Major studies 90 cr

Advanced major studies 60 cr

Thesis 30 cr

Elective studies 30 cr


Code: ARTS217

Credits: 120 ECTS cr

Responsible Professor: Arja Karhumaa

Aims of the Master of Arts (Art and Design) degree

The aim of the degree is to provide students with:

  1. good theoretical and general knowledge of as well as artistic and practical expertise in their field of study as well as a general knowledge of the field of arts;
  2. knowledge and skills needed for independent and demanding artistic work and for multidisciplinary collaboration as well as knowledge and skills needed to apply scientific knowledge and scientific methods;
  3. knowledge and skills to perform, both independently and collaboratively, demanding expert, development and management duties of the field, and to cooperate internationally;
  4. knowledge and skills needed for education leading to a Doctor of Arts (Art and Design) degree and for lifelong learning;
  5. good language and communication skills for work in the field of arts and for international operations and cooperation.

The education shall be based on scientific research and artistic activity and professional practices in the field.


The Visual Communication Design programme (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.

Learning Outcomes

As learning outcomes from the programme, you will be able to:

  1. 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
  2. Solve complex issues of different media, aesthetic, context, expression, and convention, when communicating in modes like data, narratives, and/or written language
  3. Articulate and critically evaluate the traditions, references, and motivations behind your design choices and processes
  4. Consider issues of representation, diversity, and sustainability in visual communication
  5. Distinguish your professional role from your consumer role in digital and online environments
  6. 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
  7. Consider and imagine alternative modes of design practice and work
  8. Keep discussing, evaluating, and redefining the societal role and the shifting parameters of the contemporary Visual Communication Design profession

Education Content

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.

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-organized 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 work 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.