Product Design - MA

Full Time, Part Time
September 2016, September 2017
£6,500 per year for UK/EU Full Time 2016 entry (view all fees)

Our course looks at theory alongside real-world practice and fuses the best of both in a unique approach to product design.

We encourage you to take part in debate and analysis to create exciting new concept proposals.

These are then further developed into believable product narratives, backed up by supporting information and a wide range of intellectual, commercial and material viewpoints.

New for 2017/18

Product and Furniture Design

If you’re looking to start this course in 2017, it's important to know that the content and structure are undergoing a substantial review and are likely to be different to what is outlined here. Next year’s course will also have a new name: Product and Furniture Design. We’ll publish more detailed information about the changes over the next few months. If you’re starting in 2016, the course content/structure won’t be affected by the review.

Sign up for course updatesMore about our new curriculum

What's covered in the course?

MA Product Design challenges perceptions around 'alternative living' to see what else might be possible in a world already full of things.

You’ll be prepared for a successful professional life in a wide range of product design related roles.

You will also benefit from studying in a large, diverse and dynamic postgraduate community who share a well-equipped workspace at our main campus.

“An ideal course for students who seek that competitive edge when entering the real design world. The course allows you the opportunity to promote your thoughts and ideas and in turn builds up your confidence in knowing you can be an influential designer.” Thomas Parry, graduate

Why Choose Us?

  • Our course has been established for over 40 years and has an excellent reputation.
  • Learn from our successful collaborative projects with Marks and Spencer, Cadbury, AGA, Pashley Cycles, Denby, Richard Burbidge and Triumph Motorcycles.
  • Study in one of the largest arts, design and media faculties in the UK.
Visit our open day

Postgraduate Open Day

Our next Postgraduate Open Day will be on Wednesday 23 November, between 2pm and 7pm. Come along to find out more about our courses and see our facilities.

Register now

This course is open to International students

Birmingham School of Architecture and Design

Discover Birmingham School of Architecture and Design

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

Visit the School website

Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:

  • Brian Jame Trailers
  • Plant Moss

And in jobs such as:

  • Engineering Design
  • Product designer

New £10,000 postgraduate loans

You may be able to take advantage of the government’s plans to make loans of up to £10,000 available for postgraduate study.

More about postgraduate loans

Entry Requirements

UK students

A good Honours Degree in Product Design or a closely related three-dimensional design discipline, or equivalent qualifications.

Applications from European or International mature students (+21) with alternative quailfications and/or substantial work experience will be considered on their merits/portfolio.

Good quality language skills are essential as this is a taught MA and all project work requires accurate and appropriate communication in English language.

Non-English speakers ideally should have IELTS 6.0 overall. However, applicants may apply with lower IELTS if they successfully participate in the BCU Pre-sessional English Language courses that are delivered just before the main programme begins.

As a minimum, applicants should have a portfolio demonstrating their critical thinking, technical abilities and creative process in a range of media.

Portfolios can be either posted or sent digitally (e.g. in the form of an easily accessible website link, PDF or PowerPoint format and not larger than 10Mb).


As a minimum, applicants should have a portfolio demonstrating their critical thinking, technical abilities and creative process in a range of media. Portfolios can be either posted or sent digitally (e.g. in the form of an easily accessible website link, PDF or PowerPoint format and not larger than 10Mb)

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MA Sep 2016 FT 1 year £6,500 per year
PT 2 years £3,250 per year
Sep 2017 FT 1 year TBC
PT 2 years TBC

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MA Sep 2016 FT 1 year £12,000
Sep 2017 FT 1 year £12,000

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Additional costs

Our courses include activities such as performance, exhibitions, field trips and production of works or artefacts which may require you to purchase specific equipment, instruments, books, materials, hire of venues and accommodation, or other items. Many of these activities are essential and compulsory parts of your learning experience.

The link below gives you an estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on specific courses. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course.

All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Find additional costs for your course

Your personal statement

Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

This course is available part-time

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our pdf application form instead.

On receipt of your application form, your application will be considered and you may be called for interview. After interview, if you are considered suitable for the course you will receive an offer of a place.

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible postgraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Did you know that you will soon be able to apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,000 for some courses and options?

Postgraduate loans

Trimester 1

Taught modules are assessed through assignments. These account for half of the credits available on the course. The majority of the remaining half of the course consists of a personal project involving a negotiated mix of research and practice. You will receive regular feedback on your performance throughout the course.

