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MDes Social Innovation

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This course applies the lens of design thinking to address some of society’s most important social, environmental and economic challenges.

You will develop solutions that address pressing social and environmental demands. These are often in the fields of health, social cohesion, demographic shifts, climate change and economic development. These issues are not necessarily addressed by one sector alone or by conventional market-led forces. Instead they involve cross-sectorial experimentation, co-creation, prototyping and dissemination. Globally focused case studies will broaden students’ perspectives and increase their understanding of social innovation as a driver for systemic social change.

The course will guide students through the underlying patterns, causes and capabilities needed for social change looking at alternative economic spaces by drawing on notions of the social economy, social value, inclusion and sustainability. It will demonstrate how design is being used increasingly as a strategic tool by organisations, social movements and government bodies to create innovative new social services, improve systems and processes and develop better, more inclusive and participatory business models.  

Social Innovation equips you with the ability to embed innovation in the area of sustainability, community resilience, corporate social responsibility, venture and philanthropy. This course develops your collaborative and entrepreneurial approaches, supported by design skills that are needed for leadership roles in brands, business, social enterprise, NGOs or government.

Course details



1 year full time/2 years part time

See below

Validating body

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.

More information

What your course will look like

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.

Stage One

This stage 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

This stage 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

This stage allows you to evaluate and advance existing knowledge ahead of a major project. 

Unit 7 Major Project  

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