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MA in Visual Communication


“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.”― John Maeda

MAVC students discuss their research with the facilitator during Transdisciplinary Research Studio


Professionals and graduates in design as well as non-design background often feel the need to step out of their comfort zones to hone their skills and enhance their creative, theoretical and research capabilities. The MA in Visual Communication enables one to integrate existing models of thinking and making with self-directed inquiries to engage deeper with contextually meaningful communication solutions. The course will equip graduates become resourceful, enhance their research and critical thinking and be more process oriented in their practice.

The foundation for this course lies in emphasizing the comprehension and processing of forms of visual information. Students will be encouraged to integrate the six key domains of visual communication design: aesthetic, functional, historical, symbolic, perceptual, and cultural, through research and practice. The discipline of Visual Communication focuses on providing core competency in developing visual literacy, visual thinking, visual perception, imaging, and representation. Inquiry-based learning, design processes, research methods, history and theories of design form the building blocks for developing a comprehensive and successful branding strategies and creative communication material.

The curriculum approaches visual communication through theoretical frameworks that not only inform and enhance the practice but also encourage students to question the norms and cross established standards.
The course structure will encourage students to engage with questions and inquiries that frame the role of visual communication within contextual approaches that are rooted in cultural relevancy. In today’s Global and Flat world are we simply brushing aside opportunities for deeper inquiries and engagement with culturally important and relevant forms of making.

Is it possible to imagine and create work outside of the prevalent aesthetics to communicate ideas that are rooted in the local, that resonate the traditions while being socially and culturally relevant to us?
Is there an Indian aesthetic that can be explored to affect the way we think and create, or, has the modernist aesthetic completely soaked up our sense of creativity?
Students will be encouraged to connect with these questions as platform to break rules, to express unique ideas, and, to explore and experiment with innovative tools and methods of visual communication. Students will thus experience design both as a complex cultural, societal, corporate activity and an intense, exploratory, personal search into meaning through visual forms.

Who is it for?

Graduates of Art & Design related Disciplines:
The course is designed for graduates of applied art, commercial art, mass communication, architecture, animation, fine art, printmaking, photography and other visual art related disciplines. This course provides an ideal opportunity also for design professionals who wish to breathe new energy into their creative career and engage in inquiry-based learning.

Graduates of Non-Art & Design Disciplines:
The course may consider applicants who do not have any undergraduate studies in the related disciplines but who have worked in creative fields and are passionately imaginative, drawn to visual arts and dream of pursuing a creative career in visual communication design. Such candidates will be required to demonstrate their creative abilities through a strong and original portfolio of works and willingness to participate in inquiry-based learning driven by research, and independent study because the course does not focus on providing fundamental and basic level learning in Visual Communication.

MAVC students’ work during Typography Studio

Course Structure

  • Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary studios
  • Workshops
  • Seminars
  • Lines of Inquiries (Field work, Case Studies, Investigations, individual or Group Projects, Transdisciplinary Research)
  • Theory and Understanding
  • Independent Study
  • Open Elective
  • Practice
  • Exhibitions
  • Culminating Performances of Understanding (Portfolio, Transdisciplinary research, Projects, Colloquium, Capstone/Dissertation)
  • Knowledge Enhancement (ability or skills)

Learning Approach

Inquiry-based learning, learning by making, and project-based learning are some of pedagogical tools employed to create insights into real-life situations and industry needs. Design thinking and research, the principles of cognition and perception, creative thinking, and contextual thinking is emphasized and encouraged. The course prepares the students to participate and function in the areas of creativity and visual communication across print as well as digital media.

Learning is driven by engagement with theories and methodologies through four overarching modules:

  • Inspect and Examine: Analyze content and intent using research, analysis and critical thinking.
  • Construct and Frame: Be prolific in Image Making, interaction of Type and Image to make meaning, and use of Visual Narratives in visual story-telling, Constructing and shaping meaning in communications for advertising and marketing across different mediums.
  • Contextualize: Understand and employ theory of Semiotics, Denotation, Connotation and Visual Symbolism. Understand and contextualize historical milestones, Visual Culture and Visual Literacy.
  • Bridge: Intersect or traverse between theory and practice. Transform forms and meanings.

MAVC students’ work during Design and Identity Studio

Capability Sets

  • Understand design process and employ the tools and principles of visual communication design to formulate creative and meaningful design solutions.
  • Awareness and knowledge about historical contexts as well as latest developments and concerns in the practice of visual communication design and ability to add to these developments and concerns his/her own voice within the context of his/her own practice.
  • Demonstrate autonomy and proficiency to become a critical thinker as well as creator.
  • Ability to work against prescribed notions of design practice thus setting new standards and novel approaches to design research / processes / ideation / production.
  • Apply principles of cognition and perception and fundamentals of visual design to create meaningful, desirable & appropriate visual messages and experiences that are empathetic to cultures, contexts and environment.
  • Work with diverse media and materials rapidly to create visual/experiential solutions.
  • Document and Communicate compellingly to invite critique by a community of stakeholders for the work.


Graduates of MA in Visual Communication at Srishti Manipal will be able to contribute to and make a positive difference in a variety of creative and research areas such as of Branding & Advertising, Marketing & Communication, Graphic Design, Publication & Publishing, Retail and Exhibition as well as Digital Publishing and Marketing Companies. Our graduates will make very competent and effective Researchers, Educators, Academicians, Creative Enablers, Art Directors, Senior Designers and Design Consultants.


This course is led by Kumkum Nadig, and Nupur Banerjee


Disciplinary Intersections

The program is informed by the following disciplines:

Book Making and Publication Design
Branding and Marketing Communication
Design Research
Design Thinking
Digital Media
Information Visualisation and Experience Design
New Humanities

Research and Collaboration



Yes, you are. Not having formal training in art/design related disciplines does not hamper your eligibility. However, it is important that you possess a talent, keen interest and awareness for the arts and design, and have a deep desire to carve out a career in design for yourself. Your talent in art / design will need to be showcased through a portfolio of your original works relating to Visual Communication.

Not having an academic background in art/design will also mean that the student will have to work extra hard especially in the first semester and become well-versed with the fundamental principles of visual communication design through independent studies since this course does not focus on developing a student’s basic skills in Visual Communication.

This is a fulltime program and this means that students will be enrolling in studio units for 5 to 6 days of the week during each semester. Contact time with teachers for the studio units is 3 to 4 hours per day, however, students are expected to put in at least 3 to 4 hours more towards assignments, research, independent study which may be practical or theoretical in nature. Furthermore, each semester also includes a 2-week workshop period where students will be engaged with hands-on activities for 6 to 8 hours every day. The semester ends with a 2-week period which constitutes the final exam and students are expected to work on examination task for at least 6 to 8 hours each day during this period. In short, this means that a student is left with very little time for additional professional work.

As a young graduate, you need to enhance your creative aptitude and sharpen your thinking & making skills and research abilities to become creative, resourceful and proficient practitioner in Visual Communication Design. You will engage with and also learn to apply design processes, research methods and history and theories of visual design to create meaningful and contextually relevant communication material. This course will also help you enhance your visual literacy, visual thinking, visual perception, and critical thinking skills. It will also enable you to integrate your existing skillsets and processes of thinking with the emerging technologies, methods, media and practices in the field of visual communication. The course is designed to engage students in inquiry-based learning. At post-graduate level students are also expected to be self-motivated and take charge of their learning and their time at Srishti Manipal to forge meaningful relationships with their peers, deepen their learning through independent studies, seek critical and thought-provoking dialogues through seminars and colloquiums, and, align their research and inquiry with the vision of the course.

You will be required to dedicate between 25 to 30 hours of work every week for homework and assignments. These hours may be partly spent at our campus and partly at home.

As a graduate of MA in Visual Communication, there are a variety of creative / research / academic areas that you will be eligible to engage with. You will be able to contribute to and make a positive difference in industries such as Branding & Advertising, Marketing & Communication, Graphic Design, Publication & Publishing, Retail and Exhibition. You will be highly effective to work as Researcher, Academician, Educator, Art Director, Senior Designer or Design Consultant at various design houses, corporates, publishing houses, marketing companies, advertising agencies, NGOs, innovation centres and event management companies.

This is a demanding course and students are expected to be productive from the day one. Focusing on enhancing productivity skills by learning various visualisation and crafting techniques along with working on improving your computer skills (especially Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop) will be tremendously helpful.

Being aware of the latest trends and concerns of the art and design industry will also help to gather and understand the fundamentals quickly. Visiting art galleries, museums, attending Degree Shows of various design colleges, reading books and magazines on art, design and learning about the history of Art and Design will make a big difference in your ability to comprehend complexities and demands of the creative process.

The course does not allow you to choose another major. However, the course allows for Choice-based navigation of some of the learning units, which means that a student is able to signup for units from other specialisations within other MA Courses which could be from specialisations from other Courses such as Art Practices or New Humanities and Design. There may also be opportunities for a student to work on developing skills/capabilities in an area of their interest through choosing to work on related projects or independent study, and, thus focus on a specific expertise/skill.

Only some of the Learning Units are mandatory within a specialisation. Apart from mandatory Learning Units, students can sign up for units from other courses that will be termed as allied or elective units. The allied units are the learning units offered by specialisations within the course you have enrolled in, and, electives are learning units offered by courses and specialisations outside of the course you have enrolled in.

Srishti Manipal does not provide an official/formal placement event for its graduating batches. Instead the graduation seminar known popularly as "The Srishti Collective" becomes a platform where industry is invited to attend and view our graduating batch’s capstone seminar and conference. Historically this also becomes a placement event. Additionally we publish a catalogue of our graduates each year which is circulated amongst industry and professionals.

Srishti Manipal does not provide an official/formal placement event for its graduating batches. Instead the graduation seminar known popularly as "The Srishti Collective" becomes a platform where industry is invited to attend and view our graduating batch’s capstone seminars and exhibits. Historically this also becomes a placement event. Additionally we publish a catalogue of our graduates each year which is circulated amongst industry and professionals.

View Eligibility for Admission, Fee Schedule, Application Form & Other information for this Program >>