Modules explained:
30 credits

This module provides you with a broader and clearer understanding of 'typical' product design outputs and the associated design processes behind them. Drawing from established theories, policies and practice, including case studies, the core principles of product evolution are used to identify and appreciate the key issues that designers are likely to engage with at different stages of a product’s development.

Design Culture

This module considers the cultural, aesthetic, political, economic and social influences upon the development of individual, corporate, national and global design ‘cultures,’ and how these macro issues effect the individual designer’s decision making processes.

Trimester 2

Personal Project Research

This module will introduce you to a range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies relating to advanced research practice. These academic processes and theorems are evaluated in terms of their potential to support a deep and meaningful self‐directed investigative study, that includes authoritative secondary sources and critically sound primary research.

30 credits

This module provides you with the opportunities to engage with alternative notions of ideas and concept generation through deconstructing and then reconstructing new design based narratives. By challenging the expectations and conventions of existing products, alternative directions and product opportunities are possible.

Trimester 3

Personal Project Practice

Lectures and analysis will inspire debates about the themes, merits and impact of a range of innovative projects and practices by other designers. Through interaction and collaboration, you will develop strategic creative outcomes derived from your own unique research projects.

Personal Project Communication

Precedent analysis will introduce students to a broad range of communication strategies, media and techniques used by other designers. Through careful analysis and creative practice students will apply professional and creative communication techniques to persuasively convey the key characteristics, messages and details of their personal practice projects.

You’ll enjoy an extensive programme of lectures and assignments, delivered by an enthusiastic team of staff who include theorists, practitioners and researchers.

The course is focused around a creative studio hub and provides a supportive environment where you can develop your personal design agendas.

Studio-based sessions are complemented by a virtual learning environment, giving you 24/7 online access to the latest information, course documentation and examples of previous student work.

Assessment methods

Studies include structured, project based learning activities which develop creative, design and making skills, research and investigative abilities, evaluation and independent learning to an advanced level. It includes individual and group tutorials, tutor-led and student-led seminars, lectures, and workshops as well as report writing and project work.

Trips and visits

You’ll enjoy the chance of visiting Clerkenwell Design Week in London May, and also the 100% Design Show in September.

Further study

Our graduates can go on to study for a PhD in related subjects.

Enhancing employability skills

Our graduates have an excellent track record of employment in the design industry and are well-equipped to enjoy opportunities in a variety of professional destinations, including manufacturing, design consultancy and management, academic research and teaching.


Live collaborations, internships and work experience can form part of your projects and studies, and you’ll benefit from the networking opportunities this provides.

More about our placement opportunities...


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

Graduate jobs

Recent graduates have secured employment with organisations including:

  • Pashley Cycles (UK)
  • Renault Design Studios (Paris)
  • Emotion - design events (Tokyo)

Others hold senior teaching posts in Beirut (Lebanon), Caracas (Venezuela) and Beijing (Chinese Academy of Fine Arts).

International Students

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.


BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Popular home countries

Our course welcomes students from across the world. We have an excellent reputation globally, and have over 20 years’ experience teaching international students. Our students come from around the world but our product design course is most popular with international students from:  

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.

Birmingham School of Architecture and Design is based at the state-of-the-art £62 million Parkside Building, a new development on our City Centre Campus within Eastside.

The new building has added an extra dimension to the School. Our campus has extensive studio and workshop provision and cutting-edge equipment reflecting the broad range of study opportunities on offer. The building has been designed to actively promote shared space opportunities, for students to engage with others across the University as part of the learning experience.


In many cases, our main studio and workspace is the city of Birmingham.
We give our students the opportunity to work on many collaborative projects involving the transformation of the city. These include:

  • Working on-site at the £600 million re-development of New Street Station
  • Work on our neighbouring Curzon Building, which forms Phase 2 of the City Centre Campus development
  • Nearby Off-campus Nest Gallery based within Glenn Howells Architects


We have our very own digi.lab, which is used for prototyping and as a learning resource. Here, you can experiment with 3D printing and laser cutting, preparing you to work on our range of larger machines. You will work in a home studio base five days a week, and also enjoy the opportunity to share others’ facilities and space when necessary.

Digital Presentation

At the School, we have placed a large emphasis on digital presentation. We currently have nine plasma screens for such uses, and try to keep our facilities as paper-free as possible.

Meet our staff

Nuno Lourinho is course director for the Product Design MA. An active researcher, he is currently interested in work which addresses re-valuing objects through their use.

An active researcher, Nuno’s research looks at the development of products and new definitions of durability, and the scope of sustainable design.

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295