DE7004 - Design Practice 1: Professional Direction

What will I learn on this module?

The purpose of this module is to allow you to construct a clear direction for your Masters study by developing a reflective stance on both your design practice and your design process. By evidencing both what you do and how you do it you will demonstrate your current skills, knowledge and experience and by reflecting on both your process and your practice will construct firm foundations for the development of your Personal Development Plan (PDP).

To craft your PDP you will explore:
• Your current design practice; including as applicable where you work and what you design.
• Your skills, knowledge and experience.
• Your analysis of your strengths and weakness.
• Skills, knowledge and experience that you wish to acquire or develop.
• Ways in which you wish to develop your design process and method of practice.
• The global context for your design practice and the focus of your continued professional development within that context.
• Potential collaborators you may have identified.
• Possible sources of research.

Your PDP (whilst still fluid) will identify your aims and form the basis of your study during the programme. You will learn to articulate the value of your design intervention in the context of your future professional role.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through the School of Design’s extended studio approach (X-Studio) that embraces our physical studios and making workshops as well as our virtual spaces to create a flexible and rich environment that is responsive to our learners’ needs.

This dedicated approach has been developed over many years of continuous teaching innovation, research and industry collaboration. It has created a supportive extended studio culture that encourages our students to learn flexibly, dynamically blending their learning and University experience between physical and digital interactions both in real-time and online at their own pace.

We believe that this extended studio culture not only helps our students to become more confident autonomous learners but also prepares them for a dynamic design industry in which an extended studio philosophy is current practice.

In Design Practice 1 and through the accompanying Personal Development Plan you will learn through a combination of tutorials, seminars, and directed and independent study. Through tutorial support and studio-based feedback, you will be expected to take responsibility for your own creative development and learning for this self-directed practice. You will have formative feedback throughout the module, with peer evaluation forming an important activity, giving you an opportunity to reflect upon feedback prior to submission.

You will use Personal Development Planning (PDP) to record what you have done and to plan what you want to achieve in your practice enabling you to align your particular motivation with your future professional self and identify your personal contribution in design interventions. You will learn to do this by reflecting on your practice and your process in discussion with tutors, students and communities of practice. Your PDP will describe both what you will do and the nature and value of the related capabilities that you intend to develop during the course. Your PDP will inform the planning section of a typical action research cycle of planning, researching, action (designing), observation, evaluation and reflection. Your PDP will be flexible during this semester as you formulate and guide your direction of study with the aim of aligning your motivation and endeavour to realise your personal subject of inquiry and creating your Design Proposal.

A supportive research informed module (either DE7001 Design Thinking or DE7002 Design Process) will aid your research activities for this self led module DE7004 to identify knowledge that will inform your Design Proposal and help you ground your study in appropriate research contexts.

Collaboration within the University and externally with communities of practice is inherent in the programme curriculum design and delivery, which is also part of this module. This is a requirement that will enable you to implement design work into the commercial environment by seeking meaningful professional collaborations or, as an alternative, to enter a design competition of your choice. The academic and professional communities and networks you access will be driven by your PDP and will enable you to move into, or return to, the workplace with greater impact.

This learning will not only aid you in developing a clear view of your own professional aims and motivation but will also help to contextualise your contribution to business and society and to articulate the value you have to offer. This will form the basis for your study in the following module Design Practice 2: Exploration DE7005.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported by academic experts in scheduled timetabled sessions and directed study who will facilitate discussion in one to one tutorials and group critiques around your chosen subject of inquiry. These formal conversations are opportunities to receive immediate feedback on on-going work and to act on that feedback. You will keep a record of this feedback in order to progress your work to enhance both your skills and intellectual understanding and also to develop your Portfolio and PDP.

You will be part of a community of practice that will provide a topic ‘hub’ for cross-organisational collaboration and peer discussion.

You will be involved in reflective practice, which is inherent to the practice of the School. The School has introduced the role of the Associate Professors with the purpose of integrating research with teaching. The Masters programme curriculum has been developed to capitalise on the extensive, active and well defined research emphasis of the School and channel this expertise to support your development in line with your PDP.

Further formal academic support is provided via information posted on E-Learning Portal.

Where appropriate, students may also be directed to engage with Study Skills +, or other resources offered through the University Student Support Services such as Dyslexia Support.

The Library is open 24 hours a day and E-Learning Portal houses all your module documents including your timetable. These services can be accessed on a range of devices.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding (KU):
1. Develop an understanding of advanced research methodology
2. Make and keep current an ongoing personal and professional development plan and apply it to practice.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities (IPSA):
1. Present a portfolio of professional practice (including work to enter a design competition or work developed through an external project collaboration) capabilities and articulate the focus and detail of design value
2. Collect analyse and synthesise data. Demonstrate effective planning, evidencing and reporting skills.

Personal Values Attributes (PVA):
1. Demonstrate a capacity for self-analysis and development

How will I be assessed?

Formative feedback will be given during tutorials when on-going work, drafts and plans will be presented by students for review. This cumulative formative feedback will help you to prepare a portfolio of design work that demonstrates reflection on practice and process and that includes:

1. A Personal Development Plan (PDP) that outlines the capabilities you wish to develop through the programme. You should also aim to evidence how you have begun to act on your learning plan.
2. A review of your recent design practice involving: Hindsight review of your project planning, research, design and evaluation processes and reflection on your own approach and engagement with recent projects and your practice in general.
3. A design portfolio showing your current/recent work. This should support the context of your PDP and should provide evidence of practice work.





Module abstract

Design Practice 1 gives you the opportunity to construct your own Personal Development Plan, to explore your own design motivation and direction and to investigate creative and experimental approaches to a specific topic of enquiry. You will build your PDP upon the skills and knowledge gained in this module, this will be a supported by a parallel research informed module (DE7001 Design Thinking or DE7002 Design Process) and by your past knowledge and experience.?You will examine and discuss your future aspirations relative to the business and social value you aim to create and upon which your design practice will be constructed and evaluated.?

The PDP you create during this module (whilst still fluid) will identify your aims and form the basis of your study throughout the programme.

Course info

Credits 30

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year full-time

Department Northumbria School of Design

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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