DE6007 - Design Dissertation

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What will I learn on this module?

The Design Dissertation is the level 6 (20 credit point) module that is the opportunity to demonstrate your ability as a critical, independent, design thinker and writer of a rigorous scholarly, 6000 word, dissertation. It is the culmination of your studies associated with the Design in Context, modules in levels 4 and 5.

You will develop, in consultation with your tutors, the Design Dissertation Proposal submitted in level 5 and create a precise title/question to work on during Semester 1 of your final year. The topic of your work will be related to your design interests, specialism or the context in which design and design process are influenced.

In writing the dissertation you have the opportunity to demonstrate your skills in researching and organising material and then communicating a critically and cogently argued, focused, response to the reader. You will learn to research with integrity and in line with the ethical expectations of the Department and University. You will discuss your worth with, and be guided by, a tutor but the work will be yours alone. (Included in section 6.6 of the QAA (2008), Subject benchmark statement for Art and Design)

Thus the dissertation is not only an opportunity for you to demonstrate your knowledge of a particular subject in which you are interested, but also that you are able to work independently, think analytically and write rigorously; skills and abilities which potential employers may seek and which will benefit you in your professional life.

How will I learn on this module?

Through lectures, 1:1 tutorials offering you critical, advice and guidance but primarily your own independent study you will learn to identify and develop through research a topic relating to the academic concerns of design in context. (QAA (2008), Subject benchmark statement for Art and Design, Paragraph 3.5).

You are encouraged and guided:
1. to use an appropriate methodology to interpret, analyse and elucidate information gathered through research;
2. to select and organise appropriate material, ideas, analysis and interpretations into a sustained piece of work formally arranged as a dissertation;
3. to work in an ethically way and with integrity;
4. to demonstrate your ability for personal critical reflection, understanding and engagement with design in context; and
5. To communicate rigorously with the reader of your discourse.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Semester 1 commences with preparatory lectures to equip you to confidently and independently undertake your design project research. These will cover topics such as:
• What is a Dissertation?
• Developing a research question
• Research methods in design and, more generally, visual and material culture
• Research methodology
• Using primary and secondary material and the ethical implications associated with the different sources
• Structure, Format and Referencing
• Planning and time management

Following this generic guidance, you will proceed with individual learning with focused and specialised guidance through a series of tutorials with your appointed tutor. The detail of the syllabus and research methodology will be negotiated between student and their supervisor bearing in mind the aims, indented outcomes and timescale of the module.

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?

Knowledge & Understanding:

MK6.1 - Identify, review and critically discuss industrial design related topics in a scholarly manner as evidenced through your ability to present a design dissertation. (PK6.1)

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

MI6.8 - Evidence an assured approach to written project work through use of appropriate structure, style and content in a written assignment. (PI6.4)

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

MP6.3 - Show understanding and awareness of professional and responsible design contexts and be able to articulate your opinions in the context of your practice as evidenced through the body of work produced by one or more of the following means; written, visual, physical, digital, oral. (PP6.3)

How will I be assessed?

6000 word Contemporary Design Dissertation Project. This essay is a fully articulated piece of writing which is the culmination of a substantial and sustained research project into an appropriate subject related to historical or contemporary design practice or visual or material culture more broadly.

Written feedback on your summative assessment will be normally provided within the time specified by the university, which is currently 21 working days.


Level 5 Modules



Module abstract

The Contemporary Design Dissertation Project is, and has been throughout the 40+ years of Design for Industry, the culmination of your development as an independent and critical learner The Design Research Project is the culmination of your development as an independent and critical researcher writing and thinking about a topic that you, yourself, have devised in consultation with your tutors. The process of topic selection starts in level 5 but builds upon work undertaken in the earlier Design in Context modules.

The dissertation will enable you to demonstrate your integrity and your abilities of methodical investigation; data analysis; the synthesis of understanding and the presentation of the conclusions to be drawn from research work. Thus the final 6000 word written document will showcase your ability to communicate rigorously outside the expected industrial design medium of 2D and 3D artefacts and in manner often expected by potential employers.

Course info

UCAS Code W240

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Northumbria School of Design

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2020

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