module specification

DN7013 - Design for Change (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Design for Change
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 200
164 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Portfolio
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester City Monday Afternoon

Module summary

Design for Change focuses on the interaction of people with the designed environment and material culture, and the design characteristics that create meaningful relationships and affect thinking and behaviour. The title of the module recognises that a working definition of what a designer does is, fundamentally, to effect change.

People, objects and environments mutually influence each other, the purpose of this module is to create scenarios through which strategies for understanding these dynamics, and testing and refining design that alters and enhances these experiential relationships can be developed.

When change is deliberately intended or accidentally effected on people in any way, the responsibility to act with care, sensitivity and secure knowledge and information and within an ethical framework is clear. Therefore, the projects undertaken in this module will be founded in deep and rich research into the impact of design on users. You will research the numerous ways, obvious, subtle and covert, in which designed artefacts and environments affect human thinking, behaviour, emotions, relationships and wellbeing. You will adopt well-established research methods, and where appropriate, construct or synthesise their own. Data will be evaluated and analysed before becoming the foundation for a design process that will be collaborative and consultative at its core. People, whether they are clients, consumers or members of society in general, do not necessarily have the means to express, understand, safely and ethically design or construct the answer to their needs. The role of the designer is to expertly mediate between all the parties, conflicting objectives, needs and desires at play in any given project and ensure the best possible outcome through all the constraints imposed on the project.

Different projects might seek to allow, enhance or transform thinking, behaviour or experience. Whatever the brief, you will be expected to research, model and test your design development, always seeking to design while holding the interests of the various parties involved in an ethical balance. Innovation is expected, as is the creation of an individual approach to design. This will arise through a personalised application of sector-specific industry standard research methods to the briefs set. The challenge will be to fulfil the task set while expressing creative identity in solutions for complex and sometimes ambiguous situations.

The module aims to:

• enable you to identify and understand the cognitive, sensory, psychological, ethical and social factors that are entailed in relationships with objects and environments;
• engage you with theories about human/ environmental relationships;
• equip you to research and analyse the impact of existing or proposed designs on people and communities;
• provide you with the opportunity to design a collaborative, human-centred design research process;
• test understanding of the issues and abilities in design research in practice and present process and outcomes convincingly.

Prior learning requirements

Available for Study Abroad? NO


The module commences through studies of notable examples of design acknowledged to have effected significant change. The studies would include examples of change understood to be for the better or worse, but importantly also include intended and unintended change. (LO 1,2,3,5)

There will be seminars detailing and exploring, at an advanced level, the theories attaching, the factors at play and the sector specific design research, development and testing techniques and strategies for assessing the probable impact of design proposals. (LO 2,3,5)

A brief for a situation, condition, location or other circumstance that will benefit from change through a design intervention will be set or self-set, and the criteria for evaluation determined so far as is possible before commencement. (LO 4,5)

You will then conduct a complete process of research, design development, testing and presentation of proposals, findings and evaluation, with a specific aim of achieving the desired change in the thought, behaviour, emotions, relationships or wellbeing of users, and also of understanding the quality and degree of change achieved. (LO 1,2,3,4,5)

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Formal lectures and workshops are supported by individual tutorials and group seminars. Together they provide the support to ensure that the structured content and independent study conducted throughout this module is effective in addressing the module’s learning outcomes and assessment tasks. The module operates within a framework of mutually supporting modules and curricula, ensuring that course learning outcomes are addressed and met overall. As the module progresses, there is regular interim formative feedback on work in progress that asks you to reflect and identify areas for improvement in the development of your assignments.

In-class activity makes use of varied student-centred approaches such as active, flipped and blended learning, fostering peer-to-peer community building and support for learning so that a range of learning strategies is deployed, and individual learning styles are accommodated. The course team seeks to embed the University’s Education for Social Justice Framework in fostering learning that is enjoyable, accessible, relevant and that takes account of the social and cultural context and capital of its students.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you will be able to:

Cognitive Intellectual Abilities

1. Identify and understand the cognitive, sensory, psychological, ethical and social factors that are entailed in relationships with objects and environments;

2. Place your understanding of the impact of designed environments and artefacts in a theoretical context;

Knowledge and Understanding

3. Understand and evaluate the impact of designed environments and artefacts on people and communities;

Subject Specific Skills

4. Through a designed, collaborative, human-centred design research process, test and evaluate your own designs in practice, and present the process and outcomes convincingly;

Professionalism and Values

5. Understand the responsibilities of the designer to all those involved or affected by their work, whether principal or incidental.