MDes Glass (Architectural Arts)
This well-established and internationally renowned course based at Swansea, draws together the best traditions of hand working in glass with the latest creative technologies. Students study traditional and contemporary glass through their chosen pathways of Architectural Arts or Contemporary Practice all underpinned by the core sustainable skills in drawing, designing and making.
The specialist facilities available were fantastic. We were really encouraged to challenge ourselves and to explore new ideas, so it was a very exciting and interesting place to learn. Swansea is a great city to study in, with lots of interesting things to see and do. I really enjoyed the close-knit community atmosphere on the course, and it was very inspiring to see the work of the other students. Following my graduation, I enjoyed 40 weeks of work experience as a part of the Award for Excellence, travelling around some of the most prestigious stained glass studios in Britain and Germany. Since finishing the placement I have worked for Reyntiens Glass Studio in London, on a project for the Houses of Parliament.
The architectural arts pathway is designed to give the students the opportunity to work with glass in an architectural context in established and innovative ways. This is delivered through workshops and projects that cover stained glass and surface decoration techniques such as acid etching, sandblasting, screen-printing and advanced glass painting. It also introduces digital technologies such as water jet cutting and laser engraving alongside mosaics and metal enameling. One of the key challenges that the course sets out to investigate is the use of glass as an applied art in architecture and the relationship between light, space and environment. This is explored through design briefs, live project experience, site visits and professional development.
Our strongly vocational course draws together the best traditions of hand working in glass with the latest creative technologies. Students study traditional and contemporary practice underpinned by solid craft skills, including drawing, design and making.
First year modules are designed to establish a core platform of essential skills for all students and encourage the development of design and making in glass:
- Historical and contextual studies to develop and enrich the student’s knowledge of glass.
- Visual Studies to deepen the studies drawing and visual literacy.
- Bench-work to build the student’s skills in working with glass and materials.
- Design and material knowledge to provide understanding of design in glass.
Second year students develop the knowledge, practical abilities and creativity to undertake design and glass artefact realization. They are able to work as an individual designer, maker or as part of a multidisciplinary team for the manufacture of decorative glass.
Third year modules are designed to allow students to formulate their own individual career direction and aspirations as a glass graduate. Students select and manage their own personal and external projects with the support of the staff team so that they can demonstrate their core skills and experience and develop:
- Advanced knowledge of contemporary glass, thinking and practice.
- A personal design philosophy to underpin their current and future practice.
- Advanced awareness of the value of their intellectual and creative ability and a well-defined strategy for personal brand and career development.
Third year students prepare for their launch into the graduate marketplace with the support from the universities Research, Innovation and Enterprise Services.
Year four modules (level 7) are designed to encourage advanced practice and entrepreneurial thinking. In particular, students studying at this level are encouraged to display resourcefulness, entrepreneurial skills, and the capacity to establish new and innovative enterprises. Level 7 provides an advanced understanding of research tools that can be implemented within a range of contexts and extend critical and creative thinking. Students are encouraged to extend their professional standing in their chosen field through either developing existing assets generated at undergraduate level or exploring collaborative opportunities with commercial partners, public sector or social enterprises: or may seek to develop a new business start-up.
(The MDes allows you to study on a four-year course that allows you to achieve a Master’s award within a single fee structure)
Each year of the course has a value of 120 credits spread over the following subject areas.
- Historical and Contextual Studies I
- Visual Studies
- Design Practice 1 & 2
- Decorative Glass Processes
- Stained Glass Practice
- Historical and Contextual Studies II
- Advanced Visual Studies
- Technical Processes
- Applied Glass Practice
- Advanced Glass Painting 1 & 2
- Personal Project
- External Project
- Professional Development
- Research Methods and communication
- Creative Enterprise and Practice
- Creative Venture
In this century glass as a material offers a unique place in design and architecture and there are very few institutions that offer the opportunity to explore this material, with particular reference to its applications in architecture. Swansea glass department has a long established reputation for glass and strong industrial links help underpin the educational experience for students. The history of the department enables a broad spectrum of approaches that draw on the historical, cultural and technological uses of this material. Glass in its many forms; mosaic, glaze, enamel and window façade covers a broad association of surfaces, which offers for the maker a rich and varied pallet. This is a hands-on course!
