Social Innovation MDes

The Master of Design in Social Innovation applies the lens of design thinking to address some of society’s most intractable social, environmental and economic challenges.


In the face of the promise of untold growth we are now confronted by a harsh reality: that in the second decade of the 21st century the traditional model of ‘business as usual’ is no longer viable. In applying a range of approaches to designing and prototyping social ventures and models of organisation, the MDes in Social Innovation will equip you with a practice-based approach to embedding innovation in the area of sustainability, community resilience, corporate social responsibility, venture philanthropy and organisational agility. Working with a cross- disciplinary team of professionals, the course will allow you to learn about radical ideas, evolve these ideas and test them in a ‘lived’ organisational environment.

The MDes Social Innovation will demonstrate that many of the most successful designs, innovations and innovators have learned to operate across the boundaries between disciplines, sectors, organisations and traditional services. 

The course will develop your ideas and skills in people-centred and organisational leadership as a way of transforming the way that public, private and not-for-profit services are shaped using design thinking methodologies. 

Read the full programme specification

About this course


1 year full time/2 years part time


Tuition fee and Scholarship/bursary information

Entry requirements

First or upper second class honours degree (or equivalent non-UK qualifications) in a relevant subject, or an equivalent professional qualification in a related subject area.

If you are applying directly from an undergraduate degree course without experience or professional practice you must be able to demonstrate a good knowledge of your chosen subject area.

In order to be eligible for a course, you will need to be a competent speaker and writer of English. This also applies if you are from the European Union, or if you're from a country outside the EU. You will need a level of IELTS 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each section.

Programme specification
Documents showing the detailed specification for the course can be downloaded here.

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Course structure

Course aims

  • To understand the role of social innovation as a business discipline balancing both leadership roles in terms of innovation, the creation of vision and future directions and management roles in terms of using specific tools, methods and techniques.
  • To approach leadership, organisational and enterprise development from the perspective of design thinking and creative innovation.

Study units

Stage One

Developing a knowledge base and new reference points - introduces you to a range of theories and practices in the strategic use of design and innovation, with a particular focus on the method of design thinking in the global context and how it relates to social and environmental change and sustainability. 

Stage Two

Putting new learning into a professional context – develops the practical application of design thinking with a focus on innovation and industry-oriented professional practice based on design management. It also extends your innovation and leadership toolkit. The Studio Practice unit gives you the opportunity to take on a work placement or design research project which will inform your major project.

• Unit 4 Professional Practice in Management and Consulting • Unit 5 Strategic Design and Innovation
• Unit 6 Studio Practice 

Stage Three

Evaluating and advancing existing knowledge

• Unit 7 Major Project