Sonja Andrew

Director of Master of Research (MRes) Materials and Surface Design

Graduates from our course stand out because they develop their work to a prototype level which potentially could be taken to market.

Sonja feeds contemporary design practice into her teaching.

Contemporary Practice

Our teaching staff maintain contact within industry and with working designers in order to inform the course curriculum, and our design teaching team are engaged in contemporary practice themselves. They exhibit nationally and internationally and undertake funded research projects which examine the aesthetic and functional relationships between different materials.

Practical design units form the key components of the programme and enable students to make use of the wide range of specialist technology and expertise available in the School of Materials. The design units in the course are very much ‘hands on’. Students experiment with materials and technology to develop their skills and advance the development of their design research investigation. This is balanced by the business units and research methods in the programme, and an option unit which includes technology, where factual information is delivered in a lecture-based or seminar format.

We utilise links with industry, design project partners, researchers and other industrial contacts to ensure that what we deliver throughout the programme is relevant to the current and future needs of industry and business.  The programme aims to encourage students to develop new aesthetic qualities from materials and processes, considering wider issues such as sustainability.

Practical Highlights

Students can choose to explore materials in a lateral and unconventional way to generate new product ideas and design solutions for different markets, developing their design practice and considering commercial applications for their work. The business components of the programme are delivered by the Manchester Business School and the course is very much about exploring new or niche design ideas to generate potential new design businesses or further R&D work.

The highlight of the course is seeing the body of design practice presented in the final dissertation project, as the transition of an idea into a product or design collection can be traced through the work. I also really enjoy supervising students on the first design unit which is much more investigative. This is where students experiment with design and materials and it is very much a trial and error process from which some very interesting and often unexpected routes for further research emerge.

Due to the practice-based nature of the design units, the programme director has weekly tutorial contact with students, so we can act on student feedback quickly and improve students’ experience on the programme.

Graduates from our course stand out because they develop their work to a prototype level which potentially could be taken to market. Their design knowledge is underpinned by core business skills and they have to be self-motivated, well organised and good project managers to complete their design research effectively.

The School has good links with a wide range of materials and manufacturing industries. Students benefit from this as we can put them in touch with industry experts, manufacturers and designers who may be able to assist them with their investigation or collaborate on the research.

Research and Exploration

"The MRes programme allows students to utilise state of the art equipment and facilities, plus access the technical expertise which we have in the School of Materials. The MRes in Materials and Surface Design encourages innovation, lateral approaches, and the creative exploration of materials within design. This exploration is supported by a thorough grounding in research methods and business, enabling students to make the links between prior work in the field, new developments, and their own experimental design research work.

The MRes enables students to examine how existing materials and technologies can be exploited, adapted and applied to new design contexts, considering potential business development from their ideas.

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