FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How do I apply?

Information on how to apply to Postgraduate study at The Glasgow School of Art are available here.

Requirements to apply are;

  • A personal statement of approximately 500 words.
  • Evidence of academic qualifications (Certified photocopies/Transcripts).
  • Academic references (1 or 2 if possible).
  • Evidence of English Language proficiency e.g. IELTS (if appropriate).
  • Copy of Passport (if appropriate).
  • An appropriate digital portfolio of work that demonstrates ability and prior learning.
  • An appropriate undergraduate qualification such as a BA(Hons) degree, preferably at a 1st or 2:1 grade.

If you require further information or clarification please contact admissions@gsa.ac.uk
Further information on how to apply can be found on the GSA website here.

What is the difference between the 2 Year and 1 year programmes?

MDes Communication Design is a 2-year programme
MDes Graphics/Illustration/Photography are 1-year discipline specific programmes.

More detailed descriptions of the programmes are outlined below. However the primarily differences are;

  • Duration (1-year versus 2-year). Many students value the extended period of study.
  • Opportunity for internships on 2-year programme (MDes Communication Design) that are not possible on the one year pathways.
  • Opportunity for an exchange to The University of the Arts Tokyo, Japan, at the start of year 2 of MDes Communication Design.
  • Opportunities to exhibit prior to graduate shows on 2 -year programme.
  • Nature of study. The one year programmes are primarily aimed at students who wish to extend a prior study within a specific existing discipline of Communication Design practice whereas the 2-year programme allows for a transition in study, or scope to explore a wider inter-disciplinary practice within Communication Design.
  • Some countries require a 2-year masters qualification in order to teach in Higher Education.

These is the key difference, staff will elaborate on the nuances of each programme at interview if your application is successful. It is possible to apply to more than one programme in Postgraduate study in Communication Design at GSA and staff will be able to advise on the suitability of what programme is most appropriate.


MDes Communication Design (2-Year Programme)

The Master of Design (MDes) in Visual Communication is a two year programme delivered by the Department of Communication Design at Glasgow School of Art. The programme is practice-led and process-oriented in relation to de nitions of broad design practices. It is also committed to the acquisition of principles within design theory relating to educational and commercial contexts. The programme provides rigorous methods for the interrogation of visual and textual research, positing questions relating to the role of the designer in society, and fundamental questions regarding personal and social responsibility.

The programme aims to:

  • Offer each individual student the opportunity to critically develop his or her own work in the context of a rigorous but supportive intellectual climate;
  • Encourage students to identify and explore key contextual issues relevant to their practice as contemporary designers;
  • Develop students’ awareness and knowledge base in communication design philosophy, theory, practice and research in the context of innovative forms of communication design;
  • Enable Communication Design graduates to critically evaluate their work and that of their peers in the context of contemporary design practices;
  • Enable students to achieve the highest possible standards in their work, so that graduates have the confidence, maturity and intellectual and interpersonal skills necessary to function successfully in the communication design field.
  • Equip students with the highly developed intellectual, practical and interpersonal skills


MDes in Graphics/Illustration/Photography (1-year programmes with separate pathways)

The MDes in Graphics / Illustration / Photography is run alongside the two year MDes in Communication Design. It is a one year, 180 credit masters programme, with three subject- specific pathways. The M.Des in Graphics/Illustration/Photography is designed specifically for those students wishing to explore, at postgraduate level, subject specialisms in one of these three areas. Applications to the programme should make clear which pathway of study the student is interested in studying.

The MDes in Graphics/Illustration/Photography aims to furnish students with the research skills and methods for stimulating innovative design practices through a combination of tutorials, seminars, workshops, and autonomous design and research projects. In doing so, it equips graduates with the practical and intellectual skills required to deploy design practices within a variety of social, economic and technological contexts and transform the experiences of those who utilise, interact with, or depend upon designed artefacts and services.

