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Course content

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 face various complex circumstances and systems, including disruptive technologies, 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 understands designers as researchers. We combine traditional design practices with a sense of curiosity regarding uncertainty and instability and try to understand the diverse sociocultural perspectives and practices within these global challenges. The programme is ideal if you wish to broaden your existing specialist approaches with 21st century design skills that can be applied across intellectual and creative contexts including sociology, engineering, business, anthropology, geography, and design itself.

Programme Structure

You will be taught through a series of Design Labs, which provide thematic focus to open project briefs, encouraging independent interpretation in the design studio. The labs aim to develop your skills, encouraging innovative use of analytical design research methods, application of contemporary synthetic approaches to producing and prototyping design-led insights and bleeding edge forms of communication, presentation and dissemination of design knowledge and future propositions for design-led interventions. You will choose option courses in design or from a range available across ECA and the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences. Finally, your independent dissertation will embrace student-led, situated and practical interventions and tackle real world contexts. It may be possible to undertake a work-based dissertation and apply your new skills in real world applications.


The programme will prepare you for a rewarding career as a designer, strategist, or consultant in a variety of private sector organisations, including design studios, and government or non-governmental organisations (NGOs). You may also consider a career in academia leading to new and exciting careers in emerging fields of inquiry including digital humanities, developmental studies, and emergent forms of design study and practice.

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




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Recipient: University of Edinburgh

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