MDes Set Design

  • Mdes Set design

Think, for a moment, about your favourite films and TV programmes.

Think about how amazing the sets are.

Think about how sets give characters and ideas a home.

Imagine being part of a wonderfully creative industry and doing this for a living.

The BA Set Design degree can make that happen.

Key Facts

UCAS Code: 64D9
Institution Code: T80
Course Length:
4 years F/T 8 years P/T

Tuition Fees for 2018/19:
£9000 (Home/EU students)
£11000 (Overseas students)
Scholarships and Bursaries

Swansea College of Art
Contact Name:
John Rowland Hill
Contact Email:
Language Choice:

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For Art & Design Bursary information please click here

This MDes four-year degree is for people who are fascinated by the processes of visualising, creating and building film environments and sets; it is for people who want to design and make those environments and for those students who would like to develop their practice into the commercial world.

The programme concerns itself with turning narrative and screenplay ideas into film sets, through carefully planned practical modules and studying how creative enterprise works.

The MDes gives the student an additional year of study at postgraduate level that can be funded through the student loan, resulting in the award of an MDes upon successful completion.

Level 4

Ways of Thinking, Digital Tools & Workflow, Construction Drawing, Working with Materials, Ways of Perceiving, Visual Studies for Set Design, Interpreting a Screenplay, Modeling a Set.

Level 5

Matte Painting & Prop Making, Entrepreneurship, Creative Research, Location Scouting, Location Set Design, Design for Fabrication, Studio Set Design, Research Practices.

Level 6

Dissertation, Graduate Project Pitch, Professional Practice, Critical Review, Graduate Project.

Level 7

Creative Venture, Research Methods & Communication, Creative Enterprise & Practice

This is our manifesto; you will:

  • Be taught in small, personal class sizes.
  • Not endure dreary classroom teaching: we use studios, workshops, cafes, beaches, abandoned buildings and film sets.
  • Enjoy study trips; like Berlin, Paris, Prague, Pinewood Studios and BadWolf Studios.
  • Contribute to our Copper Coast International Film Festival.
  • Grasp opportunities to work in Film & TV, like so many of our graduates.
  • Embrace diversity guidelines that echo the BFI and BAFTA.
  • Become accomplished and employable set designers.
  • Gain the IOSHH Creative Industries Creative Passport.
  • Be taught in block sessions that mirror industry production cycles.
  • Find locations and inspiration within easy reach, to create amazing Set Designs.

In order to maintain academic integrity a range of assessment strategies are adopted. Most practical work includes formal written elements of some sort: everything from the standard essay format through to things like reports, product definition documents, critiques of seminar academic papers, learning journals, business plans, storyboards etc. At level six all students will have to complete a Dissertation.

From level four onwards; students are assessed through presentations, culminating at level seven in the Creative Venture project. We have found the viva voce style of assessment well suited to the work we do within the School; strong technical underpinnings, a similar outlook to design practice and a focus on industry readiness.

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 as we can consider offers to applicants based on individual merit, exceptional work, and/or practical experience.

See our Interview Guide for more information.

Students will gain a detailed and up-to-date understanding of the many technical, creative and professional aspects of being a set designer.

Skills developed will largely depend upon the individual's practice but could include: special effects, interactive environments, model making, set dressing, image manipulation and collaborative projects. Students frequently specialise in particular media or stylistic approaches and are supported in this by staff.

As well as the myriad of industry-specific skills students also gain a range of transferable skills: the ability to apply creative thinking to different problems and situations, to communicate effectively, to research, analyse and present often complicated ideas clearly. Students are also encouraged to understand social and environmental responsibility in all its forms.

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.


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.

Study Abroad

Students can also take up the opportunity to study a semester in the USA and Canada.

For more information please click here.

The film & TV sector has reached a critical point in its development. The convergence of Creative Media Industries and Film Industries has given rise to a more expressive and experimental approach to set design. The challenges posed by such an approach will be met by our MDes (Hons) Set Design degree and the pioneering students who begin their creative journey with us.