• Overview
  • Awards and Modules
  • Start Dates
  • Entry Requirements
  • Fees
  • Careers
  • Student Discounts and Offers
  • Course Duration


ma gc overview

The Top Up Master’s allows you to achieve an MA qualification in under two years studying full-time or, if you wish to fit your studies around other commitments, you can study part-time and complete the course in under four years.

Building on your existing qualifications and experience, studying for a master's degree can give you an edge over other designers in a highly competitive market. The MA is designed not only for those who wish to develop their existing professional practice, but also those aspiring to advance their career opportunities in an international context, as well as those wishing to develop the capabilities to manage or participate in complex professional projects.

Awards and Modules

ma gc modules

On completion of the Top Up Master’s you will gain two qualifications. You will initially study the honours level of the BA Graphic Design course before progressing on to the master’s level. You are required to achieve a 2:2 or above in order to progress on to this level.

You will graduate with an internationally recognised master’s degree in Graphic Communication and a BA (Hons) Graphic Design degree from the University of Hertfordshire.

MA Modules

On the master’s course, you will study core modules alongside students from other disciplines: Illustration, Photography and Interior Design. You are encouraged to approach these modules from the point of view of your own practice.

The core modules are:

  • Postgraduate Study in Context
  • Research and Practice
  • Creative Industries: Global Perspectives
  • Critical Studies
  • Creative Industries: Business Perspectives
  • Creative Industries: Professional Presentations

Click here for more information about these modules.

Throughout the course, you will build a foundation for your Major Study. You will also complete an outline or proposal and will develop the knowledge and skills required to implement your plans.

You will also undertake three modules centred on your discipline:

MA Module Descriptions

ma gc modules 1

Practice 1: Art and Design

Your approach in Practice 1 should reflect your individual interests within the evolving contemporary discipline of graphic communication, and may include self-initiated design briefs and emerging design practice within: editorial design, branding and visual identity, packaging design, signage and wayfinding, social design and campaigns, information design, graphic design for exhibitions and environments, graphic arts, and graphic design for screen, web and moving image. In the Practice 1 module, you will develop a first exploratory portfolio of design work, identifying new directions for your creative practice that you will take forward into the Practice 2 and Major Study modules.

ma gc modules 2

Practice 2: Art and Design

Building on the Practice 1 module, you will continue to develop your graphic communication project. Typically, you will work on a more in-depth body of graphic design work in negotiation and discussion with your tutor. As in the Practice 1 module, your focus will be within an appropriate sector of contemporary graphic design. Taking this further, you will be encouraged to consider interdisciplinary contexts, wider contemporary debates and your professional audiences, in order to expand your practice.

Major Study

Building on your exploratory development work in the earlier practice modules, the Major Study provides an opportunity to consolidate your knowledge through realising an ambitious project. By bringing together various practical, theoretical, commercial, and other contextual concerns to complete a sustained body of original and innovative practice in graphic design, you will demonstrate the communication, professional, conceptual, and creative skills that you have acquired throughout the course.

The realisation of this body of work is supported by online discussions involving students studying all disciplines of the Postgraduate Programme in Art and Design, as well as individual feedback from your tutor.

MA Graphic Communication projects are expected to reflect development and realisation of your personal interests within the contemporary discipline of graphic design. This might include projects suitable for public and professional audiences in an appropriate sector of contemporary graphic design, including emerging interdisciplinary practices.

Submissions typically include material artefacts, designed responses and web-based or other digitised work that demonstrate competence to an advanced level. The artefacts will be supported by a written reflective statement of around 3,000 words in which you will contextualise your own work and demonstrate your knowledge of theories of visual communication.

In both the Practice 1 and 2 Art and Design modules, you will work with a specialist subject tutor from your own discipline.

Back to Top

Level 6: BA (Hons)

Level 6 is ‘the portfolio year’, which is centred on building a portfolio of work in preparation for entering the design profession. You will develop your ability to approach your work critically and with a greater degree of independence. You will also fulfil a range of industry typical briefs and be encouraged to enter various national design competitions.

As this is your final level of study before you begin to practise graphic design professionally, you will also acquire the self promotion and marketing skills necessary to establish contacts, work experience, and employment within the industry.

