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No end to creativity

Debameeta Bhattacharya |

Staffordshire University&’s MA Ceramic Design course is regarded as one of the leading postgraduate programmes worldwide. Taught in the university&’s Stoke-on-Trent campus that qualifies as the centre of the UK ceramics industry, this long established course has consistently produced graduates who are employed by many of the leading ceramic companies both in the UK and overseas.

This highly creative course provides students with the skills to design products for food and drink, interiors/tabletop, sanitaryware and cladding. The curriculum enables students to “learn by doing”. Theoretical and technological (including CadCam) elements are embedded and linked directly to design activity, encouraging students to question, articulate and present ideas in the context of prescribed and individually negotiated projects.

Those pursuing the course get an excellent opportunity to be involved with the university&’s design-led, award winning, fine bone china brand, Flux (http://fluxstokeontrent.com/). With a presence in over 20 countries, Flux offers premium products ranging from tea sets to plates, bowls and mugs to mini collectibles. Students are also encouraged to take an entrepreneurial, enterprising standpoint and work as designer-producers wherein they can engage with small to medium sized manufacturers/factories in developing contemporary, aspirational products aimed at new and different niche markets.

Professor David Sanderson, who is the MA Ceramic Design Course leader at Staffordshire University and also the Creative Director of Flux, gives tips and details regarding this unique skills-based course. Excerpts from an interview:

What are the skills attributed to professionals in this discipline?

Upon graduating, our students have a sound intellectual understanding and knowledge of ceramic design practices as they relate to industrial manufacture and the global marketplace. They are equipped with both traditional hand and craft skills, as well as underpinning new technologies related to digital/electronic creative software, in being able to originate, develop and execute design ideas and proposals for industry. Our graduates have an overview of the design world, specifically within interior design and how this impacts on the activities within ceramic design.

What is the criteria and eligibility for seeking admission for ceramic designing in Staffordshire University? What would be the fee structure for Indian candidates?

Applicants should have a natural creative flair, which should be demonstrated through a “portfolio” of their creative practice; whether this be drawing, painting, ceramics, textile design and so on. Each applicant will demonstrate his/her own personal interests and aspirations for undertaking the course. Currently, the tuition fee for this postgraduate course is £12,000.

How are students assessed and evaluated to qualify for the course and what constitutes their curriculum?

Assuming required formal qualifications and meeting the English language threshold, we make a decision on each applicant based on the electronic submission of his/her portfolio and stated reasons for undertaking the course. The curriculum and detailed description of the award can be found within the award handbook available from the university website.

Investing a hefty sum in a university that is located in the heart of the UK, things get a little cumbersome. Are there any scholarships/ fellowships provided?

Staffordshire University is ranked as the third most affordable university for cost of accommodation in the UK and our tuition fees are competitively priced. Currently, our tuition fee for a postgraduate award is £12,000. In addition, we offer merit-based, tuition fee scholarships that are awarded based on a student&’s undergraduate degree results. For Indian students, the criteria is as follows: First Class with distinction is £2,000, First Class is £1,500 and Upper Second Class is £1,000.

Tell us something about the accommodation facilities and the expenses — within and outside the campus.

Staffordshire University has recently invested £40 million in estates and facilities, of which we are very proud. We offer on-campus accommodation for which Indian students can apply. The Stoke campus offers en-suite accommodation plus two types of standard accommodation — traditional corridor-based Halls of Residence and student houses. Postgraduate students are accommodated on campus in a dedicated Hall of Residence. Accommodation costs for 2015/16 are: £108 (weekly) and £4,104 (annual) for Halls of Residence in Clarice Cliff Court (en-suite); £80 (weekly) and £3,040 (annual) for Leek Road Halls (shared); and £85 (weekly) and £3,230 (annual) for Leak Road Houses (shared).

On campus we also have an art shop, cinema, two supermarkets, cafes and a sports centre. We also have a dedicated International Student Support Centre which, amongst other things, arranges the International Welcome Week and cultural excursions plus offers visa advice. Our ceramic design resources are substantial and unique.

Are there placements provided after completion of the course?

Placements are not provided after graduation.

Which are the other sectors that employ these professionals? What are the chances for one who wants to take up entrepreneurship for self-employment?

Many graduates set up their own creative practices/ consultancies and work with industry whilst developing their own brand products for example; others will work as professional studio designers whether that be in the manufacturing sector or as designers within the retail sector or in marketing.