• Stoke-on-Trent is the centre of the UK ceramics industry
  • The opportunity we offer is unique and supported by substantial world of work facilities
  • Work placement opportunities, should this be appropriate for your career aspirations
  • Gain valuable computer aided design, entrepreneurial, business and employment skills
  • Postgraduate loans now available

MA Ceramic Design is recognised worldwide as one of the leading postgraduate programmes in ceramic design for small and mass manufacture. Taught in Stoke-on-Trent, the home of UK ceramics for over two centuries in the Potteries, this long-established course consistently produces career-ready graduates that are in demand by leading ceramic companies both in the UK and overseas. With world-famous ceramic manufacturers quite literally on the doorstep, Stoke-on-Trent provides a unique venue for the study of ceramic design.

This course provides a design-led creative experience of ceramics within a broad subject context. Designing through intelligent making allows you to access ideas through a unique material. The deep knowledge of one material helps you to appreciate the opportunities in ceramics but also its translation into other materials and professional opportunities. Whether your personal aspirations are embedded in 2D surface and pattern, and or 3D shape, form and function.

The relationship between the course and the global ceramic industry is mutually beneficial and is primarily responsible for the unique character and international reputation of the course. The strength of this award lies in the accumulated wealth of specialist knowledge and practical skills, which are the essential tools of the ceramics designer; and in the good working practices developed over many years. In the close working relationship with industry, and in the clarity of purpose that ensures academic coherence, and the credibility of the award.

Students are encouraged to pursue new and innovative ideas, redefining established ceramic craft and ceramic design market opportunities. These ideas may now be less wedded to the immediate perceived needs of the mass manufacturing industry and for the mass market. As a consequence encouraging students to take a wider perhaps more entrepreneurial, enterprising standpoint - working as designer-producers for example, engaging with small to medium sized factories in developing aspirational products of contemporary relevance with 'added value' aimed potentially at new and different niche markets.

The MA Ceramic Design course has in recent years provided the creative genesis for The New English ceramic design brand and the University's unique Flux, blue and white fine bone china collection.

Course content

"The professionalism of the student work at Stoke-on-Trent and the course's consistently good record of employment and subsequent career progression of its graduates is certainly unrivalled in Britain and probably worldwide in this subject area" External Examiner comment 2014

Semester 1

Tools and Techniques aims to establish a common methodology and practice of ceramic design. This is introduced through a prescribed project which will serve also to encourage the acquisition of technical and practical knowledge, and seek to develop skills from 'traditional' craft to new digital technologies. The emphasis will be on the development and presentation of design ideas related to typical issues addressing both two dimensional surface and three dimensional shape design.

Collaborative Project introduces the activity of working with external clients. This practice is fundamental to the core aims of the programme. This would commonly be prescribed by a major ceramic manufacturer or a key retailer for example.

Semester 2

Ceramic Design, Professional Pathways requires students to negotiate with course staff their own programme of design research and practice. This will build upon the foundation of semester 1 and encourage students to define their personal and professional objectives and aspirations. Running concurrently will be a contextual/business studies module, students will begin to understand the relevance and integration of theoretical and academic studies and design practice.

Creativity & Innovation encourages students to build upon the research skills established but to consider a variety of business, management and enterprise activities within which their creative design practice may logically locate. This will provide students with the appropriate knowledge, acumen and enterprising skills related to their proposed career in professional practice..

Semester 3

The Masters Project synthesises your acquired knowledge and skills gained through a significant body of design work. Through this you will prove your ability to choose, plan, manage, implement and contextualise a particular project in the field of ceramic design.

Graduate destinations

Many of our Ceramic Design graduates now work as designers or senior managers and creative directors within the ceramics and related creative industries. Some have set up in business as designer-producers or as freelance design consultants. And others have become retail developers, stylists, buyers, trend forecasters, lecturers and teachers.

MA Ceramic Design Graduate employment 1991 - 2015

  • 226 graduates
  • 189 (84%) in design related employment
  • 152 (80%) of which in ceramic industries Worldwide

Graduates in directorate positions

  • Denby Potteries
  • Lenox China, USA
  • Villeroy & Boch, Germany
  • Moreland Potteries
  • Dudson Duraline
  • Figgjo Hotelware, Norway
  • Pfaltzgraff, USA

Graduates in management positions

  • Denby Tableware
  • Josiah Wedgwood x2
  • Churchill Tableware x2
  • Pfaltzgraff, USA
  • Hall China, USA
  • Inhesion, Hong Kong
  • Patra Ceramics, Thailand
  • Marks & Spencer
  • H&R Johnson Tiles
  • Compton & Woodhouse
  • Belleek Ceramics,
  • Ireland Goodson Lighting
  • Jersey Pottery
  • Next Retail
  • Royal Doulton UK
  • Sainsbury's Home
  • Ideal Standard
  • Hangcook China
  • Vista Alegre, Portugal
MA Award
September Start
Full-time Study Mode
18 months Duration

Entry Requirements For This Course

In making an application to us, we would expect you to have a genuine interest in ceramic DESIGN - The course is NOT about ceramic Art or Sculpture. For you to be able to execute your own ideas whilst on the course, You would be expected to demonstrate :

  • Your ability to communicate your creative design ideas visually, this is critically important. Through traditional sketching and drawing (drawing with your own hand) and through digital techniques (the use of appropriate computer software)
  • A broad understanding and experience of ceramic moulded techniques (the use of plaster moulds, typically slipcasting) or hand making techniques would be expected.
  • Alternatively you may be interested in ceramic surface, ideas for surface pattern design whether this be for graphics; textiles or ceramics.
  • Evidence that you have an awareness of the global marketplace for ceramic design, and as such develop innovative ceramic ideas informed by this knowledge.

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