University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
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 Reflecting and responding to a resurgence of social and political activism in recent years, designers have increasingly been exploring ways of enacting social transformation through their practices. Design in Action takes as its starting point the ┐social┐ or ┐ethical turn┐ in Design, which has sought to critique Design┐s role in the making of commodities and has seen a shift in focus to more socially and ethically engaged forms of practice. As well as exploring examples of socially engaged design, and its origins, the course will also examine the shift to more collaborative and inclusive ways of working that have underpinned these social design practices. The course will introduce a range of design strategies that have arisen as a response to some of the key social issues facing contemporary society as well as focusing in particular on the principles of co-design / participatory design and community engagement. A key aspect of the course is the development of live design projects (based in Edinburgh) in which these methods and strategies can be put into practice. The course 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.

Throughout the course you will be encouraged to gain an understanding of the contexts in which socially engaged design is employed as well as the partices and principles of socially engaged design. This will be further developed through your application of appropriate design research methods and strategies in the live project.
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
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Work collaboratively to develop a project brief that responds to the course theme and which identifies potential research strategies, in line with social design practices, along with appropriate scholarly literature.
  2. Employ and apply rigorous research methods and resources to investigate the project and the key issues and theories that arise from it in a critically informed way.
  3. Propose strategies or solutions to the problems or issues identified in the project that reflect an in-depth understanding and analysis of the social and cultural context of the project.
  4. 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 Mathieu Donner
Tel: (0131 6)51 5740
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information