Course specification and structure
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PDDESCCS - PG Dip Design for Cultural Commons

Course Specification

Validation status Validated
Highest award Postgraduate Diploma Level Masters
Possible interim awards Postgraduate Certificate
Total credits for course 120
Awarding institution London Metropolitan University
Teaching institutions London Metropolitan University
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Subject Area Design
Attendance options
Option Minimum duration Maximum duration
Full-time 1 YEARS  
Part-time 2 YEARS  
Course leader  

About the course and its strategy towards teaching and learning and towards blended learning/e-learning

‘Commons’ is part of an emerging discourse based around a resource, whose protection, benefits, values, profits and use are to be shared by considerable number of people with feasible governance and financial models.
This course focuses on the role art and design practices such as performance, visual communication, product design, photography, installation, interiors and architecture can have as cultural commons within the built environment.
The discourse on commons is fast growing with increased attention and advocates globally without widely available academic training to enter this emerging area. The course will teach students the skills to enable them to practice be it within governmental organisations, cultural institutions or indeed their own entrepreneurial initiatives and NGOs working collaboratively across disciplines.
This unique course teaches students the discourse of ‘Commons’ both historical and current (core module: History and Theory of Commons). It teaches students commoning practices in live contexts (Commoning Practice). It also teaches students how to initiate, fund, self-govern and implement a ‘Commons’ project (Project: Enacting to Common). The course will encourage strong peer-to-peer collaboration between students and the public unlocking knowledge produced in live contexts that are not always present within academic institutions. Students will be required to set up platforms for knowledge sharing which is a key component of commons. This has been written into Commoning Practice. The commons is very much a discourse which requires students to learn through doing. As a practice- and project-based course much of the learning in this course also happens outside the classroom in real situations where students are positioned. This situated learning is then evaluated, reflected on and discussed in face-to-face tutorials in the classroom. This enables the students to understand the value of knowledge gained within the live context.
There will be online resources for the students and an archive of lectures and webinars to support students’ self-initiated project.
In addition, the course employs a range of teaching and learning strategies.

Students develop and extend their individual intellectual and creative capabilities. ‘Live’ projects develop management skills, negotiation and collaborative working skills complemented by taught theoretical and case studies.

Peer review, critiques and self-evaluation
Students are encouraged to analyse, evaluate and engage with their own work and the work of others and develop advanced communication and presentation skills.

Seminars, reading groups, lectures, 1:1 tutorials
Students will be taught to rigorously and systematically interrogate core practice, projects, theory and case studies.

Blended Learning (the Weblearn virtual learning environment)
The course will upload module information on the web, project proposal development, practical, illustrated guidance in presentation skills, instruction in social media techniques, lecture notes, feedback. Weblearn blogs are used to enhance independent learning and record project development and foster student’s peer-to-peer communication and support.

Self-directed study
This is core to the course and used as the basis for tutorial discussion and critique. Students will be encouraged to engage with personal development planning (PDP) to enable them to reflect on, plan and review their own personal development as an ongoing process.

Professional practice talks and workshops
Shared across the School, these support students to develop their entrepreneurial strategies.

Course aims

The aim of this course is to tap into an emerging discourse and movement around the commons that has arisen as a result of systems of inequality in resource distribution and management. These resources can be natural, access to knowledge, digital, city spaces, financial, art and design objects etc.. Students will contribute to this emerging field through the practices/initiatives they create and the project they initiate in a live context.

The aim would be for students to continuously test their academic work within the University against external real-life situations in varying live contexts, always being aware of their ethical position. The course will give students the tools to negotiate appropriately their position in real projects. They will be taught to analyse the feasibility of their proposed practice and assess appropriate commoning models for the project. The aim is also to equip students with knowledge to critically assess the role of design in the commons project, which strives towards socio-economic equality.

Students will also develop appropriate communication skills in the project module to enable public accessibility to their work. The course also aims to work closely with the European Commons Network (ECN), Tate Exchange Program and Design Museum. As the course develops, further key partnerships will be put in place to ensure the course and the students have a strong support network.