The programme is delivered via a series of taught workshops, tutorials, set and elective projects, lecture and seminar based sessions and self-directed learning. The emphasis of the programme rationale is on the contemporary practices of visual communication, underpinned by theoretical research, and the social, technological and economic contexts of contemporary design practices. Students on the programme are expected to engage in a high level of self- directed learning, research and independent critical reflection, as well as participating in taught elements.

What are the fees?

Fees for Academic Year 2023/24 (starting September 2023)

Up to date information on fees is available form the GSA website here.
This information posted on the main GSA website supersedes any information posted here.

Fees for Scottish + settled or pre-settled EU (European Union) students fees are £8,820 per year.
For clarification on pre-settled and settled status for EU applicants further information is available here.

Fees for Rest of UK (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) are £8,820 per year.

Fees for International students (including those without settled or pre-settled EU status applicants) are £22,680 per year.


MDes Communication Design (2 Year programme)
Please note this is a 2 year programme and the fees above are for each year of study.


Alumni Discount

If you have completed your undergraduate degree at the GSA, or you have attended as a Study Abroad of Exchange student, you are eligible for a 10% discount on programme fees for a masters degree programme. This discount also applies to RUK and International students progressing from BArch(Hons) to Diploma in Architecture.

Students who complete a masters degree programme at GSA will also be eligible for a 10% discount on PhD fees.  Students wishing to take advantage of this discount should contact the Finance Office on +44(0) 141 353 4579 or fees@gsa.ac.uk.

Other Costs

Individual programmes levy material fees as indicated in this document. Where information is missing, students should refer to their individual academic school.

You should budget for each year of your programme of study and should allow for costs over and above your fees and maintenance, particularly if expensive materials or projects are chosen.


Deposits for study

Please also remember that when you have accepted your offer of a place from us and paid your deposit – £2,000 for international degree students, £750 for Study Abroad and Home/EU postgraduate students –  this will be taken off the balance of your fees. We will not be able to issue a CAS for visa processing until this deposit is received.

Any offer made to a prospective student will be subject to the condition that the School will require payment of tuition fees in respect of each academic year of the student’s period of study at the School.

For more information please contact the Finance Office on +44(0) 141 353 4579 or fees@gsa.ac.uk.
Full details of fees are available on the GSA website here.

Are there any scholarships available?


There are a number of scholarship you can apply for with student scholarships. To find out more about what scholarships you may be eligible for please contact scholarships@gsa.ac.uk.

Specific to the MDes Communication Design and MDes Graphics/Illustration/Photography programmes there is scholarship open to all UK/EU candidates who have been resident in Scotland for more than 12 months prior to application. Accepted applicants can apply for the John Hamilton memorial Scholarship. This includes a scholarship of £3000, and a paid internship with Penguin Books in London.


Details of the John Hamilton Scholarship

Penguin has created a scholarship at The Glasgow School of Art, named in honour of its long-time Art Director John Hamilton, who died in 2019. The John Hamilton Scholarship offers £3,000 to one student per year, to support them for one year of study, as well as a paid internship in the art department at Penguin Random House UK. It is open to all UK/EU candidates who have been resident in Scotland for more than 12 months prior to application accepted to study for a Master of Design in Graphics/Illustration/Photography or a Master of Design in Communication Design at The Glasgow School of Art. It is awarded based on academic excellence with priority given to those who can demonstrate financial need.

Born in Glasgow, John Hamilton studied illustration at The Glasgow School of Art between 1982 and 1986, and his degree show consisted of a series of covers for imaginary books. After joining publisher William Heinemann shortly after graduating, he moved to Penguin in 1997 as Art Director for Penguin General Adult Publishing – later also becoming the Art Director for another of the Penguin publishing houses, Michael Joseph. During his twenty-two years with the company, he worked with many of Penguin’s bestselling authors, including Jamie Oliver, Zadie Smith, Nick Hornby and William Boyd.

Eligible applicants are invited to submit a GSA Scholarship Application to scholarships@gsa.ac.uk.

