Communication Design

The MA Communication Design, is a research-led taught masters aimed at building on knowledge and practice acquired at undergraduate level and within professional practice, with applicants proposing a research agenda that will provide a focus for their study.

This programme has the option of a further 30 credits of study in Design Internships and/or 30 credits of Design Enterprise or Design Research and Innovation.

The programme is designed, timetabled and delivered in such a way as to enable design practitioners to undertake their study alongside maintaining their professional career.

Communication design uses a variety of media to creatively communicate ideas and concepts that can inform, challenge, educate and transform lives. The field of communication is rapidly evolving, and students are encouraged to develop the critical, creative and technical excellence needed to succeed within contemporary graphic design, illustration and moving image, and discover new possibilities and creative practices.

The MA Communication Design operates across a range of disciplines and methodological approaches and contexts. It combines core taught elements in research and critical studies, with advanced studio practice. The aim of the MA is to create a design culture that thrives on new ideas, new ways of doing things and new areas of exploration.

We encourage our students to experiment and take risks in order to carve new understandings of Design and make technical innovations within, and across communication design.

In challenging the purpose, methods and ambitions of contemporary communication design practice and research, students will identify opportunities and develop their own creative careers.

The MA provides the opportunity for students to engage in an inter-disciplinary educational experience, working alongside postgraduate students from across the School of Design. We encourage our students to explore contemporary themes that connect all the design disciplines. Building on the knowledge and skills developed at undergraduate level and professional practice, students encounter new contexts in which to develop their skillsets and deepen their knowledge of design through a number of interdisciplinary projects, alongside undertaking an intensive one year design research process addressing a specific research agenda.

Students are also able to undertake optional additional modules to enable students to have the opportunity to undertake industry internships, working in a real-world design environment; or undertake additional research to support the commercialisation of their design work, providing an incubation support system for students.

Subjects taught

Programme Structure
Students undertake a number of core modules, and have the opportunity to choose from a range of optional modules.

Year 1
Autumn Semester
Design Research through Practice - 15 credits
This module will support you to define, collect and analyse a personally selected and justified area of practice based research that is innovative and critically aware. You will produce a cohesive and mature body of research work within studio practice that will act as the foundation for your masters study.

Collaborative Design Studio – 10 credits
This module introduces you to the professional, philosophical and creative issues facing contemporary design and society as a whole. You will undertake a thematic design research project with colleagues, and develop a project through contextual research and development, negotiation and radical collaboration.

Introduction to Research Methods - 5 credits
This module begins by provides an introduction to a range of core research methods. It aims to assist you in the conception, development, documentation, delivery and reporting of both your major creative projects and your dissertation activity. Through a series of lectures and workshops you will explore, adopt and use a range of research methods appropriate for your studio practice. You will learn a variety of methods for data collection, interpretation and presentation. With an emphasis on applied research, you will learn to translate research findings into actionable design propositions and solutions.

Exit award: Graduate Certificate

Spring Semester
Design Development – 10 credits
In this module you are required to develop a substantial and coherent body of work that demonstrates your understanding of your own practice and career aspirations based upon the proposal generated in Design Research through Practice. The proposal should enable you to demonstrate the application of a personal design methodology. This self-directed study will sustain the workload throughout this module and can be demonstrated in one major piece of work or several shorter pieces that are united by a common theme. Either way, your work should combine theory and practice that results in a critical body of work for assessment. Subject matter, mode of delivery, potential outcomes, audience and context are for you to identify. In the initial stages, negotiations will take place with your tutor to confirm that your proposal will allow you to fulfil the learning outcomes of the module.

Design for Change - 5 credits
This module will enable you to explore the capacity of design as a critical and collaborative agent of social, cultural and economic change. It also seeks to position design as a creative forum for exploring a dynamic, changing world full of critical, contradictory and provocative ideas. The module considers the potential impact of design on a range of specific topics including human behaviour, societal change and international development. Through a series of lectures and group tutorials students will examine the role of the designer in the 21st century in relation to these broad issues. You will develop and present your own 'Design for Change' concepts and engage with a combination of faculty, industry and external stakeholders in the development and delivery of your project.

Author & Audience - 5 credits
This module will enable you to become familiar with key concepts in design theory, and to communicate effectively about the context of your personal practice and your proposed major project. A core design skill is being able to describe users, motivations, actions and reactions, obstacles, successes and imagine and convey scenarios, and this module is intended to facilitate critical reading and writing in a number of modes. The module will help hone your writing for design skills, from design fiction to technical writing, and copyrighting to developing content for new media platforms.

