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Postgraduate course

Visual Communication MA

Explore the rich forms of communication we encounter in every day life from street signs to computer games, newspapers to packaging.

Games Design student

Our Visual Communication MA is designed to help you develop your creative, imaginative and technical skills as a professional communicator. We will equip you with the skills to help you express your ideas in a creative and professional manner. You will gain the technical tools, the academic curiosity and the business confidence to pursue a successful and rewarding career in this field.

York campus

  • Duration – 1 year full-time
  • Start date – September 2022
  • School – School of the Arts

Minimum Entry Requirements

    2:2 undergraduate degree in a related subject

    Interview You'll be invited to attend an interview to discuss your creative practice

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2021-22 £6,500 full time

    International 2021-22 £12,750 full time

Course overview

You will be introduced to bespoke methods for designing digital experiences with the support of our industry partners. You will develop analytical and practical skills to help you develop, test and deliver exciting design solutions to a range of communication challenges.

You will explore a range of media in the fields of graphic design, branding, illustration, moving imagery, and virtual and augmented reality. You will be supported to create an exciting and contemporary personal portfolio of work informed by your research and practice.

The course will also prepare you to become more familiar in both virtual reality and augmented reality. You will have the chance to apply your creative talent and transferable skills through a diverse range of digital sectors to be ready to work in industry.

You'll be equipped with the skills to set up and manage your own business. Our course draws on expertise from across the University to deliver modules on a range of topics. Our collaboration with York Business School delivers entrepreneurial business modules to enable you to understand how creative practice and business can link together.

Course structure

Level 1 


Credits: 30

Compulsory module

We deliver this module intensively over one week. After this you will use your time to outline your research ambitions for later modules. During this time a supervisor will support you on a one to one basis. We will introduce you to case studies and design research methodologies. You will be able to apply these to future research projects. This is a chance to reflect on your professional practice and identify areas you would like to specialise in.

Credits: 15

Compulsory module

We aim to give you an appreciation for the importance of design processes in business. By investigating a selection of design companies, you will gain an understanding of design strategies and how they relate to brand, product and service. To do this you will conduct primary and secondary research and explore themes including:

  • Brand identity and marketing communications
  • Target audiences and unique selling points
  • Procedures for setting up a start-up company.

You will also hear from industry professionals who will share their own experiences of how design has benefited their businesses.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

Gain a greater understanding of how design is reshaping the future. Together, we will think about how technology is shaping the world of business and how designers are challenging established businesses to think differently. On the module, you will look at the concept of a Circular Economy and how employing this way of thinking can benefit businesses. You will also look at disruptive technologies and the challenges they present. Some of the technologies you will look at include:

  • Augmented and Virtual Reality
  • Renewable and Clean Energies
  • Smart Products and Wearable Technologies
  • Artificial Intelligence and Automation
  • Intelligent Apps.

Credits: 30

Compulsory module

Explore communication platforms and media within an interdisciplinary field. You will investigate aspects of graphic design, editorial, photography, typography, wayfinding systems and user interaction to support  your creative practice. Engagement with industry professionals and the development of an in-depth knowledge of processes will allow you to make informed decisions in your final design proposal.

Credits: 30

Compulsory module

This module challenges you to combine creativity with technical skill to develop something innovative. We will encourage you to experiment and take risks in the development of your personal voice. This is an opportunity for you to develop a prototype that acts as a foundation for your final Major Design Project.

Credits: 60

Compulsory module

In your final module you will complete a Major Design Project. You will demonstrate your skills as an autonomous design practitioner and researcher. Pursue your own direction and produce either a personal imprint characterised by practical outcomes or document a comprehensive body of research that underpins your area of enquiry.

Teaching and assessment

The programme has been designed to meet the needs of students who have just finished Undergraduate courses and those who are returning to learning.

We understand design as a practice-based discipline that also reflects upon itself. We want you to understand the interactive relationship between media and processes, between ideas and issues, and between designer and consumer with attention to critical and contextual discourse. 

You will experience a range of teaching and learning strategies across the modules, including reflective, independent, collaborative and supported learning. You will benefit from workshops, visiting speakers, field visits, work-related learning, seminar discussions, supervised projects and supported online learning.

You will receive technical supervision to help your academic work and support you as you learn new skills.

Mock assessments and portfolio reviews will be employed throughout the course. Feedback will be given at key points during your studies to help you reflect and develop as a designer and prepare you for future modules.

Assessment will take a variety of forms including portfolio work, creative projects, presentation of visual works, research reports and case studies.

Entry requirements


Minimum Entry Requirements

    2:2 undergraduate degree in a related subject

    Interview You'll be invited to attend an interview to discuss your creative practice


Entry onto this postgraduate course requires a minimum of a 2:2 undergraduate degree in a related subject.

If your undergraduate degree is not in a related discipline but you can provide a strong portfolio of visual work, your application will be considered.

International Students

International students will need to demonstrate that they have equivalent experience /qualifications as home students (ie the same entry criteria as above).

If their first language is not English they must show evidence of English Language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.


Applicants are also invited for interview.

At interview you will be asked to:

  • Provide a creative proposal for what you may wish to undertake during the course.
  • Present a portfolio of work that demonstrates your existing and current project work, creative practices and skills.

We are happy to arrange interviews via Skype for overseas students.

APEL policy

If you can't meet these minimum requirements it may be possible to take into account evidence of Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) as an alternative method of meeting the programme’s entry requirements. In such a case, appropriate references and records of employment might be presented to support the applicant’s case for admission.

Fees and Funding

UK & EU 2021 - 22

The tuition fee for 2021 entry to this postgraduate course is £6,500 for full-time UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.

For UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students studying part time, the tuition fee for 2021 entry to this postgraduate course is £3,250 per year.

Postgraduate loans are available to help you pay for your master’s course. Find out more about postgraduate funding opportunities.

International (non-EU) 2021 - 22

The tuition fee for 2021 entry to this postgraduate course is £12,750 for international students.

Due to immigration laws, international students on a Student Visa must be studying full-time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

More information about funding your studies is available on our International Fees and Funding page.

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2021-22 £6,500 full time

    International 2021-22 £12,750 full time

Alumni Scholarships

If you are an alumni of York St John University we have scholarships available to help you continue your studies.

Scholarships for Alumni

Additional costs and financial support


Whilst studying for your degree, there may be additional costs related to your course. This may include purchasing personal equipment and stationery, books and optional field trips.


View our accommodation pages for detailed information on accommodation and living costs.

Apply for this course

You can apply directly to the course via our Apply Now links. You will need to create a login and password and complete the online form. Please contact two referees in advance of submitting your application as an automated request will go out as soon as you submit, and your application will not be reviewed until both references are in place.

Apply now: Full-time


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