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Design History & Material Culture

This MA in Design History & Material Culture (DHMC) is about objects: things you might sit on, drink from or wear; things you might cherish, throw away or never notice; things for special occasions and things you use every day; things made by machine, things made by hand and things never made; spaces you might visit, inhabit or travel through; ideas about things, things about ideas.

What to Expect
The MA in Design History and Material Culture is a pioneering course that examines the history of design and material culture from the eighteenth century through to the present day, providing a unique forum for the study of objects, architecture and interiors. The programme is taught through seminars and guided research, equipping students with the skills to research, analyse and write about the material world in its various historic and contemporary contexts.

We welcome graduates from a range of backgrounds, including; art/design practice, architecture, art history, history, sociology, anthropology, literature. The duration of the programme is 1 year for full-time students, and 2 years for part-time students. Full-time students attend classes two days per week, and part-time students attend classes one day per week. Students conduct supervised research and write a dissertation, which they submit at the end of the programme.

Opportunities to Engage
MA DHMC students benefit from partnerships and joint initiatives with a wide range of museums, cultural institutions and historic properties. Collaborative projects and modules have been organised in conjunction with the National Museum of Ireland, The Little Museum of Dublin, the National Library of Ireland, NUI Maynooth Department of Anthropology and others. Students who wish to gain relevant work experience have been assisted by the DHMC course team in organising internships at appropriate institutions.

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 relevant discipline. The College also takes into consideration prior learning and experience. 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 recognised English language assessment.


1 year full-time or 2 years part-time.

Number of credits

90 ECTS credits / Taught masters

Careers or further progression

After Your Degree
The programme consistently receives excellent feedback from both external examiners and students. Students on the programme have received internationally recognised awards for their work and many have gone on to pursue doctoral research at NCAD and elsewhere. Graduates have published their work in peer reviewed journals and many are working within education (second and third level), art/design practice, galleries, museums, historic houses, film, theatre, publishing and government bodies responsible for arts/craft promotion.

Further enquiries

Programme Contact
Dr Lisa Godson:
Dr Paul Caffrey:


Programme Team
The MA DHMC is taught by internationally recognised leaders in their fields and draws on wide-ranging academic expertise in architectural history, dress and textiles history, contemporary craft practice and craft history, contemporary design theory and material culture studies.

Professor David Crowley,
Professor David Crowley is the Head of the School of Visual Culture. Before joining NCAD, he was a professor in the School of Humanities at the Royal College of Art in London. He has a specialist interest in modernism in art and design, often with a focus on the histories of Eastern Europe under communist rule. His books include Warsaw (2003) and Pleasures in Socialism: Leisure and Luxury in the Eastern Bloc (2010). He writes regularly for Eye magazine, Creative Review, Frieze and other art and design press titles. Crowley also curates exhibitions, including 'Cold War Modern' at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2008–9; and 'Notes from the Underground: Art and Alternative Music in Eastern Europe 1968-1994' for the Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz, 2017 and Akademie der Kunst, Berlin, 2018. His writing can be found at:

Dr Paul Caffrey, MA, PhD
Paul writes about the visual and material culture of Ireland. Recent research has focused on enamellers and enamelling, see: 'European Enamels in the National Gallery of Ireland Collection' (Michael Imhof Verlag, Petersberg 2017).

Dr Lisa Godson, MA, PhD
Lisa is a lecturer in History of Design, and was previously NCAD Fellow at GradCAM and tutor at the Royal College of Art. Her research interests include contemporary design and twentieth-century Irish material culture. Her co-edited volume Making 1916: the visual and material culture of the Easter Rising was published by Liverpool University Press in 2015.

Hilary O'Kelly, MA
Hilary O'Kelly is a dress historian with a specialist interest in Ireland since the 18th century. Her book Cleo: Irish Clothes in a Wider World – a study of one of Dublin's oldest clothing businesses – was published in 2014. She has also written on the role of National Revival dress in Irish revolutionary politics, on dress and Irish emigration, on women, dress and religion and on the role of dress in the cultural formation of children in independence Ireland.

Enrolment and start dates

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