Design Innovation & Service Design

Key Facts


Programme Overview

How to Apply

Further Information on applying to the Graduate School is available from


M.Des in Design Innovation & Service Design. All GSA degree programmes are validated by the University of Glasgow. Established in 1451, the University of Glasgow is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading UK research universities and a founder member of Universitas 21, an international grouping of universities dedicated to setting worldwide standards for higher education.


The assessment combines written work, visual and project material produced both by groups and individuals. The assessment formats are designed to develop analytical thinking, creative synthesis and a rigorous capacity for reflection and self-evaluation. There is an emphasis upon collaborative studio working combined with individual exploration and analysis of theoretical positions and discourses.

Studio environment and access to GSA technical resources and other facilities.

Programme Director
Dr Gordon Hush

Programme Leader

Don McIntyre

Programme Co-ordinator

Dr Iain Reid

Subject Leader

Lorenz Herfurth

Studio Leader
Elio Caccavale

Studio Tutor
Dr Iain Reid


Honorary Professor
Joe Heapy (Engine Service Design, London),

Programme Overview

Service Design is an interdisciplinary approach that has emerged from the combination of different methods and tools from various disciplines in traditional design and beyond. It is an emerging way of thinking and designing, as opposed to a new stand-alone academic discipline. It sees the application of established design processes and skills to the development of services. This usually seeks to design the touchpoints leading to a better customer/user experience and better efficiency in terms of the service provider; a mutually beneficial approach for both consumer and provider. The service design approach will normally involve a multi-disciplinary team who work with stakeholders and end-users throughout the design process.

Service Design emerged as a new generation of designers began to apply their industrial design process to the design of immaterial experiences such as services. Service design continues to grow as a discipline as organisations are becoming increasingly aware that they can no longer rely on providing value solely through products but need to move into creating meaningful and memorable customer experiences. At The Glasgow School of Art, Service Design is taught at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as a means of applying design processes to complex problems, usually combining artefacts, interactions and experiences through the design of services that exist, unfold and evolve in both space and time.

At GSA there is an emphasis upon the social value of service design, as well as its economic importance. Consequently, we have worked with NHS Scotland, the Scottish Government, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, as well as a number of other commercial and private sector organisations. As with all user-centred design, 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. The ubiquity of digital information makes this type of design practice vital to the evolution of service providers and to ensure the quality of experience for service users. Services are everywhere, and they are spreading. 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. The M.Des Design Innovation & Service Design seeks to equip students with the thinking, tools and processes of service design and to create innovation in the conception, design and delivery of services and service experiences.