MDes Surface Pattern Design (Fashion Object)

The MDes offers students an exciting opportunity to follow the success of our BA provision with a four-year Integrated Masters level qualification. It is designed to meet the demands of both students and employers by providing an expansive approach to the study and practice of Surface Pattern Design.

Key Facts

UCAS Code: Y28U
Institution Code: T80
Course Length:
4 years full time/8 years part time

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

Swansea College of Art
Contact Name:
Georgia McKie
Contact Email:
Language Choice:

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For Art & Design Bursary information please click here

  • The most important thing I learnt whilst studying in Swansea was how to properly research and develop a collection both practically and theoretically, especially when it comes to the final graduate collection. Most important of all was the encouragement to develop our own styles and ways of working, as well as the emphasis on placements and entering external competitions.

    Rosie Cook

This Masters level programme is closely linked with the BA(Hons) Surface Pattern Undergraduate programme.  On the Integrated MDes programme students have the opportunity to progress to postgraduate study at Level 7 rather than complete at Level 6 with a BA(Hons).  Students would be expected to enrol on a four-year (480-credit) programme with the option to leave with a BA(Hons) once 360 credits have been achieved.

The MDes sits in a cluster of courses within the School of Design and Applied Arts with so many cross overs in terms of delivery mode, ethos and facility – this is a great benefit to our students who can thrive on the collaborative, interdisciplinary study that is possible.

The integrated Masters allows those students who are truly pioneering and innovating in the context of a traditional three-year programme to see these discoveries through to a more advanced level.  The programme is a challenging and an invigorating venture enabling our most capable and ambitious students to achieve at a higher level.

We know too well how competitive the graduate market is on the other side of University.  This MDes programme will give many of our graduates the opportunity to have an edge on many of their peers entering the global market and their competitors at events such as New Designers.

Level 4 Modules

  • Major Project
  • Digital and Material Processes
  • Visual Studies
  • Contextual Studies

Level 5 Modules

  • Major Project
  • Digital and Material Processes
  • Enterprise and Employability for Designers
  • Visual studies
  • Contextual Studies

Level 6 Modules

  • Advanced Creative Enquiry
  • Dissertation
  • Marketing & Self Promotion
  • Major Project

Level 7 Modules

  • Design Experiment
  • Research Methods & Communication
  • Creative Enterprise & Practice
  • Creative Venture

The Fashion Object pathway aims to produce designers and makers who can create cutting- edge work to influence the way we look and feel, and who will have a dynamic impact on the fashion world. Through workshops, talks, seminars, visits and live projects you will develop a sound understanding of how to meet the specific needs of the fashion industry. Emphasis is placed on innovation with materials, techniques and application, supported by highly experienced tutors.

The course is a dynamic hybrid of fashion design, fine detailing and styling to create unique three dimensional wearable pieces or fashion ‘objects’. This attention to detailing and embellishment within a fashion context will allow students to design, make and style one off sculptural pieces, conceptual fashion jewellery and bespoke accessories. An overall awareness of the fashion industry will be taught but the focus will be particularly niche. Students will be free to explore their own personal creative vision and individual style to interpret the term ‘fashion object’.

The Surface Pattern students are all housed within our fantastic studio space allowing a great platform for transferable influence and skill.  We encourage a student’s individuality rather than enforce a house style.  Drawing underpins our programme and is taught from the beginning to the end of the course.   A rigorous and lively approach to design process is fostered.

Live projects are built in where opportunities allow, in many instances with long held course/industry liaisons, and in other cases in an ad hoc nature reflecting trends in industry and invitations from the outside world.  These are built in from year 1. Recent live projects have been undertaken with H&M, Eley Kishimoto, Toast, Tigerprint, M&S, Jayne Pierson, National Botanical Gardens of Wales, Mission Gallery and the National Museum of Wales portfolio. Employability and enterprise are important and distinct elements of the course.

