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Relational Design MScRes


Course facts

  • Name: Relational Design
  • Qualification: MScRes
  • Duration: Full time, 12 months (45 weeks)

The Relational Design Masters is an exciting new approach to the development of wellness-related products and services for a region. Framed by the opportunity presented by the three trillion euro wellness industry, its focus areas are adventure, tourism, and education.

Based on creative ways to connect the “what is?” with the “what if?”, you will learn how to combine a region’s social, technological and ecological assets in ways that create new livelihoods, viable services, and sustainable enterprises.

The Masters is not theoretical. It is designed to help you make a positive step-change in a live project. Your research efforts will be therefore be delivered in the form of a Business Proposal, an Exhibition, and a public Presentation to stakeholders and peers.

Our faculty and in-house experts will help you develop and tell your story effectively. Throughout the course, you will have access to our senior advisor, John Thackara – during his visits for live crits, and 1:1 on skype at other times.

The course is people and place-centred, technology-enabled, and design-led. It equips you with practical skills in design, prototyping new products and services, and business model innovation.

The Masters is based in one of Europe’s most resilient regions. North Wales enjoys unspoiled land, clean air and biodiversity; abundant water; sea; low population density – and ancient but still thriving cultural roots. The North Wales region boasts a dynamic innovation ecosystem of local firms, makers, hackers, and the North Wales Tech Community.

The course is based in Bangor University’s Pontio Centre. This thriving arts and innovation centre serves as an interface between education, research, and local social and business communities. You will have access to a range of world-class academic experts, including for example environmental science, sport science and psychology, as well as computer science and electronic engineering specialists.

Internationally, the Masters is connected in live projects with cities and anchor institutions active in Transition and Territorial Design, Health, Wellness, and Tourism. We are also involved in networks that are developing new business and governance models such as Cooperation Platforms.

Examination will be by Viva Voce; this takes place before the public presentation and exhibition of your work. The Viva will be before an internal examiner, external examiner, and chair. The course continues, intentionally, until August to give you time for reflection. and to prepare the next stage of your innovation research journey.

The Relational Design Masters is residential, and runs full time from September to August. The course language is English.

Course content is for guidance purposes only and may be subject to change.

Course Content

Research Areas

Relational Design: Wellness within a Regional Context (Adventure, Tourism, Education)


The year is divided into four phases. There will be some overlap between these, but the formal waypoints below are designed to ensure that you cover all necessary elements. The timing and outputs of the programme align with a Tier I visa application, should there be a need for sponsorship for an international student to remain in the region, post-graduation

1. Discover (September-December)

As you immerse yourself in the region, and connect to people and place, a series of short, intensive design exercises, with coaching, will acquaint you with tools and methods to be used later on. We will introduce you to our FabLab (woodwork, digital composite 3D printing, laser cutting and other advanced manufacturing equipment) and explain the creative group processes used in our CoWorking space. Through an Enterprise by Design exercise, involving undergraduate students, local actors, stakeholders and other researchers, you will practice how to design a group decision support process, and lead a multidisciplinary team, within a multi-stakeholder project.

2. Define (January-February)

Relational design is about making connections between social, natural and cultural assets, and building the cooperation platforms by which they can work together. In January, you will prepare a first version of your project proposal; this is presented at a formal Project Proposal Crit at the end of the month. With feedback from that Crit, you will further develop and refine your project proposal in February

3. Develop and Deliver (March-June)

Prepare your Business Proposal, Exhibition, and Public Presentation.

4. Reflection and Future Planning (July-August)

After the Viva, and the Exhibition and Public Presentation, we have allocated two months for you first, to reflect on what you have learned so far; and second,  plan the actions needed to implement your project, locally or back home. Our team will be available to provide feedback and mentoring throughout this final phase.


The Masters in Relational Design is a research-based degree. Your research topic might be an existing project idea – perhaps inspired by an industry, government or anchor institution from your own territory – or you may define a research topic once you arrive in Bangor. The sections below outline first, our three focus areas, with examples to trigger your own thinking; and second, the four phases of the year-long course are explained in detail.


The spectacular natural assets of North Wales, and its network of dynamic small firms, can be the basis of innovations in a wide variety of adventure and sport activities: climbing, running, diving, kayaking, camping, mountain biking, tree climbing, zip-wiring, and more. Research partners might include global wellness brands, app developers, or public health initiatives such as the UK’s Active Forestry programme.


Active travel, learning journeys, and biodiversity tourism, are fast-growing segment in this huge global industry. Health-conscious city people are looking for soil-to-table relationships through such models as social farming, Wwoofing, Workaway, and Fibersheds. River, forest and ecosystem restoration camps are growing in popularity. In the Smart Villages movement, heritage buildings are being restored as Coworking/Coliving (CoWoLi) sites. Other legacy buildings – community colleges, chapels, pubs, libraries, regional museums, hostels, post offices, local shops – can also become networked rural hubs for visitor activities that create new livelihoods for local citizens; AirBNB Experiences is a good example.


