MA

Design: Products and Furniture

Student in woodwork workshops
  • Level(s) of study: Postgraduate taught / Professional
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Location: City Campus
  • Starting: September
  • Course duration: One year full-time or two years part-time

The MA Design: Products & Furniture course is aimed at the designer with a passion to develop innovative products, furniture, systems or services. The course encourages a broad and diverse range of approaches to design practice that reflect the designer’s personal philosophies and creative methodologies while engaging in the realities of designing for new and emerging markets.

As designers, you'll be encouraged to explore the multidisciplinary field of design and challenge the norms in design thinking. The course sets out to challenge pre-conceived attitudes to the relationship between traditional craft skills, new technology and modern manufacture; encouraging the cross fertilisation of ideas and approaches informed by collaborative working and hands on experience.

You will:

  • Develop a comprehensive understanding and critical awareness of emerging technologies, materials and philosophies, including recent thinking with regards to innovative design technologies and materials
  • Design and negotiate a personal learning agreement, focused on your own design interests and expertise, strengths and weaknesses to maximise your development potential
  • Benefit from internationally recognised research activities undertaken by our academic staff, supported by grants from a variety of funding organisations including the European Union, UK Government and UK Research Councils, the Royal Society, the Arts Council, and industry.
  • Work and study in a strong student design community, focused on studio-based working and based around supportive, peer-to-peer learning which helps to set out work in a professional context.
  • Interact with industry professionals through a variety of lectures and workshops
  • Work on an exciting range of projects driven by links with industry
  • Learn in a multi-disciplinary environment with academic staff and students across departments at NTU
  • Work in industry-standard studios, facilities and laboratories on our City Campus and benefit from expert technical support

What you'll study

You'll study modules designed to expand your awareness and understanding of product design while developing a wider appreciation of a designer's role within modern society, and the impact of new thinking in business in the design industry.

The course focuses on the needs of future professional design practice and work to promote the understanding of both local and international business and support entrepreneurial approaches to developing products and services, and the development of strategic design for business success.

How do you study?

Through it's project-based nature, the course emphasises the importance of independent learning, collaborative team working, creative problem solving and self-organisation skills. You'll develop a practice-based project for your final Major Study Project via the creation of a learning agreement as part of the Research Methods module; this is written in consultation with tutors and informs your final learning outcomes.

  • Year One

    The course comprises of four modules, three of which are 20 credits dedicated to developing different aspects of the designer’s skills, knowledge and experience, while the fourth module is a larger 120 credit point module dedicated to the individual student’s own personal specialist project.

    Three taught modules, 20 credits each:

    Design Research Methods (20 credits)

    • This module will provide students with the research methodologies, language(s), methods, knowledge and skills necessary in building contemporary arts, design, manufacturing and technology related practices
    • Working in small groups you'll complete a research project in consultation with your supervisor, identifying your aims and objectives within the framework of their course and beyond
    • You'll engage with a range of quantitative and qualitative research methods, and evaluate primary and secondary methods with reference to design issues
    • You'll learn to critically appraise theoretical and experimental methods of research in your chosen field of interest and apply them in your practice, and reflect on the relationship between theory and practice

    Design Tools (20 credits)

    • This module will provide you with the necessary practical skills and knowledge to devise creative design solutions at an advanced level in your chosen program of study
    • You'll undertake a series of exploratory workshops to become familiarised with the facilities and staff at the university, and to develop an awareness of the potential for emerging materials and technologies relating to their design interests
    • You'll generate ideas for new products and develop and evaluate a range of new solutions, communicate ideas, concepts, plans and designs, using a variety of approaches including written, oral, graphic illustrations and computer based presentations
    • You'll consider different elements of your individual design interests through studio and reflective practice, skills such as drawing, and prototyping as well as investigations to materials such as wood, metal, plastics, ceramics, composites and sustainable materials, and  fourth generation development platforms, computer aided design and additive manufacturing

    Professional Collaboration (20 credits)

    • Working as a member of a small team, the Professional Collaboration module will provide challenging simulated work environments to enable you to engage in the design and management of real-world design projects with industrial partners
    • You'll choose from a range of problem based scenarios and benefit from working with others on innovative projects set in the context of contemporary real-world issues, and find solutions to difficult and complex challenges
    • You'll be challenged to define the value in a design proposal, and to develop it into a viable commercial proposition, informed by current developments in design management, venture funding, manufacturing technologies, intellectual property (IP), open innovation, and brand management

    Major Study Project, 120 credits

    • This module provides you with the opportunity to develop innovative artefacts, products or systems. You'll work on your own design concept, an industrially led, or research based project as individually negotiated through your learning agreement
    • Projects may be based on developing innovative products, furniture, systems and services.  Projects should consider not only materials and manufacturing, but also a broad range of strategies and approaches driven by user centred, market driven, sustainable, ethical, technological or critical methodologies
    • The first element of this module is called context and rationale. The main aims of this phase are to enable you to employ appropriate methods of creative research, and apply them to the development of effective design strategies for a negotiated Masters Project
    • In the second element, design and development you'll progress your project by applying research methods and creative concept generation and ideas prototyping to the development and testing of a range of possible design outcomes for your project
    • In the final element of the Major Study Project, realisation and evaluation, you'll realise the outcome of your design project through the development of manufactured artifacts, detailed prototypes and/or digital simulations which will enable effective testing and evaluation of the project outcome and successfully communicate the product, system or service to all stakeholders in the project

Course specification

View the full course specification
Please note that course specifications may be subject to change

Define a learning agreement with your tutor and focus on your own individual areas of development.

