Material Practice - MSc

Programme video: Material Practice - MSc


The MSc in Material Practice is an exciting one-year programme that takes an innovative, cross-disciplinary approach to understanding the qualities and potential of different physical materials.

Taking in glass, textiles, architectural materials and metals, you’ll be encouraged to explore new boundaries and experiment as you develop and expand your experience in both making and using materials in our state-of-the-art studios.

You’ll have access to an exceptional range of facilities, from our hot glass workshop, textiles print room and dye facilities, to metal workshops, casting spaces and spaces for digital fabrication, including rapid prototyping and CNC laser cutting.

The mix of spaces and resources, and the blending of traditional craftsmanship with cutting-edge technologies, will enable you to explore new boundaries as you develop your understanding of the potential of different materials and the impact they could have on your work.

Who should study Material Practice?

Whether you have a background in art, design or architecture, or your skills and experience are in technological-based disciplines, this programme will build on your existing expertise and expand your understanding of both material techniques and collaborative practice.

Programme format

You’ll spend Semester One on collaborations based in various workshops across Edinburgh College of Art. Taking in glass, textiles, metal, architectural materials and digital fabrication, these short projects will help develop your understanding of the individual qualities and behaviours of different materials.

In the second semester, you’ll work on two in-depth collaborative projects that are cross-disciplinary and cross-material in nature. Both will address a contemporary issue through the lens of material practice.

One of the projects typically focuses on The Circular Economy, with students reusing recycled materials such as dredged residue from Scottish Canals (2014/15) and ground glass, aluminium and sisal (2015/16).

There are talks and workshops by guests including Ian Lambert and Mark West, opportunities for collaboration with companies such as Martec Engineering, Ecoscreed and the East African Sisal Company, visits to industry events such as the Textiles Futures Forum, and the chance to participate in special, one-off projects (this year’s was a record-breaking attempt to build a 35m ice bridge in Finland).

The skills you’ll gain throughout the programme will lead you towards the development of a major research project tailored around your own aims and experience, with support and guidance from an appropriate tutor.

Last year, Charlie Patterson’s research project was to develop a technique for 3d printing bespoke garments using silicone. He subsequently developed the process for medical and sports performance/recovery applications, coming second place in the University of Edinburgh’s annual LaunchEd competition for entrepreneurial ideas. 

Top five reasons to choose the programme

  • You’ll draw on the expertise of leading practitioners, researchers and technicians from across ECA. Their guidance and support will prove invaluable as you explore and develop your skills in material practice.
  • You’ll explore both traditional and new materials, processes and technologies, and will develop innovative cross-material solutions to contemporary issues.
  • There are lots of opportunities for collaboration and you’ll learn with students from a range of backgrounds, from the creative arts to technical disciplines.
  • You’ll study in an environment rich in material research and practice, with excellent links to industry.
  • Based in Edinburgh, one of the world’s leading cultural cities, you’ll have the opportunity to take advantage of a vibrant arts scene, world-renowned festivals and leading galleries and museums. 

Student work


Remo Pedreschi, Programme Director | View staff profile >

Lindy Richardson | View staff profile > 

Geoff Mann | View staff profile >

Miguel Paredes Maldonado (Digital Design) | View staff profile > 

Cristina Nan (Digital Fabrication) | View staff profile > 


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Photo of students taking part in a workshop
High school students draw out their designs in the ECA workshop

Partnership project results in a series of decorative panels for new transport interchange.

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Students pictured at the London Design Fair
The Material Practice team at London Design Fair
From left: Charlie Patterson, Lewis Alastair James Lilburn, Cristina Nan, Katerina Alkiviadou and Agustin Dieste
Image courtesy of the students

The structure formed part of Craft Scotland and Emergents’ first national pavilion at the major industry event.


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