Design Management - MA

  • Level: Postgraduate Taught
  • Starting: September 2020
  • Study mode: Full Time, Part Time, Work Based Learning
  • Location: City Centre

Accelerate your career with our MA Design Management course, established for over 20 years. Designed to give you the knowledge required to bridge the gap between design and business, you’ll develop the requirements sought for in industry today. 

Through theory and practice, this multi-disciplinary programme is aimed at ambitious designers and non-designers alike. We’ll give you the skills to work in, and communicate effectively, across both design and business disciplines.

What's covered in the course?

You’ll learn from our team of commercially active staff, who ensure the content stays industry relevant. Alongside the opportunity to complete a six-week placement option, you will have the chance to work on commercial projects with established businesses. Previous projects have included working on a brand review with GKN, a FTSE 100 British multinational company specialising in aerospace.

Tailor the programme to suit you. The curriculum has a distinctive professional focus and embraces business management, marketing, design strategy, entrepreneurship, innovation, sustainability, design leadership and design practice.

Your focus will also include project management, intellectual property law and finance. There is also a strong emphasis on the development of evidence-based decision making, high level leadership and communication skills.

Why Choose Us?

  • Tailor your programme of study to match your career goals and design discipline
  • Work on commercial projects with members of industry
  • Become part of a student group made up of experienced designers and design managers
  • Hear from special guest lectures
  • Have an opportunity to study whilst remaining in design practice via work-based learning
  • Enjoy a wealth of networking and collaboration opportunities in design during a six-week placement option
  • Enjoy the opportunity to access our industry-standard facilities
  • Benefit from extra-curricular opportunities such as competitions, personal introductions and internships
  • Choose from one of four pathways: Professional Practice, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Sustainable Design Policy, and Service Design
  • Join our LinkedIn community with over 150 graduates across the world

Students outside Millennium Point

Open Days

Our next Open Day for this course will take place on Sunday 24 November. Register your interest and we'll send an email update nearer the time. Visit us to see our facilities and speak to our staff and students.

Book your place

This course is open to International students

Architecture and Design Right Column

Discover Birmingham School of Architecture and Design

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

Visit the School website

Speak to an expert

If you’ve got any questions about the course, we’d love to hear from you. Please email the Course Director: Dr Mersha Aftab.

Email Course Director

Alternatively, you can register for our next postgraduate open day.

New £10,906 postgraduate loans

You may be able to take advantage of the government’s plans to make loans of up to £10,906 available for postgraduate study.

More about postgraduate loans

Entry Requirements

Essential Requirements

The course is aimed at designers with an interest in developing their business and management skills, and non-designers with an interest in working within design. You are expected to have:


Either a first or second class honours degree in a related subject, or, equivalent qualifications / experience.

A background or proven interest in design or design management.

You should submit a statement outlining your personal goals and how you plan to use the course to achieve these.

Extra information for EU/International students

International applicants should note that this is a demanding course that requires a high standard of reading, writing and listening skills, full-time students are expected to have a minimum English standard of IELTS 6.5.

Work-based learning students should be fluent in English with a minimum English standard of IELTS 7, they should also be working in a design related position.

International Students

Entry requirements here

Work-based learning

If you wish to study by work-based learning you will be interviewed by the Course Director either in person or via Skype / Google Hangout.

  • UK/EU students
  • International students

Award: MA

Starting: Sep 2020

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 1 year
  • £9,500 per year
  • Part Time
  • 2 years
  • TBC
  • Work Based Learning
  • 2 years
  • TBC

Award: MA

Starting: Sep 2020

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 1 year
  • TBC
  • Work Based Learning
  • 2 years
  • TBC

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead. The University reserves the right to increase fees in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament up to a maximum of five per cent.

Personal statement

Students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.

Your postgraduate personal statement is going to shine a light on your personal experience, academic success, personal skills and any other factors that will support your application for further study.

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

Your passion and motivations

Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?

Why this course?

Show that you’ve researched the course offering. What is it about this particular course that appeals to you? Is it the lecturers? The modules? Etc.

What makes you a good postgraduate candidate?

