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2021/22 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

DESN5161M Design Theory and Practice

40 creditsClass Size: 120

Module manager: Dr Nina Hansopaheluwakan

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Module replaces

DESN5152M and DESN5153M

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module explores the way designers and companies think about and approach design projects. This will be done through theoretical concepts, literature review, and design practice. The module is divided in three main sections: 1) a theory-focusedsection; 2) a practice-focused section; 3) a digital execution section.In the theory-focused section, this module will review current thinking, research developments and key theories and principles within Design. It will explore the inter-relationship between research, theory and practice. Case studies for each individual theme will be also analysed in order to clearly illustrate how the theoretical concepts and research outcomes inform and are applied in practice. In the practice-focused section, students will be given a series of short exploratory design briefs focusing on the main specialisms offered in the programme. This will allow students to: 1) explore different areas of design before deciding the theme for their specialist design project; 2) create an opportunity for students to apply theoretical concepts and learn by doing, exploring and experimenting in a wide range of design areas.In the Digital execution section, students will explore current digital design practice and techniques that enable them to execute their design outputs to a professional level. The key emphasis will be on the digital production and evaluation skills for print, web, interactive, video, and mobile design practice, including: bitmap and vector graphics production, page design and layout toolset, motion graphics and visual effects, as well as designing interactions.


This module gives students the opportunity to:
- Develop awareness of the theoretical issues and research associated with design and their application to practice.
- Identify different key issues of design and understand the role played by each one in the development of effective design solutions.
- Analyse and discuss how design is researched and how research and theory inform practice.
- Present written and argued perspectives based on theory and research.
- Explore and identify the different stages of intervention in the design process.
- Learn various design concepts, methods, tools and skills to help in the application of creative and design thinking.
- Understand the application of design thinking and creativity via case studies and practical activities (short briefs).

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students will have provided evidence of being able to:
1. Identify, interpret and evaluate key aspects of design research, theory and practice.
2. Think independently and demonstrate an understanding of theoretical concepts in design and their application to design practice.
3. Demonstrate essay writing skills, investigation of secondary sources and appropriate referencing.
4. Write critically about design choices made and design solutions given to a particular problem or need.
5. Engage and respond creatively to short set design briefs.
6. Understand and master design concepts, methods, tools and skills and apply them to design projects.
7. Present design solutions effectively


Theory and research in design will be explored through lectures, which will also provide an opportunity to discuss case studies related to various sub-fields of Design.

The lectures will be followed by practical sessions where students will develop short design briefs as an introduction to all the specialisms offered in the Masters Design programme: Colour Design, Digital and Interactive Design, Graphic and Visual Communication Design, Information Design, Typographic Design, Service Design, and Social Design.

This will allow students to clearly understand the application of theory and research into practice and support them in the development of effective human-centred design solutions in a range of design areas.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours339.00
Total Contact hours61.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)400.00

Private study

Each 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: 80 hours
* Independent research and preparation: 80 hours
* Preparation and evaluation of assessed outcomes: 179 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored through:
- Regular attendance at lectures and practical classes (absences dealt with through the normal School channels).
- Participation in lectures and practical classes.
- Feedback will be given in every class from week 2 to 10. Two feedback-only sessions will be held for feedback before submission.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
PortfolioPortfolio comprising a 2,500- 3,000 word report and 4 design outputs (design development and solution for 4 briefs)80.00
ProjectDesign solution for 1 brief and a 500-750 word report20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

The re-sit will be the portfolio but including all 5 briefs.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

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


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