years, into the design, usage, social intervention and interpretation, quantitative assessment, digital development, democratisation and beauty of typographic forms.

A developing area of research is that of ‘open source typography’, the ability of file sharing software to negate traditional forms of font purchase by producing free downloadable, typeable fonts for practitioners to design with and comment upon. This current investigation intends to provide a forum within which design professionals, students and amateurs alike can work with provided fonts to design and exhibit outcomes generated, both physically and digitally, also providing a platform for typeface designers, both professional and amateur to submit fonts for genuine analysis.

This forum currently exists as Salford Type Foundry, which, amongst other aspects, is an online repository for experimental typefaces inhabited by current and graduated students from the BA (Hons) Graphic Design programme. The remit of STF is to provide a platform for the discussion and dissemination of experimental typography, allowing students a variety of ways of exhibiting their typographic considerations, from the contextual relevance of typography through dissertation, to the production of typefaces and their inevitable usage. This is an ongoing project that relies on student intervention to keep it current.

SEEK profile -


Art and design alumni are actively employed in various sectors of design practice both in the UK and overseas, including Brazil, China and Taiwan. Previous graduates have also progressed into research, while several graduates are now employed as lecturers in the field of education in schools and universities.

Career Prospects

This course will suit you if you want to either progress in an industry you already have experience in, re-skill for a different career path or continue the studies you took as an undergraduate.

Graduates from this course have progressed onto a number of careers within the industry such as design lecturer, freelance designer, graphic designer, researcher and brand manager.

Graduates have gone on to work for companies including: Zyad University Abu Dhabi, University of Salford and Welsh design agency BWA.

Alumni Profile

Matthew Davis, Senior Designer BWA

“It is a rare chance to combine vast amounts of research with a creative outcome, which helps you to focus on where you want your career to take you and ultimately lends great weight to your chances of securing a job in the creative industries.

There is a more focused and specific delivery of course material in comparison to undergraduate study and regular weekly meetings/crit sessions, initially with peers and then on a one-to-one basis, helped to move projects forward.

I feel all the opportunities are there for you as a student of design and it is up to the individual to provide their own passion, alongside their initiative to take their respective careers forward. The support mechanisms in place on the MA course while I was at Salford were excellent – I cannot thank the course leader and the wider staff team enough.”

Links with Industry

Guest speakers and live briefs provide a valuable contribution to the course, and bring a real-world perspective to the academic delivery of the modules.

The School of Art & Design runs a guest lecture programme, and over the last year speakers has included Si Scott, David Hancock, Brendan Walker, Chris Gray and Al Heighton.

These guest lectures allow you to mix with professionals from industry, to make connections, set up placements and conduct research.

The course lecturer has strong links with the Art & Design field and has set up a number of rolling placements and live briefs.

Further Study

Research in the School of Arts & Media is coordinated by Rosie Miller. There are over 30 fully research-active academic staff and a number of embryonic and early career researchers engaged in a range of innovative creative practice in art and design and in advancing the boundaries of theoretical investigation. Find out more


Fees and Funding

Fees 2016-17

Type of StudyFee
Part-time£1,017 per 30 credits
Full-time International£12,500, part-time £2,084 per 30 credits
Full-time PgDip£4,068, part-time £1,017 per 30 credits

Additional costs

You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We offer awards to help you study through our:

  • Vice-Chancellor's Excellence Scholarship
  • University of Salford student loyalty discount
  • Country bursary scheme for International students only

There are also other sources of funding available to you.

For more information please see our funding section


The MA Art & Design programme is based at Allerton studios. Students working on site have access to their own studio space and a postgraduate base room. Facilities at Allerton Studios include

  • Printing Facilities
  • 3D workshop
  • Fibre Workshop
  • Photography studio which includes a lighting set-up
  • Computer suites
  • Bookable project spaces

You will be inducted into the workshops, which covers how to use all the machinery, by trained workshop technicians.

Students also have access to a further 3D workshop at centenary Building which boasts up to date wood, metal and plastic facilities, spray shops, hot metal, laser cutting and rapid prototyping resources including CNC and 3D printing.

You are also encouraged to use the facilities and resources at MediaCityUK for project- based activities and exhibition opportunities.