DE7001 - Design Thinking

What will I learn on this module?

You will learn concepts and principles of design thinking delivered in three knowledge portfolios; creative thinking, research principles and contemporary influences on design, these fields of knowledge are supported and informed by academic staff research specialisms.
Creative thinking methods will enable you to frame problems from multiple perspectives and synthesise new opportunities and possibilities from interrelated factors. You will develop a practical knowledge of advanced design research methods. Through contemporary influences you will learn to situate design in the contemporary world and identify the impact of external factors on your own design practice.
The underpinning knowledge and understanding will be applied in the context of a team project with industry or other collaborating organisation, which will help you learn effective ways of working in multi-cultural/multi-disciplinary teams. Recent industrial collaborations have included Procter and Gamble, The Centre for Process Innovation National Centre for Printable Electronics and the Academic Health Science Network.

Through this module you will learn about three fields of design knowledge described above, which you will interpret 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.
You will appreciate the transferability of design thinking and will be able apply your knowledge in different contexts and domains.

How will I learn on this module?

In this core module you will learn about creative thinking, research methods and contemporary influences on design through the School of Design’s extended studio approach (X-Studio) that embraces our physical studios and making workshops as well as our virtual spaces to create a flexible and rich environment that is responsive to our learners’ needs.

This dedicated approach has been developed over many years of continuous teaching innovation, research and industry collaboration. It has created a supportive extended studio culture that encourages our students to learn flexibly, dynamically blending their learning and University experience between physical and digital interactions both in real-time and online at their own pace.

We believe that this extended studio culture not only helps our students to become more confident autonomous learners but also prepares them for a dynamic design industry in which an extended studio philosophy is current practice.

When learning on campus you will be taught through a combination of lectures and seminars, workshops and project supervision to cover three core areas of design thinking; - creative thinking, research methods and contemporary influences on design. Lectures and learning materials will be used to introduce core concepts and smaller group seminars to support the student learning. A part of your directed learning will be based on practical engagement in the X-studio environment where you will be working on a team project, applying and testing the theory, knowledge, and concepts that you have learnt. Seminars and project supervision will allow you to engage with tutors whose research portfolios align with creative thinking and innovation, design research and research methods, contemporary influences and disruptive innovation to bring both theoretical perspectives and specialist expertise to the projects.
You will be conducting independent study as well, as it forms an important element of the module. Independent learning will centre upon the students identifying and pursuing 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.
As a distance learner 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.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

How will I be supported academically on this module? (SRS 0003) Please provide a brief overview of the academic support available to students, including any support that may be accessed outside formal scheduled teaching.

You will be supported by a team of academic experts in scheduled timetabled lectures and seminars 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.

The Masters programme curriculum has been developed to capitalise on the extensive, active and well defined research emphasis of the School and channel this expertise to support your development in line with your PDP through a range of expert lecture, seminar, project supervision and tutorial support delivered both on campus and by distance learning. The E-Learning Portal provides important learning resources for both campus based and distance learning students and many lectures and seminars are recorded through BB collaborate and Panopto so that students can review their content after the event.

ESAP support is integrated with the programme and aims to develop study skills to support students achievement of module learning outcomes.

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

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 in the fields of creative thinking, contemporary influences on design and research methods
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 of the creative thinking, contemporary influences on design and research methods knowledge you have applied and the impact of this knowledge on your practice

How will I be assessed?

You will prepare a single illustrated portfolio of three components (as 1,2,3 below) evidencing your interpretation of existing theories and methods in the field (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.

1) Creative thinking
2) Research methods
3) Contemporary Influences

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 at 2 staged points and 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

Please find details of this module in the other sections provided.

Course info

Credits 30

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year Full Time

Department Northumbria School of Design

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


Useful Links

Find out about our distinctive approach at

Admissions Terms and Conditions

Fees and Funding

Admissions Policy

Admissions Complaints Policy