PE7031 - Research for, and through, Design

APPLY NOW Book an Open Day Add to My Courses Register your interest / Course PDF

What will I learn on this module?

Throughout this module you will learn theoretical concepts and principles that support research activity in the field of design and will develop a practical knowledge of advanced design research methods.

Specifically, you will study the chronological development and interrelationship of a wide range of research concepts in design and will be able to link them to relevant authors and movements. You will also learn about ethical principles and how to apply for ethical approval for your research project through University protocols.

Additionally you will gain an overview of research principles and will learn how to carry out a critical literature review, incorporating relevant citations and a list of linked references alongside developing the ability to apply research methods in the context of your own practice by creating and implementing a research plan and will be able to explain and employ:

• Primary and secondary research,
• Qualitative and Quantitative research,
• Research for design
• Research questions
• Research paper structure including abstract, conclusions and further research sections
• Exploratory research, grounded theory, appreciative enquiry.
• Semi structured interviews
• Participatory research. Research through design
• Action research method

You will also appreciate the nature, utility and limitations of data produced through different research methods.

As such, through this module you will learn to apply research principles in different contexts and domains and will be able to structure research questions and challenges relevant to your own practice and in line with your PDP. You will apply this knowledge in co-creative practice and will reflect on your experience to summarise the utility and limitations of methods employed.

How will I learn on this module?

Each module session follows a similar structure of Learn, Explore Further and Apply. All learning materials and resources are accessible via our virtual learning environment.

You will carry out a variety of research tasks including:

- Literature Review introduction. Research Task: identification and review of multiple texts
- A journal review
- A review of data and preparation of a research presentation to gain an overview of theoretical research principles
- Submitting a research project for ethical approval
- Research through Design planning activity based on ethical research application.
- Conducting and presenting a research project.
- Individual research module reflection
- Introduction to action research through a short project working in a team based environment

On-line module learning resources available for all students via the university Blackboard Ultra portal.

You will be taught through a combination of on-line sessions and project supervision with tutorial support.

On-line lectures will be used to introduce core concepts and group seminars will support student learning. Part of your directed learning will be involve practical application and testing the theory, knowledge, and concepts that you have learnt including making an application for ethical approval. Subsequent on-line approaches and project supervision will allow you to engage with tutors and to discuss interpretation, application, utility and limitations of different methods.
You will also conduct independent study, as it forms an important element of the module. Independent learning will centre upon identification and pursuit of areas of interest, by providing deeper/broader knowledge and understanding of the subject through a range of learning activities that might include extended reading, reflection, research etc.
You will access virtual classrooms (available on the e-learning portal) for live discussions and virtual taught sessions, which will be recorded and stored on the e-learning portal. These online sessions are timetabled weekly and will deliver relevant knowledge, information and direction for you to fulfil the learning outcomes. Through the e-learning portal you will be provided with resources in the form of scanned articles, links of books/articles/journals, PowerPoint lectures, word document, video lectures etc. relevant to your module. You will be given a reading list, but will also be required to create your individual reading resource as well. You will be using a discussion board to share your work and create a knowledge base for your peers. You will be also using Wiki (a learning tool on e-learning portal) to form focus groups on module submission and assessment criteria.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

A range of approaches are adopted to accelerate your learning in this module.

During the first week of this module, you will receive information about the module and Teaching & Learning Plan. The teaching and learning plan (TLP) sets out
• Learning outcomes and overall module and programme aims
• Teaching, learning and assessment strategy
• Teaching schedule
• Directed reading references (text and journals) and core texts for the module

During this module your module tutor will provide academic support including:
• Delivering on—line materials
• Providing guidance in relation to assignments
• Development of key resources, made available through the VLE
• Assessing assignments and assess or review any other agreed summative or formative outputs as appropriate

You will be supported by a team of academic experts and will have the opportunity to discuss your ideas and methods through project supervision. You will engage in a rich dialogue with tutors (and fellow students) and receive feedback on on-going work giving you the opportunity to respond directly and as part of your process.

Where appropriate, students may also be directed to engage with Study Skills +, or other resources offered through the University Student Support Services such as Dyslexia Support.

The Library is open 24 hours a day and E-Learning Portal houses all your module documents including your timetable. These services can be accessed on a range of devices

The module will also have an e-reading list, which directs learners to specific reading for each session. This includes direct access to repositories, journal articles and other academic sources. You will also be provided with access to a significant set academic research sources via the Northumbria University library portal.

You will also have opportunities to receive formative feedback from your tutor in response to opinions you express and issues you raise during workshop sessions and face-to-face or online tutorials. These formative feedback sessions are formally scheduled at key points throughout the module.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding (KU):
1) Demonstrate scholarship in masters level research through a comprehensive literature review of research concepts, methods and approaches.
2) Develop your personal interpretation the theory and highlight personal insights relevant to your field of practice

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
Application (IPSA):
1) Demonstrate the application of knowledge/theory/methods (as described in KU) in the context of your creative practice

Personal Values Attributes (PVA):
1) Critically review and reflect on the application, utility and limitations of the research methods knowledge you have applied and the impact of this knowledge on your practice

How will I be assessed?

You will prepare an individual video presentation summarising a collection of team-based evidence of the application of research methods and ethical principles. You will evidence your interpretation of research theories and methods (through literature review) and demonstrate application and implementation of this knowledge in your practice. You will critically review the adoption and utility of this knowledge including evaluation and possible recommendations.

The module will be marked as Pass/Fail.

This module is exempt from the Anonymous Marking Policy. The nature of working closely and directly with the students in workshops makes anonymity unfeasible.

Formative assessment will take place through on-going dialogue in group work, project supervision, assignment discussions and tutorials throughout the course of the module.
Summative feedback will be provided to students on a module assessment sheet against the module learning outcomes.





Module abstract

This module provides grounding in research principles for design and highlights the concept of research through design. As such, it can be considered as a toolbox of research methods that can be employed as necessary throughout the course.

Furthermore, the module introduces the theory that underpins research methods and approaches and gives students the opportunity to apply these in relevant contexts through experimentation. By the end of the module, you will be able to demonstrate a knowledge of different research methods and will be able to interpret and apply these in context. You will also be able to critically review and reflect on the application, utility and limitations of a range of research methods.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 2 years Distance Learning

Department Northumbria School of Design

Location Design Building, City Campus East

City Newcastle

Start October 2019, January 2020, April 2020 or July 2020

Fee Information

Module Information

Current, Relevant and Inspiring

We continuously review and improve course content in consultation with our students and employers. To make sure we can inform you of any changes to your course register for updates on the course page.

Your Learning Experience find out about our distinctive approach at

Admissions Terms and Conditions -
Fees and Funding -
Admissions Policy -
Admissions Complaints Policy -