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MA - Design Practice


Pathway: Visual Communication

“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.”― John Maeda

Students’ work during studio units in art history and letterform design


Professionals and graduates in design as well as non-design background often feel the need to step out of their comfort zones to hone their skills and enhance their creative capabilities. Pursuing a course in design practice is essential to enhance their creative practice as a visual communication designer. The MA in Visual Communication enables one to integrate existing models of thinking and making with emerging technologies and methods. The course will equip graduates to become meaningfully resourceful, enhance their aesthetic sense and be more process oriented in their practice.

The foundation for this course lies in emphasizing the comprehension and processing of forms of visual information. Students will be encouraged to integrate the six key domains of visual communication design: aesthetic, functional, historical, symbolic, perceptual, and cultural. The discipline of Visual Communication focuses on providing core competency in developing visual literacy, visual thinking, visual perception, imaging, and representation. Inquiry-based learning, design processes, research methods, history and theories of design form the building blocks for developing a comprehensive and successful branding strategy and creative communication material.

The curriculum approaches visual communication through theoretical frameworks that not only inform and enhance the practice but also encourage students to question norms and cross traditional boundaries. The course will provide a platform to use design thinking to break rules, to express unique ideas, and, to explore and experiment with the tools and methods of visual communication. Students will thus experience design both as a complex societal, corporate activity and an intense, exploratory, personal search into meaning.

Who is it for?

Graduates of Art & Design related Disciplines:
The course is designed for graduates of applied art, commercial art, mass communication, architecture, animation, fine art, printmaking, photography and other visual art related disciplines. This course provides an ideal opportunity also fordesign professionals who wish to breathe new energy into their creative career.

Graduates of Non-Art & Design Disciplines:
The course may consider applicants who do not have any undergraduate studies in the related disciplines but have worked in creative field and are passionately imaginative, are drawn to visual arts and dream of pursuing a creative career in visual communication design. Such candidates will be required to demonstrate their creative abilities through a portfolio.

Students’ work during studio units in Elements of Visual Design

Core Values

  • Build on the foundation and understanding of design as a discipline.
  • Explore Gestalt Principles of Art & Design and intersect these with local aesthetics.
  • Develop a strong understanding of the history of art & design, thereby creating a context within which the profession is
  • Decode, understand and create meaning through variety of visual formsusing research, analysis and critical thinking.
  • Engage in inquiry-based learning and expanding creative practice.

Student’s work on developing an app for the elderly

Students’ work during workshop on Packaging Design

Course Structure

Learning opportunities in the specialisation in Design Education course are embedded in the following structures:

  • Tutorials: Master classes, workshops, seminars and study units including MOOCs, Think Quests, Webinars etc.
  • Studios, Labs and Circles: Immersive spaces and forums that foster making, experimenting, conversations, thinking and a sense of being.
  • Peer Circles: Participative opportunities for dialogue and reviews that can be facilitated and independent, face-to-face or via blogs, discussion board conversations, wiki creation.
  • Practice: Experiential, embodied, field-based research which could include that in the workplace.
  • Electives: Engagement outside the disciplinary framework, that allows for extension and building connections. It can include visits to exhibitions, plays, places, talks, walks, participation in workshops, studios, conferences and residencies.
  • Portfolio: Development of a reflective and curated body of work, which represents evidence of growth, development and application of research in professional practice over the duration of the course.
  • Practice as Mastery: Practice based research and its documentation; academic exegesis and viva voce.

Work produced by students during information design workshop, and, class discussion in progress

Learning Approach

Inquiry-based learning, learning by making, and project-based learning are some of pedagogical tools employed to create insights into real-life situations and industry needs. Design thinking and research, the principles of cognition and perception, creative thinking, and contextual thinking is emphasized and encouraged. The course prepares the students to participate and function in the areas of creativity and visual communication across print as well as digital media.

Learning is driven by engagement with theories and methodologies through four overarching modules:

  • Inspect and Examine: Analyze content and intent using research, analysis and critical thinking.
  • Construct and Frame: Be prolific in Image Making, interaction of Type and Image to make meaning, and use of Visual Narratives in visual story-telling, Constructing and shaping meaning in communications for advertising and marketing.
  • Contextualize: Understand and employ theory of Semiotics, Denotation, Connotation and Visual Symbolism. Understand and contextualize historical milestones, Visual Culture and Visual Literacy.
  • Bridge: Intersect or traverse between theory and practice. Transform forms and meanings.

Work produced during studio learning in experimental typography

Capability Sets

  • Understand design process and employ the tools and principles of visual communication design to formulate creative and meaningful design solutions.
  • Awareness and knowledge about historical contexts as well as latest developments and concerns in the practice of visual communication design and ability to add to these developments and concerns his/her own voice within the context of his/her own practice.
  • Demonstrate autonomy and proficiency to become a critical creator.
  • Ability to work against prescribed notions of design practice thus setting new standards and novel approaches to design research / processes / ideation / production.
  • Apply principles of cognition and perception and fundamentals of visual design to create meaningful, desirable & appropriate visual messages and experiences that are empathetic to cultures, contexts and environment.
  • Work with diverse media and materials rapidly to create visual/experiential solutions.
  • Communicate compellingly the design process to invite critique & develop a community of stakeholders for the work.


Graduates of MA in Visual Communication at Srishti Manipal will be able to contribute to and make a positive difference in a variety of creative service industries such as of Branding & Advertising, Marketing & Communication, Graphic Design, Publication & Publishing, Retail and Exhibition as well as Digital Publishing and Marketing Companies. Our graduates will make very competent and effective Art Directors, Senior Designers and Design Consultants.


For further information, kindly email Kumkum Nadig at:

Disciplinary Intersections

The specialisation is informed by the following disciplines:

Book Making and Publication Design
Branding and Marketing Communication
Design Research
Design Thinking
Digital Media
Information Visualisation and Experience Design
New Humanities

Research and Collaboration


View Eligibility for Admission, Fee Schedule, Application Form & Other information for this Program >>