MA Design Innovation

This degree is based at USW’s purpose-built campus, in the creative centre of Cardiff.

This exciting new MA Design Innovation programme has been designed to harness your creativity, sharpen your critical thinking and enhance your professional skills, so that you may lead the next generation of pioneering businesses and innovative organisations. 

The course provides a platform for graduates from all disciplines to collaborate across boundaries to imagine future worlds and propose alternative solutions to complex global challenges. 

Through immersion in the latest design thinking and innovation methods, you will show how design is a tool for change. As intrapreneurs responsive to emerging social and environmental concerns, and entrepreneurs disruptive in designing forward-thinking organisations.

Teaching within the Faculty of Creative Industries, in the heart of Cardiff, provides a uniquely creative platform to refine personal and professional skills which are in high demand by industry and civil society.


2022/23 update: Blended learning approach for USW courses.

[Update excludes online-only courses].

The wellbeing and health and safety of our students and staff is paramount to us. We are committed to delivering all of our courses and services as safely as possible. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the methods and activities adopted for delivering our courses in the coming year may differ from those previously published and may be subject to change during the course of your study if such change is necessary due to public health concerns, health and safety guidance or in response to Government Guidelines. Whether you’re on-campus full time, part-time with online study, or full-time online, USW is committed to providing you with a fantastic student experience and a wealth of support, and you can hear how students have benefitted from this approach here: Learn more about blended learning.

Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Full-time 1 Year September Cardiff (ATRiuM) B
Part-time 2 Years September Cardiff (ATRiuM) B
Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Full-time 1 Year September Cardiff (ATRiuM) B
Part-time 2 Years September Cardiff (ATRiuM) B

Our guiding philosophy is to actively seek new interactions between creativity, industry and society, through experimental modes of design research and engagement. Interactions which are underpinned by thematic areas of study aligned to global socio-economic challenges (technology enabled futures; healthy societies; consumption and sustainable economies; activism and civic participation; hyperconnectivity and business models; climate change equity). Themes which challenge you to explore the role of design-led innovation in delivering benefit for individuals, businesses and civil society.

Typical modules include:

Global contexts and systems (20 credits)

You will explore motivations and behaviours influencing design and innovation practice within contemporary contexts. Your strategic thinking will be developed through reference to economic, social and environmental ecosystems.

Design-led innovation principles and methods (20 credits)

You will investigate the role of innovation professionals in delivering value to organisations. The key principles of design-led innovation to manage innovation in commercial businesses and values-led organisations.  

Design Thinking Lab (20 credits)

You will apply the design thinking methodological approach to: problem setting and framing; identifying opportunities from insights; generating ideas; prototyping concepts; validating and testing outcomes. The module also provides a speculative space where you can explore creative ways of communicating future narratives.

Advanced design research (20 credits)

You will employ advanced design research methods to inform strategic decision-making and add value to organisations. This includes human-centred (ethnographic) research techniques to derive user perspectives (observation, conversation and immersion), design research tools to map relationships, visualise journeys and develop narratives.

Creative and collaborative professionalism (20 credits)

Your professional presence and collaborative skills will be developed in this module, through presenting innovation proposals and concepts to partners and clients in an authentic, engaging and creative way.

Innovation Impact Lab (60 credits)

You will focus on the transformative power of design, in challenging incumbent business practices through the examination of innovation models which respond to broader societal and sustainable development challenges. You will develop a lab mindset though the experimentation of creative approaches to the measurement, reporting and strategic management of environmental, social and economic impacts. 

Innovation Lead Project (20 credits)

This is your final self-directed project which empowers you to fully express your creative innovation skills and intrapreneurial mindset, through the detailed proposition, execution and analysis of a live innovation project.   


Course Structure 

The course is offered as a one year full-time or two year part-time (180 credits) level 7 course. The academic year 2020/2021 commences on 21st September 2020 and ends on 4th June 2021. 

Both full and part-time modes comprise of six modules (20 credits each), culminating in an Innovation Lead Project encompassing all prior learning (60 credits). Part-time study offers a more flexible way to study, over an extended two year period. Part-time provision mirrors that of full-time, with teaching through traditional face-to face (lectures, seminars, tutorials, groupwork etc.), directed and independent study activities. 

Stages within the course delivery provide opportunities to accrue 60 credits within term one (year one for part-time study) for a Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert), and 120 credits upon further successful completion of modules within term two (year two part-time) for a Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip).  

