MDes Service Design Innovation

**PLEASE NOTE** MDes Service Design Innovation is undergoing developments for 2016/17 and will be revalidated as MA Service Experience Design and Innovation.

View course content and apply for September 2016 on the MA Service Experience Design and Innovation course page.

Please note

MDes Service Design Innovation is currently undergoing developments for 2016/17 and will be revalidated as MA Service Experience Design and Innovation, subject to formal approval.

All applicants applying for September 2016 entry will be applying for the newly revalidated version of the course. 


Course Leader

Omar Vulpinari

Course Location

London College of Communication 
Elephant and Castle
Find Us

Study LevelPostgraduate
Study ModeFull time
Course Length1 year 3 months full time (45 weeks across a four-term model)
Home/EU Fee

£8,250 (2016/17 fees)

UAL alumni receive a £1,000 discount.

Course fees may be paid in instalments
A range of scholarships, bursaries and awards are available to postgraduate students at UAL. 

International Fee

£17,230 (2015/16 fees)

UAL alumni receive a £1,000 discount.

Course fees may be paid in instalments.
A range of scholarships, bursaries and awards are available to postgraduate students at UAL.

Start DateSeptember 2016
Term DatesSeptember 2016 - December 2017
Application Route

Direct to the College, see the How to Apply tab for details.

Application DeadlineApplications are accepted, and offers made, throughout the year. Early application is advised.

Content and Structure


Initiated in January 2009 as a response to the Cox Report (2005) on ‘Creativity in Business’ MDes Service Design Innovation takes a multi-disciplinary approach to the design of services and its strategic role in both private and public sector organisations. The course emphasises the wider role of design and innovation in service systems as a vehicle for change from a societal, cultural and business perspective.

The course is structured to develop creativity and design knowledge within the design of service. Students are encouraged to undertake projects that will tackle many of the social and environmental challenges facing the 21st century. Projects may be as diverse as ‘knowing the value of the NHS’ through to public sector innovation and sustainability within local authorities.

It is aimed primarily at students who have a graduate design discipline and wish to broaden their understanding of innovation and design as a collaborative interdisciplinary process. However, the course would also be of interest to students from social science backgrounds and related fields.

The course has many external links including Cranfield University and SADI (Samsung Art and Design Institute) in South Korea. Through these partnerships there are opportunities for collaboration and exchange including group design projects, lecture programmes and workshops. The course also collaborates with other leading academic institutions.

On leaving the course, Graduates are equipped with knowledge and skills for delivering strategic service design projects within the creative industries, IT industry and the public sector. In particular, students develop their knowledge of service design thinking, around product service systems and service innovation.

What students say about the course...

"The course is all about the process of working in collaboration with people like engineers and scientists. What people from a design background can offer is the ability to think more freely and see the bigger picture. They can show different ways of innovating and thinking 'out of the box'. We cannot be 'one trick pony' professionals any more. It's no longer acceptable to work just with people in your own field - we need to collaborate with people from different backgrounds and be more flexible. Industry wants new ways of thinking and doing - that's what this course is all about."
Donagh O'Hargain, 2009

"It's amazing what you can learn from colleagues, and is a great opportunity that I shall now continue to take advantage of as much as possible in life and my future work."
Andrew Millar, 2009

Who is the course for?

This course is aimed at students who have studied a design discipline and wish to explore and broaden their understanding of design and its application within a wider strategic role in organisations and society.


On the programme you will have the opportunity to take part in design projects, workshops and study tours. These will be embedded in a sound theoretical framework of lectures, case studies, seminars and tutorials.

Terms 1 and 2 of the course will provide you with a detailed knowledge of core theory and skills in innovation and creativity. The skills and knowledge obtained will enable you to articulate design ideas, observations and solutions creatively as designers, as well as demonstrating rigour and critical evaluation in your work. You will be able to apply your design thinking strategically and add value to new and challenging contexts.

You will participate in design projects, workshops and study tours. This will be supported with a series of lectures, case studies, seminars and tutorials.