The Glass department is situated in the newly refurbished ALEX building in the Swansea Arts quarter. This ensures our students have access to excellent facilities including dedicated design studios with individual workspaces, traditional glass workshops supported by a comprehensive computer suite to support digital design. Students can gain experience of working with glass, wood, metal, plastics, ceramics and automotive styling clay. Our studios and computer facilities are equipped with Wacom Cintiq displays for freehand digital sketching and the latest versions of industry standard design and visualization software such as Autodesk Alias, Sketchbook Pro, Solid Works and Adobe Creative Suite.
The teaching team consists of highly experienced glass artists and designers who are either engaged in professional practice or are research active, supported by industrially trained technical staff. This ensures that the course delivers a qualification and experience that is highly relevant to the changing needs of the industry and wider architectural glass community.
The course includes live design projects that enable students to engage with architects and commissioners of glass. This industrial contact allows students to develop their skills in response to real world scenarios and prepares them for the demands of employment. The course maintains the strongly vocational emphasis that has been the hallmark of the Swansea School of Glass for almost 80 years. Students build up their knowledge and skills of working with glass through studio and workshop practice. External projects are a consistent feature and students frequently undertake commercial projects through the School’s commercial glass studio, the Architectural Glass Centre (AGC)
Students are actively encouraged to enter national and international glass competitions. Over the years, our students have enjoyed consistent success in the Steven’s Competition for Architectural Glass run by the Worshipful Company of glaziers and painters of Glass, the Libensky Award for Glass and various other competitions run by the Contemporary Society for Glass.
As a result, UWTSD, Swansea graduates possess the necessary subject specific and transferrable skills and attributes required to generate ideas, concepts and detailed design proposals in response to specific situations and are able to function effectively in a glass studio environment. They possess the intellectual and critical skills to continue developing themselves, and are able to respond to the changing demands of commercial practice.
The three main modes of assessment used on this programme are:
Studio Projects – work undertaken to fulfil the demands of a given or student generated brief. Projects are set to examine the student’s abilities to master the integration of new design principles and skills to his / her design practice. Studio projects may be set and take place in a variety of forms and over a range of durations, and include activity within the glass workshops, CAD studios as well as traditional design studios. Students may be required to present a variety of types of work for assessment such as; portfolios, sketchbooks and project journals, presentation boards, three-dimensional models, glass samples and artefacts.
Written Assignments – work undertaken by the student in his/her own time. Written assignments may take the form of an illustrated paper or report. In both cases the student is expected to demonstrate critical insight and proficiency in articulating the results of a practice or research based assignment.
Seminar Presentations – this form of assessment requires the student to demonstrate conceptual understanding and evaluate the rigour and validity of published research. Seminars may take the form of individual and/or group presentations to peers and other professional groups.
We are interested in creative people that demonstrate a strong commitment to art and/or design and therefore we welcome applications from individuals from a wide range of backgrounds. To assess student suitability for their chosen course we arrange interviews for all applicants at which your skills, achievements and life experience will be considered as well as your portfolio of work.
Our standard offer for a degree course is 120 UCAS tariff points. We expect applicants to have a grade C or above in English Language (or Welsh) at GCSE level, together with passes in another four subjects. Plus we accept a range of Level 3 qualifications including:
- Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, plus one GCE A-Level in a relevant academic subject
- Three GCE A-Levels or equivalent
- BTEC Extended Diploma in a relevant subject, with minimum grades of Merit
- International Baccalaureate score of 32
- Other relevant qualifications can be considered on an individual basis
Qualifications are important, however our offers are not solely based on academic results. If you don’t have the required UCAS points then please contact the courses admissions tutor or email firstname.lastname@example.org as we can consider offers to applicants based on individual merit, exceptional work, and/or practical experience.
See our Interview Guide for more information.
Swansea glass department has a ling and successful record of producing graduates of the highest professional calibre in the field of architectural and stained glass.
Possible career pathways have included:
- Establishing yourself as an artist, designer or maker.
- Setting up a studio as a sole supplier or in a partnership with others
- Employed in specialist glass studios
- Engaging in freelance work on architectural and interiors projects
- Designing for industry or working in the glass industry.
- Working on private and public commissions
- Working on art projects and community projects
- Other opportunities include arts administration, curating, teaching and mentoring, community work and arts editorial.
- Continuation of studies to postgraduate level on our MA programme.
- Further academic research leading to MPhil, or PhD is available.
Graduates may naturally be involved in a broad range of these opportunities and increasingly graduates enter employment in the wider creative industries sector where the design thinking and project management skills developed on the course come to the fore. The Professional Development module is designed to enable final year students to develop their external profile and prepare for professional practice.
Swansea Glass Department exhibit student work annually in major graduate design and recruitment exhibitions, showing at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea and at new Designers in London as a launch pad for early design career.
Student’s benefit from opportunities to work on live commissions through the Architectural Glass Centre (AGC). The AGC is the commercial arm of the department and allows students to gain experience, designing for live commissions as part of, or in addition to their course work. Students are chosen on merit, via competitions, to work on live commissions that further demonstrate the high standards achieved.
Our students have access to a diverse range of equipment and resources, which in most cases are sufficient to complete their programme of study. We provide the basic materials necessary for students to develop their practical work within our extensive workshop and studio facilities. However, it is likely that art and design students will incur some additional costs to extend their investigation of their personal practice. For example, purchasing their own specialised materials and equipment, joining in optional study trips, and printing.
Students are expected to bring their own personal art and design equipment with them when they commence the course. We can advise on the correct equipment needed for your programme of studies and signpost appropriate suppliers if you wish to purchase essential items before or during your studies. A basic ‘art and design kit’ will cost approximately £100 but you may well already have much of the equipment required so check with us first. Also, although we have extensive dedicated digital design studios (PC and MAC) for you to undertake your coursework you may wish to bring your own digital devices, again check with us first before making a purchase. Depending on distance and duration, optional study visits can vary in cost from approximately £10 to visit local galleries and exhibitions to £200+ for overseas visits – these costs cover things like transport, entry to venues and accommodation and are normally at reduced rates for our students.
The programme team encourages students to participate in the work of professional bodies such as the Worshipful Company of glaziers and Painters of glass, the Contemporary Glass Society, the British Society of Master Glass Painters and the Royal Society of Arts, with whom the department enjoys close working links. The course also benefits from close collaboration with industry through annual live projects. This flexible relationship with industry and the professions allows students to engage with events and projects from a broad spectrum of external bodies.
Although there is no specific ‘sandwich’ option, the department has good links with industry in the UK and Europe, especially Finland, France and Germany, and provides opportunities for visits, exchanges and work placement.
During your time with us you will have the opportunity to study abroad with the Erasmus exchange programmes currently running with Universities in Norway, Barcelona and Sweden.
Students can also take up the opportunity to study a semester in the USA and Canada.
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Glass at Swansea offers you the opportunity to become a specialist in working with and understanding the properties of this fascinating material. Practical skills and making are core to the glass department. With a strong heritage and tradition for stained glass, complemented with cutting edge technology and contemporary approaches, we strive to protect the traditional and innovate for the future.
“Gaining my degree in Architectural Glass has enabled me to pursue a career in both traditional and Contemporary stained glass design and fabrication. My experience has made it possible for me to work with some of the leading artists and studios in Great Britain and internationally” Stacey Poultney, Architectural Glass Centre, Swansea.