Study Abroad

Choosing a Masters Program in the UK | A Masters in Kingston

This blog is part 2 of my Study Abroad series.

After deciding that I did in fact want to study in the UK I started researching programs. In the beginning I did a lot of exploratory searches just to figure out what was out there and what options there were. I had a vague idea that I wanted to do something in digital design, writing, or behavioral economics.

Research, defining what I wanted

When I started I would search “UX Design Masters in the UK” and eventually figured out that most universities don’t call it “UX Design” but “Human Computer Interaction” instead. Before I figured that out, I was searching a lot of different majors and varieties. I looked up the masters programs they had at Oxford and Cambridge because it sounded so idyllic to go to school there. However my quest to do something cutting-edge, oriented around technology didn’t fit well with those schools. Most of the more up and coming programs are located in London. Not to mention my budget didn’t fit those programs very well either.

I also wanted to make sure that whatever major I chose would be an investment in my career or something that I just absolutely loved and was willing to shell out a ton of $$$ for, because I would be paying out of pocket.

How to find which schools & programs are good

When it comes to finding a good school, it really matters if the program is good. The school could be great, but have a lacking program in a certain subject area. The program websites can be helpful in understanding if the course is a good fit, but not if the program has a good reputation. To find that out you need to “hit the streets” and lurk on community platforms to find answers. The ones that particularly helped me in my search were: TheStudentRoom, Quora, and the much beloved Reddit.

Not all schools provide student visas! I found this out because Bath University had an intriguing Human Computer Interaction program, however upon further research I realised they don’t sponsor international students for visas. Be sure to check this before going too far down a rabbit hole for any school. Most schools do sponsor visas (at least from the ones I looked into), but there are a few out there that don’t.

Most masters programs in the UK are 1 year, but some are longer. That also impacts the price of the program. In the US many programs are 2 years, so that helped make studying abroad in the UK a bit more feasible for me.

You save money if you enroll directly through the school. There are sometimes programs that have study abroad programs but they’ll make you pay extra fees on top of tuition for their assistance. If you’re feeling plucky, just go out and enroll yourself!

How I made my list of final 3

I looked at my criteria:

  1. Price: I didn’t want to spend too much more than I would have spent for a Masters program at home
  2. Location: I wanted to live somewhere nice.
  3. Program Reputation
  4. Program Content: Was what they were teaching areas I wanted to study? In UX design there’s a ton of variety to the type of content they teach. In some schools its more of a software engineering program with a spin, in others its almost a graphic design program. I did a lot of research to find which one I wanted to enroll in.

In the end I only ended up applying to two universities near London. I knew I wanted to be somewhere centrally located so it would be easy to travel without being directly in the city itself.

Sample Spreadsheet

Below is a sample of the spreadsheet I created to analyze and track my choices. If your looking into UX Design programs comment below and I can clarify any comments I made. I did little to no editing on this, but just copy and pasted it into this blog because I’m lazy.

**I converted the cost for tuition from pounds to USD using Google. Because of this the prices could be more or less as it was based on whatever the conversion rate happened to be on Google that day.

UniversityCityTuition for a MastersDeadlineOther notes
(My favorite so far) Kingston University – User Experience DesignLondon$19,270Applications for September 2022 open in October 2021?was accredited by the British Computer Society (BCS), more hands-on design focus, prototyping, testing education etc. Include onlint portfolio.
City University of London – HCILondon$28,412Information architecture, plus design focus
Masters in UX Design – University of Arts LondonLondon$29,684Design focused, need portfolio to get in
Birmingham City University – UX DesignBirmingham (lots of sights/near Coventry!) (2hrs bus ride to london)$17,085A practical learning and teaching approach will underpin each of the main modules on the course ensuring that you gain “hands-on” experience in developing the necessary skills utilised in industry environments.
IADT – UX MastersDublin$18,868June / October
Loborough: UX DesignLeicestshire$25,000More design focused, awards for design
(Most highly recommended) UCL University: Masters in Human Computer InteractionLondon$37,21812 March 2021the UCL Interaction Centre (UCLIC), a world leading Centre of Excellence in Human-Computer Interaction
Not my favorite / not recommended
Goldsmiths in London – Masters in UX EngineeringLondon$20,062??Can apply for 2022 nowEngineering focused
Swansea University – HCI – Masters in ResearchWales$23,064Research focused!
Brunel Universitey – Digital Service DesignLondon$25,622More theoretical, less hands-on, no design classes
Univserity of York – HCIYork$30,164recognised by the Institution of Engineering and Technology for partial fulfillment of the CEng, and by the BCS for partial fulfillment of the CEng and the CITP Further Learning.
BATH: Masters in Human Computer InteractionBath$31,178Computer science focused, doesn’t accept international students!
University of Birmingham – HCIBirmingham$33,109Computer science focus / Machine learning /AI / computing etc.
University of Nottingham (computer science focus)Nottingham??(computer science focus)
University LancashirePreston, Lancashire (near manchester)$17,213Doesn’t look as good either from the design training or computer science training it provides
UWSeattle 😦$16,590
Non UX Degrees
Staffordshire – Digital Forensic InvestigationStaffordshire$19,27013 Months
Oxford – Masters in Creative Writing (heard reviews that said it’s not worth if it you have to go into debt to get it)Oxford$48,000January2 years (it’s 24k per year)
Oxford – Social Data Science 😦 not actually what I want to do…Oxford$34,506January10 months
IADT – MA in ScreenwritingDublin$18,868June / October
London Film School – MA in ScreenwritingLondon$19,017

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