Education

Top designer: We need degrees in lighting to truly grow up

The lighting designer Mark Major backlit in blue
Major says the lighting design profession will only truly grow up when there is suitable educational provision like there is with other engineering and architectural callings.

ONE OF the world’s leading lighting designers has called for the widespread establishment of degree courses in architectural lighting. 

Mark Major, principal of multi-award winning London-based practice Speirs + Major, says the profession will only truly grow up when there is suitable educational provision like there is with other engineering and architectural callings.  

‘Education… is where we still differ from the more traditional design disciplines,’ Major told FX. ‘Unfortunately, it remains remarkably difficult to study architectural lighting at graduate or post-graduate level with very few degrees or masters on offer. 

‘This means that most of the knowledge and skill comes through established practices offering training tantamount to an apprenticeship.

‘Architectural lighting may only truly grow up when this situation is properly addressed.

‘While we are not yet formally licensed our close alliance to architecture and engineering has encouraged a professional approach. 

‘Despite this we cannot be described as a fully developed ‘profession’, although there are now several associations that represent independent lighting design. 

‘These are increasing in strength and profile, such as the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), the Society of Light and Lighting (SLL), and the Institution of Lighting Professionals (ILP) to name the main three that operate in the UK.’

Currently, few colleges are providing courses specifically in architectural lighting. 

At graduate level, Rose Bruford Theatre of College and Performance is Sidcup, Kent offers a Batchelor of Arts Honours degree in Lighting Design for Architecture. 

Brunel University offers a BSc Product Design with a lighting design pathway, which is supported by the Lighting Education Trust. 

London South Bank University offers a B.Eng (Hons) Building Services Engineering and a BSc in Building Services Engineering, both of which have some lighting content.

Guildhall School of Music & Drama offers a BA(Hons) in stage lighting while the University of Glamorgan has BSc (Hons)in  Lighting Design and Technology for live events. 

Edinburgh Napier University has MA/MDes in lighting. 

At post-graduate level, the Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London offers an acclaimed MSc course in Light and Lighting.