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2021/22 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

PDES5185M Design Research

20 creditsClass Size: 55

Module manager: Professor Alison McKay

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Pre-requisite qualifications

Completion of Level 3 Product Design or equivalent


PDES1510Design Studio 1
PDES2200Design Studio 2
PDES3110Design Project

This module is not approved as an Elective


The aim of this module is to provide students with an appreciation of what constitutes the forefront of the academic and professional discipline of product design and a self-awareness in their design practice that comes from having learnt in a research environment. The following objectives are pursued.
- To provide students with opportunities to show originality in the application and development of design-related knowledge.
- To give students an understanding of how the boundaries of knowledge are advanced through design research.
- To develop students’ skills to deal with complex issues, sometimes in the context of wicked problems, both systematically and creatively.
- To develop in students attitudes and qualities needed to operate effectively in unpredictable professional environments.
- To raise awareness of the importance of considering a wide range of design stakeholders in design activities.
- To further develop students’ transferable skills, including oral communication and academic writing, team working, information searching and retrieval, and self-reflection and professional development.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Plan research projects in pursuit of given research objectives and in line with ethical requirements.
2. Use library resources to find and acquire published literature in a given area.
3. Write up research projects as short academic journal papers.
4. Recognise areas of research that are likely to have an impact on Product Design practice in the future.

5. For three specific areas of research:
a. gain an awareness of the research area through literature review and participation in design research seminars;
b. complete a small-scale design research project linked to their own design practice;
c. reflect upon how the research area might influence future design practice and so develop improved self-awareness.


Two lectures will be delivered at the beginning of the module:
1. Introduction to the module.
2. Introduction to research ethics: using people in research.
3. Literature searching, using library resources, referencing and citing.
4. Ethics approval: theory and practice

These will provide general knowledge and awareness needed to complete three design research projects which will be delivered through private study plus a total average of approximately 12 hours seminar/workshop per project. Each project will result in a research paper which will be peer reviewed by two other students on the module.

The projects will be structured using Frayling’s categories of design research: research into design, research for design and research through design.

The module will provide insights into design innovation & management, design technology, marketing & human factors/user research, and experience of research process.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
In Course Assessment11.001.00
Independent online learning hours12.00
Private study hours148.00
Total Contact hours40.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Development of academic writing skills using Skills Centre resources.
Preparation for seminars/workshops and completing research projects.
Writing up research papers
Peer reviewing other students’ papers

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

The students receive formative feedback on a writing assignment by end of week 3 and in the research workshops that are an integral part of the module. 

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportResearch paper33.30
ReportResearch paper33.30
ReportResearch paper33.40
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Peer reviews 6 reviews of other students' papers - 2 in semester 1 and 1 in semester 2.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/06/2021 16:23:30


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