Design Innovation MA application portfolio advice

Your portfolio

For Design Innovation MA, there are a range of different specialist options – you can specialise in Footwear Design; Furniture Design; Interior Design; Interactive Design; Museum and Exhibition Design; Product Design; Retail Design; or Visual Communication Design, or keep a broader Design Innovation approach without a specific specialism. You will develop an individual major project during the programme, which may combine aspects of different design areas.

We are interested to see what areas of design you have specialised in, whether you intend to take a particular specialism and whether you have any project ideas or aspects/issues you would bring into the project. It is a postgraduate programme that combines design with strategy and conceptual approaches, so if you can show intellectual engagement with concepts in the design, indicate research undertaken as part of a project or include aspects of the target market/marketing/brand identity for a design, it indicates a relevant approach.

A good portfolio should indicate something of your personality, it should be clearly structured, easy to read and well presented. It should consist of quality work rather than quantity so be selective about what you show.

Once your application has been received, you will either be invited to an interview where you will present your portfolio of work (on campus for Home/EU applicants, via Skype for Overseas applicants), or alternatively you may be asked to submit a digital portfolio of your work.

Portfolio submission options for overseas applicants

What are we looking for?

We are looking for:

  • The ideas or concepts that are behind your design work
  • Evidence of skills, competence and knowledge in your specialist area. For example, if you wish to follow the footwear pathway there should be examples of high quality shoe designs and drawings/projects that demonstrate appropriate specialist knowledge of footwear, usually from your degree or work experience
  • Broad skills in CAD, drawing and making - not just related to your specialist area
  • Aesthetic ability in visual composition and design
  • An innovative, creative approach to design work, include a range of different work to indicate the creative variety you are capable of
  • Analytical ability in problem solving and design development
  • An indication of your interests and experience, as they relate to design work

Generally you should choose between 12 and 25 of your strongest pieces of work. This may include design projects from your degree/previous taught courses, commercial work from freelancing or design employment and personal independent work. It can include a variety of examples from different design and art areas, but would usually have a strong focus in one broad area of specialisation (e.g. product, fashion, animation or interior design).


Include examples of sketchbook pages to show your initial ideas, development of an idea, reference to what has influenced you and experimental work with materials and forms. Sketchbooks and informal examples of drawing are important as they show how you think, how your creativity develops in design process and how you approach your work.

Examples of drawing or artwork that are more fully developed and finished are also needed. They could be observational, creative or presentation drawings of design concepts.

It is useful to demonstrate your ability to use CAD – include some drawings or images produced using different techniques and software packages and state what was used (e.g. Photoshop, Illustrator, Solidworks, MAYA, etc.).


Project work

Include examples of different projects you have undertaken, illustrating your breadth of experience. Explain what the brief was or starting point for a design and the ideas, issues or aspects of design that you were focusing on. Show some of the development work to show how you work through a project from initial idea generation, research, design development with any mood boards or storyboards, testing and prototype production.

Making and prototypes

Include examples of practical work and finished prototypes.


Written work

Please include a recent example of writing. It could be an essay or report or a more detailed discussion of one of the projects. The Design Innovation MA has a significant volume of written work – you will need to write reports on strategy for your project or on issues relating to it – so you need to demonstrate that you can produce a good standard of written English and express yourself clearly.

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