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DI102-15 Introduction to Design Practice

Design Studies
Undergraduate Level 1
Module leader
Adela Glyn-Davies
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

In this module we will explore and investigate design practice from holistic and reductionist perspectives, their relationship and critiques, and discover diverse forms of thinking and making in design. Students will explore design as a cross-disciplinary endeavour through considerations of impact on personal practice and methodologies, social and life-centred design as well as systemic design. This module will challenge students to consider design practices from the artefact to the system level, and gain an understanding of positionality of design and innovation on a micro, meso and macro level. Students will explore how design has impacted the world, solved and created problems and how design processes evolve to respond to the world's ever more complex challenges. This will be done through collaborative and individual design challenges which will allow students to explore and test diverse and inventive methods to design and system thinking. Students will undertake a journey of unlearning, experimenting, play and curiosity. This is a studio module and will manoeuvre students into designerly ways of thinking, making and knowing.

Module aims

To introduce students to the domains of design; from artefact to system.
To develop students awareness of design as a broad, interdisciplinary field which cultivates established and ever emerging craftsmanship, process and methods.
To evolve skills in understanding ethical responsibilities of design and its impact.
Introduce students to the applicability and adaptability of design as a profession and generate an understanding of where and how a designer can work and contribute.
Develop skills in creative problem solving through co-design and personal practices.
Develop skills in design thinking, systems thinking and multi-solving approaches to complex problems.
To develop students' critical abilities in design analysis and synthesis, storytelling and concept delivery.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

1 / Introduction to design practice; The Four Domains of Design.
2-3 /Personal Practice and Methodologies; Design and You.
4 - 7 / Social Design; Designing with and for Others.
8 - 10 / Introduction to Systemic Design; Complexity and Problem Solving.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • To demonstrate an understanding of design as a broad multi-domain discipline.
  • Choose and apply creative methods to meet the needs of design challenges and diverse stakeholders, informed by an understanding of the nature of creativity, curiosity and play.
  • To establish and utilise an agile and adaptable design methodology in solving complex problems through creative and collaborative approaches.
  • To demonstrate creative thinking and making approaches to design research, problem definition, ideation and concept proposal.
  • Demonstrate and document design research and process in designerly ways.
  • To critically evaluate and synthesise design problems and competently frame stories and design narratives for different design domains.
Research element

Foundational academic and design research skills.


Design practice is a broad cross-disciplinary endeavour which interlinks with all aspects of life. Whilst this module is giving students a wide (systemic) overview of these intersections, specific focus will be given to disciplines of the Applied and Performing Arts, Architecture, Anthropology, Systemic and Complexity Science, Mathematics and Data Science and Ecology.


The content of this module is drawn from a broad set of international precedents and practitioners allowing for a multi-perspective exploration of design practice.

Subject specific skills

Design practice research methods.
Process development through design thinking, and systems thinking.
Mapping and synthesis of design and innovation throughout all design domains.
Practice as research approaches based in visual ethnography.
Systems Mapping.
Visual Data Mapping.
Co-Design and Social Design frame-working.
Rapid Prototyping.
Professional Design Pitch and Crit.
Digital visualising skills.

Transferable skills

Cross-disciplinary group work.
Mapping and scaling large-scale complex problems.
Stakeholder mapping.
Systems Mapping.
Visual Data Mapping.
Digital visualisation and communication skills.
Project and time management.

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 1 session of 1 hour (1%)
Seminars 8 sessions of 2 hours (11%)
Tutorials 8 sessions of 2 hours (11%)
Fieldwork 8 sessions of 3 hours (16%)
Private study 33 hours (22%)
Assessment 60 hours (40%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

Students are required to undertake asynchronous activities as prompted by the facilitator as well as undertake ethnographic research via field studies outside of scheduled contact hours. Alongside this students will work independently on their portfolios and reflective journals, which will be reviewed mandatory in pitch and crit sessions.


Category Description Funded by Cost to student
Equipment and project costs Student $70.00

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group A
Weighting Study time
Portfolio and archive of practice development 80% 50 hours

The design portfolio captures students' design processes and proposals in a professional, creative, critical and experimental manner; considering designerly attributes of visual presentation, research, narrative and framed proposal. This piece of work also integrates visual processes and data mapping explorations, as well as responses to design tasks in synchronous and asynchronous sessions. The portfolio can utilise multi-media evidence such as visuals or audio recordings and be a blend of analogue and digital evidence.

Design Studies 20% 10 hours

The student engages a panel in discussing their design studies using designerly language and concepts, with the aim of pitching their design ideas. The panel assesses the "designerliness" of the discussion, and the student's capability to engage in designerly dialogue with fellow designers.

Feedback on assessment

Written feedback will be given via feedforward and ALO rubric (see below). Audio and video feedback will be used where appropriate.

Feedback on oral discussions will be provided by the panel as a written statement. We will also record the discussions so that we can refer to them in individual tutorials.

There is currently no information about the courses for which this module is core or optional.