module specification

DN7018 - Design Project Development (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Design Project Development
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 40
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 400
328 hours Guided independent study
72 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Portfolio 1 (set project)
Coursework 50%   Portfolio 2 (Major Project development)
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Thursday Afternoon
Year City Thursday Morning

Module summary

This module asks you to apply research methods acquired in DN7024 Research Methods: Success in Design to the development of your Major Project. The module is core for a number of MA Design courses, in order to foster cross- and interdisciplinary working with the advantages of knowledge exchange and innovation finding that such working practices bring.

The conduct of a design development project and process will be rehearsed in the first part of the module though a set project, normally with a ‘live’ client. Through this project, you will receive a brief, research its problems, contexts and opportunities for design interventions and present a persuasive design proposition to the client. You will  evidence your developing skills as a designer capable of the sophisticated and evidence-based interrogation of a problematic scenario with all its ambiguities and uncertainties. Through applied research methods and investigatory practice, you will discover, select, test, evaluate and apply design strategies through which your emerging individual approach to the design research and development process will be constructed. If carried out thoroughly, this structured process will enable and result in an effective, convincing, realistic and original design.

Opportunities arising from emerging social, environmental, economic and technological contexts will be sought, and worthwhile and defensible projects leading to an identifiable ‘good’ will be expected.  You will be encouraged to engage in both evidence-led process and  speculative and discursive enquiry, building a comprehensive knowledge of the current state of the context of your discipline and  interests. You will be expected to show good self- and project-management throughout, planning, monitoring and reviewing progress, reframing the project as required when the iterative design process reveals new and unexpected challenges and opportunities.

Prior learning requirements

Available for Study Abroad? No


The syllabus for the module will depend on the individual learning approaches and research and design processes employed in response to the briefs set. You will work either individually or collaboratively on the set project, rehearsing the skills and strategies required for successful design, management and completion of a design research, development and delivery project.

When you progress to planning and development of your Major Project, you will devise and set out an individual study plan, with timescales, outlining the tasks, interim delivery points and portfolio requirements for final submission of your Major Project Development assessment submission.

All stages of the design process will require you to address the learning outcomes above, in researching, evaluating, developing, presenting and critiquing your work and progress, showing skills of self- and project-management throughout.

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Individual tutorials and group seminars provide the guidance and foundation necessary to ensure that the independent study conducted throughout this module is effective in addressing the module’s learning outcomes and assessment tasks.

There is regular interim formative feedback that asks you to reflect on your progress and identify areas for improvement, including redirection or reframing of project deliverables as the iterative process of realisation reveals challenges and opportunities.

Towards the end of the module you will start to consider how your final portfolio of development work can best be translated into a plan for the conduct and delivery of the following Major Project module.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

1. Construct an effective structured design research and development process that can be used to analyse situations, generate ideas and test design proposals against a wide range of practical and theoretical criteria, and thereby drive innovation;

Subject specific skills

2. Demonstrate effective skills in the evaluation and application of primary research methods and findings for design practice;

3. Present your findings and proposals effectively, in coherent and cogent formats, appropriate to the context of reception

Cognitive intellectual abilities

4. Exhibit the ability to negotiate and work with complex situations that resist simple definition and basic linear problem solving;

Behaviours and values

5. Balance client and user interests, navigating a feasible route through competing creative, commercial, cultural and ethical priorities;

Transferable skills

6. Manage your learning independently, demonstrating attributes of critical enquiry, rigorous thought, creative and lateral thinking and sound project management.

Assessment strategy

Portfolio 1

Portfolio 1 will present your design proposal in response to a set project that will be issued at the start of the module. It will change annually; details and requirements for submission will be given in a project brief.

Portfolio 2

Portfolio 2 will present design research and development work for your Major Project that you will complete in the summer term, and make use of the contextual information you gather and analyse in the Contextual Report in DN7017 Design Research for Practice.

Both portfolios should be of a professional standard of presentation, both will include 2D design work and presentation, both may include models, prototypes, samples or other 3D artefacts and both will be annotated.

There should be a clear distinction between what is design research and development material that may be carefully edited and presented to a client as supporting evidence for the validity of the proposal, and development material that you have used, but would not be presented to a client.

The portfolios should use presentation techniques for final outcomes that are appropriate to your discipline, but they should also be easily comprehensible to a client or user who is not themselves an expert in your field.

Precise requirements for the format, size and other details of the portfolios will be issued at the start of the projects, along with assessment criteria.