Term 3 builds on the knowledge and skills you have acquired and applies these to the creation of original design research projects. This involves the completion of a major project on the basis of extensive research, investigation and a firm methodological approach. The course will challenge existing orthodoxies and encourage design related communication, service and product innovation problems to form the focus of the final major project.

The final Major Project will need to demonstrate the testing of ideas, exploring the context of the project as well as identifying key issues such as appropriate discourses, research methodologies, materials and media through which you can effectively communicate your ideas.

Each course is divided into units, which are credit-rated. The minimum unit size is 20 credits. The MA course structure involves six units, totalling 180 credits.

Autumn, Term One

Unit summary:

  • Strategic Design of Services (20 credits)
  • Prototyping and Design for Service (40 credits)

Spring, Term Two

Unit summary:

  • Collaborative Unit (20 credits)
  • Service Innovation and Project Management (20 credits)
  • Individual Concept Options (20 credits)

Summer, Term Three

Unit summary:

  • Individual Concept Options (continued)
  • Major Project (60 credits)

Autumn, Term Four

Unit summary:

  • Major Project (continued)

If you are unable to continue or decide to exit the course, there are two possible exit awards. A Postgraduate Certificate will be awarded on successful completion of the first 60 credits and a Postgraduate Diploma will be awarded on successful completion of the first 120 credits.


Course Leader: Omar Vulpinari

Programme Director: Nicky Ryan

Course Tutor: Cordula Friedlander  

Course Tutor: Paul Sims


There are numerous possibilities open to graduates from this course. You will find your new knowledge and skills useful for careers in industry, local authorities or non-profit organisations. Alternatively, you may decide to pursue an academic career.

Student Jobs and Careers at UAL

We know what it takes to be successful in your chosen field. Your tutors are professionals in their own right and understand what you need to help you establish your career. 

Careers and Employability is dedicated to helping students build up work-relevant skills, knowledge, experience and networks throughout your time here. 

Creative Opportunities is the UAL job and work placement website for students and graduates, advertising hundreds of creative opportunities each month. This includes ArtsTemps in-house recruitment agency, placing students and graduates in paid temping roles within the University.

UAL houses a number of organisations which promote aspects of career development in the arts and media, and which hold regular workshops and careers fairs. These include:

  • Own-It (intellectual property issues)
  • ArtQuest (career development resource for artists and designers)

Entry Requirements

Recruitment and admissions

An Honours degree in a relevant subject, or a professional qualification recognised as equivalent to an Honours degree in a design-related or creative discipline. Applications from students with good degrees from social science backgrounds will also be welcome. If you do not have the required qualifications, but do have professional experience, you may be eligible to gain credit for previous learning and experience through the Accreditation of Prior and Experiential Learning (APEL) i.e. professional experience or a combination of courses and work experience.

Your experience is assessed as a learning process and tutors will evaluate that experience for currency, validity, quality and sufficiency.

Language requirements (International/EU)

Portfolio advice

If you are applying directly from a BA course without experience of professional practice you must be able to demonstrate a good knowledge of design practice, supported by a good degree and portfolio work. For those applying from social science backgrounds, research based around a relevant topic needs to be demonstrated. In all instances enthusiasm for the course is paramount.

Important: All applicants will be expected to submit an electronic portfolio on CD or via a website with their application form. This should include a maximum of six projects and supporting material as described above. These should be clearly annotated and organised.

All candidates will be expected to outline their major project ideas in the application. This should describe the area of interest - the field of study and the particular focus of their intended work across the year. This should include an overview of how you intend to go about producing the project - the methodology.

It is important to recognise that these ideas will inevitably develop and change across the year of study on the course and only serve to inform your application at this stage.


Home / EU and International students

Funding opportunities available for this course:

Any questions? Please email or visit Postgraduate Funding page.

How to Apply

Applicants applying for September 2016 entry

MDes Service Design Innovation is undergoing developments for 2016/17 and will be revalidated as MA Service Experience Design and Innovation, subject to formal approval. 

All applicants applying for September 2016 entry will be applying for the newly revalidated version of the course.

How to Apply

Please go to the MA Service Experience Design and Innovation course page for updated course content, entry requirements and steps of how to apply.


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