Product design work

Product Design Masters - MSc/PgD/PgC


Key Facts

Place of Study: 
Llandaff Campus

Cardiff School of Art & Design

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

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Course Overview

This one-year taught MSc in Product Design is primarily aimed at design graduates who wish to enhance their skills and knowledge of cutting edge product design practice. 

It aims to produce successful individuals who can:

  • Understand the whole of the professional design development process and how the initial phases flow to inform the latter stages. 
  • Appreciate commercial realities and the designer’s role in business. 
  • Design desirable products for bespoke, batch or mass manufacture. 
  • Understand sustainability, inclusively, and other important ethical and social issues that must be considered by today’s designers. 
  • Have traditional design skills such as sketching, dealing with form, communication and innovation. 
  • Are able to use design tools such as 3D CAD, CAM and rapid prototyping in order to optimise the design and reduce time to market. 

Cardiff School of Art & Design and the National Centre for Product Design & Development Research have pooled their substantial design and manufacturing expertise to produce this unique course that will equip students with an advanced knowledge of the techniques, technologies and tools being used by today’s designers.

The Cardiff School of Art & Design have substantial expertise in the delivery of courses at the interface of engineering and product design whilst the National Centre for Product Design & Development Research is one of the UK’s leading centres for rapid product design & development whose expertise covers the whole process from design management, concept and detailed design, ergonomics and CAD to prototyping, tooling and batch manufacture.

This course will tap into the cutting edge research and development work being carried out in the field of product design and rapid product manufacture with companies such as Samsung along with three of the UK’s top five design consultancies.

Course Content

MSc students take the following modules:

  • ​Perception, Cognition, Emotion, and Context (20 credits)
  • Product Development Principles and Practice(20 credits)
  • Research Techniques and Principles(20 credits)
  • Sustainability Issues in Design for Production(20 credits)
  • User Testing & Evaluation(20 credits)
  • Industrial Placement(20 credits)
  • Major Project (60 credits)

Programme Exit Points:

  • To gain a Post Graduate Certificate, you must pass Product Development Principles and Practice plus two other 20-credit modules. (60 credits)
  • To gain an MSc Product Design, you must pass all modules (180 credits) 
  • To gain a Post Graduate Diploma, you must pass all modules except Major Project (120 credits)

Learning & Teaching

The modules are typically delivered through:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars.
  • Workshops.
  • Virtual learning, e.g. Blackboard or student blogs or wikis.
  • Self-directed study.

Lectures will be used to present basic concepts and principles. Tutorials and Seminars will be used to discuss and explain specific problem areas. Peer group tutorials will be used to discuss and explain specific problem areas. Case studies exercises and examples will be used to contextualise realistic design problems and practice. Outside experts may be invited to contribute and site visits might also be employed. The Industrial Placement delivery will be via appropriate work experience, normally project based.

All course documentation, including Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Research Studies Manual, CSAD’s Research Study Guide, the MA Art and Design Handbook with module descriptors, assessment guidelines and criteria, will be available as hard copy and electronically. In addition, lecture PowerPoint presentations and workshop-generated material, for example, paragraphs and textual or visual analyses composed during workshops, will be available on the Cardiff Metropolitan University Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Remote or electronic contact with staff will be available by email and/or VLE. The supervisory team will deliver, manage and monitor each student's progress through a number of individual and team meetings. Students will also be encouraged to form and maintain peer-learning groups, either face-to-face or online. Learning will be supported through the use of the VLE, electronic communications, and other relevant methods. Any students requiring learning support are advised to contact Learning Support in Student Services. Throughout the programme, students are expected to maintain their own Personal Development Plan/Portfolio (PDP), intended to provide evidence of their knowledge and understanding in relation to the learning outcomes of each module.

Each 20 credits is equivalent to 240 learning hours (80 typically are taught and 160 are directed study or independent study).


Dedicated studio space. Cardiff School of Art and Design offers an extensive range of spaces, workshops and equipment, creating a vibrant and creative learning environment, within a new purpose designed building and a fully renovated extension. Workshop and technical facilities include a foundry; and access to other workshops across the full range of Art and Design disciplines. Membership of the Fablab is included in the indicative coursework costs below. Cardiff School of Art and Design has a wide range of tools and equipment for use by students; necessary workshop training in their use includes access to materials used as part of timetabled workshop inductions. You also have access to and use of recycled materials within workshop areas.

Indicative Coursework Costs

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. Typically we suggest that you budget £575 for your projects during the MSc Programme.

Other Additional costs

Additional costs will be incurred for the one-off purchase of personal tools and equipment (particularly any personal equipment appropriate to your own field of practice or enquiry) and study trips if you participate in these. Other costs such as printing, the purchase of textbooks; and cost of optional placements will also need to be accounted for. Please ask your Programme Director for specific guidance when you accept our offer of a place.


For each module, assessment is as follows:

APD401M Product Development Principles & Practice (20 Credits) 
6000 word equivalent assignment. This will normally be a written assignment. 