Design Studio, Major Project Proposal - 10 credits
You will initiate and state a design project of your choice (by negotiation with your tutor/s) which will encompass: information retrieval, collation and interpretation. The module will develop your ability to understand how to find scholarly and professional literature on the topic that interests you, and relate that literature to your research question. Your goal is to describe what is already known about your topic, how it has been researched by others, and how your question and the research methods you seek to employ different methods from that of previous design researchers. This will then enable you to develop a feasibility study where through a process of analysis and evaluation of a proposed project you will determine if it is required, appropriate and feasible.

Exit award: Graduate Diploma

Summer Semester (Optional)
Design Industry Internship – 30 credits
The aim of this module is to provide postgraduate design students at NCAD with the opportunity to apply the subject specific design skills, knowledge and understanding, as well as personal transferable skills, acquired in the programme, to the real world environment of work. You will undertake a work placement and agreed programme of part-time or full time work within a vetted industry partner, equivalent to 400 hours of work based learning. You will follow an agreed learning plan in order to receive meaningful, study-related work experience, which will be of significant advantage to you when seeking employment and/or developing your own business. You will record your experience in both a logbook, placement report and a reflective journal, and your performance at work, will be assessed by your respective in-placement company supervisor via an evaluation form.

Year 2:
Autumn Semester
Design Studio, Major Project - 20 credits
During this module you will work on a self-selected and generated major project, which offer the opportunity to undertake a wide-ranging and in-depth practical and theoretical investigation into your chosen field of practice. Students will be supported to execute projects from both a pragmatic and speculative perspective.

Design Rationale - 5 credits
This module will enable you to reflect on your personal practice and your major project. You will record and communicate the argumentation and reasoning behind your design process, the reasons behind decisions made, your justification, other alternatives considered, the trade-offs evaluated, and the rationale that led to the decision. You will create a reflective learning journal and consider what you have learnt during your studies and how this may affect your design practice in the future.

Design Presentation - 5 credits
The culmination of the programme, this module will enable you to demonstrate your ability to prepare and present your work in a variety of contexts and formats both for the purposes of assessment and for the wider dissemination and promotion of your practice to peers, public and a professional audience.

Exit award: MA (90 credits or 120 credits)

Spring Semester (Optional)
Design Incubation and Enterprise – 30 credits
This optional module provides you with the opportunity to develop your creative work and designs further within the NCAD Origin8 incubator, helping you to develop a viable business plan and funding proposal/s. The module aims to support the commercialisation of student's design work, and draws upon the institutions strategic research and knowledge exchange activities. Students undertake an agreed programme of design practice, working with researchers and external partners, clients and funding bodies.

Exit award: MA (120 or 150 credits)


Design Research & Development – 30 credits
This optional module provides you with the opportunity to develop your creative work and designs further within an NCAD Research Cluster, helping you to undertake research and develop funding proposal/s. The module aims to support the research development of student's design work, and draws upon the institutions strategic research and knowledge exchange activities. Students undertake an agreed programme of design research, working with researchers and external partners, clients and funding bodies.

Exit award: MA (120 or 150 credits)

Entry requirements

The programme is open to graduates with an honours degree award of 2.2 or higher, or an equivalent academic or professional qualification in a related discipline. NCAD also takes into consideration prior learning and experience. Professional design experience before or after a first degree is beneficial.

English language: Students who have not been educated through English must show proof of achieving IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6 in the writing section on the Academic Version) or an equivalent score in another accepted test.

Application dates

Priority Deadline
The proprity deadline for receipt of applications to postgraduate programmes starting in Sept. 2022 is Thursday 31st March 2022.

Applicants who wish to be considered for a scholarship (where applicable) must submit their application before the priority deadline.

International applicants are encouraged to submit their applications before the priority deadline.

After the priority deadline, NCAD will operate a rolling closing date for postgraduate applications for 2022 - 23. Applications will be reviewed on receipt, and offers will be sent on a rolling basis. A waitlist will apply to over-subscribed courses.

Please contact the Admissions Office for further information

1. Research Proposal

2. Portfolio

Go to for important information on the Research Proposal and Portfolio requirements for AD432, AD430, AD433.

3. A recent CV

4. Certified transcripts of previous programmes followed

5. Certified copies of degree/ certificates and/or other appropriate third level qualifications bearing the official stamp of the institution.

6. Reference 1 (Academic - Head of School/Department preferred)

7. Reference 2 (Tutor or Current/Recent Employer)

Note: Please supply the reference. Some referees prefer to submit the reference directly to the college. If this is the case, please instruct your referee to email a standard reference for the attention of Fiona Cleary to

Please make sure all references contain the letterhead and the institution contact email address for the referee.


90 ECTS credits / Taught Masters


15 month research masters.

Enrolment dates

To find out more about the entry requirements, application process and tuition fees visit -

Post Course Info

The research masters programme provides an in-depth, professionally informed programme of study and studio practice. As a consequence of the range of skills acquired MA Communication Design graduates have access to a wide range of local, national and global opportunities in design consultancy, as creative entrepreneurs or educators.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Daytime

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