How you’re taught

Learning and teaching methods will comprise:

  • lectures to introduce and develop concepts and to explore the application of concepts
  • practical workshops
  • studio sessions, workshops and laboratories to develop skills and appreciate concepts
  • seminars and tutorials to provide academic sites
  • case study and project work to develop a deeper understanding of concepts and applications
  • project presentations to develop confidence and identity in professional practice

By the end of the course you'll be able to:

  • Situate your work within the context of design theory and practice and critically reflect on the wider social, ethical, economic, global, environmental and sustainability issues in your discipline
  • Demonstrate extensive knowledge appropriate to product design and comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to your practice
  • Demonstrate originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in product design
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the role and potential of evolving production processes and evaluate their part in successful design outcomes
  • Appraise and anticipate trends through analysis of projected cultural, economic and technological developments

How will I be assessed?

Taught modules are assessed by coursework, oral presentations, case studies and projects. The Individual Major Project module involves the design, implementation and reporting of a major research task by thesis.

Learn in a multi-disciplinary environment with academic staff and students across departments at NTU.

Careers and employability

This course has been developed to meet the needs of industry in the UK and overseas. It is specifically designed to increase the employability of its graduates in a business context by identifying new service, strategy and product opportunities, and conducting projects in collaboration with industrial partners. You'll become more strategically aware and technically literate, and will communicate concepts and outcomes at an advanced level in an ever changing global market place.

On completion, graduates will have acquired skills and knowledge to set up their own businesses, to work in manufacturing industries, design consultancies, and research and development organisations, or to progress to PhD study by engaging in further research.

The University's Employability Team is available to all students, offering individual consultation and support.

Build important networks within the product design industry and open up exciting career opportunities.

Work in industry-standard studios, workshops and laboratories and benefit from expert technical support.

Entry requirements

What are we looking for?

  • 2.2 honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant field.

Applicants with non-standard entry requirements and / or relevant experience will be considered on an individual basis.

Work submission

If your initial application is successful, you'll be asked to upload a practical portfolio of your work to our secure site. If you'd like to prepare your portfolio in advance here are some guidelines.

Getting in touch

If you need any more help or information, please email our Admissions Team or call on +44 (0)115 848 4200.

If you’re not sure how your international qualification matches our course requirements please visit our international qualifications page.


English language entry requirements

If English is not your first language you need to show us that your language skills are strong enough for intensive academic study. We usually ask for an IELTS test and we accept some alternative English language tests.

Help and support

If you have any questions about your qualifications or about making an application to the University please contact our international team for advice.

Work submission

If your initial application is successful, you'll be asked to upload a practical portfolio of your work to our secure site. If you'd like to prepare your portfolio in advance here are some guidelines.

How to apply

Ready to join us? Then apply as soon as you can. Just click the Apply button at the top of the page. Most of our postgraduate and professional courses are popular and fill up quickly though, so apply as soon as you can.

Writing your application

Be honest, thorough and persuasive in your application. Remember, we can only make a decision based on what you tell us. Make sure you include as much information as possible, including uploading evidence of results already achieved, as well as a personal statement.

Keeping up to date

After you’ve applied, we’ll be sending you important emails throughout the application process - so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

You can get more information and advice about applying to NTU in our postgraduates’ guide. Here you’ll find advice about how to write a good personal statement and much more.

Work submission

If your initial application is successful, you'll be asked to upload a practical portfolio of your work to our secure site. If you'd like to prepare your portfolio in advance here are some guidelines.

Getting in touch

If you need more help or support, you can call our Admissions Team on +44 (0)115 848 4200.

Good luck with your application!

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Apply directly to the University online using the NTU online application portal. Apply for your as early as you can so that you have time to prepare for your studies. If you need a visa to study here you need to plan this into your application.

Work submission

If your initial application is successful, you'll be asked to upload a practical portfolio of your work to our secure site. If you'd like to prepare your portfolio in advance here are some guidelines.

Keeping up to date

After you’ve applied, we’ll be sending you important emails throughout the application process - so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Fees and funding

Preparing for the financial side of student life is important, but there’s no need to feel anxious and confused about it. We hope that our fees and funding pages will answer all your questions.

You might be able to get a scholarship to help fund your studies. We award scholarships to those students who can demonstrate excellent achievement, passion and dedication to their studies.

Please take a look at our postgraduates’ guide funding page for information about sourcing grants, bursaries and scholarships, and much more.

Getting in touch

For more advice and guidance, you can contact our Student Financial Support Service. Tel: +44 (0)115 848 2494

We offer prestigious scholarships to new international students holding offers to study at the University.

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418