Design and Visualisation - MA *

Full Time
September 2019
£7,100 per year for UK/EU Full Time 2019 entry (view all fees)

Design and visualisation plays a key role in many of today’s businesses and organisations. From designing complex animations, brand identity, 3D products, virtual interiors, landscape, architectural visualisation and new conceptual designs, employers look for graduates with creativity and knowledge-based software skills.

You can choose to study from a variety of cross disciplinary MA modules in which to learn how to apply design visualisation techniques and strategies. Choose from areas such as product design, interior design, graphic design and various other specialisations.

What's covered in the course?

This course will enable you to further develop your skills and competencies as a 3D design visualiser with an understanding of the design process. You will be taught how to make important critical decisions, how to devise visualisation strategies, design methods and how to use these skills across a range of disciplines.

You will learn how to evaluate, choose and apply relevant theories, concepts and techniques to the solution of design and the knowledge that underpins it. This knowledge and the transferable skills you will develop will help you to succeed in a competitive industry. 

You will have the opportunity to engage with Live Projects within the curriculum, offering unique opportunities to experience working on real projects for real clients. The learning objectives place emphasis on the process of development, rather than just focusing on the final outcome. Importance is placed not only on design quality but also on engagement practice, creative participation and how the design is developed. 

The programme incorporates frameworks for reviewing, reflecting, analysing and critiquing existing designs and techniques. You’ll graduate with a solid understanding of design visualisation, as well as how to apply different visualisation techniques to different situations. 

You will study at our City Centre Campus Parkside Building, a five-floor building with studios and social space for students and staff to engage in creative ideas.

An external examiner reported in 2017:

"The transferable skills demonstrated by the students (including accomplished visualisation, communication and presentation skills as well as sound analytical thinking) was a particular strength of the course. These transferable skills indicate a strong emphasis within the cohort on employability." 

Why Choose Us?

  • Ours is a contemporary, relevant and cutting-edge curriculum exposing you to a variety of new technologies.
  • Our engaging study sessions ensure you learn a range of vital skills needed for various design positions.

  • We have excellent links with industry and employers.

  • Our graduates have a track record of moving on to successful careers in which to apply their knowledge.

  • Our campus is based in the centre of a vibrant cosmopolitan city.

  • The Faculty of Arts, Design and Media is one of the UK’s largest design faculties.

You can download the Design and Visualisation Student Guide 2017 entry

Students outside Millennium Point

Open Days

Our next Open Day for this course will take place on Sunday 25 November 2018. Book your place to see our facilities and speak to our staff and students.

Book your place

This course is open to International students

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Discover Birmingham School of Architecture and Design

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

Visit the School website

Concerns Cover

Read our Annual Review

Concerns is an annual publication by Birmingham School of Architecture and Design. In this issue, you can view final year student work and read more about the activities within the School.

Read the Annual Review 

Where our students go

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

  • Haka Co. Ltd

And in jobs such as:

  • Designer

Subject to approval

This course is in the final stages of approval to ensure it meets the very highest standards of quality, creativity and applied learning.

Entry Requirements

Essential Requirements

A good degree in a relevant subject or equivalent qualifications and experience.

Extra information for EU/International students

For international students an IELTS score of 6.0 or more with no less that 5.5 in the IELTS sub categories is required. Other English language qualifications are acceptable

International Students

Entry requirements here

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MA Sep 2019 FT 1 year £7,100 per year

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MA Sep 2019 FT 1 year £12,300 per year

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. Fees for 2019/20 will be published as soon as possible. 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.

Portfolio Guidance

  • Please make sure that your portfolio is clearly labelled with your name and contact telephone number.
  • Carefully select and edit your portfolio to produce an exciting, creative and representative document which informs us about your skills, interests and ambitions.
  • Your portfolio must be in a digital format and should contain at least 10 carefully selected pages.
  • Please be prepared to speak about your portfolio during your interview using at least 10 of the selected pages. If you are unable to attend an interview, you should write a short descriptor for each of the pages in your portfolio.
  • We are interested to see pages from your recent sketchbook and these can be included within your portfolio pages too.
  • We will be looking at the work in your portfolio to provide evidence of your potential as a design visualiser. This can be from your final project at your most recent university or place of work.
  • Your portfolio should demonstrate your creative skills and may include a range of media with sketches, collages, photographs of analogue models or finished digital renders.
  • We would particularly like to see your 2D and 3D software skills, exploring your interest in design and visualisation.
  • Your portfolio should include technical drawings using industry software. We prefer these to be linked to your analogue or digital visualisations.

