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Course content

Programme description

This exciting new programme is intended to foster a new breed of designer for the 21st century. As the world undergoes massive, accelerated change, communities, cultures and societies are confronted by a variety of complex circumstances and systems, including disruptive echnologies, aging populations, economic instability, conflict and displacement, and environmental degradation.

This programme will address the complex, real world challenges these communities face through design-led interventions driven by tactical, critical, strategic and creative approaches. It places an expanded notion of design at the heart of the enterprise of social, technical and environmental change and nurtures an interdisciplinary approach to these complex circumstances.

Our approach starts with understanding designers as researchers, who weave the interstices of traditional design practices with a sense of curiosity regarding uncertainty and instability. This new breed are seeking to understand the diversity of sociocultural perspectives and practices employed by the fragile networks embedded within these significant global challenges.

This programme is ideal if you are looking to broaden your specialist approaches from a range of disciplines with new and appropriate 21st century design skills that can be applied in a variety of intellectual and creative contexts, including sociology, engineering, business, anthropology, geography, and design itself.

Programme Structure

This programme engages you in structured teaching through a series of design labs, which provide thematic focus to open project briefs, encouraging independent interpretation in the design studio. These labs have several aims for developing your design based skillset – to develop the innovative use of analytical design research methods; to encourage application of contemporary methods of production and prototyping to discover new insights; and to facilitate cutting-edge forms of communication, presentation and dissemination of your work. The design labs are complemented by options from subjects across the wider College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences.

The programme concludes with an independent dissertation embracing student-led, situated, and practical interventions, and addressing real-world challenges. Opportunities to undertake a work-based dissertation with a local, national, or international partner, applying your skills to real world applications, may be available.

Career opportunities

The professional knowledge, skills and abilities you develop will prepare you for a career as a designer, strategist or consultant in a variety of private sector organisations including design studios and government or non-governmental organisations.

We encourage you to think about a future career in academia leading to emerging fields of inquiry, including digital humanities, developmental studies and emergent forms of design study and practice as an academic researcher.


Visit the Design for Change (MA) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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