MDES Design Innovation & Service Design

Building on concepts and methods from disciplines such as interaction design, user-centred design and innovation management, Service Design emerged as a new generation of designers began to apply methods and processes from those disciplines to the design of services and their often immaterial experience. The discipline continues to grow as the complexity of challenges organisations face increases and the transformation from manufacturing to an experience economy progresses. At GSA, Service Design is taught as a means of applying design processes to complex problems, combining artefacts and interactions to experiences for the design of services that exist, unfold and evolve in both space and time.

Services surround us, and our engagement with them can be a frustrating or rewarding experience. As a human-centred design discipline, the focus is on people – what they do, how they do things, why and when they seek to engage with the world around them through private or public sector services. Throughout this programme, you will find an emphasis upon the social value of service design, as well as its economic importance. The role of Service Design is to put human experience and aspiration at the heart of the design process as it addresses the world of services by ensuring that designed experiences are meaningful and targeted towards users’ needs and abilities. Consequently, we have worked with NHS Scotland, the Scottish Government and Highlands & Islands Enterprise, as well as commercial and private sector organisations.

The M.Des Design Innovation and Service Design seeks to equip students with the thinking, tools and processes of service design so that you can drive innovation in the conception, design and delivery of services and service experiences.

Latest thinking and live projects
This course exposes students to the latest thinking and debates within the service design community as well as innovative design practices through a combination of theory-informed lectures and exploratory studio projects. Live projects provide students with a rich experience of design innovation through collaborations with private and public sector organisations. The learning experience is further enhanced by direct input from leading service design professionals.

An international studio
Students benefit from strong links with other academic institutions across Europe and internationally (USA, India and China). The course is taught in a truly collaborative studio setting that brings together students from around the world, e.g. UK, China, India, South Korea, Japan and South America.

Our international links provide an opportunity to gain experience that is relevant on a global platform. You will experience our annual Winter School, which is a collaboration with students and faculty from schools such as The Royal Academy of Art & Design (Copenhagen) and KISD (Køln), while participants from Japan and the USA may also feature.

Career destinations
Graduates who completed the course have entered international agencies, been offered service design roles across a range of sectors and set up their own successful service design businesses, such as Snook.

GSA welcomes applications from candidates with a keen interest in systemic change, a collaborative approach to the design process and who bring the perseverance required to approach complex challenges. We encourage an inter-disciplinary learning environment and welcome applications from a variety of disciplines. The selection process is not exclusively based on a portfolio or evidence of previous design work.

Programme Director
Dr. Gordon Hush
Programme Leader
Don McIntyre
Programme Co-ordinator
Dr. Iain Reid
Studio Leader
Elio Caccavale & Dr. Brian Dixon
Studio Tutor
Dr Lorenz Herfurth & Dr. Iain Reid


How to Apply

More information about this course is available on The Glasgow School of Art’s website.

Further Information on applying to the Graduate School is available from [email protected]