Level 6 Module Descriptions

gd tabs test 13

Competition Briefs

This module gives aspiring new designers the opportunity to respond to challenging competition briefs. You will select from a series of modern and stimulating industry briefs to showcase your talents.

The briefs are typical of those provided by globally recognised companies and demand a high level of research, selection of innovative outcomes and advanced levels of design development. The briefs also require consideration of branding, advertising, editorial design, packaging, as well as new media.

This module will allow you, not only to compete on an international stage (if you choose), but also to contribute to your graduate portfolio as you prepare for a career in the creative industries.

gd tabs test 13

Self Promotion

This module aims to develop the entrepreneurial skills acquired during Level 5 through the encouragement of innovative approaches to securing employment within the creative industries. In addition to producing an employment strategy plan, you will also generate creative outcomes that allow you to explore your personal and professional approaches to graphic design.

Throughout, you will acquire the self promotion and marketing skills necessary to establish contacts, work experience and employment within industry. You will also produce a digital portfolio website or blog, a self promotional packaging piece, CV design and an individual employment strategy plan.

In this module, you will identify and present your strengths as a graphic designer and you will create work to market yourself with a view to opening dialogue with industry and securing employment. Your work will allow you to further advance your own practice and explore the direction you wish to follow in the creative industry.

gd tabs test 13

Negotiated Project 3B

This module provides you with the formal opportunity to negotiate a body of work. Within the creative industries, it is recognised that designers rarely self-initiate work, although they may frequently find themselves working with a client and assisting with the development of a brief.

The flexible nature of the brief enables you to develop a body of work that demonstrates a personal response to a given theme for potential employers. In addition, it is a platform from which you can demonstrate your creative skills in a more ambitious way. The negotiated and self-directed approach to this module builds on the preparatory projects set in previous levels. At Level 6, you will prepare a work schedule and exercise personal responsibility, independence and initiative in your work.

Critical and Cultural Studies

This module will enable you to conduct an in-depth study of an aspect of design culture of your choice, with emphasis on the analysis of appropriate social, cultural, economic, technical, historical and aesthetic issues relevant to your chosen topic and creative work.

You will have the opportunity to bring your own interests into your work, and your independent research will be supported through discussion with your peers in the forums and course materials. You will also further develop skills in research, organisation and planning, and critical analysis.

The assessed element of this module consists of a 6,000 word essay or technical report.

gd tabs test 13

Final Major Project

This module offers you the opportunity to apply all of the technical skills and industry knowledge acquired throughout the course, examining your use of both traditional and emerging digital technologies. When you have decided on a suitable live brief or have built a project around one of the given themes, you will carry out and critically analyse advanced research. You will also engage with the creative process in a way that will stimulate the production of imaginative design ideas, and carry the development of this work through to a conclusion.

You will produce substantial, investigative work in terms of your research and output. You will also be required to submit a written report of 1,200 to 1,500 words that clearly describes, and reflects upon, your work for this project.

At this level of study, you will also be expected to show an independent and professional approach to the project in terms of presentation, and time and project management, at the conclusion of the module.

Back to Top

Start Dates

Most of our applicants are keen to start their studies as soon as possible, so we have intakes in February, June and October. Depending on the course you choose, you may be able to start in any intake, but there could be some restrictions. You can apply directly on our website at any time for any future intake and your Admissions Advisor will be able to confirm when the next start date for your chosen course will be.

Even if you are unsure about when you would like to start, or which course is best for you, contact us and a member of our Student Recruitment Team will be able to advise you.

start dates

Entry Requirements

ma gc entry

We consider all applications on an individual basis and welcome applications from those with non-standard qualifications and from a variety of backgrounds.

We offer guaranteed entry onto the Top Up Master’s from a relevant HND or Foundation degree, or professional experience in graphic design, or a relevant subject.

International Applicants

All applicants from non-majority English speaking countries need to provide proof of English language proficiency. One of the following qualifications (or equivalent) is required:

  • GSCE English Language grade A-C
  • IELTS 6.0 (with no less than 5.5 in any band)

Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

Accredited Prior Learning (APL) is the process for accessing and recognising prior experiential learning or prior certificated learning for academic purposes. This recognition gives the learning a credit value and allows it to be counted towards the completion of a degree or other award.

Credit is the common currency of university programmes. Each course module has a credit value and these credits are accumulated towards the full award. For example, an honours degree requires 120 credits at each of Levels 4, 5 and 6.

The APL process is intended to stop learners repeating learning that they have already achieved.

There are two types of APL:

Accredited Prior Certificated Learning (APCL)

Accredited Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) is learning that has been recognised previously by an education provider, evidenced by formal certification, and assessed and recognised for the award of credit.

If you have previously studied a course that has broadly the same learning outcomes as ones on an IDI programme, then you can apply to have these credited against your degree. However, if a qualification or credit is more than five years old, it could be considered out of date and may not be used towards a degree.

Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL)

Accredited Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) is learning that has been achieved through experiences outside the formal education and training systems, normally associated with a working environment, which has been assessed and recognised for the award of credit by the University. It is different from formal learning, as it is often unstructured and can be more personal and individualised.

APEL applicants can develop skills, strengths and knowledge from a range of experiential learning. Please be aware that learning must be at an equivalent level to that on the modules offered on our programmes and you must be able to evidence it. This is typically done by means of a portfolio. It is usual for this to involve some sort of reflective writing about your learning, but it might involve many other forms of evidence too.

It is important to remember that it is the learning from experience rather than the learning itself that is assessed for credit, which you will need to be able to articulate.

Back to Top



  • Our standard fees for the Top Up Master's are £9,000



From £576.75 per month
  • Four instalments of £2,292
    Total payment of £9,168*
  • 16 instalments of £576.75
    Total payment of £9,228*


From £288.38 per month
  • Eight instalments of £1,146
    Total payment of £9,168*
  • 32 instalments of £288.38
    Total payment of £9,228*

*Please note these figures include a small administration fee.

Recommend a Friend

Increasingly our students are coming to us through personal recommendation and we’d like to recognise this. Whether you are a recent graduate, a current student, or even if you’ve just secured your place for the next intake; whenever you recommend IDI to a friend, colleague or family member, and they go on to enrol on a course, we’ll reward you both with £100. Find out more


Back to Top


ma gc careers

The MA Graphic Communication award will prepare you for a career as a graphic designer and also for design-related roles in digital graphics, online media, communications and marketing, publishing, advertising and various other related fields.

You will have lots of opportunities to generate a strong portfolio of graphic design projects that will help you to secure a job or develop your career further in this rewarding, vibrant and growing industry.

Potential Careers:

  • Creative Director
  • Environmental Graphic Designer
  • Art Director
  • Graphic Design Consultant
  • Graphic Artist
  • Promotional Designer
  • Graphic Designer
  • Print Layout Designer
  • Teacher/Lecturer
  • Wayfinding and Signage Designer
  • Production Designer
  • Exhibit Designer
  • Digital Printing Specialist
  • Integrated Marketing Designer
  • Package Designer
  • Graphic Designer for Film/Television
  • Illustrator
  • Graphic Design Teacher/Lecturer
  • Freelance/Independent Designer
  • Motion Graphic Designer
  • Web Designer
  • Animator
  • Multimedia Designer
  • Editorial Designer


Back to Top

Student Discounts and Offers


Through partnerships and initiatives, we are able to offer our students institutional discounts on various products and services to help you gain access to quality materials at an affordable fee.

Adobe Creative Cloud

As an IDI student, you would be eligible for a discount of up to 65% off Adobe Creative Cloud* on production of an approved 'Proof of Student Status' letter.

*Adobe Creative Cloud is only available in selected countries. Find out if you can gain access from where you live by clicking here.

Graphics Direct

IDI students can also receive additional discounts. Enter ‘IDI’ at the Graphics Direct checkout and you will receive an extra 10% off, even on discounted and sale items.

Course Duration

The Top Up Master’s is available to study in the following modes, subject to minimum cohort numbers:

  • Part-time - Completed in ten semesters (three years and four months)
  • Full-time - Completed in five semesters (one year and eight months)

Expected minimum studying time commitment per study mode:

  • Part-time - 15 to 20 hours per week
  • Full-time - 30 to 35 hours per week

The hours per week indicate time spent on directed activities. However, you will also need to consider the additional time needed to read support materials and other resources, upload your work to the IDI-Study site, communicate with your tutors and interact with your peers within the forums.

If you begin studying and feel that the pace isn’t quite right for you, you can change your study mode within the first four weeks of study, or on completion of a level.