Automotive and Transport Design MA

Study level: Postgraduate
Student leaning over an automotive prototype model

This course offers you the opportunity to develop core skills demanded by automotive and transport design studios or global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).

Year of entry


Coventry University (Coventry)

Study mode



1 year full-time

Course code


Start date

May 2024

Course overview

Working on studio-delivered briefs and ‘live’ industry projects2, you will be taught the underlying theory, 2D and the latest 3D techniques used to resolve automotive design challenges within the areas of exterior and interior design. We offer industry-standard facilities4, including an automotive clay modelling studio, laser cutting, rapid prototyping and 3D printing.

This master's programme provides you with the additional option to apply for a professional placement opportunity2 during your first semester with us. The professional placement opportunity is designed to further develop your skills and knowledge with the aim of maximising your employability prospects. Read more about this option in the placement year section below.

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Joint Top Modern University for Career Prospects

Guardian University Guide 2021 and 2022

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5 QS Stars for Teaching and Facilities

QS Stars University Ratings

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Top 5 UK Student City (Coventry)

QS Best Student Cities Index 2023

Why you should study this course

Designed to teach you the skills, knowledge and expertise to produce innovative and visionary automotive designs, this course has been developed with significant input and continuing support from automotive design professionals.

  • Coventry has gained an international reputation for automotive research and teaching covering design, engineering, business and media. A former winner of ‘Best Design School’ in the World Automotive Design competition, we have hosted major symposiums on the future of transport design, future of automotive design conferences and the ITS-UK Automotive User Interest Group.
  • You will be taught by a faculty which currently includes specialists in automotive, transport and broader industrial design with expertise in concept generation, modelling, interior, exterior and design-led development of low carbon vehicles. Their extensive professional experience includes working for well-known companies like Mercedes-Benz, PSA, General Motors, Daihatsu, Nissan and Ford (staff are subject to change).
  • We deliberately strike a balance between traditional hand-processes and emerging technologies. You’ll participate in workshops for block material, automotive clay modelling and handwork while having access to laser cutting, rapid prototyping (5-axis & 3-axis milling) and 3D printing4.
  • You can expect to develop the advanced knowledge needed to function as critical and effective practitioners, able to demonstrate excellence in visual aesthetics and develop conceptual designs in and from two dimensions into three dimensions.

Collaborations with other organisations

Our current excellent industry links with leading automotive and transport companies, and consultancies may provide opportunities for ‘live’ collaborative projects, industry visits and networking2.

Discover Automotive Design MA student Haichao Li’s work for the Coventry Degree Show postgraduate showcase.

Although I have five years of work experience, I have learned a lot of useful knowledge needed to be a good car designer; such as the matters needing attention when designing automobiles, how to analyse and investigate the automobile design and how to apply this knowledge to the future development of automobiles, and how to plan your career. We also have the chance to cooperate with OEMs like Jaguar Land Rover, JCB and Mazda.

Tianyu Zhang, MA Automotive and Transport Design student, September 2021
Tianyu Zhang

Coventry Degree Show 2023

The Coventry Degree Show is an annual event to celebrate and showcase our graduating students’ work.

Explore the work of our talented students
Degree show 2023

What you'll study

This course develops your understanding of the latest developments, drivers and practices of the automotive designer.

You will be taught to create innovative product design solutions in a range of styles and media, which factor in purpose, usability, materials, ecology, desirability, technological feasibility and professional constraints.

You will explore briefs and investigate global design drivers, markets and emerging opportunities to produce solutions at the forefront of the sector. The overall goal will be to innovatively challenge existing or future design through investigative and creative approaches. You will build upon existing skills and knowledge and develop professional design competencies that are industry relevant and/or focus on their capability to explore transport issues, opportunities and solutions at a more creative, holistic or systems-based level.


  • This module explores the nature and definitions of research in art, architecture and design-based disciplines. You are introduced to interdisciplinary research methods and ethical practices from a range of perspectives. Understanding of research and ethics is demonstrated through the completion of an online research submission, and through practical exploration and experimentation conducted, recorded and analysed as a research project.


  • By using design project brief/s, you will build upon design knowledge and practical visualisation skills required in the areas of 2D representation, 3D form and surface development, as well as the theory and practices of professional automotive and transport designers. You will explore automotive and transport related contextual issues (branding, user-experience and HMI, sustainability, scenario planning).


