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The Master of Design at York offers students an exceptional opportunity to hone and refine their skills as design leaders and innovators, developing and substantially expanding their creative potential.  The two-year experience begins with coursework and culminates in a thesis project that reflects each student's personal direction for design practice.

Seven Core Courses to be completed by the end of the second term:

GS/MDES 5101 3.0 - Design Theory & Criticism

This seminar provides an overview of key theories and themes that form the foundation of contemporary critical design studies. Drawing on theories from a broad range of disciplines, it employs close readings of selected texts and works to explore design as a product, a practice, and a mode of social communication. Specific topics may vary with the instructor.

GS/MDES 5104 3.0 - User-centred Design Research Methods

This course introduces students to a range of user-centred methodologies and strategies for research in design. Students will develop research questions, write a literature review and research proposal and will have the opportunity to engage in the research process through discussion of readings, assigned projects, papers and presentations. Selected readings may vary with instructor but will support the aims of the course.

GS/MDES 5107 3.0 - Research Methods for Disciplinary Experimentation in Design

Students will explore various research methods with the goal of identifying a problem or issue that will become the basis of a potential thesis topic. Students will be expected to formulate a viable hypothesis, bibliography, and plan of action. This practice-based studio combines faculty-directed reading with assigned design projects. Selected readings may vary with instructor but will continue to support the aims of the course.

GS/MDES 5108 3.0 - Design Studio: Culture and Criticism

Structured around disciplinary and cross-disciplinary inquiry, critical engagement and transformation of received knowledge, this studio course introduces students to graphic design practice as a mode of cultural engagement and criticism. This practice-based studio combines faculty-directed reading with assigned and student-defined design projects. Selected readings may vary with instructor but will continue to support the aims of the course.

Prerequisite: Registration in the Graduate Program in Design or permission from the Graduate Program Director.

GS/MDES 5109 3.0 - Design Studio: Users and Information

Structured around user-centred strategies with information design as the intermediary between humans and their actions, this studio course introduces students to graphic design practice as a reflection of user-engaged production. This practice-based studio combines faculty-directed readings with assigned and student-defined projects. Selected readings may vary with instructor but will support the aims of the course.

Prerequisite: GS/MDES 5108 (3.0) or permission from the Graduate Program Director.

In order to encourage the development of an individual program of study, each student must select two electives (normally completed by the end of the second term). The first elective course may be chosen from:

MDes Elective Courses

GS/MDES 5102 3.0 - Design Issues and Critical Making

This course explores definitions of Design/design, and issues generated by and reflected in design as a response to technological innovation, changes in business models, and social and global environments the age of social media.  It encourages students to bridge critical theories and making as part of the designing process and as an empowering tool for communication in the public space.

GS/MDES 5402 3.0 - Type in Motion

Explores the storytelling abilities of motion design for broadcast and cinema using the temporal and sequential aspects of typography, image and sound. Work is created using both analog and digital methods, and is deliberately focused on using experimental techniques and graphic means to make graphic communication.

Integrated with undergraduate course FA/YSDN 4002 3.0

GS/MDES 5403 3.0 - Advanced Topics in Interactivity

An advanced investigation into systems-intuitive and learned-that support human activities via interactive communication and distribution networks. An understanding of these communication/distribution methods working in reciprocal fashion from users to the computer and back, is presented.

Integrated with undergraduate course FA/YSDN 4003 3.0.

GS/MDES 5404 3.0 - Design Studies Seminar

A small class research and writing intensive seminar intended for students with a special interest in Design Studies.  Students develop individual writing projects on a commonly agreed-to theme with the goal of disseminating via publication pr conferences.

Integrated with undergraduate course FA/YSDN 4105 3.0.

GS/MDES 5405 3.0 - Book Design

Offers an advanced level practicum course that explores the structuring of bound, print-oriented, long text information documents. The history, anatomy, and structural dynamics of the book are examined and the contemporary private and commercial press/publishing process of the printed book is investigated.

Integrated with undergraduate course FA/YSDN 4005 3.0.

GS/MDES 5407 3.0 - Corporate Identity Design

Focuses on the design of a corporate identity system for an organization. The system will involve the design of graphic identifiers, typography, selected applications and supporting documents.