Tutors want to know that you can handle postgraduate study, so show them how your undergraduate experiences or work life has equipped you for a more advanced level of study. Key areas to address are research and group work but this can vary depending on your chosen course.

Relevant academic or work experience

Add anything relevant that relates back to your chosen course and shows how your skills will contribute towards your learning. What extra-curricular activities have you taken part in? What awards have you won? What employment or voluntary experience do you have that has helped you develop transferable skills? How do these specifically relate to the course you are applying for?

You should also mention your future plans and how a postgraduate qualification fits in. Try to look beyond your postgraduate study – do you plan to jump straight into a specific career or follow your studies with a research degree? Lastly, use plain, professional English and, where possible, utilise the language of your chosen industry.

Get more information on writing personal statements


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 your course. 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.

The additional costs listed here are to be used for indicative purposes only and are based on the additional costs for the 2018/19 academic year. The additional costs for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible.

View additional costs for this course

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 can apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,906 for some courses and options?

Postgraduate loans


If you would like to discuss your career goals and how the Master's in Design Management can help you achieve them, you are welcome to visit the University or arrange a time to discuss the course via phone/Skype by contacting the Course Director:

Or alternatively call our Course Enquiries Team on +44 (0)121 331 5595.

Stage 1: Postgraduate Certificate

Research Methods
15 credits

The first module taken by all student is designed to prepare you for the academic requirements of Master’s level study of design management whilst developing research skills of direct relevance to design management practice.

Professional Development
15 credits

Designed to ensure you fully exploit the opportunities provided by the programme, this module involves skills, knowledge and learning style evaluation, personal goal setting and professional development planning.

Business Perspectives
15 credits

This module is designed to provide you with insight into the context that businesses and organisations operate in, how they view and use design, and their relationship with designers.

Design and Innovation Strategy
15 credits

We will examine the roles of design and innovation in achieving organisational objectives. The module brings together the languages of design and business, it considers organisational objectives, how design and innovation deliver value and return on investment is evaluated.

Stage 2: Postgraduate Diploma

Leadership Project
15 credits

This module allows you to explore your interpersonal skills and gain insight into team working, leadership and how to get the best out of individuals working around design, skills essential to a successful career in design.

Design Practice
15 credits

We will explore the professional practice aspects of design including business planning, entrepreneurship, design and innovation processes, project management, sustainability, intellectual property and finance.

Placement / Case Study
30 credits

This module is designed to develop independent study skills based on a design-related topic of your choice whilst exploring the relationship between secondary and primary sources. If you wish to take a placement, the course team will help you negotiate this.

Stage 3: Masters

Major Project / Dissertation
60 credits

This is a major piece of original work in your chosen area of design specialisation. You will decide on your subject with a view to your personal and professional goals, research is designed and implemented with the guidance of an appropriate supervisor.

Course Structure

You can study full-time, part-time or by ‘work-based learning.’ Our UK and EU-based students can commit to the full Master’s programme or start with the Postgraduate Certificate and continue on to the Postgraduate Diploma and Master’s if they wish.

The course offers a choice of four pathways at Master’s level - Professional Practice, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Sustainable Design Policy and Service Design.

Work based learning allows you to accelerate your career by remaining in full time design-related practice during your studies. This is open to all our students provided you are fluent in English and work in design related positions. If you choose this option, you can relate your study directly to the workplace. Developed around personal and work related goals, work-based learning is based on a combination of standard and adapted course modules, involving approximately 15-20 days attendance, attendance is negotiated individually but usually involves a minimum of six visits to the University over two years.

Student stories

Kaifa Huang (Kevin)

My current role is mainly about Real Estate advertising, both online and in print. I deal with data collection and research about creative inspiration, promotional materials design, copy writing translation (Chinese-English). 

Further studies

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

Student stories

Korrakot Kulkraisri

Brand Strategies and Designer
Oglivy & Mather / Brand Union

My current role requires strategic planning skills, research and development of product branding opportunity, and management skills, focusing both start up business and re-branding. I handle design visual identity and create branding concepts solution for clients.

