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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Design

Postgraduate Course: The Ethics of Design (Learning from the Malevolent) (DESI11193)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course investigates the relationship between design practice and ethics. It does so by exploring how the malevolent aspects of design's role in society can ultimately be utilised to promote more sustainable and responsible design. Through lectures and practice-based workshops students will explore a range of alternative design methodologies and processes that will enable them to understand the ethics of design and its relationship to their own practice.
Course description Much of our understanding of design is driven by the idea of 'social good', of the potentially benevolent role designers play in society. However, design has often been complicit in perpetuating the opposite: the manipulation of consumer desire; creating gender and racial differentiation; the design of ableist technologies; promoting resource depletion through planned obsolescence. This studio-based course is concerned with the power of design, and with the ethical dimensions of responsibility designers and other creative practitioners have. It investigates these key aspects by providing an alternative to traditional notions of 'design thinking', arguing that if we understand the malevolent side of design, we ultimately have the opportunity to design in more meaningful, more ethically responsible ways.

Through lectures and seminars students will be introduced to the core themes of the course. These may include, but are not limited to: learning by misusing; techniques of disguise; unsustainable design; transgressive methods; hacking technologies; designing fakes. The course is delivered on a weekly basis, with 3 hours of contact time each week, where students will proactively engage in a mix of seminars and a series of practice-based, collaborative workshops utilising a range of design-led methods and techniques, equipping students with the means to develop their own creative responses to the ethics of design. Students will then devise their own practice-based projects for summative assessment, developing scenarios where the ethical dimensions of design will be questioned.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs On this course you may be required to buy basic materials and equipment. Depending on quality, the costs range from £30 to £50. Specific materials and equipment will vary depending on students individual choice of method of production.
Information for Visiting Students
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate in-depth knowledge and understanding of the ethics of design
  2. Develop alternative creative modes of design thinking that challenge established design methods
  3. Critically reflect upon the role of ethics in their own creative practices
Reading List
Bridle, J. (2018). New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future. London: Verso

Cropley, D.H., Cropley, A.J., Kaufman, J.C., and Runco, M.A. (Eds.). (2010) The Dark Side of Creativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Felton, E., Zelenko, O., and Vaughan, S. (Eds.). (2012). Design and Ethics: Reflections on Practice. London: Routledge

Fisher, T. and Gamman, L. (Eds.). (2018). Tricky Design: The Ethics of Things. London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts

Martin, C. (2022). Deviant Design: The Ad Hoc, the Illicit, the Controversial. London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts

Von Busch, O. (2022). Making Trouble: Design and Material Activism. London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Research & Enquiry:
Through engaging with research and the consequences of malevolent design students will be able to understand the potential contribution of design for positive change.

By focusing on alternative forms of design thinking students will learn how to creatively engage with social issues

Personal and intellectual autonomy:
Students will be enabled to think critically about design¿s ethical dimensions using self-direction and autonomy

Personal effectiveness:
Students will be able to reflect on their own practice, as well as their own ethical positionality.

Students will be able to communicate their projects effectively in groups and individually.
Keywordsdesign,ethics,practice,society,sustainable design,responsible design
Course organiserDr Craig Martin
Course secretary
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