Course delivery: 

A programme of expert lectures, immersive activities and real-world briefs will catalyse your thinking around key innovation themes. 

You will apply the design thinking methodological approach to: problem setting and framing; identifying opportunities from insights; generating ideas; prototyping concepts; validating and testing outcomes.  

Activities focus on the professionalisation of your research and communication skills, required to negotiate the delivery of innovation projects and to secure buy-in from stakeholders. Interaction with external project mentors, guest lectures industry visits will inform design iteration and outcomes.  
divergent and convergent thinking and iterative experimentation drive innovation. 

The course provides opportunities for you to increase your value to future employers through exposure to real-world experiences of applying your design acumen to commercial and social projects.  

Additional Costs

It is not anticipated that students will be required to undertake a DBS check, however in a scenario of students undertaking research with minors or vulnerable groups, full ethics scrutiny will be sought Issues (see section G. Ethical Issues). 
If appropriate, students would be liable for any costs. 


The course employs a range of assessment methods which reflect the personal, collaborative and academic skills appropriate for a professional in this field. Methods which encourage metacognition, promoting thinking about the learning process not just the learning outcomes.

A mix of individual and group assessment methods are employed including: portfolio, podcasts, personal reflections, blogs, group presentations, workshop facilitation, simulation, interactive artefacts, scenario, and organisational intervention proposals.


We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement

At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.

If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.

 A good Honours degree in a relevant discipline or appropriate professional qualification; or an HND/HNC and relevant experience.



International Entry Requirements

We welcome international applications with equivalent qualifications. Please visit the country specific pages on our international website for exact details

IELTS grade of 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component.

Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course.

August 2021 - July 2022 Fees

  • Full-time UK:  £9000

  • Full-time International:  £14300 

  • Part-time UK:  £1000 per 20 credits

August 2022 - July 2023 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International:  £14500 

  • Part-time UK: TBC

August 2023 - July 2024 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

  • Part-time UK: TBC

Additional Costs

Students have access to a wide range of resources including textbooks, publications, and computers in the University’s library and via online resources. In most cases they are more than sufficient to complete a course of study. Where there are additional costs, either obligatory or optional, these are detailed below. Of course students may choose to purchase their own additional personal resources/tools over and above those listed to support their studies at their own expense. All stationery and printing costs are at a student’s own expense.



Funding to help pay for/cover tuition fees and living costs

Whilst you’re studying you’ll have two main costs – tuition fees and living costs. You can get a range of funding to help with these costs.

There are a number of ways to fund your postgraduate study. This can be through student finance, bursaries or help from grants, trusts and charities (see Alternative Funding), or a combination of all three.

Click here to find out more about funding your postgraduate tuition fees and living costs.


USW Alumni Postgraduate Discount 

The University of South Wales is offering a 20% reduction in tuition fees for all University of South Wales graduates studying a postgraduate course from September 2021 (this includes students starting their course in January/ February 2022). T's and C's apply.

Click here for more information about the USW Alumni Postgraduate Discount


As part of the application process, applicants may be required to undertake an interview, outlining and discussing prior knowledge, ambitions and motivations relating to the course.

UK students

Apply via UCAS if you are a UK residing applicant, applying for year one of a full-time undergraduate degree, Foundation Year, Foundation Degree or HND and you have not applied through UCAS before. If you are applying to study part-time, to top up your Foundation Degree or HND, or to transfer to USW from another institution, please apply directly

International and EU students

Apply directly to the University if you live outside the UK. 

Admissions statement.


The course team holds close links with industry and civil society partners who act as curators of innovation challenges within the modules. The Faculty of Creative Industries maintains extensive regional and international academic and professional networks, links to employers are proactively sought including creative agencies, public health boards, technology companies, activists and NGOs.

The course provides opportunities for creative industries graduates to apply their design acumen to commercial and social contexts outside the creative industries. Also, for graduates from other economic sectors who now wish to develop and apply knowledge of design thinking and creative processes, so they can then better understand challenges within their own field.

The course provides diverse career progression routes for graduates in roles demanding enterprising and intrapreneurial skills. Students will develop evidence of activities in product, service, social and commercial innovation (including user insight, design thinking, rapid prototyping, collaborative lean and agile delivery) which prepares them for a roles in design management, innovation management, brand management, design research, and technology transformation in social and commercial enterprises.