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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.

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 Jessica Hemmings, MA, PhD,
Professor of Visual Culture
Jessica Hemmings writes about textiles. Recent publications include The Textile Reader (Berg 2012) the first anthology to address textiles as a distinctive area of cultural practice and a developing area of scholarly research; Warp and Weft (Bloomsbury 2012), which considers experimental woven structures; Cultural Threads: transnational textiles today (Bloomsbury 2014) considers the influence of postcolonial thinking on contemporary textile practice.

Dr Anna Moran, MA, PhD
Course Director
Anna has completed degrees at UCD, the Royal College of Art and the University of Warwick. Anna’s research interests include glass in eighteenth- century Ireland, the history of shopping and consumer culture and craft practice in twentieth-century Ireland. Her co-edited anthology, Love Objects: Emotion, Design and Material Culture, was published by Bloomsbury Academic Press in 2014.

Dr Paul Caffrey, MA, PhD
Paul’s current research explores the relationship between the material culture of Ireland and its wider European and North American context. Recent research includes contributions to Ireland: Art on a World Stage, 1690-1840 (Art Institute of Chicago, Yale 2015), Art and Architecture in Ireland (Royal Irish Academy, Yale 2015) and Allgemeines Kunstlerlexikon (De Gruyter).

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 will be published by Liverpool University Press in 2015.

Hilary O’Kelly, MA
Hilary’s research interests relate to the role and significance of dress in Art History, and dress and material culture in 20th century Ireland. Recent publications include Cleo: Irish clothes in a wider world (2014).

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.


1 year full time (or 2 years part time)

Number of credits

90 ECTS credits

Careers or further progression

After Your Degree
The course consistently receives excellent feedback from both external examiners and students. Students on the course have been awarded 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

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!