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Module XUE-4003:
Research Methods for Design

Module Facts

Run by School of Education and Human Development

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Mrs Katie Roberts-Tyler

Overall aims and purpose

This module introduces you to research techniques within a design context and will give you the knowledge and tools to plan and conduct effective primary and secondary research for your design projects/activities. Throughout the module you will develop an understanding of the range of approaches and tools available to gather data, as well as the ethical issues involved.

Course content

Referencing; Research planning; Human centred; User trips; Empathy maps; Focus groups; Interview; Empathetic research; Market analysis; Product positioning maps, and Data capture and Analysis methods

Assessment Criteria


50-59% Knowledge of key area/principles. Understands the main elements of the subject area. Limited evidence of background study. Some weaknesses in presentation and accuracy


60-69%. Strong knowledge • Understands most but not all of the subject area • Evidence of background study. Good presentation with accurate communication


70% or above. Comprehensive knowledge • Detailed understanding of subject area • Extensive background study. Excellent presentation with very accurate communication

Learning outcomes

  1. Assess, justify and critique different approaches to design research, including methods and synthesis of data.

  2. Demonstrate a critical understanding of research methods literature and its practical applications.

  3. Demonstrate a critical understanding of practitioner issues, for example in carrying out research projects, and the researcher's own position in the process.

  4. Synthesise data analysis in order to present salient findings in commercial context.

  5. Undertakes analysis of complex, incomplete or contradictory evidence/data and judges the appropriateness of the enquiry methodologies used. Recognises and argues for alternative approaches.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Critical Review of Literature 50
Professional presentation implementation and findings. 25
Reflective Blog - Rejoice in your failures 25

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Lectures - Approaches to design research, including methods and synthesising data


Review of effective strategy, planning and evaluation

Private study

Guided reading, case study review, resource preparation, research activity.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Apply convergent and divergent thinking in the processes of observation, investigation, speculative enquiry, visualisation and/or making for problem solving and generating well-informed critical viewpoints
  • Develop the skills, knowledge, and processes of the subject within a meaningful and coherent context, not in isolation
  • Make informed choices regarding social, ethical and environmental issues which are related to the processes of design and manufacture
  • Develop the skills, qualities and attributes required for working independently, as a participating member of a team and across organizations, through the close working relationships between students, lecturers, and industrialists.


Reading list

Annemiek van Boeijen; Jaap Daalhuizen; J. Zijlstra; Roos van der Schoor, T., 2013. Delft Design Guide. 2nd ed. Amsterdam: BIS Publishers.

Kelly, D., Kelly, T., (2013). Creative onfidence:Unleashing the creative potential within us all. London: William Collins

Milton, A., 2013. Research methods for product design. 1st ed. London: Laurence King Pub.

Portigal, S., 2013. Interviewing users: how to uncover compelling insights. 2nd ed. New York: Rosenfeld Media.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses: