The MA in Graphic Design sees contemporary graphic design as a range of interdisciplinary fields that span traditional graphic design practices, communication design, graphic arts, and aspects of lens based, digital media and moving image.

The programme encourages you to develop specialist research and graduate skills by undertaking a range of self-directed projects. As a result, the course aims to develop creative practitioners who are adaptable, resilient, independent, and can sustain personally meaningful and professional practices.

The curriculum provides a stimulating framework to apply a specialist knowledge, supported by specialist graphic design tutors. With a strong emphasis on group based critiques and seminars, the course offers a rich discursive environment in which knowledge and subject boundaries can be discussed and shaped collectively, with the input of tutors, and informed through engagement with relevant academic literature and lectures.

Course Details

  • To gain the 180 credits you require for this qualification, you must study the units in the order shown below and pass the first unit before progressing to the second unit, and so on. 

    Unit 1.1 Research and Practice 

    The unit supports you in developing an advanced awareness of graphic design through practical projects and independent research. The aim of the unit is to develop a highly critical and creative conversation between your practice and research interests. This will introduce you to:

    • innovate professional design practices 
    • relevant academic literature and theories 
    • current debates around graphic design and its subject boundaries 
    • strategies to apply research and practice to inform your creative approach and critical position.
    Unit 1.2 Innovation and Development

    The unit provides the opportunity to identify, develop and manage a substantial self-directed project, and present the outcomes through suitable publications, exhibitions or presentations. The aim of the unit is to apply highly fluent creativity to resolve professional and innovative ideas. A Professional Practice folder will gather and reflect on external facing aspects of the project. 

    The unit encourages you to apply specialist graphic design skills by undertaking projects with a focus on professional practice, enterprise, collaboration, or other external partners. The aim of the unit is to apply specialist design skills in research, creativity, critical-thinking and problem-solving, and to develop a professional understanding of how to operate as a graphic designer.

    Unit 1.3 Resolution and Presentation

    The unit provides the opportunity to identify, develop and manage a substantial self-directed project, and present the outcomes through suitable publications, exhibitions or presentations. The aim of the unit is to apply highly fluent creativity to resolve professional and innovative ideas. A Professional Practice folder will gather and reflect on external facing aspects of the project. 

    A contextual study in Unit 1 provides an opportunity to demonstrate your advanced awareness of contextual knowledge and critical thinking. In Unit 2 you can explore ideas through a contextual study, or produce a suitable project report or business case. These can be developed through written, presentation, or visual essay formats. Throughout the course you will document your work through a learning log and produce reflective presentations to help synthesise your learning.

    Related Documents

    We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available units – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which OCA might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 14 December 2022.

  • Timeframe

    You will be able to complete this masters qualification within two years. Each unit of study is comprised of 24 weeks of teaching and learning, followed by an assessment period.

    • Schedule Example [coming soon]

    Tuition is provided at timetabled points during the academic calendar, through a mix of:

    • Synchronous group activities offered as live events with supporting forums
    • Tutorials as 1-2-1 online sessions
    • Feedback reports offered as written or verbal formats
    • Asynchronous group activities within forums or other online platforms

    All forms of tuition offer formative feedback through constructive and well-grounded comments that aims to stretch and challenge learners at set points within the course.

    Course Materials 

    Course materials are delivered through the OCA Learn online learning environment, through a combination of written, audio and audio visuals and links to external online content. To support students across different disciplines, we encourage them to utilise the Skills Hub. Here, they can access tailored skill-building resources to apply relevant content to their ideas and study.


    Coursework entails self-directed individual learning documented through a learning log or online blog, alongside portfolio presentations incorporating a personal framework. OCA Spaces provides students with a secure online journal service to record your learning log.

    Department Space

    Your degree has an online Department space, within OCA Learn, to help encourage academic dialogue and develop a learning community. This space will offer an overview of your degree, regular group activity opportunities, spaces to ask questions, signposting to additional support and/or resources, and access to your Programme Leader.

    Online Library

    Online library access, reading lists, and additional resources are available via the Library page on OCA Learn. Library support is offered by a librarian, via ‘Ask the Librarian’ forums. Key reading lists are accessible electronically.

  • Through the module there will be critical reviews, either written or audio visual, where students connect practice with research.

    1 – 1 tutorials or written formative feedback, to reinforce individual understanding and ensure learning is in line with learning outcomes are also incorporated into the module.

    A summative assessment upon completion of a unit is carried out digitally with students providing links to their online learning logs, images and videos of work and a written or video reflective evaluation.

Admissions Criteria

  • To be eligible to apply, you must;

    To strengthen your application, we also recommend being able to claim for at least 50 criteria points from the list below. For any points you claim against, you will be asked to provide evidence.

    Criteria Points
    Degree in any subject 40
    Degree in the visual arts 50
    Evidenced experience of working in any relevant creative industry or context. For example, as a practising Fine Artist. 50
    Higher National Diploma/Foundation degree or equivalent in Art 30
    Higher National Certificate or equivalent in Art 20
    A-Level Art or equivalent 10
    Other experience or learning, whether certified or not, will be considered on an individual basis
  • OCA courses are studied and paid one module at a time with fees being reviewed annually. You will study three 60 credit modules, equating to 180 credits required to complete a masters qualification.

    You can pay for a module fee upfront or break down the payment through a deposit and instalment option. You cannot pay for the all three modules of study upfront.

    2024/2025 course fees will be made available shortly.

  • All applicants to the MA in Fine Art will be required to complete the OCA Master’s enrolment form and submit a written statement with a recent portfolio of artwork to be considered for the course.

    The statement should be between 500 – 1000 words and reason why you wish to study an MA with OCA and what are your aspirations for the course. Refer to your portfolio work and let us know about you as an artist. Your portfolio should include 8 – 10 images of work from last two years, and we advise focusing on the work you would like to develop on the course. It would be useful to include development work to show your methods of working.

    You can submit your application through the ‘Register’ button below.

    Please take into consideration the deadlines for each cohort, which you can review here.


Click here

Ask a question

Click here