Module guide

Master of Design Semester 1

Module Title         Design Research

Credit Rating        20 credits

Module Leader     Mike Press


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.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of research culture and methods across design and related visual disciplines.
  • Critical awareness of current issues in design research
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how an appropriate methodology can be developed and applied to a focused investigation.


  • Design a focused research investigation using a range of relevant methods from the forefront of design practices.
  • Critically review and engage with literature and practices at the forefront of design and related fields.
  • Communicate research outcomes using a variety of media.

Other attributes

  • Develop the ethos and skills of a reflective practitioner.
  • Ability to practice research in the context of multi-disciplinary team working.
  • Approach research as a creative practice.

Indicative Content

Through a series of lectures and seminars the following will be addressed:

  • Study skills
  • History of research in design practices
  • Practice-centred methodologies
  • The reflective practitioner
  • Social research methods for design inquiry
  • Quantitative methods
  • Ethnographic research
  • Literature and critical reading
  • Writing and reflection strategies
  • Research in team contexts
  • Communicating research

Case studies will be used to demonstrate key aspects of the above

Teaching & learning                                                                                                        

  • A lecture programme and seminars will inform the students’ understanding of research relevant to design practices
  • Students will communicate their research interests in visual and/or text based formats through the development of a research presentation
  • Students are expected to participate actively in discussions and seminars

Modes of Delivery

  • Lectures in large multi-disciplinary groups
  • Seminars in small discipline specific groups
  • Independent learning


Assessment will be of course work submitted as required, and the following assessment criteria will be applied:

  • Understanding a range of research methods and their appropriate application in a focussed design research project.
  • Critical engagement with relevant literature in the field of design research.
  • Effective communication of research outcomes using appropriate media.

Student Feedback

Student feedback will be gathered at the end of the semester using an open response technique.  Student representatives will attend Programme Committee meetings and meetings.  In the event of any problems contact should first be made with the Module Leader.


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