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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 2020
  • School – Art, Design & Computer Science

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 2020-21 £6,500

    International 2020-21 £12,750

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 


30 credits


Design thinking guides you to question the problem, assumptions, and ramifications of design, encouraging you to develop empathy for the user group in question. You will reflect upon your own discoveries and experiment with sketching, prototyping and testing out new concepts.

15 credits


Marketing is a prime business function at the heart of the organisation, centred on the needs of the customer. Central to this is an in depth understanding of customers’ perception, motivation and attitudes that influence their purchase and consumption behaviour. This module addresses the complexities of consumer behaviour by analysing and evaluating the internal drivers for the consumer. You will also consider how to respond to these psychological drivers.

15 credits


In today’s fiercely competitive business environment the power and influence of the brand is crucial. Branding has become so important that organisations are having to think more strategically about their brand, its personality, values and the message it projects.  We will challenge the preconception that brand is encompassed by a logo, and explore the deeper levels of brand identity.

30 credits


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.

30 Credits


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.

60 Credits


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 2020 - 21

The tuition fee for 2020 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 2020 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) 2020 - 21

The tuition fee for 2020 entry to this postgraduate course is £12,750 for international students.

Due to immigration laws, international students on a Tier 4 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 2020-21 £6,500

    International 2020-21 £12,750

Alumni Scholarships

If you are continuing to postgraduate study directly after studying at undergraduate level with us, we offer a reduction in fees depending on the classification of degree you achieve.

If you are graduating from an undergraduate degree at York St John University this year you could be entitled to:

  • a 50% reduction in course fees if you achieve a 1st
  • a 35% reduction if you achieve a 2:1
  • a 20% reduction if you achieve a 2:2

These reductions apply to all York and London-based taught MA, MBA, MSc and MRes courses, except for Physiotherapy (Pre-registration) MSc, Occupational Therapy (Pre-registration) MSc and all PCGE courses.

All York St John University alumni are eligible for a 10% reduction on their postgraduate course fees regardless of when you graduated. The 10% alumni discount will not be added on top of these reductions.

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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