module specification

DN4002 - Design Principles (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Design Principles
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 300
150 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
150 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Project Work
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Thursday Afternoon
Year City Monday Morning
Year City Monday Afternoon
Year City Thursday Morning

Module summary

Successful design outcomes are reliant on sound design principles. These design principles inform and create opportunities for you to apply your creativity to the conception, development and eventual realisation of effective design solutions.

Design is intent on bringing about change, impacting on human experience. This module will introduce you to a range of contemporary and traditional discipline-related design approaches and processes, some of which will be tested in design exercises and some of which may be realised in studios and projects carried across other modules.  You will be introduced to systems and methods of analysing 2D and 3D artefacts, material culture and sites. Processes experienced will involve research, documentation and analysis, as well as play, accident and chance. 

Design concepts will be tested through the application of workshop and studio methods. Materials, processes and technologies will be discipline-specific, developing creative outcomes relevant to the possibilities and constraints of the context, the needs of the client and users, and industry conventions.

You will be encouraged to develop a critically informed and personal approach to the process of design. Studios and projects will encourage you to understand your practice in the context of a rapidly changing contemporary culture with ever-developing needs and problems. Engaging with materials, media and, processes, you can become an agent of change through design practice.

Module aims

This module seeks to enable you to:

• Utilise design methods and techniques, recording and presentation of findings for graphic, 3D and spatial design, and appropriate discipline-specific skills in studio practice

• Develop strategies for idea generation, problem solving and concept testing, and to design with reflection, rigour, innovation and personality.

• Learn and apply key knowledge (for example, material and process selection, historical exemplars) necessary to the exercise of design, including consideration of ethical issues.

• Demonstrate that consideration of the effects on users of your design decisions is fundamental to the principles and practice of your design work.


The content is indicative and will necessarily reflect current debates and thinking.  Topics covered will normally include:

• Discipline/ course specific design studios
• A series of project briefs which offer a range of contexts and problems for creative response
• Methods of research, idea generation, problem solving, analysis, critique and reflection
• Idea generation and exploration through discipline-specific design processes
• Introduction and development of discipline-specific practical studio and design workshop skills
• Skills in appropriate 2D, 3D and spatial design areas

The studio will support course identity and subject knowledge. Open, exploratory projects will be supported by exercises, visits and group critiques together with lectures, highlighting contemporary and historical examples relevant to effect change in human environments and experience.

Studios will be designed to allow you to work with a range of content and formats to gain understanding of how different contexts require differing approaches, processes and research methods. Projects will be selected or designed to ensure growing competence and understanding of essential skills, strategies, techniques and technologies used in 2D, 3D and spatial design.

Seminars, case studies and critique-sessions will foster debate in the ethical and impact issues involved in the discipline and projects.

Learning and teaching

Projects will seek to enable a range of learning opportunities such as:

• acquisition of workshop and studio skills for concept generation, design development, both traditional and contemporary, in discipline specific environments and contexts
• research and analysis through case study of object, context and process
• discussion of ideas, processes and approaches, developing confidence through shared experience
• peer and self assessment opportunities fostering reflection and independent development
• set tasks and site visits that encourage teamwork, community networking and peer communication
• face to face and online study groups through the University E-learning environment

Learning outcomes

At the end of this module, you will be able to:

Knowledge and Understanding
Recognise key principles and practices necessary for design, including ethical impact on users and environment

Cognitive Intellectual Skills
Solve design problems and generate ideas, criticising and reflecting on practice principles throughout

Transferable Skills
Test conceptual ideas through workshop and studio practice and research

Subject Specific Practical Skills
Select and apply discipline-specific methods of research, recording and presentation

Assessment strategy

You will produce and submit a body of project work demonstrating engagement with studio intentions, module aims and achievement of the learning outcomes. Work-in-progress will be assessed formatively and feedback provided as an ongoing process.

Students will produce coherent 2D and/or 3D presentation(s) supported by written record of project research, development, and concepts/findings, together with critical self-evaluation of your work.

All students are required to undertake formal interim presentations with evidence of continuous reflective journals responding to studio critique and tutorial guidance. Work presented will be subject to formal studio feedback from a panel of disciplinary specialists. This will inform final assessment marks and must be considered and acted upon by the student.

The final mark will be awarded in relation to the completed project work presented at the end of the module. Summative assessment will reflect on the whole body of work and qualities demonstrated throughout, including research, idea-generation, problem analysis, solution, critique and reflection in 2D and 3D or spatial design.  Written feedback will be provided corresponding to published assessment criteria and guidance given towards future development. Precise requirements for submission will be given in project briefs.

Work must be carefully organized and presented to communicate the development of ideas and the content must be clearly labeled with your name, student number, module code and date. Students must attend timetabled sessions.


Aynsley, J (2001) Pioneers of Modern Graphic Design, Mitchell Beazley
Braddock, S. & O’Mahony, M. (1996) Techno Textiles, Thames and Hudson
Littlefield, D (2011) The Metric Handbook, Architectural Press
Lawson, B (1997) How Designers Think; The Design Process Demystified, Architectural Press
Murphy, D (ed.) (1997) The Work of Charles and Ray Eames, Abrams
Neufert E, Neufert P, Baiche B, Walliman N (2002) Architects’ Data, Blackwell Science
Norman, D (1998) The Design of Everyday Things, MIT Press
Parsons, T (2009) Thinking: Objects; Contemporary Approaches to Product Design, Ava
Potter, N (2002) What is a Designer: Things. Places. Messages, Hyphen Press
Thompson, R (2011) Prototyping and Low-Volume Production, Thames and Hudson
Woodham, J (2004) A Dictionary of Modern Design, Oxford University Press