Integrated with undergraduate course FA/YSDN 4007 3.0.

GS/MDES 5408 3.0 - Data Visualization Design

Explores the affordances of both print and digital media for the application of information design principles and methodologies introduced and developed in earlier courses. This course will take an intra-disciplinary (print, interactivity, time-based, environmental) approach to researching and developing a comprehensive presentation of a site to be determined by each section.

Integrated with undergraduate course YSDN 4008 3.0.

GS/MDES 5409 3.0 - Building a Discipline

Examines graphic design as a number of themes.  It does not use writings on graphic design for study, but rather uses primary sources to enter territories conventionally used reserved for literary theory, philosophy, psychoanalysis, cultural studies and linguistics.

Integrated with undergraduate course YSDN 4110 3.0.

GS/MDES 5411 3.0 - East Asian Design History

This blended, web-enhanced course focuses on the history of twentieth century East Asian design and material culture in the contemporary context of globalization in transnational perspectives.  In East Asia, the development of "modern" design histories began with cultural translation through Western culture in the late nineteenth century.  The term "design" itself raises complex questions that are currently under investigation, reflecting an interest in cultural translation and transnational studies within postcolonial studies.  This course will explore how modern design in East Asia has been adapted, practiced, theorized and discussed as an interactive process between heritage rich cultures of East Asia and modernism in the West.  We will examine the terminology of "design" in the East Asian context, key designers and their works, movements, and definitions and developments - oriental modernity, nationalism and political ideology - within regional and international design frameworks.  Through this examination, students will explore the significance of the connections between design artifacts and everyday life.  This course will stimulate a transnational and Interdisciplinary understanding of material culture in the age of globalization by reflecting on theist, present and future of East Asian design.

Integrated with undergraduate course FA/YSDN 4111 3.0.

GS/MDES 5414 3.0 - Interactive Objects and Environments

Introduces students to theories and practices of communication design for interactive environments. Interaction scenarios and user experiences will be explored through alternative interfaces using sensors, and other inputs to control projected video, graphics, and sound.

Integrated with undergraduate course FA/YSDN 4009 3.0.

GS/MDES 5601 3.0 - Performing Arts and the City

This course examines the impact of the performing arts on local communities.

Same as Communication & Culture 6112 3.0.

GS/MDES 5602 3.0 - Globalization of Communication and Culture

This course focuses on the role and significance of the rapid growth of multinational communication industries in shaping the modern world, with particular emphasis on the relationship between technology and the structures of power and control. Global communication systems, the global economy, and global crises are examined from a critical perspective.

Same as Communication & Culture 6303 3.0.

GS/MDES 5603 3.0 - Race and Gender in Digital Technology

In recent years corporate leaders, government officials, and media pundits have portrayed the western restructured socioeconomic near-future as a 'digital' one, forefronting the centrality of digital technology and the digitization of information to the social, economic, and political changes currently sweeping Canada, as well as the rest of the OECD. In this course, we will examine the ways in which race and gender manifest in the discourses, policy decisions and representations of digital technology in Canada.

Same as Film 5320H 3.0, Women's Studies 6903 3.0, Communication & Culture 6511 3.0.

GS/MDES 5604 3.0 - Communication & the Socio-Technical: Perspectives, Debates, Applications

This reading and seminar course investigates some of the texts in the burgeoning study of society and technology that have inspired its major philosophical perspectives and frameworks of research. Sociocultural inquiry into new communication and information technologies frequently invokes one or another perspective grounded (selectively) in these texts; this course instead focuses on systematic comparison of the several distinct perspectives that characterize this area of study, with particular attention to their deployment in communication and culture research.

Same as Communication & Culture 6523 3.0.

The second elective core may be chosen from among the offerings of other graduate programs at York University (with permission from both programs), or from the list of MDes Elective Courses.

MDes Thesis Project and Presentation

Thesis Research Project

The thesis research/creation project demonstrates mastery of design knowledge and process and is fully documented in a report, presenting the research, analysis, rationale, evaluation and other supporting material. Students pursue their thesis topic with a supervisory committee. The final thesis project and presentation are completed by the end of the fifth term.

MDes Program Handbook 2019–20 (.pdf)