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A digital image showing a rope bridge leading across to a rock stack with a tree that has pink, cloud-like leaves and a ladder leading up to the leaves. Next to the tree is a set of swings. Dangling from ropes across the image are small houses that look like single-room cacoons. Image courtesy of the artist


Design and Digital Media - MSc/Diploma



1 year (Full time); 2 years (Part time)
Full-time; Part-time


The Design and Digital Media programme offers opportunities for you to develop new and existing skills and insights in the creative use of current and emerging design practices and technologies for digital media across a range of uses and platforms. Based in a lively, collaborative environment, the programme provides a critical framework to explore the application of design and digital media in commercial, cultural and social contexts.   

Digital media technology is at the heart of modern life. At work, in education, in leisure and entertainment, even in sport, digital tools and devices are everywhere. How we communicate, our social life, the core of our society, is now based on digital media. Design, also, continually shapes contemporary experience. The products and services we use, the environment we inhabit, the information we use, or are presented with, are all designed with specific intent. Things that are not themselves digital are commonly designed digitally.    

Digital design often requires a multi-perspective approach to developing media and interactive experiences, and this programme deals with the complex relationships between design and digital media. The programme will develop fluency and extend your existing skills in digital media production, and you will aim to understand the potential of digital media to be combined into innovative and engaging forms so that it can be used for multiple purposes across multiple platforms. The programme sits within a context of smart spaces and pervasive media and encourages ethical/responsible design in terms of data and digital materials. 

What you will study

The programme attracts students with a range of previous study and work experiences, from design disciplines and fine art, to humanities and computer science, and modular options allow you the flexibility to tailor your studies to your own interests and career goals. Coursework is generally design and technology led coupled with critical reflection and you will have the opportunity to create innovative work across a range of creative contexts.   

You will study a broad, flexible and integrated range of key and emerging digital design practices across a range of formats and platforms, that will provide a good foundation for further work and research in this area (e.g. virtual and augmented reality, game development, mobile and web application development, user interfaces, user experience, data visualisation, graphic design, animation, interactive media).   

Our programme of study assumes you have some aptitude for and experience of working with design technologies in creative ways and are prepared to advance quickly. The programme is designed to allow you to develop according to your skills and interests, and projects encourage original thinking and independent achievement within a framework of team-working and creative ability.   

Specifically, the aims of the programme are to:   

• Develop and encourage specific knowledge in a context of a broadly-based foundation of design technologies   

• Foster the ability to work co-operatively in the context of design   

• Provide a reflective, analytical and critical framework to enable students to identify and articulate the potential for advanced creative design with and for emerging media.   

• Give you an understanding of the scope and limitations of digital applications and practices in design   

• Encourage the development of creative and commercial skills and experience appropriate to professional employment in design and digital media.   

In the first semester, the programme focuses on developing design thinking and digital skills, exploring approaches to creation and implementation of visual design and interactive and animated 2D and 3D media, and discussion of cultural theories about living and working with digital media. Teaching is through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials and practical sessions.   

In the second semester, the focus moves to dynamic and data-driven Web applications, game design studios, immersive experiences, cross-disciplinary design and the artistic dimensions of design as creative practice. Students are given the option to include subjects offered by other Schools within ECA and across the wider University of Edinburgh.  

The programme concludes with a self-directed, but supervised, final project over the summer period in areas including creative coding, 3D modelling, gaming, moving image, UI and UX design, data visualisation, augmented and virtual reality, mobile applications, interactive installations, and critical analysis of the implications of design for these uses.   

Although this is a taught programme, our emphasis is more on facilitating learning than on teaching. We aim to provide an environment in which learning can be maximised, and the teaching staff are just one resource among many that students can exploit. Given the speed with which technology changes, we encourage our students to be agile, adaptable, creative and curious, operating on the exploratory edges of current and emerging practices, building on experience of digital technologies applied to design.   

This is a one-year programme covering a range of themes, and as such has limitations of time, focus and specialist knowledge. We are often not expert users of particular software applications, but we do have extensive and deep experience of applied creative use of design and technology. Our overall objective across the year is support the development of personal skills, insights and experience while encouraging a rounded, professional outlook that has a wide appreciation of the issues of digital design in the contemporary world.   


Creative Environment

You will become part of a lively creative culture, developing techniques and skills in design of, for, and with digital media through a series of intensive projects. Collaborative work and peer learning are key. Learning is to us a highly collaborative activity, and the students themselves are the key resource for each other. We expect you to explore, exploit the internet and the wider University, seek and share other sources of expertise, work together, and engage with practices of research.    

We integrate our practice-based approach with exploration of the role and place of design in culture and commerce, and the ethics and legality of digital systems, which providing a rigorous theoretical context for practical work. You will enjoy insights into many other practices and closely related degree programmes, with opportunities to share courses and activities with students from other fields including Design Informatics, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Sound Design and more.   


Proposed new programme

We would like to hear your views on a potential new postgraduate opportunity in Design for Body and Mind

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Prospects for employment are diverse. During this programme, students create project work that may include integrated elements of graphic design and three dimensional modelling, interactive and immersive media, moving image and animation, user interfaces and user experience, augmented and virtual reality, web and mobile applications, creative coding, data visualisations, digital art installations and more. Our graduates work in all these areas, as well as advertising, education and journalism. The programme’s critical and reflective framework is also ideal if you are considering continuing on to advanced research at a doctoral level.  

Why you should choose this programme


Integration of theory and practice. Our programme provides a critical and reflective framework to explore practice-led design for digital media in commercial, cultural and social contexts.


Renowned expertise and facilities. Combined with those in the School of Informatics and across ECA, our staff and resources are unrivalled anywhere in Europe.


Flexibility and choice. Our programme is specifically developed to allow you the opportunity to tailor it to suit your own individual aims and interests.


International culture. This programme normally attracts over 50 students from across the globe, including China, the USA, the Middle East, Latin America and Europe. 


Our place in the city. Edinburgh is a vibrant hub of creativity all year round, and especially during the Festival period. 

How to apply and entry requirements

If you'd like to study on a postgraduate programme at Edinburgh College of Art, you must apply through EUCLID, our online application system. You can find out how to do this on the University of Edinburgh website, where you'll also be able to:

  • see detailed entrance requirements for each programme on the Degree Finder
  • get information on what to expect after you apply
  • find out about study modes, start dates and fees
  • find out if, and how, you need to submit a portfolio, showreel or research proposal
  • find out where to go for further advice and guidance.

Get in touch

Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
+44 (0)131 650 4086

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