MA Design History and Material Culture - AD456

This MA in Design History & Material Culture (DHMC) is about objects: things you might sit on, drink from or wear; things you might cherish, throw away or never notice; things for special occasions and things you use every day; things made by machine, things made by hand and things never made; spaces you might visit, inhabit or travel through; ideas about things, things about ideas.

What to Expect

The MA in Design History and Material Culture is a pioneering course that examines the history of design and material culture from the eighteenth century through to the present day, providing a unique forum for the study of objects, architecture and interiors. The programme is taught  through seminars and guided research, equipping students with the skills to research, analyse and write about the material world in its various historic and contemporary contexts. Students conduct supervised research and write a dissertation, which they submit at the end of the programme.We welcome graduates from a range of backgrounds, including; art/design practice, architecture, art history, history, sociology, anthropology, literature. 

The programme is part time running over two years. Students are expected to attend classes one day per week.  

The programme runs on a two year intake cycle.  The next intake will be in September 2024. 

Opportunities to Engage

MA DHMC students benefit from partnerships and joint initiatives with a wide range of museums, cultural institutions and historic proper-ties. Collaborative projects and modules have been organised in conjunction with the National Museum of Ireland, The Little Museum of Dublin, the National Library of Ireland, NUI Maynooth Department of Anthropology and others. Students who wish to gain relevant work experience have been assisted by the DHMC course team in organising internships at appropriate institutions.

Education Standard

All applicants are expected to present an approved Bachelor degree at minimum level of 2nd class honours (2.2)

Applicants who do not meet the minimum academic entry requirements may be considered on the basis of prior work or learning experience (RPEL). Candidates may be required to pass a qualifying examination set by the relevant department before being accepted to a Masters degree programme. Attendance at selected undergraduate lecture courses at NCAD, together with related written work may be prescribed. 

You may apply for the programme if you are currently completing your Undergraduate Degree. NCAD will review the rest of your application If necessary, we can make you a Conditional Offer. When your degree is completed and you send us final transcripts we will upgrade this to a Full Offer

Essential Supporting Documents

  • A Statement of Interest - 300-500 words framing your reasons for applying to the programme

  • A recent CV

  • Certified transcripts of previous programmes followed

  • Certified copies of degree/ certificates and/or other appropriate third level qualifications bearing the official stamp of the institution.

  • Reference 1 (Academic - Head of School/Department preferred)

    • Some referees prefer to submit the reference directly to the college. If this is the case, please instruct your referee to email a standard reference to Please make sure all references contain the letterhead and the institution contact email address for the referee

  • Reference 2 (Tutor or Current/Recent Employer) 

  • A sample of written work - essay, published article or other relevant text


Document Description

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English Language Requirements

All programmes in NCAD are taught through English. International Applicants are asked to provide proof of their English Language Proficiency.

Full details of acceptable tests and the standard required can be found at the following link English Language Requirement.

After Your Degree

The programme consistently receives excellent feedback from both external examiners and students. Students on the programme have received internationally recognised awards for their work and many have gone on to pursue doctoral research at NCAD and elsewhere. Graduates have published their work in peer reviewed journals and many are working within education (second and third level), art / design practice, galleries, museums, historic houses, film, theatre, publishing and government bodies responsible for arts/craft promotion.


For information on tuition fees please follow this Link 

There is an application fee of €55.00*


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The next intake for the MA Design History Material Culture is September 2024.   Applications will open later in 2023.

Programme Team

The MA Design History Material Culture is taught by internationally recognised leaders in their fields and draws on wide-ranging academic expertise in architectural history, dress and textiles history, contemporary craft practice and craft history, contemporary design theory and material culture studies.

Professor David Crowley

Professor David Crowley is the Head of the School of Visual Culture. Before joining NCAD, he was a professor in the School of Humanities at the Royal College of Art in London. He has a specialist interest in modernism in art and design, often with a focus on the histories of Eastern Europe under communist rule. His books include Warsaw (2003) and Pleasures in Socialism: Leisure and Luxury in the Eastern Bloc (2010). He writes regularly for Eye magazine, Creative Review, Frieze and other art and design press titles. Crowley also curates exhibitions, including ‘Cold War Modern’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2008–9; and ‘Notes from the Under-ground: Art and Alternative Music in Eastern Europe 1968-1994’ for the Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz, 2017 and Akademie der Kunst, Berlin, 2018. His writing can be found at:

Dr Paul Caffrey, MA, PhD

Paul writes about the visual and material culture of Ireland. Recent research has focused on enamelers and enamelling, see: ‘European Enamels in the National Gallery of Ireland Collection’ (Michael Imhof Verlag, Petersberg 2017).

Dr Lisa Godson, MA, PhD

Lisa is a lecturer in History of Design, and was previously NCAD Fellow at GradCAM and tutor at the Royal College of Art. Her research interests include contemporary design and twentieth-century Irish material culture. Her co-edited volume Making 1916: the visual and material culture of the Easter Rising was published by Liverpool University Press in 2015.

Hilary O’Kelly, MA

Hilary O’Kelly is a dress historian with a specialist interest in Ireland since the 18th century. Her book Cleo: Irish Clothes in a Wider World – a study of one of Dublin’s oldest clothing businesses – was published in 2014. She has also written on the role of National Revival dress in Irish revolutionary politics, on dress and Irish emigration, on women, dress and religion and on the role of dress in the cultural formation of children in independence Ireland.

Admissions Team