  • This module allows you to develop a Final Project Plan. Research itself is taken to be a wide-ranging activity that includes visual, social, cultural and factual information gathering as well as investigating the potential practical outcome of your project. Developing knowledge of your industry of interest, and visits to international trade events, seminars, production facilities, exhibitions and social and retail environments are encouraged and expected2.

    You will be encouraged to refocus your skills intellectually, contextually and practically, to extend and exploit art and design strategies, from both your own and other disciplines, and to question and test your ideas through seminars and group critiques. You will ultimately create a clear plan of action for your final semester of study. You will also be expected review the ethical considerations of your project.


  • This module explores the ways in which creativity, innovation, problem-solving and entrepreneurship relate to creative and professional practice. It employs real-world examples to enable you to think about your professional practice, employability, portfolio development, and approaches to communication.

    You will further build and develop a personal portfolio which will support your potential career aims and develop your personal ‘voice’. Routes to employment, contemporary roles within the creative industries, and opportunities for entrepreneurship and will be explored2. You will interrogate potential opportunities; mapping requirements in order to make ongoing plans for your professional development and the potential for employment/entrepreneurship/further study on completing your study.


  • Students will be given automotive or transport design briefs and will develop deeper knowledge and advanced skills which reflect professional practices in design studio environments and creative practices. There will be a strong focus on research and evaluation to define design requirements and design briefs. This will inform a creative response and the proposal of innovative and aesthetically compelling design responses that have strong contextual focus and user feasibility e.g. related to future trends or global challenges such as emerging technologies sustainability, science and technology, population and resources.


  • This module requires you to implement the first part of the plan defined in the module ‘Automotive and Transport Design Final Project’. This module requires the management and implementation of an appropriate critical investigation. This will help you gain specialist insight or a new knowledge base to support Final Project. The outcome will be a personal project brief or initial creative directions inspired by the data, discourse or analysis. This is the most substantial theoretical assignment on the course and needs to be managed effectively. The output of this module can be presented in a negotiated form that has equivalent to a 3,500-word investigatory or exploratory report. For example, a research report, a digital media presentation, a research poster.


  • In this module, you will undertake the delivery of a sustained practical design project. The module provides a space for you to display your skills, knowledge and design sensibilities. Outputs will be 2D and/or 3D, and show a good level of practical understanding and feasibility. The emphasis is placed on developing concepts which propose challenging and original solutions at the forefront of automotive or transport design practice. You will present your final work in the form of a presentation.


  • This module explores the changing world of work which you will enter after study. New technology and the changing global economy mean that jobs and skills are changing and evolving quickly and will continue to do so. This is an exciting and new world, and this module is designed to empower you to realise your potential in it. This module provides tools for you to develop into changemakers, thrive in a changing world of work and participate in creating a better future for society. You will be guided through a process of reflection that explores four possible futures for the world of work and how to situate your own professional identity as the future of work changes through their careers. This module is designed in collaboration with The RSA (Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), and upon successful completion you will receive RSA digital badging.


With professional experience option

The professional experience opportunity2 enables you the opportunity to apply for optional professional experience in semester 1, which, upon successfully securing an opportunity, will extend the duration of your master’s to either 16, 20 or 24 months. The professional experience provides an opportunity for you to develop expertise and experience in your chosen field with the aim of enhancing your employability.

Please note that the optional professional experience modules incur an additional tuition fee, for which 1 semester of professional experience is £1,333.33, for 2 semesters of professional experience is £2666.67, and for 3 semesters of professional experience is £4,000.

Professional experience may also be subject to additional costs, visa requirements being met, subject to availability and/or competitive application. Professional experience opportunities are not guaranteed but you will benefit from the support of our Talent Team in trying to find and secure an opportunity. Find out more about the professional experience option.

We regularly review our course content, to make it relevant and current for the benefit of our students. For these reasons, course modules may be updated.

How you'll learn

The School of Art and Design often provides opportunities to engage in external or collaborative activities such as competition/Industry briefs and speakers beyond your course studies2. We strongly encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities to support your learning journey.

Teaching contact hours

The number of full-time contact hours may vary from semester to semester, however, on average, it is likely to be around 10 contact hours per week in the first and second semesters. In your third semester, you will be supervised for your Final Major Project as you become a more independent learner. Teaching includes a combination of:

  • Mixed-size group teaching: workshops, seminars and lectures
  • Mixed-size group teaching: seminar, critiques and tutorials
  • Studio practice and bookable workshop access4

Additionally, you will be expected to undertake significant self-directed study of approximately 20 hours each week, depending on the demands of individual modules.

