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2021/22 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

DESN5150M Research Methods for Design

20 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Dr Dian Li

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module will review current thinking on design research and will introduce a range of research methods with practical application to design, which may be employed in the student's specialist project, as well as projects developed in the specialist optional modules. Social and ethical issues will be discussed.Both quantitative and qualitative methods will be covered, including: interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, performance tests, usability testing, ethnographic research, etc. Students will acquire skills and techniques for literature reviewing, data collection, data analysis, and application of findings to the development of effective human-centred design solutions. Students will be required to write an essay deconstructing research articles in their fields of interest. They will also be required to write an annotated bibliography or literature review around the research they are planning to do for their specialist project in Semester 2. They will read widely on their topic and select the most relevant sources.


This module gives students the opportunity to:
- Learn and understand a range of research methods that can be applied to human-centred design.
- Select and use appropriate research methods to support the development of design projects that are both practice- and research-focused.
- Acquire and improve the key competencies necessary to be a critical reader of published research.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students will have provided evidence of being able to:
1. Search, access and review reliable literature in the area of design effectively and critically.
2. Express clearly the current issues and challenges of the design research community.
3. Understand the characteristics of established research methods and evaluate their effectiveness for their own research.


This module will deliver a combination of lectures and seminars. The lecture content will deliver various human-centred research methods that are suitable for needs and problem identification, for design development, and for validation of the design after implementation. These can include: participatory design, focus groups, interviews, questionnaires, ethnography, observation, usability testing, performance testing. Seminars will give students the opportunity to put their knowledge and
theory into practice by creating and/or recreating the methods. Whenever possible, students will observe
staff’s current research and leading work.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours166.00
Total Contact hours34.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

1Each lecture and practical class are supported by material that is available on the Blackboard VLE. This material provides links
to appropriate journal papers, books, videos and websites. Digital copies of the lectures will be also available on the VLE so
that students can follow up in a systematic and structured manner.
To gain confidence to develop and articulate their own ideas, students will engage in private study.
* Literature search and reading: 56 hours
* Independent research and preparation: 56 hours
* Preparation and evaluation of assessed outcomes: 57 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored through:
- Regular attendance at lectures and seminars (absences dealt with through the normal School channels).
- Participation in lectures and seminars.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay or Dissertation3,000-3,500-words – project proposal with literature review70.00
Literature Review1,000-1,500 words – Critical discussion of peer-reviewed articles30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/06/2021 16:21:16


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