As well as the above the course aims to:

1- produce graduates who can negotiate complex, ambitious ideas, operate with agility in the face of problems and unexpected situations with confidence;
2- ensure that graduates understand the importance of, and have the knowledge and experience to carry out, appropriate, in-depth and ethical live projects with commons values;
3- develop collaborative, entrepreneurial, and presentational skills relevant to commoning projects and practices
4- enable students to become articulate and confident in delivering their projects to a wide audience;
5- prepare students to critically appraise the context of commons and understand demands of working in a live context;
6- equip students with methodologies that enables them to act and innovate in changing demands;
7 - identify, research, plan and deliver an ambitious postgraduate level project to support advancement of their practice and the progress of their careers within the discourse of commons or similar discourses;

Students are taught relational ethics of care both in projects, practice and writing they do but also in the learning environment where teaching happens. Relational ethics very much in line with Commons thinking positions focus of responsibility and care on the teaching and learning relationships between student/teacher than the individuals. This way both student and teacher are responsible for the learning and the environment of learning. At the start of the course Commons tutors and students would agree and sign a learning contract where they are both responsible for teaching and learning quality. The teacher is responsible for quality of teaching, delivery, management and clarity of pedagogy where the student is responsible for learning through engagement, doing the work, committing to the learning, openly communicating issues with teachers and researching beyond the classroom teaching and attendance.

Course learning outcomes

By the end of the course, the student is expected to:

Course Learning Outcomes in Knowledge and Understanding

1. produce viable, creative, innovative commons projects and practice through live engagement within the situations the projects are grounded in (CA1, CA2, CA6, CA7);
2. interpret and evaluate their projects and practice from a range of critical and mainstream methods deployed by peer-to-peer organisations, considering the cultural and socio-economical context (CA1, CA2, CA5, CA6, CA4);
3. reflect upon ethical, environmental and legal issues involved in their projects (CA2, CA6, CA4);
4. develop methods for co-production and engagement that enables commoning practices and projects to deliver agency (CA2, CA5);
5. develop creative solutions on current overuse and abuse of resources (CA1, CA2, CA5, CA6);

Course Learning Outcomes in Cognitive Skills/ Intellectual Skills

6. construct and apply an iterative process that communicates, tests and evaluates ideas about the discourse of commons through critical, self-reflective and agile processes of analysis (CA1, CA5, CA7);
7. critically appraise, the commons practice and project within a given social, political, commercial, and cultural context (CA1, CA2, CA3, CA5, CA6, CA7);
8. learn to transform academic knowledge into practical applications (CA1, CA5, CA6, CA7);
9. clearly formulate and express the critical framework of the commons projects and role of design within it through appropriate models of representation or written argument (CA1, CA3, CA4, CA7);

Course Learning Outcomes in Practical Skills

10. develop a project and practice from inception to completion, demonstrating an advanced and creative response to the challenging and complex conditions in designing for commons (CA1, CA2, CA3, CA4, CA7);
11. carry out effective research into current and emerging commoning initiatives and practices and select and draw from those appropriate for student’s own project (CA2, CA5, CA6, CA7);
12. exhibit final project and practice and host a discussion to both promote the students work but also design how it taps into the wider commons movement and discourse. Here we would support the students to tap into partnering organisations such as Tate and Design museum(CA1, CA2, CA3, CA4, CA5);
13. collate, document and present proposals effectively and persuasively in written, verbal and visual means appropriate to the proposed commons project (CA3, CA4);
14. learn innovation in forms of practice and methods to measure its impact on social change (CA1, CA5, CA6);

Course Learning Outcomes in Key Transferable Skills

15. independently plan and effectively manage learning and project development to completion and presentation (CA1, CA2, CA3, CA4, CA7);
16. work effectively as a member of a team, recognising an individual’s potential for contribution and negotiating task allocation appropriately (CA1, CA2, CA3, CA7);
17. reflect realistically on the progress and success of their project within the commons movement and discourse (CA2, CA5,CA7);
18. articulate and defend clearly to clients, commissioners, peers and related professionals the intentions of commons projects produced and the rationale underpinning their development and production (CA1, CA2, CA3, CA4, CA7).

Principle QAA benchmark statements

QAA Postgraduate Degree Characteristics

Assessment strategy

Assessment is based on individual project development, written submissions, individual and group presentations, commons practice, culminating in the ‘commons’ project. Students are required to submit a portfolio of their relevant practical work together with all supporting material. Assessment includes a combination of diagnostic, formative and summative methods.
Assessment of knowledge and understanding is through coursework in form of project and practice, essays, and events. This may include as appropriate, oral presentations, group critiques, practical outcomes, situated project development, group work, practical (group, individual) critical review, study plans, learning agreements, reports, portfolios, verbal and visual presentations. Group critiques are used to assess students’ ability to identify and communicate their intentions both verbally and through their commons practice.
Students are expected to participate reflectively in assessment. Self-evaluation involves students in reflection on their own progress in relation to the learning outcomes, and mirrors the assessment process conducted by the course team, providing the basis for discussion at assessment feedback sessions after formal coursework assessment has taken place.
There will be formative assessment and feedback throughout the course, delivered in-class, through tutorials, in critique sessions and at presentations of work in progress. Feedback will be recorded and provided to students in line with approved School procedures and timelines. Feedback will follow the School policy of ‘feed forward’ clearly identifying both strengths of the work reviewed as well as areas and ways to improve work for the future. Students are expected to maintain appropriate records of their work as it develops across their agreed programme of studies and to take part in seminar discussion of their own and others’ work.
Summative assessment involves a formal presentation of work produced and considers the measure of achievement in relation to module learning outcomes.