As an innovative and enterprising institution, the University may seek to utilise emerging technologies within the student experience. For all courses (whether on-campus, blended, or distance learning), the University may deliver certain contact hours and assessments via online technologies and methods.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are prepared for courses due to start in or after the 2023/2024 academic year to be delivered in a variety of forms. The form of delivery will be determined in accordance with Government and Public Health guidance. Whether on campus or online, our key priority is staff and student safety.


This course will be assessed using a variety of methods which will vary depending on the module. Assessment methods include:

  • Phase tests
  • Essays
  • Group work
  • Presentations
  • Practical or project work
  • Coursework
  • Placements2

The Coventry University Group assessment strategy ensures that our courses are fairly assessed and allows us to monitor student progression towards achieving the intended learning outcomes.

International experience opportunities

Throughout the course, projects will be set with an international focus, with the aim of enhancing your global experience and broadening your mindset. The studio briefs select a broad range of international brands and the live projects, which are mostly from clients, include international contributions2.

You may also have opportunities to take part in Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) projects2 working collaboratively across international boundaries.

Entry requirements

You should have a degree in industrial, product, automotive or transport design.

Entry Qualifications equivalent to 2:1 in an automotive, transport, industrial or product design-related degree or relevant professional experience. A 500-word personal statement suggesting an area of potential MA research. And an excellent portfolio which should:

  • Evidence vehicle exterior and interior design knowledge at a professional level (ideally through placement and/or professional experience) in critical evaluation, creative problem solving, and presentation. Freehand sketching (sketchbooks, etc.) skills and exploration of a wide range of ideas must be extensively demonstrated through project work.
  • Illustrate proficiency in developing automotive surfaces and volumes from 2D to 3D through automotive clay modelling or appropriate analogue materials and in CAD.

We recognise a breadth of qualifications, speak to one of our advisers today to find out how we can help you.

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Select your region to find detailed information about entry requirements:

You can view our full list of country specific entry requirements on our Entry requirements page.

Alternatively, visit our International hub for further advice and guidance on finding in-country agents and representatives, joining our in-country events and how to apply.

Typical entry requirements

You should have a degree in industrial, product, automotive or transport design.

Entry Qualifications equivalent to 2:1 in an automotive, transport, industrial or product design-related degree or relevant professional experience. A 500-word personal statement suggesting an area of potential MA research. And an excellent portfolio which should:

  • Evidence vehicle exterior and interior design knowledge at a professional level (ideally through placement and/or professional experience) in critical evaluation, creative problem solving, and presentation. Freehand sketching (sketchbooks, etc.) skills and exploration of a wide range of ideas must be extensively demonstrated through project work.
  • Illustrate proficiency in developing automotive surfaces and volumes from 2D to 3D through automotive clay modelling or appropriate analogue materials and in CAD.

English language requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 overall, with no component lower than 5.5

If you don't meet the English language requirements, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

For more information on our approved English language tests visit our English language requirements page.

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Fees and funding

2023/24 tuition fees.

Student Full-time Part-time
UK, Ireland*, Channel Islands or Isle of Man £11,200 | £15,200 (with prof. experience)   Not available
EU £11,200 | £15,200 (with prof. experience) per year with EU support bursary**
£18,600 | £22,600 (with prof. experience) per year without EU support bursary**
Not available
International £18,600 | £22,600 (with prof. experience)   Not available

For advice and guidance on tuition fees3 and student loans visit our Postgraduate Finance page.

We offer a range of International scholarships to students all over the world. For more information, visit our International Scholarships page.

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessments, facilities and support services. There may be additional costs not covered by this fee such as accommodation and living costs, recommended reading books, stationery, printing and re-assessments should you need them.

The following are additional costs not included in the tuition fees:

  • Any optional overseas field trips or visits: £400+ per trip.
  • Any costs associated with securing, attending or completing a placement (whether in the UK or abroad).

*Irish student fees

The rights of Irish residents to study in the UK are preserved under the Common Travel Area arrangement. If you are an Irish student and meet the residency criteria, you can study in England, pay the same level of tuition fees as English students and utilise the Tuition Fee Loan.

**EU Support Bursary

Following the UK's exit from the European Union, we are offering financial support to all eligible EU students who wish to study an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree with us full-time. This bursary will be used to offset the cost of your tuition fees to bring them in line with that of UK students. Students studying a degree with a foundation year with us are not eligible for the bursary.


