UxD Course FAQ

How successful is the MSc Ux with Professional Placement option?  Will I get a placement?

A paid work placement as part of a master’s course is a new initiative by the University.  It is another way of blending masters level study with work experience – an alternative to part-time study, and an addition to industry-hosted final projects, and internships after graduation.  Placements have obvious upsides, and I am talking about this new kind of opportunity to potential employers in London.  The downside for the moment is that potential employers need time to adjust, and fit placements into their existing university relationships and recruitment pathways.  Excellence with English language can also be a barrier for non-native English speakers.  I hope to host our first placement soon.  And NB the uni web page makes clear that a placement is not guaranteed and that it is up to the student to find an opportunity.

Can you give me a rough outline of the year?

Exact dates vary from year to year, but…

For full-time students, we estimate about 35hrs per week study, and students are permitted to work up to 20hrs per week part-time.

Welcome week is week beginning 19th September.

Semester 1:

  • Digital Studio Practice: classes are all day Tuesdays .  Coursework due mid-jan
  • User Experience Design(Systems): classes all week beginning 3rd October, and all week beginning 4th November. Coursework due before Xmas and mid-Jan

last class Tuesday 12th Dec

Semester 2:

  • Media Specialist Practice: all day Tuesdays (first class Jan 24th.  Coursework due end-april
  • User Experience Design(Content): all day Thursdays. Coursework due end-april

last class: March 30th

May preparation for Final Major project ramps up.

Semester 3:

Final Major Project: From 3rd week in May, approx fortnightly supervisions.  Report and Viva due 3rd week in September


For part-time students, we expect about 17hrs per week dedicated to the course during taught modules, as you only take one module per semester.

Year 1 Semester 1 :

  • User Experience Design(Systems): classes all week beginning 3rd October, and all week beginning 4th November. Coursework due before Xmas and mid-Jan

Year 1 Semester 2 :

  • User Experience Design(Content): all day Thursdays. Coursework due end-april
  • last class: March 30th

Year 2 Semester 1 :

  • Digital Studio Practice: classes are all day Tuesdays .  Coursework due mid-jan
  • last class Tuesday 12th Dec

Year 2 Semester 2 :

  • Media Specialist Practice: all day Tuesdays (first class Jan 24th.  Coursework due end-april
  • last class: March 30th
  • May preparation for Final Major project ramps up.

Year 2 Semester 3: Final Major (or later if commitments prevent)

Can I have a preview of next year’s timetable?

It’s a good idea to get holiday time booked with work early, but unfortunately the timetable for next academic year is only released in August, and it may change right up to the last minute.  However, you might find the timetable for 2014-15 to be a reasonable guide – last year’s timetable is the basis for next year’s, though next year’s of course is likely to be at least slightly different!  The timetable for 2014_15 is only indicative summary – the detailed timetable are online now.  I hope it helps.  DMK_Indicative_Timetable_2014_v3FINAL

UPDATE JULY 2018 – I hope this calendar layout is clearer.


What are the students like?

In round numbers, around 50:50 part-time vs full-time, 50:50 resident in UK vs rest of the World (Europe, India, Far East, USA), and 50% with design first degree vs 25% Information Technology first degree and 25% Humanities, Business and application domains.  The age profile  would be roughly 60% 22-25, 30% 25-35 and 10% over 35

How far do people travel to take the course?

We have had part-time students ‘commute’ from Brighton, Portsmouth, Bristol, and Luton.  It is a chore, but Surbiton is well-connected to Waterloo, Clapham and the South West for early / late travel on the day.  Some students stay overnight the day before in the usual budget brand hotels @£50 per night.

What is the workload for a part-timer?

As a rule of thumb, part-time study means a commitment of EITHER two, one-week blocks (9-5 Mon-Fr) OR 1 up to a full-day session per week, per Semester (depending upon the module), for two years, and then choose a hand-in date for the major project (either around the end of September  or the end of January of any year).  Other face to face events include induction, group work days, extra evening sessions and importantly extra on campus assessments etc – I would estimate around 5 events per semester.

There is no scheduled teaching in the evenings, or weekends, and the schedule is finalised early in September.  I hope the above and the other estimates on the official KU course home page are sufficient to plan your year.  For specific info, please get in touch.

As another rule of thumb, we expect part-time students to be able to spend 300 hours on their studies each semester, which covers everything (preparation, reading, coursework and attending class and assessments).  The major project is around 600 hours work. Some part-time students complete their final project in year 3 to spread the effort more evenly, but many ‘kick on’ to finish in two years, especially if a relevant project presents itself at work.

Do you help part-time students juggle work and study?

In principle, unexpected work demands beyond your control are grounds for coursework extensions for part-time students.  You have to fill in a form, and get an e-mail from your employer (so that we are sure we are treating every student fairly).  A supportive employer, and the opportunity to find overlaps between paid and university work, definitely helps.

How hard is it to study and work part-time?

Studying and working in parallel makes for a tough 2 years, but if you can organise it right, work and study can be mutually supportive, which is great!    I would guess that most part-time students will have sought an extension to compensate for unexpected work demands at least once during the course, or have handed-in something they wish they could have spent more time on.  I would also guess that ‘squeezing-in’ work, family and study is not usually enough to force a student to quit the course, if they do not want to.