North Wales is an alternative learning destination in its own right. Its schools and environment centres are looking for new ways to engage with new publics – from citizen science and artist residencies, to maker centres, land-based learning, and coding in the countryside.There is scope for theme-based learning journeys, too, such as the Fermentation Routes being developed in Latvia, Slovenia’s popular Honey Routes, or the Deep Time Walk app at Schumacher College in Devon. Wales’ new ecomuseum, Ecoamgueddfa, is another inspiring model to build on. Learning how to combine practical skills with new business creation is another opportunity; in Sicily, for example, citrus farmers and citizen apprentices are using biorefining as the basis of new health and nutrition products.

Modules for the current academic year

Module listings are for guide purposes only and are subject to change. Find out what our students are currently studying on the Relational Design Modules page.

Entry Requirements

We invite applications from mid-career professionals or graduates of architecture, design, engineering and business; applicants with other backgrounds, such as ecology, or geography, are also welcome. All applicants are judged on their individual merits, plus work or business experience.

We have many years’ experience of making offers of entry based on qualifications awarded worldwide and we welcome applications from international students. Entry will require a qualification deemed to be equivalent in level to the UK bachelor degree. International applicants are normally required to provide evidence of English language proficiency. The minimum English language requirements will normally be:

  • IELTS 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each individual component score
  • Pearson PTE: a score of 62 (with no element lower than 58)
  • Cambridge English Test – Advanced: 176 (with no element lower than 169)

International Students

For information and further detailed guidance on entry requirements for International Students, including the minimum English Language entry requirement, please visit the Entry Requirements by Country pages on the International Education Centre section of our website.

Ask the IEC for assistance...

If you want advice or a general chat about what’s available contact the International Education Centre on +44 (0) 1248 382028 or email


For information about the course and the application process, please contact:

Steps to apply:

Step 1. Interested applicants sent CV and example work/portfolio to:

Step 2. Interview 1 - Applicants will be invited to meet for an initial discussion regarding the course and entry requirements

Step 3. Interview 2 - Applicants that satisfy essential entry requirements will be invited to meet (video conference) to discuss specific project directions

Step 4. Successful applicants will be invited to apply apply formally, by following the the red 'Apply Online' button/link below.

Application advice

Applications for research degrees differ substantially from applications for taught courses such as Masters degrees. Although the application form is the same, the way in which you approach your application can make all the difference.

Applying for a self-funded or externally-funded Research Degree

As with all of our courses, you can apply to fund yourself through a PhD/Mphil at Bangor, or you may already have sourced external funding (e.g. from your employer or government), and we warmly welcome all expressions of interest in so doing. However, rather than simply filling in an application form, there are a few steps that you can take in order that your application stands a greater chance of being successful.

All PhD/Mphil students require supervision from at least one academic member of staff at the University, and if you are considering a PhD/Mphil, you will already have a good idea of the specific area or theme that you want to research. In order to ascertain that we hold sufficient expertise in your chosen topic to provide supervision, you should first look at our staff pages. This will provide you with a breakdown of each staff member’s area of academic focus.

Once you have found a member of staff whose research interests broadly accord with your own, you should contact them directly with a concise research ‘brief’ that outlines your proposal and ask whether s/he would consider supervising your project. If the academic expresses his/her interest, you may then further discuss your ideas and develop a full PhD/Mphil research proposal.

At this stage, you should formally apply online for the PhD/Mphil programme. You should fill the form out thoroughly, including academic references, your research proposal and the name of the academic member of staff under whose supervision you intend the research to be conducted.

Your research proposal

A good research proposal is essential if you are applying for a PhD or MPhil. The proposal should include:

  1. Overview – give a brief abstract of the subject area you wish to research and include information on the key theoretical, policy or empirical debates that will be addressed.
  2. Planning – you need to demonstrate that you are aware of the research timescales and have a plan in place to conduct your work. You need to demonstrate that the research is manageable in the given time period.
  3. Literature references – you need to show that your planned area of research has not been studied before. Provide references to key articles and texts relevant to your area of study.
  4. Methodology – you need to show that you are aware of the methodological tools available and have identified which ones would be suitable for your research.

More advice about preparing a research proposal

Applying for funded PhD studentships advertised by Bangor University

Funded PhD studentship opportunities arise frequently throughout the year, and are advertised as specific opportunities for which you must formally apply. The application process for funded PhD studentships may differ according to the academic School in which the studentship opportunity is held, so please check the relevant School’s homepage and follow the application advice therein. If you are unsure of any part of the application process, please contact the individual School for advice, or e-mail

Online applications can now be made by prospective applicants for all postgraduate taught programmes and postgraduate research programmes at the University (with the exception of the PGCE, Diploma in Occupational Therapy and DClinPsy).

Home/EU students

Apply Online here...

Apply online

  • Please read through the Guidance Notes before you begin the online application form
  • Apply online yourself through our online application system.

Home/EU students with admissions queries please contact...