The GSA Scholarship application form is available here. Please submit the application to scholarship@gsa.ac.uk

Please contact scholarships@gsa.ac.uk if you have any questions regarding the John Hamilton Scholarships, or if you require the application form in an alternative format.

How will Brexit impact fees for EU applicants?

For information on how Brexit will impact EU applicants please visit the link here

When will I know if I am accepted?

The following deadlines for submitting an application have indicative dates for receiving a response below. Staff will make their best efforts to respond in line with these indicative dates. If for any reason you have not received a response in line with these dates please contact admissions@gsa.ac.uk to receive an update on your application. If you have submitted an incomplete application or there are issues with accessing your portfolio or other online documents this may also delay a response to your application.


If you are being considered to be offered a place on the programmes in Communication Design you will normally be interviewed via an online video/voice link or telephone prior to any final decision being made. If your application has not been successful at the first assessment stage by staff you will not normally be interviewed.


Submitted          Decision/Response by

Early.                    20th January 2023 (Possible delays)

Standard 1.          10th March 2023 (Possible delays)

Standard 2.          28th April 2023

Late.                      21st July 2023

Further details on application deadlines can be found here.

If I am offered a place what do I need to do next?

If you are successful in your application following an interview you will be contacted by registry who will issue you an offer to study at GSA on the programme applied for. On occasion staff may advise a student to consider another pathway as being more appropriate for that particuliar students study. If this is the case on agreement with the student at interview the student may be offered an alternative choice also.

Once you have received your offer of study from registry by email you are required to reply in two ways;

  1. Write a reply confirming you wish to accept the offer of study or not.
  2. Pay a deposit for your study to secure your place on the programme offered.

If you are offered a conditional offer dependent on language, completing undergraduate study, or other condition you will normally be expected to complete those requirements. Once you have completed the requirements please notify registry to change the nature of your offer from a conditional offer to an unconditional offer.

If you are awaiting IELTs results you may wish to consider the pre-sessional programmes in English offered by GSA, details of which are here.


Deposits for study

Please also remember that when you have accepted your offer of a place from us and paid your deposit – £1,000 for international degree students, £500 for Study Abroad and Home/EU postgraduate students –  this will be taken off the balance of your fees. We will not be able to issue a CAS for visa processing until this deposit is received.

Any offer made to a prospective student will be subject to the condition that the School will require payment of tuition fees in respect of each academic year of the student’s period of study at the School.

If you have previously studied at GSA you may qualify for a 10% discount on request.

For more information please contact the Finance Office on +44(0) 141 353 4579 or fees@gsa.ac.uk.

What are the language requirements?

GSA expects applicants to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. International applicants will normally be expected to provide evidence of attainment equivalent to IELT for UKVI (Academic) from a UKVI approved test centre. School of Design programmes require a score of 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component.

European Union applicants are not normally required to provide IELTS to apply but should still have a level of English that is sufficient for study in English.

Do you provide pre-sessional English courses?

Yes, a pre-sessional English for Creative Disciplines is offered to applicants who have been offered a place on the programme.
Details of that programme can be found here. An additional fee is required for this programme. Former students have found the pre-sessional programme helpful not just in improving their language skills but in the cultural transition to a different education system prior to beginning study.


Programme Overview

The Pre-Sessional English for Creative Disciplines Course constitutes discipline-specialist language provision tailored to the needs of international students who have been offered a place on an undergraduate or postgraduate course at GSA on the condition that they improve their English up to a level required by a given GSA programme.

This intensive bridging programme offers a unique opportunity to study English and essential academic skills in the context of the creative disciplines (Art, Design and Architecture), their specialist learning methodologies, practices and processes, enriched by immersion in the British and Scottish culture.

Based on close entwining of content and language as well as inquiry-based learning, the course intends to help the students not only to improve their language skills but also develop discipline-specific practices and so successfully transition to study on their prospective programmes.


