Cardiff School of Art & Design>Courses>Global Design Masters Degree

Global Design - MDes/PgD/PgC

​​​​As a global design community, we share the values, principles, practices and processes that create pervasive acts and outputs which can address the crisis threatening the future of the planet and its peoples.

We must optimise the imagination, speculation and vision of our craft to bring together and activate scientists, technologists, ecologists and politicians in a mission to improve lives now.

Our MDes Global Design programme is for designers who want to play their part in that mission. We are looking for committed graduates who are passionate about activating global, local and individual change in order to build a sustainable and vibrant future for the planet, its ecologies and its people.

This programme allows students from both practice and non-practice backgrounds to explore sustainability, ethics, health, safety and the environment through a research culture that prioritises relationship building, trans- and inter-disciplinary exploration and stakeholder collaboration.

Working trans-collaboratively with local and global communities, you will develop a self-identified project, setting an intention to anticipate, enact and effect a transformation of global significance.

Throughout the programme you will engage with concepts, methods and practice that develop your understanding of how change happens. Our particular focus is on the future orientation of design and how alternative visions can be fashioned by human agency in a way that is simultaneously playful and speculative, as well as intensely rigorous.

Whether your interest is in research-led practice or practice-led research, we expect you to locate your research within the wider Global, Ethical, Social and Political contexts relevant to the landscape of contemporary Art & Design research.

Indicative course content includes:

  • The Ethics of Design

  • Design Anthropology

  • Design Activism

  • Participatory Design

  • Sustainable Futures

  • Design Philosophy and the Post-humanities​

Course Content

You will study the following modules as part of the MDes Global Design programme. Each module supports the iteration of an idea through which students set an intention to challenge existing political, social, ethical and economic systems.

Semester 1

In Semester 1 you will undertake two integrated parallel modules:

  • ART7777 Change through Design (40 credits)

  • ART7771 Context and Methodologies Part 1 (20 credits)

These modules are co-dependent, providing you with the theoretical and conceptual models that enable you to yield informed, critical understanding of Global Design in practice.

Change Through Design will invite you to explore provocative counterfactuals that challenge our tendency to predict the future on the basis of statistical trends.

Change Through Design will fully examine the “what ifs” that allow us to better understand the way in which we perceive the possibility for actions in the present. We consider how we might invigorate a change through the examination of a range of Methodologies that promote responsible engagement in human action.

Semester 2

In Semester 2 you will undertake two integrated parallel common modules: Idea and Contexts.

  • ART7773 Idea (40 credits)

  • ART7772 Context and Methodologies Part 2 (20 credits)

These modules are designed to support continued advanced scholarship to contextualise and put into action the research proposal you developed in Semester 1 in relation to global, ethical, social and political concerns.

As the possibilities explored in Semester 1 evolve toward more concrete intentions, the Idea module opens opportunities to consider the relationality of Global Design.

Such relationships will be explored, in part, through collaboration with Masters students from other arts programmes, offering exchanges and interactions that can enrich and make our own practice of design distinct. In tandem with Idea, you will study the Contexts module, in which you examine the paradigms, influences, enablers and boundaries that help to determine the agency within our idea.

The synergies afforded by these modules avoid the tendency to simply apply methods to actions. Instead, we expect you to test out novel approaches that disrupt, rethink and refashion the traditions of design research. The techniques and tools you employ must contribute to an understanding - and even re-imagining - of how our ideas contribute to shared values for living - from local to global.

Semester 3

In Semester 3 you will undertake one module: Output. The module is comprised of two integrated written and practice-led activities equivalent to 60 credits.

  • ART7774 Output (60 credits)

Output represents the culmination of your Masters level research project and study. It consolidates your research findings through the realisation of your major project to form a curated exhibition (June/July) and a written paper or article. (September).

Throughout Output you will be expected to present, communicate and disseminate your central ideas, methods and findings from a position of informed critical evaluation.

The assessed outputs are expected to be practical artefacts, plus a substantial body of supporting professional documentation that clearly demonstrates the highest level of appropriation of research, methods, skills, and processes.

Output is primarily self-directed, supported by regular individual and group tutorials, mentoring, and student-led seminars that leverage discussion and criticality on the values, principles, practices and processes that are embodied within their projects.