Postgraduate Admissions:, telephone: +44 (0)1248 383717 or write to:

Postgraduate Admissions Office.
Academic Registry
Bangor University
Gwynedd UK
LL57 2DG

International students

  • Agents: if you are an agent applying on behalf of the student, then you can Apply here.  For further guidance click here

International students with admissions queries please contact...

International Education Office: or write to

International Education Centre
Bangor University
LL57 2DG

Telephone: +44 (0) 1248 382028

When do I Apply?

The University will accept applications throughout the year. We would generally advise that you submit your application in enough time for you to make any funding and/or accommodation arrangements, and for documents such as transcripts and references to be obtained if not submitted with the application.This will also give you more time to meet any conditions we may potentially attach to an offer (e.g. in the case of overseas students, taking an IELTS or TOEFL test to meet the English Language requirement).

Careers and Employability

A recent study by the Global Wellness Institute calculates that the global wellness industry is a $3.7 trillion market. Its key sectors include:

  • Beauty & Anti-Aging ($999bn)
  • Healthy Eating, Nutrition & Weight Loss ($648bn)
  • Wellness Tourism ($563bn)
  • Fitness & Mind-Body ($542bn)
  • Preventative & Personalized Medicine and Public Health ($534bn)
  • Complementary & Alternative Medicine ($199bn)
  • Wellness Lifestyle Real Estate ($119bn)
  • Spa Industry ($99bbn.)
  • Thermal/Mineral Springs ($51bn)
  • Workplace Wellness ($43bn)


According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Adventure Tourism is the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry, and the projected job growth for the health and wellness industries as a whole, from 2014 to 2024, is 13 percent – a faster rate of growth than most other fields.

Within this dynamic landscape of opportunities, the Masters in Relational Design course is for those who wish to:

  • develop an existing project idea – perhaps in collaboration with an industry, government or anchor institution from your own territory;
  • find employment in the public or private sectors in one of the sectors listed above – for example with a global wellness, travel, or hospitality brand;
    start a new enterprise;
  • work in regional development or innovation policy, or in the research economy.

The Pontio Masters equips students with practical skills in design, prototyping, and pilots of new products and services, and business model innovation. It is process oriented, and applies agile and iterative product and service design methods.

As well as finding specific employment based on the specialist knowledge acquired during your research, your general employability will be enhanced by evidence of your ability to work independently, to think analytically and innovatively, and to conceptualise and question.

During your studies, you will also have the chance to develop essential professional skills such as good communication, teamwork and leadership skills and enhance your practical experience.

Research / Links with Industry

One of the ways Relational Design creates value is through focus on collaboration with small and medium sized companies, social enterprises, anchor institutions, and public sector bodies.

North Wales boasts a network of small companies. These  range from extreme sports, wellness, health and adventure tourism, to biorefining, grain and fiber networks – and a community of small but leading edge technology companies.

Current strategic business partners of API include Creo Medical, DMM, Paper Trail, Rib Ride, Zipworld, Locly. Our FabLAB (>450 Members) and the North Wales Tech Community (>500 Members) provide further access to designers, makers and engineering companies within the region

A key feature of relational design is the identification of new actors and potential partners. Our extensive national and international staff contacts mean that you will often be able to collaborate with commercial consultancies, local councils, environmental organisations (e.g. the Environment Agency, Countryside Council for Wales, RSPB, British Trust for Ornithology, many of whom have regional offices based in Bangor), and government research institutes (e.g. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology) in the UK, and internationally.

The UK and other governments are pushing in diverse ways to increase citizen activity outdoors and in the countryside. In the UK,  organisations like Sport England are already developing programmes in partnership with the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA). An opportunity for Bangor could be to innovate Business Improvement Districts for Bioregions.


Many sources of funding are available to students to assist with the cost of study. Click on the below links for more information.

Third-Party Sponsorship

As things stand, there is no funding in place in Bangor University specifically to support payment of the MRRD course fees. However, we are ready to assist as best we can in your search for sponsorship or industry support. The course is about the development of a live project. We therefore suggest that you approach companies, or public agencies, with the argument that their support would benefit them directly - not just you personally.

If you identify a promising candidate who might support your project on the course, our team will be happy to supply a customised letter in support of your application. In those cases, send me the name, title and coordinates of the individual to whom we should write. Be sure to include the website url of their organisation.

Paid Work

The Masters will be hosted in the coLAB Design Studio, which is located adjacent to the fabLAB. This provides an opportunity to engage with fabLAB activities during the day when it is open to members.

Training in the use of tools and processes in the fabLAB will be given as part of the Masters. Opportunities will exist to supervise fabLAB activities in the evenings. This currently pays £13.22 (Lab Demonstrator rates) for upto a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time.

Further information

Contact us

  • API
  • 01248 382820

 Course Fees

  • Home and EU: £10, 200
  • *International: £19, 600*

* The price includes cost of participation in an international project, including travel and accomodation on two international trips to Queretaro, Mexico. 

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