Personal statement

UK / EU 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


*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.

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

What's included in your course fees?

Access to workshops, Library and learning facilities are all included.

We aim to have most of your submissions in a digital format to minimise your expenses. We expect that you will pay no more than £200 for your sketchbooks and materials required for the duration of your course.

If we arrange study or cultural visits within the UK or abroad, you will be expected to pay these costs. However, you will also be given the option of not participating in the study visits. These costs would range between £20 - £600.

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 will soon be able to apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,000 for some courses and options?

Postgraduate loans

Stage 1: Postgraduate Certificate

In Trimester 1, you will study Design Realisation which has a choice of project briefs from other MA programmes within the school, such as Interior or Product Design and Design Visualisation. Here you will complete a project showcasing your analogue and digital visualisation techniques, also exploring the potential of processes that are not totally dependent on digital technologies. These include evolutionary mock-ups, scenario enactment, physical modelling, two and three-dimensional collages and other animation techniques.

You will study the core module (20 credits)
Design Visualisation - core module
20 credits

You will explore traditional techniques such as 2D sketching, technical illustration and workshop based scaled model making using high level 3D processes. The module is designed to develop skills in analogue, digital or other forms of advanced computer based visualisation techniques. Through this you will become a competent digital design specialist in presenting interactive media.

You can choose one of the following briefs within the Design Realisation module according to your past experience and career aspirations.
Design Realisation
40 credits

Product Based:

You will gain a broad understanding of 'typical' product design outputs and their processes. Drawing from established theories, policies, practice and case studies, the core principles of product evolution identify key issues encountered at the different stages of product development.

The application of new ideas and technologies at key evolutionary stages of a product's development also depends on the individual approach of the designer. You will subsequently identify with methodologies that suit your personal approach.

Interior Based:

You will engage at an advanced level with the perspectives of commercial markets, design processes and models of design management, defining them via a combination of theoretical and practical analysis. In applying these to the evolution of contextually specific interior design sectors, you will define alternative theorems and strategies relating to the construction and deconstruction of design ideas and processes.

Stage 2: Postgraduate Diploma

In Trimester 2 you will study two modules; Competition or Collaboration and Collaborative Practice (Co-Lab). The competition brief will be based on a contemporary project where you will initially collaborate with other product or interior design MA students. Co-Lab offers a choice of exciting project briefs which can then be incorporated into the planning of your personal project. Each project brief will demonstrate your strengths in a chosen range of visualisation techniques, and the potential of those techniques for enhancing the effectiveness of an appropriate design process.

Competition or Collaboration
40 credits

You can choose one of the following briefs according to your past experience and career aspirations.

Product Based:

By challenging the expectations and conventions of existing products, alternative directions and product opportunities are possible. You will engage with alternative notions of ideas and concept generation through deconstructing and then reconstructing new design based narratives. Innovative ‘post optimal’ theorems, case studies and trends will be explored.

Interior Based:

You will engage in advanced critical analysis for mapping the design futures of interior products and interior spaces. Predictive critical thinking will be focused specifically on the near horizon and longer-term future perspectives for specific interior design sectors. Innovative ‘post optimal’ theorems, case studies and trends will be explored.

Collaborative Practice
20 credits

The ability to work collaboratively in a team is a vital employability skill within the Creative Industries. This module is an opportunity to learn and critically reflect on the skills of collaboration by enabling you to create a group project with students from complementary disciplines.

Your project supervisor will determine the project you undertake and the students you will work with. The module content will reflect the nature of the project.

Stage 3: Masters

In Trimester 3, you will complete a Personal Project.

Personal Project (Practice or Theory)
60 credits

This module introduces you to the range, level and scope of research methods, contexts, procedures and resources appropriate to research practice. You will be able to apply these learning methods in either practice-led or theory-led elements.

You will investigate the commercial, technical and human factors that apply to your chosen project, demonstrating mastery of the visualisation techniques applied in earlier modules. A project brief will be defined, including either a formal project hypothesis or product concepts for evaluation and development.

You can then develop the product or spatial concepts from the previous exercise (practice-led), with drawings, models and professional presentation of design features. Alternatively you can test a project hypothesis, culminating in a substantial report supported by research findings or design work (theory-led) and a multimedia presentation of outcomes.

This is a 45-week course divided into three 15-week Trimesters. Each Trimester is divided into a ten week structured programme followed by five weeks of independent learning and reflection.

Trimester 1 and 2 will enable you to study a variety of modules, some of which you will share with other Master’s students in Interior Design or Product Design depending on your career aspirations.

The course includes industrial collaboration and live projects. In Trimester 2 you will have the option of working on a live project or participating in a competition brief. The taught elements in Trimester 1 and 2 combine to provide new analytical ideals to incorporate in the personal project undertaken in Trimester 3. Your personal project will be appropriate to your first degree experience and career ambitions, on a subject chosen for its suitability to showcase your visualisation skills.

Assessments will take place during individual/group presentations at interim stages and at the end of each module. Immediate verbal feedback will be given to you during the interim stages and written feedback will be given to you within 20 working days from completion of each module.

If you study this course part-time, you will be expected to complete 50% of your course in Year 1 and the remaining 50% by the end of Year 2.

Hours in the classroom

If you are studying full-time, you will be expected to attend 18 hours over 3 days a week in Trimesters 1 and 2, and 12 hours over two days a week in Trimester 3.

If you are studying part-time, you will be expected to attend 9 hours over 1 ½ days a week in Trimesters 1 and 2, and 6 hours over one day a week in Trimester 3.

Project briefs

Here are some examples of project briefs you may encounter in your course:

Interior Based: Attract couples and visitors to both stay and dine at a hotel by focusing on the dining aspect and perception of a ‘Boutique Hotel’ experience. Use 3D visualisation techniques to engender ‘client order’ procurement and demonstrate design skills in a graphically sophisticated, creative and professionally persuasive PowerPoint. This will be competitively “pitched” in the context of a project for a Client Presentation Meeting.

Product Based: Design and construct a high quality ceiling lighting unit that can be accommodated within a white cube (made of a 2mm white styrene plastic sheeting material) to measure exactly 150x150x150mm. The lighting unit will be suspended from a ceiling by a ‘curly’ cable and directly powered by a solar panel. From initial concept development through sketches and cardboard mock-ups, refine the model to accommodate a professionally considered lighting chassis that holds all technical elements required - made using our 3D printing process. The final working LED lighting unit should “conceptually challenge the concept of what solar powered lighting can also be for, with respect to your chosen context”. The LED lighting circuit can be complimented with other electrical devices as long as they can also be directly powered by the solar panel. The complete illuminated unit should ultimately form a believable new product concept communicating a key aspect relating to the context for which it is intended, for example design philosophy, physical positioning and market.

Teaching breakdown

30% Lectures steelblue
15% Seminar darkred
55% Independent study darkorange

Assessment breakdown

You will be assessed 100% on coursework submission.

Trips and visits

Trips and visits to industry, exhibitions and events vary every year according to the nature of the module aims and objectives.

Student stories – Joseph Stanford

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: Panch Suntharalingam.

Email Course Director

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

Enhancing your employability skills

Upon graduating you will have the skills needed for a number of roles within the design industry. Your skillset will allow you to apply for jobs in various design professions as well as roles in different visualisation sectors.

  1. Product Design and Visualisation.
  2. Interior Design and Visualisation
  3. Exhibition set design and Visualiser

You will have the opportunity to work on live projects that will enhance your employability skills. Here is what some of our collaborative partner companies say:

Postgraduates earn an average £9,000 more per year than those with just undergraduate degrees*. A postgraduate qualification can really help you stand out from the crowd in today’s competitive job market. By becoming a specialist in your field, you will have the chance to advance thinking in that subject and lead, rather than follow, the latest developments.

* The Sutton Trust, 2015.

Graduates and their roles

Toby Joyce, studied on this course and went on to secure a job with ATKINS, a Design and Construction company that is renowned worldwide.

In Toby’s employment with ATKINS he was responsible for some of the 3D visualisation done on our current ADM Faculty prior to the building being built. These 3D visualisations were required to showcase BCU’s quality spaces and special ambience that was to be expected on completion of the Parkside building of Birmingham City University.

Joseph Stanford-Turner secured a job with AGA Rangemater, a prestigious heritage company known for its range cookers for large homes. Joseph was employed to redesign the one of the range cookers to can be used in any traditional homes and to be very energy efficient. This included the use of new heating technologies. The product is now available in the market.

Fabien Rolland worked for a luxury yacht manufacturer in London after completing his course in Design and Visualisation. Fabien talent was quickly recognised as exceptional and he was promoted to design manager. Fabien’s role was to design the interior spaces including the living and galley spaces of these yachts for wealthy millionaires.

Kayleigh Veal completed her degree in MA Design and Visualisation and went on to secure a job in exhibition and set design at Zero One exhibitions. Kayleigh’s talent was soon recognised as having strong visualisation skills and was promoted to Design Manager where she works today on prestigious exhibition stands for companies such as Vodaphone, JCB, and Land Rover.


Due to the intense nature of the course, placements are not possible during the course.

More about our placement opportunities...


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

Upon graduation you will possess the skills required for a number of roles within the design industry. Your skill set will allow you to apply for jobs in various design professions as well as roles in different visualisation sectors.

  • Product Design and Visualisation. 
  • Interior Design and Visualisation.
  • Exhibition set design and Visualisation.

Our students have gone on to use their acquired knowledge and skills in a variety of jobs.

  • Design practice: interior design, product design, graphic design, 3D visualisers, in-house and consultancy for TV characters, TV environments, TV motion graphics, advertising, films/VFX/PreVis, web banners and adverts, product configurators, posters (still and moving), iPads and tablet apps, historical re-constructions, e-books and magazines, architecture, video games, augmented reality, virtual reality, marketing and communications, infographics and HUD’s, navigation systems and TV/film credit sequences.
  • Design advisory services such as digital training manuals, pathfinding, interfaces and GUI’s.
  • Education, training and research – as teachers or lecturers of design-related topics.
  • Design research, as research assistants on funded projects, or as research students studying for an MPhil or PhD.

Where our students go

1.   AGA Rangemaster


3.   Seymour Harris Architecture

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 attracts many students from overseas including Hong Kong and China.

Here is what they say about the course:

“The course has offered me a range of transferable skills that has enabled me to be competent within the design industry. Studying on this challenging yet interesting course has enhanced my analytical and reflective skills. Also, the supportive environment ensured that I learned the most from the projects through the tutors who are highly knowledgeable within their fields. I really enjoyed the course and I would certainly recommend it to students because of the variety of skills you learn and the brilliant facilities provided by the University.”

Amanda Lao, Hong Kong

“The MA Design and Visualisation course has transformed my design thinking by combining sophisticated technological processes and theory within industry led projects. The design workshop has computer controlled CNC, laser and rapid Prototyping systems which I have used in my projects. The diversity of facilities within the school has extended my transferable skills beyond my expectations and would recommend this course to other students who would like to increase their employability prospects.”

Yihua GAO, China

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 and visualisation course is most popular with international students from:

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 £260 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-Assisted 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. 

External Parkside Building and Water Feature
Parkside building from Curzon building
Parkside Interior
3D Printer - Arch and Design
CAD LAB - Arch and Design
Laser Cutter - Arch and Design
Spray Booth - Arch and Design
Kiln Room - Arch and Design
Glass Cutting - Arch and Design
Plaster - Arch and Design
Ceramics - Arch and Design
Water Jet 3 - Arch and Design
Woodwork 2 - Arch and Design
Bag Press 1 - Arch and Design
Bag Press 2 - Arch and Design
CNC Router - Arch and Design
4 Axis Miller - Arch and Design
Metal - Arch and Design
Product Studio - Arch and Design
Product Studio 3 - Arch and Design
Product Studio 4 - Arch and Design
Arch Studios 1 - Arch and Design
Arch Studios 3 - Arch and Design
Arch studio - Arch and Design
Floor 4 - Arch and Design
Arch Collab Space - Arch and Design

Staff introduction

Our staff are experts in their chosen fields, and will offer you support and guidance, as well as plenty of industry experience.

Dr Panch Suntharalingam

Course Director for MA Design and Visualisation

Dr Panch Suntharalingam is currently the Course Director for MA Design and Visualisation and the lead tutor for the programme. He teaches product design, interior design and interior products design in the UK and abroad and his areas of expertise and interests include: design and visualisation, engineering product design, industrial design, knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) programmes, software programming, enterprise development, medical product design, interior products, research and rapid prototyping and computer aided design.

Read Panch's full profile