The aim of the degree is to provide students with:
- good theoretical and general knowledge of as well as artistic and practical expertise in their field of study as well as a general knowledge of the field of arts;
- knowledge and skills needed for independent and demanding artistic work and for multidisciplinary collaboration as well as knowledge and skills needed to apply scientific knowledge and scientific methods;
- knowledge and skills to perform, both independently and collaboratively, demanding expert, development and management duties of the field, and to cooperate internationally;
- knowledge and skills needed for education leading to a Doctor of Arts (Art and Design) degree and for lifelong learning;
- good language and communication skills for work in the field of arts and for international operations and cooperation.
The education shall be based on scientific research and artistic activity and professional practices in the field.
The Visual Communication Design programme (VCD) is an international learning community committed to investigating new modes of action within visual communication. As a critical response to the contemporary conditions, the studies enable you to reconsider the established notions of graphic design. The programme supports you in rethinking and redefining your own design practice, in order to situate it in wider societal and environmental frameworks. By providing the competence areas of information design, visual narratives, and type & written language, the curriculum encourages you to turn your design practice towards the public and the sustainable, and towards multiple and diverse knowledge domains.
As learning outcomes from the programme, you will be able to:
- Create and manage design projects with a renewed sensibility to both tangible and digital materiality, and experiment with data and computational elements in design projects where needed
- Solve complex issues of different media, aesthetic, context, expression, and convention, when communicating in modes like data, narratives, and/or written language
- Articulate and critically evaluate the traditions, references, and motivations behind your design choices and processes
- Consider issues of representation, diversity, and sustainability in visual communication
- Distinguish your professional role from your consumer role in digital and online environments
- Recognize good policies and your rights as a creative professional, and consider your responsibilities of care towards yourself, your colleagues, the public, and the environment
- Consider and imagine alternative modes of design practice and work
- Keep discussing, evaluating, and redefining the societal role and the shifting parameters of the contemporary Visual Communication Design profession
The VCD programme provides you time and space to redefine your individual design approach, with continuous backup from community, collaboration, and peer learning. The studies support you in this with a combination of theory and practice.
Engaging with diverse literature, writing, and discussion encourages you to evaluate the role of visual communication in the society and the environment, and the discursive and material properties that converge in your design practice. Critical perspectives shed light on urgent political issues, such as representation, diversity, and social and environmental justice. Intensive courses introduce you to necessary tools and skills to accomplish contemporary design projects, whether you are into data, visual storytelling, or typographic expression.
In the form of extensive studio courses, the programme particularly supports three competence areas crucial for a visual communication designer: information design, visual narratives, and type & written language. Specified in your personal study plan, selections within these competence areas enable you to either deepen or broaden your skills and knowledge. Special attention is also given to the notion of publishing, which plays a central role in pursuing a self-organized practice, and in keeping communication design close to the public.
The core of your studies consists of the overarching practice seminars, where you stop to think and share your learning with others. In the first year Design Practice Seminar, you reflect on your own design work and build a framework of references by assembling your individual Designer’s Archive. In the second year Research Practice Seminar, you work on the development of your own research project that leads to your master’s thesis. The studies enable you to update your skills and knowledge whether you aim for a professional design practice in an applied or self-organized context, or to continue to doctoral studies.
Elective Studies in Visual Communication Design 30 ECTS
Students choose 30 ECTS of elective studies and can complete minor studies and/or take individual courses from other programmes at Aalto University or other Finnish universities, participate in an international student exchange programme, do an internship in Finland or abroad, or take elective courses offered by student’s own programme/major.
||Optional Advanced Theory Course
||Optional Advanced Tutoring/Working as an Assistant
||Optional Advanced Workshop in Visual Communication Design
* ) Students have the right to be credited with components of courses from courses over 12 ECTS.
+) Students can do this course more than once to their studies.
Aims of the master's thesis
To graduate, students must meet the aims set for the thesis. The aim of the master's thesis is that:
- Students demonstrate command of the field of the master's programme and ability to apply the knowledge and skills acquired in the programme independently;
- Students demonstrate ability for research-oriented work on an artistic, theoretical or applied research topic and demonstrate ability to use data and source material for research purposes;
- Students demonstrate good communication skills for work in the field of study.
The thesis may be a piece of theoretical, artistic or applied research, a work of art or a combination of these; it may also include a production component. The production component may be, depending on the field, for instance, a design, a work of art, an exhibition, or project. Theses always include a written component. If the thesis consists of a design or other production component and a written component, the student must specify the emphasis to be given to the different components in the evaluation. However, the thesis is always evalu-ated as a whole, with all the components of the thesis included in the evaluation.
The recommended extent of the written component of the thesis is 25–70 pages (approx. 50 000–140 000 characters) depending on the extent of the possible production component.