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MA/MFA Design (Packaging)

Study at an advanced level and develop design solutions that respond to the needs of our rapidly changing society. You're challenged to think differently about design and creatively push boundaries, while developing the skills needed to become an imaginative and versatile designer. Your projects are supported by lecturers who are design specialists, researchers and practitioners.

Our postgraduate framework of design courses has been specially designed to allow students from different disciplines, backgrounds and cultures to come together, share teaching and learning experiences and explore their creative identities through dialogue and practice. Your studies will be project-led and developed through researching, designing, producing and communicating through presentations and exhibitions of your work.

Course description

Develop your existing knowledge and experience as a designer, exploiting our significant research expertise to enhance your own design and research skills to a new level.

We place emphasis on personal research, giving you the chance to develop your own interests and ideas in a challenging and supportive environment. Our aim is to help you to become a creative, imaginative and versatile packaging designer who can operate independently or as a member of a design team.

You can work alongside our packaging design consultancy, Design Futures, and with researchers from other design areas. We also have contacts with leading design agencies and design organisations and encourage you to work collaboratively with them.

There are opportunities to participate in study trips and visits to design conferences and debates.

Project-based course

You choose your own project content and this is supported by lectures and seminars dealing with professional practice issues and reviewing your progress. You also take part in regular group and individual tutorials.

Your final major project is the culmination of your research and studio-based design practice. It demonstrates that you can deal with difficult contemporary questions and take a leading role as a design professional.

Research-led expertise

We are one of the oldest established art and design institutions in the UK, renowned for producing internationally recognised research. Your projects are supported by lecturers who are packaging design specialists.

Vibrant and supportive learning environment

During the course you regularly take part in constructive critical debates about your own work and that of your peers. You need to communicate your research, ideas and designs in ways that are appropriate to professional leadership.

You study alongside MA and MFA Design students for part of your course and benefit from a vibrant, international, collaborative and supportive postgraduate environment.

Excellent facilities and creative resources

You have access to a huge range of creative resources to experiment and engage with including • 3D printing for rapid prototyping • state-of-the-art hardware and software • photography studios • a creative media centre • a gallery • well-equipped workshops.

You also have access to our award-winning learning centre featuring a specialist art, design and media library and extensive online resources.

MA and MFA study

MA and MFA students complete the same modules during the course except that MFA students complete an extra project module. The MFA project encourages you to develop professional skills that help you to identify, instigate, and deliver projects with external partners, such as communities, galleries or businesses. You find a project partner, agree a brief and then deliver the project to a professional standard.

We are normally asked to shortlist applicants before recommending a small number to apply. If this happens, we consider your interview, portfolio of work, academic qualifications and learning aims. We aim to pick people whose abilities and aims are relevant for the company and who are most likely to be successful in a competitive interview.

This course is part of the Sheffield Institute of Arts (SIA), an amazing, diverse community of makers – where staff, students and partners work as equals to deliver real innovation and creativity. SIA opened in 1843 and is one of the UK's oldest Art and Design Schools. We have recently moved into the Head Post Office, a redesigned Grade II listed building. It includes state-of-the-art workshops which provide you with a unique studio-based learning environment in the heart of the creative community.

Entry requirements

2017 entry requirements

Normally you need

• a 2.2 degree or equivalent in an appropriate discipline or significant relevant experience

• appropriate study plans, including an indication of possible project topics and clear, appropriate and realistic learning aims

• a high level of creative ability, as evidenced by a portfolio of work

• ability to discuss design issues critically and confidently

For information on applying, the interview process and your portfolio, download our MA and MFA Design application support.

Overseas applicants from countries whose first language is not English must normally produce evidence of competence in English. An IELTS score of 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in all skills (or equivalent) is the standard for non-native speakers of English. If your English language skill is currently below an IELTS score of 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in all skills we recommend you consider a Sheffield Hallam University Pre-sessional English course which will enable you to achieve an equivalent English level.

If you do not have such academic qualifications we may consider your application individually, based on your personal, professional and work experience, and other formal qualifications. You may also be able to claim credit points which can reduce the amount of time it takes to complete your qualification at Sheffield Hallam. Find out more

International and European entry qualifications

If you are an International or non-UK European student, you can find out more about the country specific qualifications we accept on our international qualifications page.

Course structure

Full time – one year continuous or 16 months including a summer break
Part-time – typically three years

Full-time – typically two years
Part-time – typically four years

Starts September

When studying part-time, you share teaching with full-time students

Typical modules may include

Course design

Within the first semester you will reflect critically upon your aims, your position within your design discipline and your trajectory for future professional practice. You will also undertake a research and design project that is set by your academic tutors that will be chosen due to its significance or relevance to future-focussed design practice.

You will attend a series of lectures, workshops and seminars and through a combination of personal reflection and discussion with staff, students and visiting lecturers you will enhance your understanding of the materials covered and extend this material to make it bear on your individual postgraduate research aims. Through this, you will further develop your critical awareness of themes and areas relevant to current and future design practice.

Within the second semester you will reflect upon research and design work undertaken in semester 1 and formalize an MA Project Proposal. This Project Proposal will set out your MA project topic, the project aims, methods and objectives and will be evaluated and developed through group critique with discipline specific staff and students. Using your MA Project Proposal as a ‘map’ you will then undertake research, design and development of initial responses towards your MA proposal. Throughout this module you will keep a reflective log of your projects developments.

You will also undertake a ‘live’ research and practice based project that may be undertaken in conjunction with user communities, international and regional business, 3rd sector, institutions and organizations or carried out in close cooperation with the SHU Art & Design Research Centre, research active teaching staff, the commercial consulting centres within Design Futures or the Research Innovation Office. Your studies will be evaluated and developed through group critique and submission of a project proposal and a design project or written report.

In your final semester you will complete your MA or MFA Project. This is a major individual piece of work and through it, you are expected to apply and build on the full range of modules you have encountered on the Programme. The outcome of this module will be a significant piece of design practice related to your subject discipline, appropriate to your personalized learning aims and carried out to a high standard of professionalism and completeness.

Full-time structure

Semester one
• project 1 • theory supporting practice

Semester two
• project 2 • negotiated project

Semester three
• major project

Semester four – MFA students only
• MFA project

Part-time structure

Semester one (year 1)
• theory supporting practice • negotiated project

Semester two (year 2)
• project 1 • project 2

Semester three (year 3)
• major project

Semester four – MFA students only (year 4)
• MFA project

Assessment Assessment and feedback are vital parts of the learning process in creative disciplines. Most assessment is through individual project work which combines research and creative practice. Assessment calls for both excellent creative work and well-documented research.


Packaging is a huge worldwide industry with excellent job opportunities for talented people. At postgraduate level, packaging design presents you with a range of career opportunities including branding, advertising and product development where the ability to originate fresh thinking is paramount.

An increasing number of our design graduates are undertaking more advanced further study through research degrees (PhD) in our Art and Design Research Centre, which has a leading position in the advancement of creative practice in design. Working on a research degree in our Art and Design Research Centre provides the opportunity to become one of a team dedicated to the advancement of creative practice within packaging design.


Home / EU student

Please note tuition fees may increase in each subsequent academic year of your course, subject to government regulations on fee increases and in line with inflation. More information can be found in the ‘Tuition Fee Increases’ section of our Fees Regulations (PDF, 2.10 MB)

2016/17 academic year

MA – typically £5,100 for the course
MFA – typically £3,400 per year (full-time)

Part-time study should be calculated pro rata.

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are available across the majority of subject areas.

2017/18 academic year

MA – typically £6,400 for the course
MFA – typically £4,270 per year (full time)

Part-time study should be calculated pro rata

International student

2016/17 academic year

MA – typically £12,500 for the course
MFA – typically £8,335 per year

2017/18 academic year

MA – typically £13,250 for the course
MFA – typically £8,835 per year

Additional course costs

This link allows you to view estimated costs associated with the main activities on specific courses. These are estimates and, as such, are only an indication of additional course costs. Actual costs can vary greatly depending on the choices you make during your course.

Additional costs information

How to apply

Complete the application form available at www.shu.ac.uk/study/form

Any offer of a place to study is subject to your acceptance of the University’s Terms and Conditions and student Regulations.

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