Skip to main content

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. As well as a weekly talk on each topic from tutors, students 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 trialling social design methods and practices in relation to a real world challenge. Students are encouraged to reflect on their own contexts, practices and interests, and bring these for discussion in the class in relation to social design. You will leave the course with a deeper understanding of how to apply­­ a social design approach in your own context.

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.

Students will have access to:

  • The latest thinking on social design
  • Reading list and resources for further exploration of the field
  • Tailored feedback on practical exercises set by tutors
  • Peer-to-peer learning through seminars and crits

This is an 8-week online course, with one 2-hour webinar per week, plus up to 2 hours of work to do in between sessions. The course will be a mixture of readings, seminar discussions and practical exercises.

Course Outcomes

By the end of this course you will:

  • 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
  • advance your understanding of how to apply social design in your own organisational, professional or personal context

Who Should Attend:

This course is suitable for:

  • people working in design who would like to reorient towards more social/sustainable practice
  • other kinds of professional involved in social contexts or working towards social change
  • anyone who is interested in deploying design, and looking for something more critical and socially-conscious than design thinking or 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 of social design
  • Current landscape of social design
  • Why social design? Critiques of mainstream design
  • Key social theories: how can we make sense of the social?
  • Principles of social design: how do we approach designing?
  • Methods and practices for: research, analysis and synthesis, idea generation, prototyping and understanding impact
  • Ethics, criticality and reflexivity in design
  • How macro conditions influence design
  • Political design and policy design vs social design


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 -

As well as video conferencing, we will make use of online collaboration tools (e.g. Miro), although no prior experience of these is necessary. We will conduct a familiarisation exercise in the first class.

In some classes there will be drawing exercises to do (no prior drawing skills necessary), which can be done on pen and paper or using a tablet.

Please bring for the first session:

  • notebook and pen
Meet the Tutor:

This Introduction to Social Design short course provides an overview of the field of social design. You will experiment with social design methods, applied to a real world situation, and develop a critical understanding of what it means to design for, in and with social contexts.

Pay by:
Powered by Worldpay
Contact us: