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Sustainable Design MA

Mode Duration Attendance Start date
Full time 1 year 2 days a week September 2016
Part time 2 years 1–2 days a week September 2016

Choose Kingston's Sustainable Design MA

This course is aimed at designers, creative workers and other specialists who want to direct their practice towards progressive sustainability and social agendas. It focuses on the value of design as a vehicle for addressing social and ecological concerns in both developed and developing world settings. It will equip you with the knowledge, capabilities and confidence to challenge the status quo by applying design thinking to the generation of design-led interventions for a sustainable future.

Key features

  • The overarching course philosophy, based on an emphasis on research, methodology and design thinking, allows individual and personal concerns to be explored through focused study in sustainable design.
  • The course takes an inter-disciplinary approach to the study and practice of sustainable design, by recruiting students from all creative and design backgrounds and beyond.

What will you study?

The Sustainable Design MA is directed towards the goal of creating a more sustainable and equitable society. You will explore innovative and practical ways to help realise those visions, emphasising design, creativity, empathy, innovation and activism.

The course encourages critical thinking about the social and ecological agendas it addresses. The course is design-based, but not confined to design practice - it includes a significant amount of theoretical and contextual studies. It is possible to choose a dissertation option for the final major project.

You will be taught by leading academics and practitioners in sustainable design, social design, social innovation, participatory design, strategic design, service design, design-led innovation, and related topics. The course incorporates collaboration with partners such as Design Council, Futerra, Greengaged, Sorrell Foundation, ThinkPublic and Uscreates.

Assessment

Design project work, live projects, research project folders, 5,000-word critical essay, and a major design research project.

Course structure

Find out more by downloading the 2015/16 course structure for part-time students (PDF) or full-time students (PDF).

The Sustainable Design MA course is part of the Design School's postgraduate programme. The structure – shared with students from Communication Design MA, Product + Space MA, and Fashion MA – enables you to explore your individual specialist interests in sustainable design within an integrative learning environment that provides a comprehensive understanding of the value and role of interdisciplinary methods and ways of working. The influences and impact of thinking from other related design subjects on your own specialist study is an important aspect of the identity and the community of interdisciplinary practice at masters level in the Design School.

This structure is designed to help progress and develop your independent learning, encouraging you to construct and explore projects concerned with areas of particular personal interests. The overarching course philosophy, based upon an emphasis on research, methodology and design thinking, allows individual and personal concerns to be explored through focused study in sustainable design.

The two shared modules of The Design School's Postgraduate Framework both commence with a symposium, in which high-profile external speakers present their work and contribute to a debate on a topic of relevance to all courses in the Framework.

View the promotional flyer from the most recent ‘Here and There' symposium (PDF), on the theme of interdisciplinarity.

View the promotional flyer from the most recent ‘Creating Futures' symposium (PDF), on the theme of forging a path in the creative industries.

Design for Social Innovation can also be taken as a stand-alone module.

Teaching block 1

  • Social innovation is an emerging mode of creative and participatory human-centred practice which seeks to address societal challenges such as wellbeing, healthcare, homelessness, ageing, poverty, public service delivery and unemployment. It can be seen as a design-led activity. Design for social innovation is therefore the emerging mode of design practice and theory in which design thinking is applied to social and societal challenges. The co-production of design outcomes, moreover, sees designers acting as facilitators and enablers, rather than authors, of these outcomes.

    This module focuses on the development of design-based research skills and capabilities useful for responding to real-world challenges or so-called 'wicked problems'. Emphasis is placed on problem-finding and problem-setting, rather than simply seeking solutions to problems as they are currently expressed.

    Design for Social Innovation can also be taken as a stand-alone module.

     
  • Designing Research lectures and seminars are designed to enable students to rationalise and focus on thematic approaches to problem finding and problem solving. This module will teach you to:

    • make practical use of your ideas, perceptions and discoveries; and
    • work effectively and creatively in a wider inter-disciplinary and cultural context.

