Design Informatics combines Data Science with Design Thinking in a context of critical enquiry and speculation. We build a value-aware, reflective practice at the interface between data and society by combining theory and research with an open-ended process of making and hacking.
Human activity is being constantly shaped by the flow of data and the intelligences that process it, moving towards an algorithmically mediated society. Design Informatics asks how we can create products and services within this world, that learn and evolve, that are contextualised and humane. Beyond that, it asks questions about what things we should create, speculating about the different futures we might be building and the values behind them.
The central premise is that data is a medium for design: by shaping data, we shape the world around us. Data Science provides the groundwork for this, with Design Thinking underpinning reflective research through design. You will use this in working with the internet of things and physical computing, machine learning, speech and language technology, usable privacy and security, data ethics, blockchain technologies. You will connect technology with society, health, architecture, fashion, bio-design, craft, finance, tourism, and a host of other real world contexts, through case studies, individual, and collaborative projects. You will understand user experience in the wider socio-cultural context, through an agile programme of hacking, making and materialising new products and services.
Please be aware that the structure of the programme may change.
Throughout the programme, you will be working both individually and in teams of designers and computer scientists. Everyone will have to write code during the course, and everyone will have to make physical objects. Several courses, including the dissertation, will involve presenting the artefact, product, service, or interactive experience that you have created to the general public in a show.
In the first year, you will study:
In Design with Data and Design Informatics Project, you are likely to work with an external partner, such as the Royal Bank of Scotland, Amazon, Edinburgh City Council, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh or the National Museum of Scotland.
MSc and MA students then undertake a dissertation in the summer before graduation.
MFA and Advanced MSc students take a summer placement with a relevant digital organisation then return for a second year of study, comprising:
Elective courses are drawn from the Masters Programmes of the School of Informatics, Edinburgh College of Art, and Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences. Courses are typically 10 or 20 credits.
This degree will put you at the cutting edge of the intersection between data science, design, and information technology, opening a host of opportunities in working with companies, charities, and the public sector. We encourage entrepreneurship. For those who wish to stay in academia, the course provides a solid foundation for a PhD in related areas.
Product Design at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) centres on the exploration of problem spaces, understanding that much of what designers do is re-define and re-interpret products and their contexts enabling people to lead engaged, productive and meaningful lives.
Product design is a broad discipline, and at the University of Edinburgh we understand our discipline through a ethnomethodological lens. At the heart of our research programme is people; particularly those who currently struggle with existing objects in identified circumstances. We embrace a variety of approaches to people-centred design practice including participatory action research; affective design; design for disruption and inclusive design. The core to our approach is to speculate and build preferred futures, based on design-led evidence constructed through observation and engagement with others. Our aim is to understand the agency of objects and configure intended impacts on communities of people moving through and across various services and systems.
As a student on programme, you will join a vibrant, international community of creative practitioners and researchers. Members of the academic team are involved in a variety of research interests relevant to design production, maintaining strong partnerships with academics from across the University in allied disciplines such as engineering, informatics, anthropology, sociology, health and business.
There are two semesters in your first year, each providing the opportunity to engage three courses: one core requirement, and two elective options from supporting programmes relevant to the ethos of the programme.
Core courses foster exploration and development of ethnomethodological approaches to product design research and development, with a strong emphasis on action research, ethnographic observation, participation and prototyping, driven through a strong iterative approach to practice.
One-year MA degree
If you choose to pursue the one year MA degree, you will engage your dissertation in the summer period following the first year of study, focusing on the development of an individual project which emphasises product theory in context.
Emphasis on the MA degree pathway is to prepare students with interests in design management, policy or direction, or pursuing further academic research programmes such as the PhD.
Two-year MFA degree (Under review for 2018 entry)
Students enrolled on the two year MFA degree demonstrate interest in pursuing a career as autonomous designers, often establishing their own studios of practice.
In Year 2 of the MFA, you will undertake an additional four courses, with a core component in semester 1 entitled "Incubator", which is designed to help develop your skills in researching, developing and delivering a practice-led thesis.
The MFA dissertation takes place in your final semester, and culminates in the presentation of a significant body of work presented in exhibition format, showcasing exceptional skills in making, prototyping and manufacturing of high-quality, proof of concept models which articulate your understanding of theory in practice through artefacts, images and text relevant to people-centred design.
The professional knowledge, skills and abilities developed on this programme will prepare you for a rewarding career as a product/industrial designer, designer-maker, user-experience designer, user-interface designer, design manager, production manager, or a variety of other related roles within design-related industries.
Our graduates have an excellent track record moving into employment in a variety of sectors following graduation.