Automotive Design MDes

Course Overview

The MDes award at Swansea has been designed to facilitate the development of a designer through the replication of a professional environment, encouraging graduates to approach the design challenge in the same way as a professional automotive designer.

The graduate will be able to generate ideas around engineering packages, set new trends in terms of design language, learn about proportions, link a particular design to a brand, imagine the mobility of the future in the most efficient, sustainable and attractive way and most importantly translate a drawing into reality.

First year modules are designed to encourage the development of core design skills, knowledge and experience required by industry:

  • Design thinking - creative and analytical methods
  • Design sketching, rendering, prototyping and communication skills
  • Familiarity with a range of industry standard digital design tools
  • Knowledge of materials and manufacturing processes

The second and third year of studies build on this core platform. Second year modules on the course are specifically designed to develop skills and experience in:

  • Sustainable design strategies and tools.
  • Visual and 3D development
  • Market research and brand 'DNA' analysis
  • User-centred design research methods
  • Advanced computer aided 3D surface modelling and visualisation
  • Team working and professional practice

The third year modules are designed to allow students to formulate their own individual career direction and aspirations. Students select and manage their own major and minor projects with the support of the staff team so that they can demonstrate their core skills and experience and develop advanced knowledge of contemporary design research, thinking and practice in a specific industry sector.

Students develop a critical view of contemporary issues in automotive design and enterprise to underpin their current and future practice.

The fourth year modules focus on the application and transfer of design thinking to real world engagement with an in depth project linked with an Industrial Partner.

Key Features

Our small student groups mean you can always find a tutor to help you with your work. The teaching team consists of highly experienced designers who are either engaged in industrial practice or are research active, supported by industrially trained technical staff. This ensures that the course delivers a qualification and experience that is highly relevant to the changing needs of the industry.

The course includes live design projects that enable students to engage with both major companies and small entrepreneurial businesses. This industrial contact allows students to develop their skills in response to real world scenarios and prepares them for the demands of employment. External client projects are undertaken each year, with recent client companies including world renowned brands such as Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren Automotive, Westfield and Lotus.

As a result, Swansea graduates are familiar with various approaches to the practice of automotive design and hold historical and contemporary perspectives on the development of design as a profession. They possess the necessary subject specific and transferrable skills and attributes required to generate ideas, concepts, and detailed design proposals in response to specified needs and are able to function effectively in a (multi-disciplinary) design studio environment. They possess the intellectual and critical skills to continue developing themselves, and are able to respond to the changing demands of commercial design practice.

From 2014 the School is situated in the newly refurbished Alexandra Road building in the Swansea Arts Quarter. This development ensures that our students have excellent facilities including dedicated design studios with individual workstations, traditional modelling workshops supported by a comprehensive range of advanced CAD/CAM and Rapid Prototyping machines. Students can gain experience of working with wood, metal, plastics, glass, ceramics and automotive styling clay. Our studios and CAD facilities are equipped with Wacom Cintiq displays for freehand digital sketching and the latest versions of industry standard design and visualisation software, such as Autodesk Alias Automotive, Autodesk VRed and Adobe Creative Suite.


The course consists of three years full time study to achieve a BA(Hons) and four years of study to gain an MDes. Each year consists of a variety of modules of 20, 60 or 80 credit value, totalling 120credits. 80 credits of study each year are undertaken in the core subject of automotive design with an additional 40 credits of study dedicated to supporting modules.

Year 1 and Year 2 consist of six modules each year, studied over two academic semesters, Year 3 consists of four modules studied over two academic semesters and Year 4 consist of three modules studied over two academic semesters.

Year 1 Modules:

  • Design Methods 1
  • Design Methods 2
  • 3D CAD Visualisation
  • Creative Design Development
  • Contextual Studies
  • Materials & Manufacturing

Year 2 Modules

  • Professional Practice
  • Group Design Practice
  • Vehicle Technology
  • Concept Studies
  • Advanced Digital Visualisation
  • Advanced Automotive Surfacing

Year 3 Modules:

  • Major Project : Design Realisation & Communication (60 credits)
  • Major Project : Design Research & Manifesto
  • Minor Project
  • Professional Promotion

Year 4 Modules:

  • Research Methods & Communication
  • Creative Enterprise & Practice
  • Creative Venture (80 credits)

Professional Accreditations

The programme is not accredited by any single professional body. The programme team encourages students to participate in the work of professional bodies such as the Chartered Society of Designers and the Royal Society of Arts. The programme also benefits from close collaboration with industry through annual live projects. This flexible relationship with industry and the professions allows students to engage with events and projects from a broad spectrum of external bodies.



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.

Course Tutor(s)

  • Paul Morrow
  • Sergio Fontanarosa
  • Mr Matt Archer
  • Dr Peter Spring
  • Dr Sean Jenkins
  • Mr Andre Elista
  • Mr Timi O'neill


The three main modes of assessment used on this programme are;

Studio Projects - work undertaken to fulfil the demands of a given or student generated brief. Projects are set to examine the student's abilities to master the integration of new design principles and skills to his/her design practice. Studio projects may be set and take place in a variety of forms and over a range of durations, and include activity within the schools Workshops, CAD Studios as well as traditional Design Studios. Students may be required to present a variety of types of work for assessment such as; portfolios, sketchbooks and project journals, presentation boards or three-dimensional models.

Written Assignments - work undertaken by the student in his/her own time. Written assignments may take the form of an illustrated paper or report. In both cases the student is expected to demonstrate critical insight and proficiency in articulating the results of a practice or research based assignment.

Seminar Presentations ? this form of assessment requires the student to demonstrate conceptual understanding and evaluate the rigour and validity of published research, extrapolate the underlying principles, and apply this knowledge in new contexts of professional practice.

Career Opportunities

  • The range of experience and knowledge acquired on this course provides graduates with the necessary creative-thinking and communication skills so highly desired in today's dynamic workplace. The career paths for successful automotive designers are flexible and diverse, and graduates pursue employment opportunities as designers or modellers within established automotive companies, in-house design teams at leading design companies or setting up their own creative business.
  • The school boasts an impressive alumni record with recent automotive design graduates finding employment with some of the worlds' leading automotive companies, such as Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren Automotive, Rolls-Royce, Westfield, Pininfarina and Tata. The skills obtained at Swansea by automotive-trained graduates allow them to gain employment across a wide range of design disciplines such as automotive design, graphic design, product design, and clay modelling, CAD modelling and hard modelling. Alternatively, some graduates have continued their educational development on postgraduate courses studying at PGCE (for teaching), Master's or Doctoral level at Swansea and further afield, including specialist postgraduate schools such as the RCA, Domus Academy and IAAD.
  • All of the courses in the School of Applied Arts & Design at Swansea exhibit student work in major graduate design and recruitment exhibitions. Each year they exhibit at the National Waterfront Museum, in Swansea, and at New Designers, in London, as a Launchpad for early design careers.

Further Information

To keep in touch with day-to-day life in the School you can follow us on Facebook.

For further information contact our Admissions Tutor:

Related Courses

  • BA Transport Design
  • MSc Industrial Design
  • MA Product Design
  • MA Transportation Design
  • Diploma in Foundation Studies-Art & Design

Additional Costs

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 Award
Full-time Study Mode
4 years Duration

Entry Requirements For This Course

Entry Criteria

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.

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