Ciara McCurtin

Student spotlight details

With a background in architecture, Ciara approached the MSt in the History of Design course a little differently.

'Before I enrolled on the course, I was working in architecture, having graduated with a MArch degree from University College Dublin two years previously. Throughout my architectural studies I had always been interested in the cross-disciplinary nature of design, where movements in architecture were paralleled by concurrent movements in textile and furniture design, for example.

'I was attracted to the broad scope of the MSt in the History of Design. The part-time nature of the course was another factor as it allowed me to combine my interest in research and writing with my work in practice.

'I thoroughly enjoy the class discussion, as it is a very open environment. It’s so rare to be in a room full of people that just love to think and talk about design! I also thoroughly enjoy the research. I have had the opportunity to spend hours in the National Art Library at the V&A and the British Library amongst many others; it has been wonderful.

'In terms of what I have learned on the course, I found last semester’s 'Histories of Modern Design’ particularly interesting (Each term tends to have a title and theme, and the lecture days relate to this title as do our research questions which are self-directed). Due to the fact that my background is in architecture I have chosen to use the essay question each semester to approach architecture from different points of view. Last semester I decided to explore the use of colour in post-war British primary schools, which turned out to be a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable topic of research. I also enjoyed the Historical Methods semester as it has helped me situate my research within an overall history of design theoretical framework, which has been useful. 

'I have found time management the most challenging aspect of the course, particularly at the beginning. Now that I am half way through the course I have a better feeling for how long a task will take and where to draw the line in terms of research.

'I have lots of ideas about what I will do next: I intend to continue my research so my aim would be to do a PhD should I find a suitable topic, but I still have the final year of the MSt to complete, so the work this year will inform my final decision. I still work four days a week as a Part II Architectural Assistant for an architecture practice in London, in a small studio where I have developed a greater knowledge of materials and design in practice. Either way, I would like to continue with my research and writing, whether in an educational or professional context.

'Overall, I would recommend this course without hesitation to anyone interested in expanding their knowledge of design history. It is a part-time course but it is worth bearing in mind that it is a Masters so it requires a commitment of time and energy. However, many have found that the part time nature of the course has actually enriched the overall experience."

Learn more: