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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Design

Postgraduate Course: Design in Action (Level 11) (DESI11090)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryIncreasingly over the last decade the design profession has begun to question the social and ecological ethics of its role in the making of commodities and turn its focus to more socially engaged forms of practice. Accompanying this has been a critique of design methods and a shift to more collaborative and inclusive ways of working. This course will introduce you to some of Design┐s responses to the key social issues facing contemporary society and offers you the opportunity to put social design into action and engage in live projects (based in Edinburgh) employing the principles of participatory and co design. Design in Action is delivered through a mixture of lectures, discussions, workshops and fieldwork with a focus on the live projects.
Course description Just as there has been a resurgence of social activism in recent years, Design has also increasingly been exploring ways of enacting social transformation through its practices. Design in Action responds to the claim that 'design (especially when we design together) is an essential human expression that will help us all to move towards sustainable futures' (Fuad-Luke, 2009), through an exploration of the context of socially engaged design and introduction to the methods employed in this endeavour. Employing a case study approach the course will introduce design strategies that have arisen as a response to some of the key social issues facing contemporary society and focus in particular on the principles of co-design / participatory design and community engagement. The course focuses on developing live design projects (based in Edinburgh) in which these methods and strategies can be put into practice and is delivered through a mixture of lectures, discussions, workshops and fieldwork.

Each year the project theme changes but might include sustainable development, design for disability, design for communities or design and education. Projects may also involve collaboration with external organisations such as charities, schools and community groups (but will be developed so as to be accessible to all students on the course).

Having been introduced to the themes of the course you will work in groups on the live projects employing and developing the methods outlined. You will be expected to demonstrate an ability to work independently in your groups and to develop and present your research findings and project proposals as part of the course assessment.

Course Aims:
To gain an understanding of the contexts in which socially engaged design is employed.
To gain an knowledge of socially engaged design practice.
To engage in a live project.
To develop and apply appropriate design research methods and strategies.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesAppropriate SCQF Level 10 Qualification or equivalent
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Develop: Demonstrate an ability to work collaboratively to develop a project brief that responds to the course theme and which identifies potential research strategies along with a scholarly investigation of the project. This should be presented along with provisional findings and a project proposal.
  2. Investigate: Employ and apply rigorous research tools to investigate the project and demonstrate a critically informed engagement with key issues and theories.
  3. Analyse: Demonstrate the ability to propose strategies or solutions that reflect an in-depth understanding and analysis of the social and cultural context of the project.
  4. Communicate: Communicate the research and analysis through a written format in a professional, synthesized and coherent way for a specified audience.
Learning Resources
See Design in Action Bibliography on Resource Lists @ Edinburgh:
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills To exercise autonomy and initiative in the development of projects.
To be able to employ appropriate research strategies to self initiated projects.
To be able to make decisions on the basis of rigorous and independent thought, taking into account ethical and professional issues.
To be able to identify, define and analyse problems and identify or create processes to solve them.
To be able to flexibly transfer their knowledge, learning, skills and abilities from one context to another.
To communicate ideas effectively and in ways that respond to specific briefs and audiences.
Course organiserMs Emma Gieben-Gamal
Tel: (0131 6)51 5721
Course secretaryMr Ryan Farrell
Tel: (0131 6)51 7400
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