Institution / National College of Art Design
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Design - MFA

The MFA Design provides a cross-disciplinary frame-work to explore the changing concept of design and the role of the designer in the professional world.

What to Expect
The MFA Design operates across a range of design disciplines and methodological approaches and contexts. The programme addresses a range of individual Design disciplines - Product, Communication, Body & Environment alongside Applied Design Materiality. It combines core taught elements in research and critical studies, with advanced studio practice. The aim of the MFA 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 disciplines. The MFA Design offers new thinking and approaches that are delivered through a wide range of Design methodologies.

Building on the knowledge and skills developed at undergraduate level, students on the MFA Design will encounter new contexts in which to develop their skillset and deepen their knowledge of their chosen design discipline - through practice, research and critical reflection. Modules include Commercial Engagement, Design Rationale, Design for Change, and Design Materiality as well as a Cross-Discipline Elective. Students will complete taught studio projects each semester culminating in a 20 credit Major Studio Project at the end of Year 2. On completion of Year 2, students will have amassed 120 ECTS.

Opportunities to Engage
The MFA programme will reflect the changing field of Design and continue to develop industry links offering relevant career pathways. This will be supported by a visiting lecture programme of leading industry and creative practitioners. Students will have opportunity to undertake short placements and live projects with industry and cultural partners as well as participating on study visits with fellow students.

Dr Helen McAllister, MFA, PhD
Helen is a textile practitioner, her work brings together the work of the specialist textile practitioner, design thinking and conceptual engagement in the making process. Her work has been widely exhibited throughout Ireland and Europe, she has a number of peer reviewed papers and presentations addressing practice based methods of research, design, craft, Venetian design and material culture.

Derek McGarry, MFA, MA, MIDI
Head of Innovation and Engagement
Derek is a practicing designer and design researcher. He is a member of the NCAD Research Institute, Past President of the Institute of Designers in Ireland (2010-11) and former elected member of the Board of Directors of the Crafts Council of Ireland (2011- 2014). He is a current member of the Board of Directors of the Rediscovery Centre. His work is included in the permanent collection at the National Museum of Ireland and Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in Dublin, as well as in international private collections. Derek has presented his research in peer reviewed international design conferences in Australia, China, Finland, Italy, and the USA and recently his new technology design work was exhibited at the international Inhorgentia jewellery exhibition in Germany.

Sam Rusell, MA
Head of Product Design
Sam holds a first degree in Industrial Design and a MA in Design through practice. His research interests relate to the role designers can play in development aid and the design of new learning experiences and spaces. As acting head of Industrial Design his focus is on experiential learning and linking students to industry networks.

John Paul Dowling, MA, FISTD
Head of Communication Design
John Paul holds a degree in Graphic Design and an MA in Interactive Media. He is heavily involved in typography, both in his own practice and in education. His work in typographic research, education and as a practitioner has been recognised in various capacities by AtypI, ISTD and SOTA. He has lectured internationally and featured in many leading design publications. He is currently Education Director, Board Member and Fellow of the International Society of Typographic Designers.

Angela O’ Kelly, MA
Head of Design for Body and Environment
Angela has a degree and postgraduate diploma from Edinburgh College of Art where she specialised in jewellery and silversmithing, and a MA in Arts Management & Cultural Policy from UCD. As a designer and curator she specialises in design-led wearables combining mixed media with traditional and new technologies. She has exhibited extensively in international exhibitions and galleries. Her focus is equipping students for sustainable careers after college, linking students to industry and exposing design through national and international markets.

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. 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 accepted test.


2 years

Number of credits

120 ECTS credits

Careers or further progression

After Your Degree
The two year taught masters programme provides an in depth, professionally informed programme of study and studio practice. As a consequence of the range of skills acquired MFA Design graduates have access to a wide range of local and global opportunities in industry, services, and design consultancy or as a creative entrepreneurs, designer makers and educators.

The School of Design actively participates in the EU-funded Erasmus+ programme, which offers recent graduates the opportunity to avail of internships in high profile design companies within the European Union.

Further enquiries

Programme Contact
David Bramley

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