I recently finished MA Multidisciplinary Design at the University of Ulster that I started back in September 2007. Often I get asked by various students and others what the course is like and if it is worth doing. So I thought I would write a quick summary and review of the course to help out any budding under grads or people thinking about taking the course.
Here is a brief explanation of the course taken from the Multidisciplinary Design website.
The programme seeks to establish an environment where creative, self-motivated practitioners from a diverse array of design backgrounds, with different methodologies, can experience a cross-fertilisation of ideas and approaches to the design process.
So basically share ideas and collaborate with people from other design fields, while moving forward in your own field.
The course is 45 weeks (3 semesters) long. September - June for first two semesters then September - January for the third semester.
The total cost of the course is somewhere around £3,200 (I can’t remember exactly).
The first 2 semesters contain 3 modules each while the third semester only has 1 module, which is your ‘Masters Project’. You can download the masters structure for more details.
It has helped develop my character and expertise tremendously. Confidence, communication, presentation, collaboration, writing and entrepreneurial skills are a number of things the course has influenced and improved in me.
I feel the masters has also put me in a better position career wise. Out of the 100 or so that graduated from my under grad course, Interactive Multimedia Design, I am now one of few who have a masters so this may make a difference if I decided to go for employment.
The course also has a strong entrepreneurial aspect to it and encourages students to push their work and ideas forward as businesses. I have left with a good standing as a freelance web designer and I also have a new business venture with Lookaly that I will be starting to promote in the coming weeks.
It is up to you what you want to do and what research you want to pursue. I started the course wanting to research usability and web applications, which I think I adequately fulfilled. Working with people from other design fields was also interesting. You don’t realise how much jargon you use on a daily basis until you have to interact with non-geeks daily. A different perspective on your work is always good and opens doors to new ideas and inspiration.
The lecturers involved are extremely helpful and are always available to chat. We were able to watch as Chris Murphy and Nicklas Persson developed and authored their book ‘HTML and CSS Web Standards Solutions’, which was published at the end of 2008 by Friends of Ed. This shows the high standard of mentoring available. A number of workshops were also arranged for us, which included the guys from Front sharing their project management and process expertise in a 2 day course.
There isn’t much I can criticize about the course, but I’ll flag up a couple of things that annoyed me from time to time.
There are a lot of ‘sessions’ in the Art College (where the course is situated). Stuff that should take 2 hours takes a day. Sometimes it’s down to not being organised, sometimes it’s because you’re expected to do more yourself and sometimes it just has to be done. But it always happens.
One thing that we constantly heard was that there was no budget (i.e. no money available). The course did run workshops and supply funding for a few things but if you want to go to any events or fund any projects you’ll have to sort out funding yourself. And it seems to be generally expected that you’ll spend a good bit of money on print work (or other) for the end of year shows.
And I felt there was one module that could be improved. There were a few classes that I didn’t get anything out of and there was a general consensus that they could be improved. Although I think this module has been reviewed and altered since I took it and on the flip side the other modules were extremely useful and interesting.
One last thing to be aware of is that post grad life is nothing like under grad life. You have a lot more work to do and a lot more responsibilities. Apart from maybe the first couple of weeks, the mid week partying becomes few and far between :cry:
All in all I would recommend Multidisciplinary Design at the University of Ulster to anyone looking to further their education and career in the creative industry.
A few tips and things to ask yourself.
- What do you want to get out of a masters? Ask yourself why you want to do a masters.
- Research other courses. Multidisciplinary Design seems like the natural transition from IMD (same University, similar lecturers) but there are other courses out there and it makes sense to see what there is, both in Northern Ireland and across the water.
- Where do you see yourself in 2 years after you do a masters. Do you need to do Multidisciplinary Design to get there?
- Think about what it is you want to research and accomplish. Is Multidisciplinary Design the course to accomplish this? Does the University have all the assets you need?
Thanks to all the lecturers and students who made the course interesting and enjoyable, notably Debbie Fraser, Chris Murphy and Nicklas Persson. And good luck to Paddy, Kyle, Jenna, Katherine, Jane and all my classmates for the future. It was a pleasure being involved in the course.
Let me know if you’d like any further advice or information.
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