I want to do my project for my employer – will that be a problem?

The uni. can accommodate student work that is confidential, the work must be your own independent work, and we need academic access to mark etc.  – it is not a problem.  Agency work/consulting is often not suitable, because of the need to protect the agency-client relationship.

Do you have information about career prospects and destinations after study?

Have a look at the jobs pages at http://ukupa.org.uk/   and http://www.usabilitynews.com

There is an informal KU UxD alumni group – if you ask to join you can see what some graduates are up to now http://uk.linkedin.com/groups/Kingston-University-User-Experience-Alumni-3808353

UPDATE MARCH 2018: The Aquent agency produced this 2018-salary-guide-uk for Ux and other creative design careers.

What happened to the MA UxD course (2013)?

It is a pity to lose the title, but the course is still here, as the course evolved a little when we updated it this year, but not as much as the loss of MA implies.  Two courses cannot comprise the same set of modules under uni regs, so we had to close one, and the MSc is accredited by the BCS – that’s the best reason.  The formal announcement (repeated here) says it best.

Old Title:   MA/MSc in User Experience Design

New Title: MSc in User Experience Design

As a result of the University wide review of the academic framework, the postgraduate course in User Experience Design has been thoroughly reviewed and transformed taking into account the new academic developments and employability issues in the field. This provided an opportunity for Digital Media Kingston to formally update the User Experience Design programme.  Design thinking, and the idea of ‘learning in a digital studio’ is now more systematically embedded throughout the programme.

What you will study:

The new structure consists of four 30-credit modules instead of eight 15-credit modules. The new modules are:

  • User Experience Design (Systems)
  • User Experience Design (Content)
  • Digital Studio Practice
  • Media Specialist Practice
  • Digital Media Final Project

This course focuses upon User Experience Design.  The User Experience Design (Systems) module prepares a student for development of efficient, effective and satisfying user experiences, particularly associated with multi-channel, multi-platform customer-facing services and applications. The User Experience Design (Content) module prepares students for development of rich-media, engaging user experiences particularly associated with multimodal interaction with personal and ubiquitous computing.  Digital Studio Practice focuses on establishing the individual students practice as part of their industry profile, and with respect to digital media.  A flexible Media Specialist Practice module gives each student the chance to develop their unique interpretation of user experience practice that captures their specific interests.  The programme concludes with a 60 credit project in User Experience Design.

With these changes, the course affords an MSc qualification, but the contribution from

The Faculty of Art Design and Architecture is actually increasing. The course is recruiting the students from a wide range of backgrounds including the Bachelor of Arts degrees. This means that there is no longer a need for separation of the MA and MSc programmes and, consequently, they have been combined into a single MSc degree, which was accredited by the British Computer Society in 2012. All students will take new title: MSc in User Experience Design. The revised programme starts from the academic year 2013/14 with two intakes per year – end of September and end of January.”

What is(was) the difference between the MA and MSc?

(NB This is an edited historical post.  From 2013, we are only recruiting to the updated MSc User Experience Design.)

Between 2009-2012 we ran both MA and MSc UxD course.  Students with a BA e.g. in Graphic Design, tended to be comfortable registering for the MA, and students with a BSc were comfortable registering for the MSc – it was reassuring that the course was ‘meant for you’, you would fit in, and that there was not any compulsory coding, or sketching challenges  that the vast majority of students offered a place could not pass at the first attempt.  The core modules, and many of the option modules were the same.

There was (and still is) a lot of scope for students to determine the balance of art and science content in the course by selecting topics for their courseworks and projects e.g.  choose prototype and usability test a visualisation of performance data for desktops if you have a science leaning, and choose research and design an interactive shop window that communicates with your mobile if you have an art and design leaning.  Most UxD projects, including the above examples, benefit from a multi-disciplinary approach and a balance of science and art&design contributions e.g. to brand the visualisation, or vice versa  to verify technical constraints of the interactive window.

having both an MA and an MSc emphasised that the course really was interdisciplinary.  It has to be, because of the nature of the subject.  Depeneding upon the topics that students choose to study, some deserved an MA, some an MSc, and some maybe MA+MSc, or just Masters, though the uni not have those titles.  Overall, the better you are at the rull range of analysis, design, prototyping and evaluation, the better you will do on the course, and in the workplace, I think.

More on the official KU course home page.


4 Responses to UxD Course FAQ

  1. Disha says:

    Hi Martin,
    Can you please share the timetable for the year 2017-2018? Would be of great help!!
    Thanks in advance.

    • martincolbert says:

      Hi Disha,
      The new one (see schedule comment above) is up to date, and includes more about coursework deadlines. Astute readers will infer that the vacation window is the second week in May 🙂 (the Highlands and Cornwall are definitely worth it!) ..m

  2. ali says:

    Hello guys,

    Is this program available online/distance learning? Or do I have to attend in campus? I am living in Germany and really interested in this program.


    • martincolbert says:

      Hi Ali, This course does require attendance on campus – there is typically some kind of practical workshop each day (giving feedback on prototypes, ideation, making presentations, participant observation etc), and this is difficult to recreate online. Some students have flown from Europe to attend one day a week, or for week blocks! so I guess this is realistic if you are lucky enough to live close to a budget airline hub. Final projects are often supervised online,
      .. m

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