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The critical study of design and fashion

In the Design Cultures specialisation, you will develop an eye for all kinds of design. Moreover, you will acquire professional skills such as critical thinking, research, presentation and writing skills.

You will acquire research skills and learn to generate in-depth content for museum texts, articles, videos or podcasts. Moreover, you will gain access to professional networks where our graduates are now established.

When you graduate, you will be well-qualified to work in the fields of media editing, teaching, academic research, journalism, exhibition curation and the design industries.

Alternative approaches

Our programme is the first postgraduate course on design embedded in a faculty of Humanities, offering a dialogue with sister programmes in art, architecture, media and heritage.

You will learn to identify and analyse crossovers within and between the different design disciplines in wider social, economic and material contexts. You will also learn to put theory into practice as a writer and researcher, and during your internship at a cultural institution.

You will have many opportunities to develop your own personal interests, for example, in fashion, industrial design or graphic design. The specialisation in Design Cultures will deepen your understanding of 20th- and 21st-century developments in design as a practice, a product, a discourse and a cultural environment.

Taught by experts

Our staff is made up of an international team of distinguished researchers who contribute actively to design scholarship. They publish regularly, attend conferences and are leading names in their research fields. Our academic staff are actively involved in numerous local, national and international networks.


Studying in the city of Amsterdam is a unique experience. The urban setting and the multicultural mindset of the people of Amsterdam, combined with the energy of a thriving cultural city life gives your education a special dimension.

Cultural collaboration

The opportunities for collaboration between the design sector, cultural institutions and social enterprise in Amsterdam are endless. Through our wide-ranging academic courses, you can explore the dimensions of these contexts and combine them in unique and exciting ways.

Study Programme

The programme is built around five core courses (30EC) and a master’s thesis (18EC). You will also choose to take elective courses or conduct an internship (12EC).

Below you will find the compulsory courses. Take a look at the other courses in the Study Guide.


  • Master Thesis Design Cultures
  • Trending Topics Arts and Culture
  • Design, Culture and Society
  • Methods of Design Analysis: The Meanings of Design
  • Design in Words: Criticism, Writing and Theory
  • The Arts and Crafts of Dutch Design

You will find the study programme in our studyguide.

Students tell

Students tell

Sterre Boessen–Synergique, Design Agency, Maastricht. “This master has offered me critical perspectives and research tools from which I will benefit in my career as a creative and a thinker."

Enya Moore - Design Cultures Graduate, postdoctoral researcher at Technological University Dublin. "I learned that the subject of design is made up of layers of complexities, which makes for rewarding academic research and analysis."

Electives or internship

You can customise your programme to your specific interests by selecting several courses from a broad range of interdisciplinary electives in the fields of visual arts, architecture, literature or history.

Alternatively, you can choose to gain professional experience by conducting a research internship in the field of design. That means its main scope should be to answer a research question that is relevant for the organisation with which you are working. You will need to find an appropriate internship placement yourself, according to your own interests. The process of finding an internship takes time, so you are encouraged to start developing proposals for particular organisations before starting the programme.

Students have conducted internships at various institutions, such as:

Master’s thesis

The programme culminates in the master’s thesis, which gives you a chance to demonstrate your research skills, your competence as a critical thinker, and your ability to systematically gather, select and interpret information. You will also become skilled in arguing a case in an independent, objective and ethical manner. Your thesis plan is due in January and you give two public presentations of your thesis in February and May.

The thesis topic is decided between the student and the supervisor. Our graduates have written theses on sustainable fashion, luxury cars, design exhibitions, design for health, the graphic design of political campaigns and cultural appropriation in fashion.

Change your future! Take the Master’s in Arts and Culture: Design Cultures

Change your future! Take the Master’s in Arts and Culture: Design Cultures

Our graduate have achieved positions in the field of research, teaching, museums, writing and journalism and management. Our graduates include academic design researchers, magazine editors, lecturers in higher education, authors on design, and exhibition curators.

Explore your future prospects
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Questions about the programme?

Please contact the programme coordinator

Send an e-mail to Jane Tynan via