To achieve this, students will be expected to consolidate their findings from other modules and to communicate them to a specified academic and non-academic audiences through appropriate modes.

Exit points

  • On completing 60 credits in total students may be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate.

  • On completing 120 credits in total students may be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma.

  • On completing 180 credits in total students will be awarded a Master's Degree

Learning & Teaching

The nature of the Global Design programme is such that it relies on the real-world experience of a core staff team and guest lecturers. These skilled practitioners are the key facilitators of your learning and reflecting this, a variety of delivery mechanisms will be deployed, with a common focus in that they will seek to develop your skills as proactive and reflective independent learners.

In addition, each student is allocated a Personal Tutor and in addition to subject-specialist members of staff from within the School. Together they form the supervisory team.

Methods of delivery will include studio-based assignments, lectures, tutorials, seminars, workshops, student-led presentations and discussion, experimental and live briefs, study trips, and reflective analysis. All projects start with a live briefing, and a briefing document available via our virtual learning environment (VLE), Moodle.

PDP (Personal Development Plan): You will maintain reflective journals which will be submitted as part of assessed bodies of work; academic tutorials and the termly pastoral tutorials will monitor and respond to concerns arising across your learning experience and will focus on helping you refine your overall personal development objectives and learning style.

Lectures: Lectures deliver a coherent programme of study and general inspiration. They are supported by visual material and/or texts. The content may be historical, theoretical, contextual or practical. Where appropriate, lectures are structured to involve you in discussion.

Tutorials: Tutorials are meetings of a student or groups of students with a lecturer or lecturers, and are used in two ways within the programme:

  • Expanding upon material covered in lectures through an enquiry-driven problem solving approach

  • Remedial work to overcome any deficiencies in background knowledge.

Seminars: Seminars are designed to encourage articulate and analytical presentation and, through group discussions, to develop an understanding of the subject and its context. This is a central teaching and learning method particularly when relating the learning gained to your personal research and back into the subject of Global Design.

Seminars can take three forms:

  • Those guided by staff where texts, images, or artefacts are provided for you to present an analysis to your group.

  • Those where you select texts, images, or artefacts for discussion within your group.

  • Those where you present your own work or research findings.

This strategy is used to extend specific theoretical or practical concepts as well as introducing problem solving exercises.

Seminars provide you with valuable experience in presentation skills, blogs, wikis or podcasts, as well as providing staff with a method or assessing student-centred learning.

Practical workshops: Practical workshops enable you to practice and refine your skills in a supportive environment where you receive feedback from members of staff. Practical workshops represent a valuable transition between theory and practice.

Practical studio sessions: Practical studio sessions, emphasising the application of fundamental principles of Global Design, focus on problem solving and development of creative and technical solutions to design problems. Simulation exercises and live projects provide a stimulating challenge for you working both independently and in groups to experience real business challenges.

You are encouraged to articulate your proposals in an objective and critical manner and to develop interpersonal communication skills that are vital to an entrepreneur or innovator.

E-Learning: The virtual learning environment (VLE) is extensively used on the programme to enhance the student learning experience. Apart from its widespread use as a repository for learning material and resources, the VLE is used to engage you in your own learning. It is also valuable as a means of communicating, offering feedback and additional learning materials. Electronic feedback is issued through the VLE.

Critiques: Discussions involving staff and students are a central feature of the critiques in assignments and project work organised within the studio programme. Critiques are held at each assessment stage (interim or final) of an assignment or project in the studio-based modules where you present your work to your year group and tutor for feedback and debate. This event is a cornerstone of the learning process. Assignments are designed to ensure that you tackle a wide range of case studies or precedent that illustrates a variety of situations or solutions. The critique process ensures you learn from work being done by others as well as through your own efforts.


The learning outcomes are assessed within the modules through a variety of methods including essays, presentations and project work etc, as seen in individual module descriptors.

Assessment takes place at strategic points in the academic year to enable and support your continued development. Group critiques and tutorials offer continuous feedback opportunities. Peer and self-assessment is used extensively.

Employability & Careers

The MDes Global Design programme enables students to enhance their careers as, or to become, established designers leading towards a career, a PhD, or to a Professional Doctorate in either art or design. Cardiff School of Art and Design offers Professional Doctoral programs in both Art and Design.

The MDes Global Design programme is designed to enable students to achieve the attributes of greater flexibility, adaptability, individual responsibility and autonomy as professional designers or researchers.

The course aims to develop individuality, creativity, self-reliance, initiative, and the ability to perform in rapidly changing environments as well as increasing competence with research skills and methods which will make graduates highly employable as academics and/or researchers, or enable them to develop an active and sustained practice as designers.

The MDes Global Design enables graduates, as well as mid-career and professional practitioners from both within and outside the discipline of Global Design to negotiate and examine strategies of design for change.

All students receive tutorials to support employability and life-long learning. Students will be expected to maintain their PDP evidencing continuous visual documentation that integrates opportunities for self-reflection to help them develop as effective and confident learners.

At the conclusion of the programme, a very high percentage of MDes graduates establish or continue their professional practice, enabled by the links they have made with design studios or organisations associated with the visual arts and design. Some elect to continue with their Global Design studies at CSAD by undertaking a PhD.

Entry Requirements & How to Apply

You will normally have achieved a first class or second class upper division first degree (1st or 2.1 degree classification) in an appropriate subject, and/or equivalent professional standing or experience in a design, design crafts, or creative Industries discipline (based upon assessed Accredited Prior Learning (RPL) or assessed Accredited Prior Experiential Learning (RPEL), or a discipline associated with their programme of study. Further information about RPL and RPEL routes can be found here.

International Applicants

Students whose first language is not English will need to provide evidence of fluency to at least an IELTS 6.0 standard or equivalent. For full details about how to apply and English Language qualifications please visit the International pages on our website.

Before making an application, EU/International students are asked to contact Dr Fiaz Hussain to discuss the necessary procedures in relation to studying with us.

How to Apply

Applications for this course should be made direct to the university via our self-service facility. For further information please visit our How to Apply pages at

All students are interviewed for this course. Where a face to face interview is not possible, these will be conducted via online methods.

Additional Information

Tuition Fees and Financial Support
For up to date information on tuition fees and the financial support that may be available. Please refer to

Part-time fees
Charges are per Single Module unless specified: Undergraduate = 10 Credits; Postgraduate = 20 Credits Generally we find most students will complete 60 credits per year for both Undergraduate and Postgraduate study; to obtain a true costing please clarify this by contacting the Programme Director directly.

Postgraduate costs of study in CSAD:

You will receive access to materials used as part of timetabled workshop inductions. You will also have access to and use of recycled materials within workshop areas where available. In general you will need to purchase materials for individual projects used in studio and workshops as appropriate.

Please note that costs will vary depending upon the scale and individual requirements of your work. In addition one-off purchases of personal tools and equipment will need to be budgeted for. Other costs such as printing, the purchase of textbooks; and cost of optional placements will also need to be accounted for by you.

In the main, no charges are made for the use of equipment. Access to Cardiff FabLab is subject to negotiation; it offers reduced fees for student use.

Contact Us

For general enquiries please contact the Admissions Team on 029 2041 6044 or email

For general information about CSAD Postgraduate courses, please contact the Admission Tutor, Amelia Huw-Morgan on  

For course specific enquiries, please contact the Programme Director, Sarah Smith:

We endeavour to deliver courses as described and will not normally make changes to courses, such as course title, content, delivery, and teaching provision. However, it may be necessary for the university to make changes in the course provision before or after enrolment. It reserves the right to make variations to content or delivery methods, including discontinuation or merging courses if such action is considered necessary. Please read our Terms and Conditions for the full information.

Key Course Information

Place of Study: 
Llandaff Campus

Cardiff School of Art & Design

Course Length:
One year full-time or two years part-time.

Course Disclaimer
We endeavour to deliver courses as described and will not normally make changes to courses, such as course title, content, delivery, and teaching provision. However, it may be necessary for the university to make changes in the course provision before or after enrolment. It reserves the right to make variations to content or delivery methods, including discontinuation or merging courses if such action is considered necessary.

Please read our Terms and Conditions for the full information.

Katie on campus
Designing for Change with MDes Global Design at Cardiff Met

Katie explains Global Design at Cardiff Met, and how it's helping her learn how to design for positive social change.
Read more.