One of the most important highlights from my time on the course would definitely be my lecturers and friends. I don't think I could get a better support from Caroline and Nick - they are always there when ever we struggled with the work. The variety of students coming from different parts of the world and backgrounds broadened the scope of the course and opened up the real meaning of design.

Another important aspect I gained from this course was the ability to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself to try something new and exciting. 

Enhancing employability skills

The Master's in Design Management is designed to enhance your career and employment prospects and can be studied full-time, part-time or by flexible learning while remaining in full-time employment.

Many of our students are already established designers working in architecture, fashion, graphics, interiors, jewellery, media, product, service and design related businesses.

Career opportunities are found in design and brand consultancies, in-house design and marketing departments as designers, design managers, project and account managers, buyers and marketing communication managers.


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

Our graduates also become freelance consultants, set up their own business and pursued careers in research and teaching.

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:

Our course welcomes students from across the world. We have an excellent reputation globally, and have over 20 years’ experience teaching international students. Our international students are also able to take part in the work-based learning option for this course.

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 students come from around the world but our design management course is most popular with international students from:  

Where our students go

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

  • Architecture
  • Fashion
  • Graphics
  • Jewellery

In roles working in:

  • Design Consultancies
  • In-house Design
  • Marketing Departments

Parkside and Curzon Buildings

Our Facilities

When you join Birmingham City University, the first thing you will notice is the high standard of our campuses. With an investment of £340 million across our buildings and facilities, we are committed to giving you the very best learning environment to help shape your experience.

You’ll be based in the multi-million pound Parkside building – part of our City Centre Campus – with technology and facilities that reflect advanced professional practice. We offer facilities which will accurately reflect the work environment you will enter after graduating. These include Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and a computer-generated Virtual Building Site, creating real life scenarios for you to work on.

While based in The Parkside Building, you will get sharpen your CAD and digital visual communication skills, prototyping and digital production, while also having access to a range of specialist software, workshops, computer and project learning laboratories, and a social learning space.

You’ll also benefit from:

  • Design studios
  • Computer and project laboratories
  • Social learning space
  • Café
  • Meeting point

From industry-standard software, to our workshops and studio spaces, everything you need will be at your fingertips from day one. Working with our expert technicians, you'll be supported from concept through to completion. 


Caroline Norman

MA Design Management

Current activity:

Caroline has over 20 years’ experience in design and brand consultancy, spending seven of those as Managing Director of Boxer. Caroline’s career embraces design and business management, working with a variety of clients, SMEs and national brands, including Aga Rayburn, British Airways, Golden Bear, Halfords and Neurofen. She has a strong interest in management within the creative industries, with her current research interests focusing on work-based learning, transnational education, and the relationships between designers and non-designers, design and business, and businesses and universities.

Enquire about working with us on Design >>

Area of expertise:

  • Design
  • Design management
  • Design and brand consultancy
  • Marketing communication
  • Multidisciplinary design
  • Design strategy and analysis
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Design project management
  • Design business and strategic planning
  • Design business management
  • Design consultancy profitability
  • Creative people management, mentoring and coaching
  • KTP supervision
  • Work-based learning
  • Technology enhanced learning


A Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Caroline teaches on the Master’s in Design Management at Birmingham City University. A highly respected course within the field of Design Management.

Nicholas Irvin

Lecturer in Design Management

Nick is lecturer in Design Management and this programme attracts students from a diverse range of design and non-design disciplines from the UK and overseas.

The programme focuses on the strategic value of design and its importance within a business context, which aims to develop the confidence; skills and knowledge for work in industry.

A natural people person, Nick is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He is keen to provide further teaching and reflective design practice knowledge and experience in higher education, based on a career spanning 18 years in creative design practices, account/project management roles and teaching environments.

Previous positions include working in design consultancy, in design/brand role for EE (formerly Orange), within further education, having worked in-house for marketing and communications and for Birmingham City Council, where he managed a range of projects, including; contract management and design of digital advertising, involving external advertising partners, Ocean and JC Decaux.

Nick is also a member of the Chartered Society of Designers (CSD).