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Introduction to Social Design Online Short Course

Course description

Course Description

Over recent years design has expanded from its traditional terrains and been adapted for application to social, systemic and public policy challenges. This course will provide an introduction to the emerging field of social design: the ideas and theories behind it, and the how of practicing it.

This course will encompass both theory and practice. You will have the opportunity to read, reflect on, and debate some current ideas, arguments, controversies and research insights around social design, as well as gaining practical experience of developing and seeing through a social design project. You will leave the course with an action plan for applying a social design approach to their own challenge.

This short course is run by the UAL Social Design Institute (SDI) and is informed by research from the SDI and the UAL research centres.

You will have access to:

  • Talks from specialists/ experts and pioneers in the social design field
  • Reading list and resources for further exploration of the field
  • Tailored feedback on their project and action plan
  • Peer-to-peer learning and feedback through seminars and crits

  • Course Outcomes

    By the end of this course you should be able to:

    • develop a critical understanding of what it means to design for, in and with social contexts and outcomes
    • gain some hands-on experience in addressing a social, environmental or systemic challenge with a social design framing and practices
    • develop an approach to applying social design in their own organisational, professional or personal context

    Who Should Attend:

    This course is aimed at Up-skillers/ career changers people working in professional design who want to reorient towards social/ sustainable practice. It is also suitable for civil servants, local government officers (or people working in other organisations/ contexts such as foundations, networks and platforms) interested in deploying design, but who want something more critical and socially-conscious than design thinking/ service design.

    This is an introductory level course no previous experience/ knowledge of design is necessary.

    Please note that all courses are taught in UK time.

    Online courses are closed to all new bookings 48 hours prior to the course starting.

    Available dates

    If no dates are showing then please sign up to our mailing list to find out about upcoming dates and new course developments.


    Topics covered

  • Histories and theories of social design: what makes it social design?
  • Contemporary sites of social design: practice and research
  • Core principles of social design
  • Methods and practices
  • Ethics and issues in designing for the social
  • Designing in and for systems
  • Designing for policy
  • Social design vs design thinking
  • Valuing design
  • Materials

    Online short course materials

    To take part in the Online sessions you will need:

    • An up-to-date web browser (we recommend Chrome)
    • Microphone and headphones (a headset with a microphone function is recommended. The built-in microphone in your device would also be fine).
    • Webcam
    • Strong Internet connection - we recommend a minimum of 2 Mbps download, and 1 Mbps upload, faster if possible. You can test your network speed here -

    Please bring for the first session:

    • notebook and pen
    Meet the Tutor:

    This Introduction to Social Design short course provides a hands-on experience in addressing a social, environmental or systemic challenge. You will be encouraged to develop a critical understanding of what it means to design for, in and with social contexts.

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