Study options

Master's Programme in Visual Communication Design

The Master’s Programme in Visual Communication Design (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. 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.
Visual Communication Design

Degree:

Master of Arts (Art and Design)

Application period:

1.12.2020 – 4.1.2021

Language of instruction:

English

Duration:

2 years, full-time

Eligibility:

Relevant Bachelor's degree

Field of study:

Art and Design

Credits:

120 ECTS

Organising school:

School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Tuition fees:

For non-EU/EEA citizens, €15000/y (Master’s studies)

The application period will open 1.12.2020 09:00 (UTC+2)

Applying to master’s programmes

Learning Outcomes

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

Language of instruction

In Master’s Programme in Visual Communication Design the language of instruction is English.

    Career opportunities

    As a graduate of the VCD programme you will have the skills and knowledge to work as a design professional in visual communication design, either by developing your own practice, or with an established design agency or organisation. You will be also be prepared to work as an art director, design lead, or in another managerial role. 

    Postgraduate study options

    A finished degree with a successful master’s thesis enables you to apply for doctoral studies in art and design, with the possibility of an academic career in the emerging field of practice as research.

    Content of the studies

    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-organised 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 practice 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.

    For more information about studies see study guide 2020-2022.

    Thesis

    The Master’s thesis is a significant part of your studies and the second year of the two-year degree is mainly dedicated to thesis work. You will develop your thesis with the help and guidance of the MA Thesis Seminar, the supervising professor, and your thesis advisor(s). The thesis can either be a design project based on practice, or alternatively apply further research methods and theory, but it always includes a written part with references to literature. Your thesis project will be an opportunity to both strengthen and demonstrate your design skills and/or theoretical knowledge in a specialised area, and to position yourpractice within a specific domain or framework.

    Internationalisation

    You will take part in an international and diverse learning community with students and staff from all over the world. The programme regularly invites international guests to give lectures or courses, or to conduct workshops. As a part of your individual study plan, you will have the possibility to spend a semester abroad as an exchange student in one of the university’s numerous partner universities, or to include an internship abroad.

    Programme-specific Admission Procedure and Evaluation Criteria

    Study-option-specific evaluation criteria

    Applicants meeting Aalto’s general eligibility criteria for master's studies will be evaluated and ranked according to the evaluation criteria that has been decided in advance for each study option. The applications to Master's Programme in Visual Communication Design (VCD) will be evaluated based on the following criteria.

    Phase I

    Artistic and/or design practice 1/2

    Assessed area

    Demonstrations of artistic and/or design work or assignments

    Admission requirements

     

    Design skills, conceptual thinking, communicative approach, diversity in visual experimentation, demonstrated potential

    Method of demonstrating competence

    Portfolio

    Maximum size for the portfolio is 1.0 GB. Name the file as: Portfolio-surname-firstname.pdf

     

    Artistic and/or design practice 2/2

    Assessed area

    Demonstrations of artistic and/or design work or assignments

    Admission requirements

     

    Design skills, conceptual thinking, communicative approach, diversity in visual experimentation, demonstrated potential

    Method of demonstrating competence

    Preliminary assignment (added in the Portfolio document)

     

    Suitability

    Assessed area

    Applicant’s further suitability to the study option, motivation, and commitment for studies/communication skills

    Admission requirements

     

    Articulation, focus, critical thinking, communicative intent

    Method of demonstrating competence

    Designer statement

     

    Other areas of competence

    Assessed area

    Work experience and other acquired knowledge/achievements e.g. publications, non-formal education, competitions

    Admission requirements

     

    Education and/or experience in visual communication or related fields

    Method of demonstrating competence

    Curriculum vitae

     

    Phase II

    Suitability

    Assessed area

    Applicant’s further suitability to the study option, motivation, and commitment for studies/communication skills
     

    Admission requirements

     

    Communicative skills, articulation, focus

    Method of demonstrating competence

    Interview

     

    Evaluation process

    The applicants will be first evaluated based on Aalto’s general eligibility requirements. Applicants meeting the general eligibility criteria for master's studies will be evaluated and ranked according to the evaluation criteria that has been decided in advance for each study option.

    The selection process for applicants who meet the general eligibility criteria comprises of two phases. 

    Phase I

    In Phase I, the applications are evaluated based on the following criteria

    • Artistic and/or design practice
    • Suitability/Designer statement
    • Other areas of competence

    Only the applicants who ranked highest in the preliminary evaluation will be invited to phase II in the selection process.

    Phase II

    In Phase II, the evaluation is based on the following criteria

    • Suitability/Interview

    After the evaluation conducted in Phase II, the best applicants will be selected based on the joint evaluation from Phases I and II. Part of the applicants are invited to Phase II. The invitation to Phase II will be send to the applicants at latest 7 days in advance.

    Study-option-specific documents requested

    The documents requested from all applicants are listed on the Aalto University website (https://www.aalto.fi/en/study-at-aalto/applying-to-masters-programmes). In addition, applicants to this study option are requested to provide the following study-option-specific documents:

    Portfolio

    For your portfolio, choose a selection of projects and explorations which best reflects your present knowledge, skills and experience. We appreciate careful curation of your previous projects, but also consider how your portfolio can best communicate the direction towards which you would like to take your practice.

    We suggest annotation that gives us some information on the background and brief explanation of the process of your projects. If the work is done in collaboration, you should clearly describe your role.

    Instructions for the portfolio:

    Pdf file (with links to online/video content where applicable)
    Maximum 15 pages
    Any time-based work should not exceed 5 min. in total

    Maximum size for the portfolio is 1.0 GB. Name the file as: Portfolio-surname-firstname.pdf. If your portfolio contains password protected video links, include the password(s) in your portfolio. If a portfolio is not uploaded to the online application form by the deadline, the application will be rejected.

    In addition to the above, your portfolio must include the preliminary assignment described below.

    Lack of Portfolio will adversely affect the evaluation of your application.

    Preliminary assignment (added in the Portfolio document)

    Create a visualisation of a topic that feels urgent to you at the moment. Visualisation can be understood broadly, so we welcome either fact or fiction: it is up to you and a part of your challenge, whether your visualisation is expressive or data-based; typography or image; static or in motion. Think of the assignment as an extension of your portfolio: an opportunity to indicate where you might want to take your practice next. The assignment is also a chance to show your skills in visual communication and conceptual thinking, and to let us know more about who you are and which questions are important to you.

    The format and medium of your visualisation is up to you, but the end result should be documented in the portfolio pdf. No existing work should be used: please complete original work for this assignment.

    The preliminary assignment must be added into your portfolio pdf file and titled clearly as such.

    The lack of Preliminary Assignment will adversely affect the evaluation of your application.

    Designer Statement

    Regard your Designer Statement as a letter where you briefly describe your design practice, and where you see yourself at the moment. Let us know how you like to work, which questions and frameworks are urgent to you, and how you would like to redefine your practice.

    You can also describe your own mix of interests towards the intertwining competence areas developed in our curriculum: information design, visual narrative, and type & written language.

    As the central task in the 2-year MA studies is the thesis project, we appreciate learning about your topics of interest and exploration that might lead to thesis work. Note that any plans you describe at this stage are not binding.

    The lack of Designer Statement will adversely affect the evaluation of your application.

    CV

    In your CV, please list your education, work experience, and skills, together with possible exhibitions, publications, awards, grants and study trips relevant to your practice.

    Lack of CV will adversely affect the evaluation of your application.

    Language of application documents

    The application documents must be submitted in English.

     

     

    The application period will open 1.12.2020 09:00 (UTC+2)

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