Organised work experience, work based learning, sandwich year or year abroad

Work- related learning is embedded within the course, through engagement with practitioners and the essential component of the course to develop a ’Live’ project and practice. Students are required to set up an exhibition and an event to conclude their course. This event will be open to the public enabling students to talk about their final work and expand their future professional network. They can utilise their organisational and entrepreneurial skills taught through the course, to support the marketing of the event.

Course specific regulations

Refer to Course Handbook for full details.

The course will undertake a formal academic review of student performance at the end of each semester. Students performing below threshold standard will be recommended and/ or required to revise their program of study.

Completion and pass of core module DN7050, and completion of brief demonstrating clear practice aims, objectives and vision for a commons organisation part of core module DN7019, before commencement of module DN7P20 Project: Enacting the Common.

Students must have DN7050, DN7019 to receive PG Certificate

Modules required for interim awards

PG Diploma 120 credits.

Full Time Study (12 months)
Year 1 - Autumn Term:
Core Modules
DN7050 History and Theory of Commons (20)
Year 1 - year:
Core Modules
DN7019 Commoning Practice (40)
DN7P20 Project: Enacting the Common (60)

Part Time Study (24 months)
Year 1 - Autumn Term:
Core Module
DN7050 History and Theory of Commons (20),
Year 1 – Year:
Core Module
DN7019 Commoning Practice (40)
Year 2 - year:
Core Module
DN7P20 Project: Enacting the Common (60)

Arrangements for promoting reflective learning and personal development

The course places a high value upon enabling postgraduate students to develop their confidence and independence as learners and practitioners in this emerging field of the commons. The course has developed four reflective learning strategies including:

1- peer-to-peer review (discussion platforms within the student body giving them agency and confidence);
2- external peer reviewers made up of experts, practitioners and citizens;
3- self-evaluation set up as part of the tutorial structure;
4- agile project evaluation.

These four elements taken collectively encourage analytical, critical and evaluative skills.

Opportunities for professional and personal development planning are built into this course through the curriculum, the choice of projects, public events and presentations, practice development and live project situations. These gives the students the framework to tailor the course around their specific interests. The self-directed nature of the Project: Enacting the Common and Commoning Practice modules encourages meaningful engagement with personal development throughout the curriculum, enabling postgraduate students to reflect on, plan and review their own progress and development during the course and post its completion.

Other external links providing expertise and experience


Career, employability and opportunities for continuing professional development

This unique course teaches students to become entrepreneurs in creating their own initiative, NGO or practice. One-third of the course will focus on setting up students’ future commons practice: on completion of the course, students will have an operational practice. Students will become pioneers in the emerging practices of cultural and urban commons. They will gain expertise in applying creative thinking towards asset sharing, mutual resources, self-governance and peer-to-peer economic models. Collaborating with cultural institutions and government agencies will enable them to develop related policies.

Formal and informal relationships will be maintained with typical organsiations such as Tate Exchange Program, the European Commons Network, the UK Commons Assembly, and the Design museum.

Career opportunities

This course can help you to gain a new or higher position in an existing job or help you set up an organisation if you want to start your own practice. You’ll rigorously and factually develop your future career with confidence and support from the expertise of lecturers, practitioners and academics on the course.

Entry requirements

You will generally be required to have one or a combination of the following:

  • an honours degree classification of 2.1/2.2 (or equivalent) in any subject discipline
  • practice experience in any field, with some understanding of working within NGOs or other third sector organisations.
  • an up-to-date CV and copies of award certificates

If your qualifications don’t meet the requirements above but you have a portfolio of substantial relevant experience in the field of Commons or a similar discourse, you’ll be invited to an interview to demonstrate your abilities for a postgraduate course on the Commons.

As well as the above, you’ll need to present a portfolio of work or a clear proposal for postgraduate study within the subject area.

Official use and codes

Approved to run from 2020/21 Specification version 1 Specification status Validated
Original validation date 12 Oct 2020 Last validation date 12 Oct 2020  
JACS codes
Route code DESCCS

Course Structure

Stage 1 Level 07 September start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
DN7019 Commoning Practice Core 40 CITY AUT+SPR MON PM
DN7050 History and Theory of Commons Core 20 CITY AUT MON AM
DN7P20 Project: Enacting the Commons Core 60 CITY AUT+SPR MON EV