Content & Timetable

This module aims to provide students with an understanding of how research contributes to and is embedded within design practices. The module will:

  • Introduce students to various cultures of research within design, and examine how they have evolved historically.
  • Introduce a range of research methods that are relevant to and evident in forefront design practices.
  • Provide the skills, knowledge and critical understanding for students to creatively apply relevant research methods to a critical design investigation.
  • Ensure students have appropriate critical writing skills.
  • Equip students with methods and approaches to communicate research outcomes using a variety of media.

Much of the module teaching is concentrated in a one week block beginning on Monday 16 September. This will include a field trip to Edinburgh on Thursday 19 September. In the three weeks following the main teaching block you will be undertaking assessed work that includes giving a presentation on Wednesday 9 October and submitting written work on Friday 11 October.

You will find this module to be an intensive experience, but will provide you with an essential foundation of knowledge, skills and methods that you will apply during the rest of your studies at DJCAD. In addition to the taught input and project work, you will be expected to undertake additional reading and research appropriate to your main discipline.


Objectives of the week: introducing students to the key issues; developing team dynamic; primary teaching input



Location: Lecture Theatre 5014, Matthew Building Level 5

09.30 Introduction (Mike Press) 11.00 Making Sense – the relationship between practice and research in design (Mike Press) 13.30 Ethics in research – What are the ethical issues involved in research and field research; why is informed consent essential? (Jackie Malcolm) 14.30 Approaching research – Why is fieldwork important? What methods work? How do we adapt them for our needs? What is the experience of the different disciplines? This session will comprise three 30 minute presentations, followed by discussion – Catriona Macaulay, Mike Press, Hazel White 16.30 Research for UX design in professional practice Mira Kirvesmäki is a UX Designer working for Rapal Oy in Helsinki, Finland. The company produces software and services that assist in sustainable decision-making for the built environment. Joining us via Skype, she will share her insights on how research is embedded in professional practice.  



09.30 Reading and writing – How do we find literature to inform our research? How do we make sense of it? What online and software tools can help? (Mike Press) 11.30 Presenting research (Mike Press) 13.30 Research in action. Design PhD and former Masters students will present their research and outline the methods they use. Students will question them on their work and note methods and approaches that are appropriate for their own practice:

  • Sarah Cox – a PhD student at St Andrews University exploring Entrepreneurship through Design: The role of design in product and service development. Sarah is sponsored by Design Dundee Ltd, the organisation responsible for delivering the V&A Museum in Dundee, and was a key driving force of the Global Service Design Dundee.
  • Linsey McIntosh – Lecturer in Interior and Environmental Design at DJCAD Initiator was team co-ordinator of Dundee’s first Global Service Jam event hosted in March 2013, researcher on the FLEX: Flexible Dwelling for Extended Living project and a former MDes student whose innovative project gained considerable attention.
  • Lisa Cresswell – a PhD student based in DJCAD’s Design in Action project, and formerly research project manager at the University of Edinburgh and Research Assistant on project exploring design and counter terrorism.

15.00 Design research the Snook way! Lauren Currie – former MDes graduate – is co-founder of Snook, one of Europe’s leading service design companies based in Glasgow. She is also Director of MyPolice, recognised as an inspirational speaker and contributor to the seminal This Is Service Design Thinking book. Described by one of the world experts in service design as “a furnace of energy and ideas who is always at pains to share insight with others” she will deliver a talk and Q&A exclusively with us via Skype.

16.00 Presenting and pitching Joanna Montgomery is the winner of: Innovator of the Year, FDM Everywoman Women in Technology Awards 2013; Lloyds TSB Enterprise Awards ‘Best Start Up’ Scotland 2012; Woman of the Future in Science and Technology Finalist 2012, NACUE National Varsity Pitch National Champion, 2011. Featured on BBC, CNN and The Discovery Channel, she is CEO of Little Riot, Huffington Post regular blogger and will join us via Skype.   



09.30 Observation and interviews. An introduction to the key ethnographic methods including group exercises. This includes the use of field notes, transcripts and hot reports (Catriona Macaulay) 13.30 Journey mapping, personas and empathy. An introduction to some of the definitive methods of service design (Hazel White)  




A day out in Edinburgh, one of the world’s most dynamic and beautiful cities. But can all people enjoy a grand day out? How accessible is the city for all people? These are some of the questions you will consider as you practice your ethnographic methods, learned yesterday. Working in teams you will be given a research brief to undertake. This field day will provide students with the opportunity to work in teams, apply their new skills, and prepare for a presentation of findings. The coach will depart DJCAD at 10am returning from Edinburgh at 7pm from the National Museum. We should be back in Dundee by 8.30pm.




09.30 Synthesising data. How do we make sense of what we have found out and draw conclusions from it? (Catriona Macaulay)

10.30 Students working in teams on their presentations

13.30 Student presentations. Working in teams, you will give presentations on the outcome of your initial teamworking research exercise.

14.30 BRIEFING The following three weeks’ work will be presented and explained to you.

15.00 Open tutorials Mike will be available to provide individual tutorials to any student requiring one.



Working in defined teams, students will explore the literature and other sources defined, undertake their own secondary research, and prepare for their own team based primary research. It is expected that this week will provide you with a critical understanding of your discipline and those perspectives that are most influential on its future development. You will also, in your team, define and plan a programme of primary research to be undertaken in the following week.

Monday 23 September

10.30 – 12.30 – Drop in tutorials with Mike call by his office either as a team or individually if you need any help

13.30 – 15.30 – Dynalucid briefing – for students going to County Durham – MDFS studio

18.00 – 19.00 – Design Culture – What creative leadership and design doing looks like in business and social initiatives – this is a lecture by Josephine Rydberg-Dumont – former CEO of IKEA – now currently advisor to organisations wishing to build a design culture. Free to attend and open to the public, it is essential that you book in advance via Eventbrite. 

Tuesday 24 September

10.30 – 12.30 – Drop in tutorials with Mike 

14.00 – 15.00 – Josephine Rydberg-Dumont – former CEO of IKEA – will be visiting the studio to answer questions exclusively from Design for Services and Design Ethnography students – MDFS sudio

Thursday 26 September

14.00 – 16.30 – Bookable individual tutorials with Mike please arrange a slot by email in advance

Friday 27 September

09.30 – 15.00 – Team tutorials with Mike and Kate each team will be given a time to meet with Mike and Kate to review progress and to discuss plans for the week ahead.



Students will undertake a programme of primary research for the module. This can include interviews, surveys, site visits, etc. During the week you will also begin writing up and preparing your presentation.

Monday 30 September 10.30 – 12.30 – Drop in tutorials with Mike call by his office either as a team or individually if you need any help

Friday 4 October 09.30 – 15.00 – Team tutorials with Mike and Kate each team will be given a time to meet with Mike and Kate to review progress and to discuss final presentation and individual submissions.



Students will deliver the assessable module requirements


Monday 7 October 15.00 – 17.00 – Drop in tutorials with Mike call by his office either as a team or individually if you need any help

Wednesday 9 October 09.30 – 13.00 – Team presentations to whole teaching team 

Friday 11 October 16.30 – Deadline for submission of individual reports



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