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Course Overview

Iconic Practice, Iconic Theory, Iconic Research

The practice of design would just as surely fail to meet current demands on visual communication, if it were founded solely on technical skills and craftsmanship, as it would if it resulted only from reflections about visual messages as postulated by iconic theory. The combination of the two gives rise to new qualifications: university graduates can expand their practical design skills thanks to theoretical and research models. Graduates with a Bachelor’s degree and a proven interest in the process of design can broaden their theoretical knowledge through practical experience of design processes and research projects. Considering the wide range of disciplines involved in critical reflection upon images, we are aiming for a close exchange between students with practical and theoretical educational backgrounds. In response to international demand the language of instruction is English.

Interdisciplinarity: Design Practice and Culture Studies

According to our governing principle, the deepening of practical and theoretical knowledge in the field of the image is central to the master’s program. In light of the range of disciplines that take part in reflecting on images, a close exchange between students with practical and theoretical backgrounds is a primary goal.

Cooperation partners 

The Master’s Program is based on a close cooperation with partner institutions in Switzerland and abroad. This is implemented via collaboration on research projects, exchange of students and faculty and through partnering at events. In addition to the National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) Iconic Criticism at Basel University, the cooperation with international centers of design, iconic and media sciences includes a wide spectrum of discourse. In this way, a variety of methodological approaches and current research projects are introduced into the Master's degree program in visual communication and iconic research and ensure the connection to current discourses on the medium image and its communicative properties. The relation to design research is also explored via a practical approach and constitutes one of the central tenets of the course. The Master’s program is positioned internationally and its activities employ the extensive network of the Basel School of Design. 

eikones, NCCR Iconic Criticism

Based at the University of Basel and financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the research center, with its 35 component projects, examines the power and meaning of images.
The close collaboration between the Academy of Art and Design and eikones, NCCR Iconic Criticism is enhanced through teaching opportunities provided by the Master’s Program in Visual Communication and Iconic Research.

Institute of Visual Communication HGK FHNW

The Institute of Visual Communication is internationally renowned as “The Basel School of Design.” This name is associated with an analytical, process-oriented practice of design for visual communication.

Duration of Study

4 semesters / 120 ECTS / Full Time Study
The master’s thesis is integrated into the fourth semester.
Language of instruction: English
Tuition: Students from Switzerland/Europe: CHF 700.– per semester
Students from other countries: CHF 5000.– per semester


The Master’s Program in Visual Communication and Iconic Research begins in September 2017. The deadline for application is 30 June, 2017. Application in advance of this deadline is encouraged.

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