APD403M Sustainability Issues in Design for Production (20 Credits)
6000 word equivalent. This module will typically be assessed via a design project. A proportion of the assignment may however be awarded for written or presentation work. 

MAA7001 Research Methods in Art & Design (20 Credits)
Written submission, plus seminar presentation, typically 3,000 words plus a 10-20 minute presentation.

APD405M User Testing & Evaluation (20 Credits)
6000 word equivalent. This module may be linked with others in order to provide a design project vehicle. In any case it will involve practical exercises and a proportion if not all of the assignment may be awarded for written or presentation work. 

APD406M Form Shape & Colour (20 Credits)
6000 word equivalent. This project is likely to be assessed through practical design activity, although a proportion of the assignment may be awarded for written or presentation work.

APD407M Major Project (60 Credits)
18,000-word equivalent. Performance will be measured using the Final Report, Formal Presentation, Viva Voce examination and final product. Of the marks that are available for the project the allocation of the marks to each of the measures is as follows: 
o Final Report: 40%
o Final Product (prototype): 40%
o Formal Presentation: 5%
o Viva Voce: 15%

APD408M(A) Industrial Placement (20 Credits)
6000 word equivalent. A 3000 word ( maximum) report reflecting on the student’s experience within the professional working environment. A reflective placement Logbook (or Blog equivalent)  recording critical reflections on events,  activities and experiences. Important Note: Because of the difficulties of assessment in the workplace and the potential for disparity of treatment, this module is not awarded a mark other than “Pass” or “Fail”.

Support will be available through weekly small group seminars (normally no more than 16 students per group), exploring the theme of lectures and allowing students to clarify their understanding. 

These sessions may also be workshops where practical demonstrations, involving student participation, are run. This may include, for example, communal writing or small group discourse analysis. Weekly tutorials will also be available.

Employability & Careers

The course is principally aimed at enabling students to develop their careers in the world of professional product design and development.  A key advantage in achieving this aim is the industrial placement module. All students are given assistance in gaining a suitable placement either in industry or within the National Centre for Product Design and development Research (PDR) which is located on the university campus. 

On completion of the course, graduates may expect to find employment in design consultancies or manufacturing companies anywhere in the world. 

Your year(s) of study with us enable you to develop professional contacts, observe how successful practitioners make their living, and hone your skills and ideas for commercial and professional advantage. Such cross-disciplinary collaborations prepare you for a world where you will inevitably work with people from all walks of life. Your live projects and assessments will get you accustomed to the importance of deadlines and working to specific briefs and tight specifications.

Over the next few years, CSAD will be developing opportunities for incubation of business proposals from its graduates and postgraduate training to get business opportunities up and running.

All students’ are expected to complete a portable ‘record of achievement’ and use their PDP to support employability and life-long learning, normally in the form of a blog, that integrates opportunities for self-reflection in programmes in order to help them develop as effective and confident learners.


Entry Requirements & How to Apply

Students 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 discipline (based upon assessed Accredited Prior Learning or assessed Accredited Prior Experiential Learning), or a discipline associated with their programme of study.

Claims for Accredited Prior Learning (APL) are assessed in accordance with the CMU Academic Handbook, based upon either demonstrable evidence of assessed learning outcomes with equivalence, or equivalent experience where students "have learned in similarly ambitious ways". APL claims are normally expected to be approved at the time of enrolment.

International Applicants
Students whose first language is not English will need to provide evidence of fluency to at least an IELTS 6.0 (6.0 listening and 5.5 in each other element) standard or equivalent. For full details about how to apply and English Language qualifications please visit the International pages on the website.

​Selection Procedure:

School of Art and Design (CSAD) postgraduate applicants are required to both apply via the Cardiff Metropolitan University admissions site, and to complete additional information via the CSAD website. The additional information that is required includes:  a statement about your current work and practice and the interests which inform it; a succinct statement outlining why you wish to undertake this course; an outline of the professional or research project that you wish to pursue on this course; and a portfolio of your previous work (where appropriate) in support of your application. Images of your work or examples of written work can be submitted via a personal website or via an appropriate online platform (eg. Flickr, Tumbr or Wordpress). At least four different examples of your work should be referenced. Before an offer is then made some applicants may then be asked to attend for an interview, by visiting CSAD or by Skype or similar online discussion tools.

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

If you are interested in using credit from another institution, or have obtained qualifications and/or experience to study for a course at Cardiff Met, you can find further information on this as well as information on how to apply on the RPL page.

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

For information on modules to be studied part time please contact the programme leader.

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, with the exception of some specialist high end equipment such as the Mimaki and 3D printers. Access to Cardiff FabLab​ is subject to student membership; it offers reduced fees for student use.

For further information about additional course costs, including fees, equipment requirements and other charges for each postgraduate programme, please visit:


​Field trips and visits

Study Trips are organized during the year and students will be asked to share the costs. The costs of study abroad, including exchanges, placements and projects are the responsibility of the individual student.

Contact Us

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

For course specific enquiries, please contact the programme administration: 
Tel: 029 2041 6669

Full terms & conditions in relation to accepting an offer to study at Cardiff Metropolitan University can be found by visiting