MA Lighting Design

Postgraduate, Full-time

Lighting Design MA

Learn from award-winning and internationally renowned lighting designers.


One of only a small number of postgraduate lighting design courses in the world, this programme explores the use of light in interior and exterior spaces, and light as a medium for creative practice. You’ll learn combined technical and creative skills and to apply lighting design principles. You’ll be taught by award-winning and internationally renowned lighting designers. 

Part of the MA/MFA Design Suite, the course benefits from bringing together designers from a range of disciplines into core modules, as well as modules specific to your chosen pathway such as 'Creative Lighting Design for Places and People' and 'Design for Heritage and Culture'. 

All students complete the Live Project and you will study 'Thinking: Research for Creative Practice', which will help you to determine your Research Portfolio (MA) or Major Project (MFA) topics.

To ensure there is sufficient time to process your application, we encourage you to submit your application by 30th June.

Detail of a student's exhibition at Edinburgh Napier University Degree Show 2018.

Mode of Study:

Full-time (available as Part-time)


1 years

Start date:


Course details

Well-designed lighting can transform a place or a space, and greatly enhance the user experience.

The MA Lighting Design will develop your skills and knowledge in the use of light and projection in designed spaces. You will learn how to exploit natural light, but also enhance interior and exterior spaces with the use of artificial lighting systems and art projections. 

You will explore different lighting types and qualities, and learn how to select appropriate lighting for the right setting. You will develop technical understanding of state-of the art hardware, as well as the use of more simple technical solutions to lighting spaces.
The programme is supported by the Edinburgh Napier University design team who are actively engaged in research, knowledge exchange and/or consultancy work as part of the Art & Design Research Centre (ADRC), as well as professional practice with Malcolm Innes’ work particularly relevant to this specialism. Malcolm Innes is an artist by training and has extensive experience of architectural lighting design and light art. Malcolm’s portfolio includes several multi-award winning projects including two IALD Radiance awards and nine IIDA awards. The programme also has input from industry based specialists and partners.

Malcolm Innes is a world-renowned expert in lighting design education. Euan Winton has expertise in digital imaging and light art and projection. They have both worked on a variety of heritage projects, most notably at the city’s Botanic Gardens, and with Edinburgh World Heritage on the revitalisation of some of the “closes” (the old medieval thoroughfares) that criss-cross the Royal Mile. Malcolm has also worked with Historic Scotland, most recently at Elgin Cathedral.

This pathway allows you to explore the application of lighting systems within new and existing spaces, both interior and exterior. You'll study a variety of modules during this course, including:

  • Spatial Lighting Design
  • Design for Heritage & Cultural Spaces
  • Light Art & Projection
  • calendar How you’ll be taught The programme uses practice-based learning, workshops, seminars, lectures, guest speakers and supported online learning in which core knowledge and understanding are acquired and assessed in tandem with their specific application to your own individual projects.
  • note and pen Assessments We take a common approach to learning, teaching and assessment in studio modules where practice-based student output is collated as a portfolio presentation.
  • briefcase Work placement The programme offers two modules (Live Project in trimester 1, Research Projects and Entrepreneurship in trimesters 2) where you have the option of working with external partners, which may include some work-based learning.
  • library Facilities All design programmes in the School of Arts & Creative Industries are delivered in studio learning environments with access to up-to-date technical resources and lighting equipment.


Modules that you will study* as part of this course

Creative Lighting for People and Places ( DES11138 )

Lighting plays an integral role in creating successful interior and exterior environments: good lighting is capable of separating areas, suggesting circulation, manipulating mood and creating atmosphere within a space. The correct use of light is a complex process not only in managing the desired effect but also the detailing issues regarding location, fixings and the management of power and control.
You will develop a critical understanding of the design of spaces incorporating lighting design and develop knowledge of how to develop and specify lighting within a built environment.

You will apply principles of lighting design that satisfies basic human requirements to create architectural and spatial design schemes. This will include the identification of light sources (both natural and artificial) and specification of lighting equipment. You will consider human factors along with issues relating to installation and power supply, including control schedules.

Hand drawing and CAD modelling will be used alongside physical modelling to prototype and communicate concepts, locations, layout, and details for installation. Costing and budget constraints will also be considered.

Further information

Design for Heritage and Culture ( DES11137 )

This is an interdisciplinary module that will require you to place your own subject specialism within the broad context of design for culture and heritage.

Through this module you will develop your understanding of the core aspects of design for Heritage and Culture through exhibition design, site specific interpretive installations, spatial appreciation, lighting, motion graphics for immersive environments and graphic communication. User journeys, engagements, interactions and experiences will form the foundation of explorative studies where prototype designs will aim to change visitor relationship to heritage and culture.

The module introduces you to a variety of design strategies used by designers to address thematically driven project briefs in a variety of physical contexts.

Studio-based design projects form the core of the module. Within the projects you will critically explore current themes in areas of heritage and culture and you will look towards forecasting and designing for future potentialities. In developing design proposals, you are required to undertake thematic, contextual and material research and to illustrate how your design solutions provide for enhanced user experience and interaction in a defined heritage and cultural role.

Further information

Light Art & Projection ( DES11122 )

You will apply principles of light art and projection to architectural and spatial design schemes. This will include the specification of hardware and software for light art installations and interpretation of proposed locations. You will consider human factors along with technical issues (installation, power supply, control schedules). Physical and CAD modelling will be used to prototype and communicate location and layout, and details for installation. Costing and budget constraints are also included.

Further information

Live Projects ( DES11136 )

This module will embed learning within a framework of live design practice. You will work collaboratively alongside staff and other students on a range of live research and knowledge exchange projects with external clients. In negotiation with teaching staff, you will also have the option of undertaking a self-generated design project for an external client if the appropriate learning outcomes can be achieved.

This module will require you to take responsibility for your own work, work to professional standards and to work autonomously within a larger design team and client body that may include several other professions. You will need to demonstrate leadership whilst managing complex open-ended technical design problems.

At the beginning of the module, you will negotiate an Individual Learning Agreement with the teaching staff to define the learning to be undertaken, how it will satisfy the requirements of post-graduate (Level 11) study and how these activities will address the learning outcomes of the module. You will keep a learning journal throughout the module to document and critically reflect on your learning.

In summary of the module, you will produce a multimedia portfolio that documents the range of professional knowledge, skills and critical reflection that you have gained and applied in this module. This documentary portfolio will be supported by a written reflective report where you will critically analyse and appraise the quality of your own work within the context of the professional environment you were working within.

Further information

Research and Entrepreneurship Projects ( DES11144 )

This module gives you the opportunity to align and apply your creative practice to a live practice-based research project or opportunity for entrepreneurial practice. Projects and opportunities may arise from the ongoing practice and research within the university, or may be initiated by yourself. In either case, you will be required to work with appropriate external clients and/or partners.

You will work to professional standards with socially responsible practices to generate and deliver useable creative outputs. You must demonstrate integrity, leadership and good personal communication skills, whilst managing complex open-ended problems in a socio-economic and/or technical context.

At the beginning of the module, you will negotiate an Individual Learning Agreement with the programme team to define the learning to be undertaken, and to determine how these activities will enable you to meet the learning outcomes of the module. You will keep a learning journal throughout the module. At the end of the module you will produce a creative portfolio that evidences professional knowledge and skills and critical reflection. This will be supported by a written reflective report where you will critically analyse and appraise your own work within the context of the professional environment you have been working within.

Further information

Research as Critical Practice ( DES11143 )

This module is designed to develop your knowledge and skills required to undertake an advanced range of research methods appropriate to contemporary creative practice in design and lens media, from ethnography and interviews to phenomenology and critical performance. You will explore advanced research paradigms for creative practice which include critical, participative and performative-oriented research approaches and methods. You will develop and refine your skills in creative research methods, analysis of creative and practice-based research precedents, and critical interpretation in relation to contemporary creative practice. Using a wide range of primary and secondary sources you will learn to critically explore and evaluate design or lens media research practices. The knowledge acquired throughout the module will support you in the formulation of a sophisticated, reflective and fully referenced creative practice proposal. The module will cover research methods that will enable you to ask, learn, look and try things during the early exploratory stages of the creative process. This will be evidenced by multiple outputs: research presentations, film, installations and written work.

Further information

* These are indicative only and reflect the course structure in the current academic year. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.


Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Placement and study abroad opportunities are subject to UK and Scottish Government health and travel advice.

Full information is available in our disclaimer.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

The entry requirement for this course is a Bachelor (Honours) Degree at 2:2 or above in an art & design or related discipline (architecture, creative computing & engineering design)

We may also consider lesser qualifications if you have sufficient professional work experience within the industry.

All candidates are interviewed with a portfolio of creative work or technical/business projects. Applicants from overseas can be interviewed by teleconference with an online portfolio.

English language

If your first language isn't English, you'll normally need to undertake an approved English language test and our minimum English language requirements will apply.

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English, or your undergraduate degree was taught and examined in English (within two years of starting your postgraduate course). Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.

International students

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BN Nursing/MSc Nursing (Pre-registration) (Adult, Mental Health, Child, Learning Disabilities)
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery

Admissions policies

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.

Tuition fees
Students from 2021/22 2022/23
Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland £7,810 £8,040
Overseas and EU £15,620 £16,075

Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual review and may increase from one year to the next.
For more information on this and other Tuition Fee matters please see Frequently Asked Questions about Fees

Click this link for Information of Bursaries and Scholarships

The University offers a 20% discount on Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes to its alumni. The discount applies to all full-time, part-time and online programmes.
Please note that the tuition fees liable to be paid by EU nationals commencing their studies from 1 August 2021 will be the Overseas fee rate. The University offers a range of attractive Tuition Fee bursaries to students resident in specific countries. More information on these can be found here.


Graduates from this programme pathway can pursue careers in: 

  • interior and spatial design
  • lighting design
  • urban design
  • exhibition and museum design
  • installation art
Projection map on a building.