PE7035 - Design Process

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What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will learn about action research methods and will build your own action research process models and recording templates that you will apply in practice to facilitate your development as a reflective practitioner. Whilst grounded in literature review the development of your knowledge of design process will be supported and informed by academic staff with relevant research specialisms.

Specifically you will learn about design process models and will interpret these relative 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. Furthermore, you will appreciate the transferability of design thinking and will be able apply your knowledge in different contexts and domains.

Research has demonstrated the importance of reflection as core design knowledge and numerous authors have explored the relationship of action research process and reflective design practice. In this module you will carry out a critical literature review of action research and reflective design practice and will understand the importance of the designer as an integral part of the design space.

Based on your interpretation of literature in the field you will construct an action research cycle that will include stages of planning, acting, observing and reflecting. You will use this cycle to crate an action research template (ART) and will apply this template in your practice as a planning and recording tool. Through the application of this theory in practice you will develop two strands of learning. Firstly you will learn about action research method and how this can be employed to develop your own reflection in action (a cornerstone of design process knowledge). Secondly you will engage with the aims of your PDP by addressing them in practice on a daily basis through your action research template. This process will enable you to gain insights about your own design practice and the work of others.

Note: The action research template (ART) is a key cornerstone of the programme and is applied throughout the course in conjunction with your PDP.

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 be taught through engagement with on-line materials, tutorials and project supervision. Part of your directed learning will be based on practical engagement in action that will test the theory, knowledge, and concepts that you have learnt. You will also conduct independent study that will centre on the identification and pursuit of areas of interest, gaining deeper/broader knowledge and understanding of the subject through a range of learning activities including extended reading, reflection, research etc.

Specifically, the module will enable you to review, interpret and apply design process knowledge in the context of real business and social challenges. This experience can inform your own unique learning journey articulated by your PDP.

In completing this module you will synthesise relevant literature to develop your own action research based reflective practice model that you will then apply in action through your design practice. You will subsequently use your reflective practice template as a diary planning and reporting tool throughout the rest of the course.

You will access Blackboard Collaborate via the e-learning portal (eLP) for live discussions and virtual taught sessions. These weekly online sessions will deliver relevant knowledge, information and direction for you to fulfil the module learning outcomes. Through the eLP you will be provided with resources relevant to your module, and you will build upon the provided reading list to create your individual reading resource as well. You will use module discussion boards to share your work and create a knowledge base for your peers. On-line group seminars and workshops will allow you to engage with tutors and other students in the cohort.

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. You will keep a record of this feedback in order to progress your work to enhance both your skills and intellectual understanding and also to develop your Portfolio and PDP.
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?

What will I be expected to achieve?
(SRS 0005)

Knowledge & Understanding (KU):
1) Demonstrate scholarship in masters level research through a comprehensive literature review of action research and reflective practice.
2) Develop your personal interpretation the theory and develop 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 relating to your interpretation of action research method and reflective practice and the impact of this knowledge on your practice.

How will I be assessed?

You will prepare a portfolio of evidence demonstrating your understanding of action research and reflective practice. You will evidence your interpretation of existing theories and methods (through literature review), application and implementation of this knowledge in your practice and a summarising the adoption and utility of this knowledge including evaluation and possible recommendations. You will include evidence to show your engagement with at least 10 reflective cycles.

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

Design process is dynamic and uncertain and involves the objective factors that describe problem space and the subjective choices of the designer that drive his or her exploration of solution space. This fuzzy situation is not only inherent in design thinking but is also reflected in the professional practice of design where emphasis is often placed on the outcome rather than the skilled process.

This can be difficult for designers to manage if success is focussed on the latest transient outcome. This module places emphasis on design process and the designer as an integral part of the design space rather than the outcome of that process.

In this module you will explore design process by employing action research methods. You will construct your own action research process models and recording templates that you will apply in practice on a daily basis to facilitate your development as a reflective practitioner.

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

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