Brunel University has teamed up with several digital design firms to create a master’s course it hopes will equip students with the broad range of skills – from coding to psychology – the industry often complains are lacking in new starters.
The MSc course in digital service design is open to graduates of any undergraduate degree and will included a series of industrial placements designed to bypass months of doing “grunt-work” as a trainee-level employee.
‘We find many people who go through degree courses are taught a good grounding in information design or whatever but it’s very difficult for us to employ them usefully because they have a very narrow skillset,’ said Mark Wilson, founder of digital design studio Wilson Fletcher and co-designer of the course.
The UK’s burgeoning digital tech sector and the DIY nature of the internet means building the next App Store-topping program has become a genuine and realistic ambition for a new generation of engineers.
But many companies still complain that grads don’t have the skills the industry needs. Even if your coding is fantastic, you may well be lacking the understanding of system architecture, visual design or even psychology needed to build a great user interface.
‘We wanted to get as close as we could to a one-year apprenticeship, as close to working in a commercial studio as possible,’ said Wilson.
At £9,000 plus the costs of studying in London for a year, the course is far from a cheap alternative to unpaid internships. But Wilson said it would expose students to a mix of people and practices.
‘The aim is to get them to do more things and guarantee them a broader range of activities than they would get from working in-house somewhere.’
Alongside learning how to code in the web’s core programming language, HTML5, (without the need for prior experience), students will study a range of subjects designed to enable them to design and improve the user experience (UX) of websites and apps.
‘Things we’re going to explore include design, rapid prototyping, research methodologies and how to present actionable recommendations to clients,’ said course director Dr Steve Love.
By covering a broad range of topics, the course should enable students to go on to specialise in one area of employment if they want to, he added. ‘It could take you to being an experience analyst, an information architect or software developer.’
For more on engineering careers in software and digital technology, read our sector guide.