We have a wealth of digital and traditional workshops4 and learning spaces that allow you to learn to make and manufacture.

Our Digital and Industrial workshops house 3D rapid prototyping, laser cutters, and milling machines which students studying Architecture to Graphic Design can access. We have the famous clay modelling studios that allow you to realise your transport and product design solutions, as well as a large digital print bureau, ceramic, and small metal-working workshop.

Design software being used on a laptop

Digital Design Workshop  

Our Digital Design Workshop brings your ideas to life through different media. Here you’ll find a high-powered laser cutter, printers, scanners and industry-standard software used for technical drawing and environmental modelling.


Clay Studio with students working

Clay studio

In our clay studio, your ideas become realised by using technological software and clay. We focus on digital and physical 3D modelling, providing a deeper understanding of visualisation techniques and experimentation.


Outside of the computer suites

Computer suites

Our computer suites use industry software used in modelling, animation and analysis. This includes graphic, modelling and visualisation packages such as Alias, Maya, Adobe Creative Suite, Rhino, Vector works, Showcase, VRED and SRAMSIS and Jack ergonomics software. 

Careers and opportunities

Upon successful completion, you will have knowledge of:

  • The visual, analytical and aesthetic synthesis between 2D images and 3D forms.
  • The ways in which designers work and their role in the design and business process, environment and sustainability.
  • Issues pertaining to the relationship between vehicle design theory and practice at a practical, advanced and conceptual level.
  • The role of the human as a user of the vehicle product and identify critical user issues.

Upon successful completion, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate the appropriate aesthetic sensibilities through the application of theory and practical knowledge and skills to an automotive design project
  • Appraise, examine and evaluate the automotive product from a range of critical perspectives
  • Analyse future trends/scenarios and problems of a creative nature and propose original cohesive solutions
  • Evaluate design theory, ideas and solutions against automotive design practices.
  • Demonstrate drawing and presentation skills commensurate with professional design studios.

Career opportunities are considered vast and varied within automotive design, research, teaching and design management. You could start your own business or become a design consultant, modeller, illustrator, CAD professional, design manager or marketing professional.

Where our graduates work

Recent graduates have been recruited by some of the industry’s most well-known manufacturers, including Jaguar Land Rover, SAIC, Tata and Geely.

How to apply

  • Coventry University together with Coventry University London Campus, CU Coventry, CU London, CU Scarborough and Coventry University Online come together to form part of the Coventry University Group (the “University”) with all degrees awarded by Coventry University. 


    The majority of our courses have been formally recognised by professional bodies, which means the courses have been reviewed and tested to ensure they reach a set standard. In some instances, studying on an accredited course can give you additional benefits such as exemptions from professional exams (subject to availability, fees may apply). Accreditations, partnerships, exemptions and memberships shall be renewed in accordance with the relevant bodies’ standard review process and subject to the university maintaining the same high standards of course delivery.

    2UK and international opportunities

    Please note that we are unable to guarantee any UK or International opportunities (whether required or optional) such as internships, work experience, field trips, conferences, placements or study abroad opportunities and that all such opportunities may be subject to additional costs (which could include, but is not limited to, equipment, materials, bench fees, studio or facilities hire, travel, accommodation and visas), competitive application, availability and/or meeting any applicable travel COVID and visa requirements. To ensure that you fully understand the visa requirements, please contact the International Office.

    3Tuition fees

    The University will charge the tuition fees that are stated in the above table for the first Academic Year of study. The University will review tuition fees each year. For UK (home) students, if Parliament permit an increase in tuition fees, the University may increase fees for each subsequent year of study in line with any such changes. Note that any increase is expected to be in line with inflation.

    For International Students, we may increase fees each year but such increases will be no more than 5% above inflation. If you defer your course start date or have to extend your studies beyond the normal duration of the course (e.g. to repeat a year or resit examinations) the University reserves the right to charge you fees at a higher rate and/or in accordance with any legislative changes during the additional period of study.


    Facilities are subject to availability. Access to some facilities (including some teaching and learning spaces) may vary from those advertised and/or may have reduced availability or restrictions where the university is following public authority guidance, decisions or orders.

    Student Contract

    By accepting your offer of a place and enrolling with us, a Student Contract will be formed between you and the university. A copy of the 2023/24 contract can be found here. The Contract details your rights and the obligations you will be bound by during your time as a student and contains the obligations that the university will owe to you. You should read the Contract before you accept an offer of a place and before you enrol at the university.

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