     

    It will do this by helping you to understand existing conventions and developing your personal visual vocabulary.

    The integrative programme encourages you to develop a personal and critical point of view by recording, documenting and evaluating ideas from within their discipline and from the wider interdisciplinary environment, and applying those findings within project work.

    The module introduces and develops a range of analytical tools that you can use to interrogate designed objects and artefacts, and makes links between analytical and propositional methods, creating a framework within which you can structure your project proposals. You will explore practical research methods, with an emphasis on developing creative, rational and effective approaches to visual experimentation and critical reflection on practical design work within a logical and measurable framework. You will learn about the wide-ranging tools and methods that are available to inform and support the development of your practical study, and create a basis for further study on the course.

     

Teaching block 2

  • This module explores the key principles and perspectives that inform the various practices of sustainability, sustainable development and sustainable design (design for sustainability) in developed and developing world contexts. It examines the ways in which contemporary and emerging modes of design practice and theory relate to the sustainability agenda.

    Module content will include:

    • models of sustainability;
    • measures of sustainable development;
    • histories, theories and practices of design for sustainability; and
    • histories, theories and practices of design for development.
     
  • This module builds on the notion that the best jobs and careers in the creative industries do not exist – and that they are created from individual creative ambitions and understanding. It explores how this can be approached in practical terms. The programme of study encourages you to develop a personal and critical approach to your future career and its relationship to the development of their individual major project.

    Creative Futures lectures and seminars help you develop an approach to, and focus for, their future career and their ongoing personal and professional development. By understanding the key skills and attributes you need for a career in the creative industries, you will develop an informed and focused Major Project proposal and project.

    You will learn about a range of practical methods that can help you create the foundations of a sustainable and successful design practice and career. Lectures, seminars and workshops will introduce and explore key issues that help you understand how to develop your own approach to professional career planning. You will also engage in a range of activities that include professional competitions, live project work, studio visits and professional practice lectures. This work will support and inform the development of your Major Project Proposal.

     

Teaching block three

  • The Major Project – the capstone project – consolidates the knowledge gained in earlier modules and is informed and supported by prior learning within both the Design School's postgraduate interdisciplinary framework and course specific specialist study.

    The purpose of this module is to enable students to relate the work of the course to a practical solution and to demonstrate skills in defining, analysing and developing a substantial solution to an individually defined design related problem. It will demonstrate both in content and form the students advanced understanding of contemporary design practice.

    The research and documentation of the project is an integral part of the submission, reflecting on the process, as well as the critical analysis and methodology of the research itself. The research will be conceptually integrated within the practical work. Individual project topics are expected to be wide ranging and provide the opportunity to fully investigate a practical situation, underpinned by a critical report on the work produced. Topics must allow the opportunity to position work politically, socially and culturally and identify and apply appropriate technology as a means of delivery. Project topics must demonstrate the potential necessary to achieve the level appropriate to the learning outcomes.

    Three possible forms of Major Project submission are available to students (see below):

    1/2. The Practical Project Practical (outcome supported by research, testing and developmental materials) 70% and The Project Report (3-5,000 words) 30%.

    3. The Thesis (12-15,000 words) 100%.

    4. The Design Management Project Report (10,000 words) 100%. Intended in the main as the outcome for students studying on the MA Design for Development.

    These three options are available to all students studying on the courses within the Design School Postgraduate Framework. Students will be guided and supported in their choice of mode of Major Project by course tutors and this will be informed by individual career and personal development planning undertaken during the preparation of the Major Project Proposalin DE7301 Creative Futures.

     

You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

For further information:

Postgraduate admissions administrator
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 4646
Email us

Location

This course is taught at Knights Park

View Knights Park on our Google Maps

For further information:

Postgraduate admissions administrator
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 4646
Email us

Location

This course is taught at Knights Park

View Knights Park on our Google Maps
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