We encourage our students to research and travel all over the country to facilitate their work.  The students are taken on a study trip in their first year to London where they are “taught to learn” using a gallery visit mechanism. Our graduates know how to contextualise their work. Over the course of their three years this is something that becomes more individual and our graduates are fearless in terms of where they will go, who they will ask and what they discover. Over the past couple of years there have been foreign study trips to Germany, India and Paris. Our graduates know how to facilitate research to inform their studio practice.

Surface Pattern Design is well staffed with highly experienced designers, artists and lecturers delivering a finely tuned programme that is highly relevant to current creative industry practices.  The modules are practice based, with a strong emphasis on employability and enterprise.  This echoes the ethos of our undergraduate programme perfectly. 

Assessment is carried out through coursework, both written and practical. There are no exams on this course. Students are formatively assessed throughout a module, summative assessment takes place at the end of a module. A variety of teaching and learning methods are used throughout the course which include amongst others;

Informal Tutorials 

These tutorials are held on a regular basis, across all levels. In Year 1 each student sees and discusses his / her work with a member of staff at each studio session, likewise in Year 2. Third and fourth year students tend to work more independently and sign up for tutorial when she / he feels the need arises. However, as a team we ensure that every student in Year 3 and 4 is seen by at least one member of the academic staff each week.  We pride ourselves on the fact that there is the opportunity to see staff as regularly as you may require.

Formal Tutorials

These are held twice a term at the student’s desk with two members of staff. The work is discussed, practical and conceptual development, future intentions of the student etc. It is an opportunity for any issues / concerns by either party, to be raised. A written account of the tutorial is duplicated, one copy kept by the student the other stored in his / her records file.

Group critiques

These are held on a regular basis, across all levels, with one member of staff. They provide an excellent opportunity for students to share and exchange ideas with their peers in a structured manner in addition to valuable input from staff.

Informal & Formal presentations

The nature of the presentations varies according to the level: in Year 1 informal presentations are introduced half way through the first semester in order to help students gain confidence in talking about their work to their peers and staff it is also usually part of the assessment at the end of each project. 2nd Year students are expected to give a Formal Presentation as part of their Professional Studies Module and at the end of the year as part of their Major project.  In Year 3 and 4 a Formal Presentation is part of the final assessment at the Degree Show.

Exhibiting work

Again the nature of this varies within the context of the projects, the work to be assessed and the stage of the programme – it can range in formality from a public venue to the individual student’s desk space.

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. 

Our students leave our courses with both specialist and wide ranging skills, giving them considerable employment potential within their chosen fields and beyond.

The programme is structured to enable our learners to continue working in the field that they have developed a particular specialism within, with creative passion and an ability to identify and capitalise on opportunity. 

This is done through a finely tuned programme balancing creative vision and externality where specific skills required in the practising field are identified. Practical projects are contextualised from the onset and the theory programme reinforces this. Live projects are also peppered throughout the 4 years, building in importance towards Level 6 and 7, and decisions made within the distinctively individual Major Project (level 6) and Creative Venture (level 7). 

We have an excellent range of live projects - we are constantly expanding our external links with industry and galleries. Our conversion to employment and the quality of the employment gained is better than ever.

Our students graduate with a plethora of exhibition experiences under their belts - fostered by our Maker pathway team members who are leaders in their fields. Our graduates are familiar with the portfolio of National Museums and their contact can range from competitions to commissions, exhibitions to archive research. Our graduates know how to liaise with independent galleries and many volunteer at established names in our locality.

Demands for originality, innovation, professionalism and relevance are paramount in steering the individual to identify their own distinct voice within a highly competitive graduate market.

UK/EU Tuition Fees

Visit our UK/EU Tuition Fees section to find out more.

Overseas Tuition Fees

Visit our Overseas Fees section to find out more.

Bursaries and Scholarships

You may be eligible for funding to help support your study. To find out about scholarships, bursaries and other funding opportunities that are available please visit our Bursaries and Scholarships section.

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.

MDes (Hons) Surface Pattern Design additional pathways - Textiles for Interiors, Textiles for Fashion and Maker

BA(Hons) Surface Pattern Design pathways - Maker, Textiles for Interiors, Textiles for Fashion and Fashion Object



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.