Entry Requirements

In order to apply for the Pre-Sessional Course in the Creative Disciplines, students have to have a conditional offer for any GSA programme which requires them to improve their language skills up to a level required by the prospective programme. These requirements will be different for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and so they affect the entry requirements for the Pre-Sessional Course – see the Course Options section for details. IELTs must have been taken at an approved test centre within 2 years of the proposed course start date.

There are three different course lengths depending on the student’s current IELTS scores: 12, 8 and 4 weeks.

You can apply for these courses at this link below

Closing date to apply are;
12 week course is 11th May 2020 / Start date 15th June 2020 – cost $4150 (includes modules 1,2 and 3).
8 week course is 8th June 2020 / Start date 13th July 2020 – cost £2950 (includes modules 2 and 3).
4 week course is 6th July / Starts 10th August 2020 – costs £1550 (includes module 3 only).

Do I need a degree in Communication Design to apply?

It is not required that you have a prior qualification in Communication Design at undergraduate level. We assess each applicant on their own merits and appreciate the diverse prior learning or industry experience that applicants may demonstrate in their portfolio when applying. However as a guideline, based on staff experience the statement below is generally true but not absolute for every applicant.

Normally if you are applying from a prior undergraduate study in a subject that is not Communication Design or design related staff would recommend you apply for the 2-year programme in MDes Communication Design. Staff find that a longer period of study is usually required to achieve a successful transition to a new field of study. This is also based on the feedback we receive from the majority of students.

If you have studied in a specific discipline in Communication Design and wish to extend your practice within that specific field you may consider the 1-year programme pathway for that specific discipline. Though we also have experienced practitioners within a specific discipline who decide they prefer the 2-year period of study.

If you wish to transition within a new discipline even with prior study in Communication Design staff would still recommend you consider the 2-year MDes Communication Design programme to allow yourself time for the transition.

Staff will advise on the best options based on your application at interview if you are offered a place on the programmes.

Do you have study exchanges?

Students on the 2-year MDes Communication Design programme may apply to exchange study in The University of the Arts, Tokyo, Japan (Geidai) at the start of their second year of study. Applicants are assessed for suitability for the exchange.

This is not an option that is available on the 1-year pathways in MDes Graphics/Illustration/Photography.

Do you have internships?

Students on the 2-year MDes Communication Design programme are encouraged to use the summer break period between years of study for internships or research relating to their study.

In recent years students have taken part in internships in the Netherlands (Studio Dumbar), Glasgow, (ISO), France, Italy (Fabrica) and London(UK) resulting in future employment for several of those students. Students are encouraged to build industry links that develop from these internships.

There is not time available on the 1-year programmes to allow for internships.

Can I send staff work for an opinion prior to applying?

Unfortunately due to the high number of applications that we receive for the Postgraduate programmes in Communication Design staff are unable to provide feedback prior to applying. If you apply and are successful staff will discuss your work during the interview process.

What should my digital portfolio include?

Your portfolio should be submitted online as 20 images or a PDF with 20 pages. Any moving image work should be submitted as a vimeo link using the online submission. Some of these pieces may include development work demonstrating your process along with more resolved final work. In certain circumstances including some sketchbook material may be appropriate. Avoid duplication where possible unless relevant to making a point or explaining a process.

Staff would expect to see a range of work rather than only one extensive project though on occasion this may also be appropriate. Typically there may be a range of 4 to 10 distinct projects in a portfolio submission. This may vary for  each discipline. Applicants from a non-arts based prior study may have a smaller portfolio in the number of works submitted. Do not include everything. Edit your portfolio to show your best or most interesting works.

Your statement should provide some insight to staff about who you are as a person and the work you have submitted for review. You will learn from your peers as well as staff on the programmes and we aim to achieve an interesting cohort of diverse cultural backgrounds and experience that will provide a truly international experience that prepares graduates for a global practice whichever discipline or area of interest they decide to explore during their study.