Design Innovation & Transformation Design

Key Facts


Programme Overview

How to Apply

Further Information on applying to the Graduate School is available from


MDes in Design Innovation and Transformation 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.

You will study at GSA’s Creative Campus in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Located just outside Forres, the Creative Campus is a research and postgraduate teaching centre for international excellence in creativity and innovation. The combination of modern studio environment and workshop with a traditional highland setting offers a unique educational experience. We deliver Masters and PhD programmes, and the campus location enables us to research in geographically diverse and distributed contexts as well, as develop innovative forms of teaching with our academic partners around the world.

Programme Director
Dr Gordon Hush

Programme Leader
Dr Emma Murphy

Studio Leader

Studio Tutor

Programme Overview

This programme is taught at the Creative Campus, the GSA's campus in Forres in the Highlands of Scotland. More information on the Creative Campus is available here

The complexity of modern life isn’t going away and the practice of design, as a profession and as a form of exploring the world and creating knowledge must respond to this. This one-year Taught Postgraduate programme (PGT) provides an opportunity for students to embrace this challenge

… in transformation design the designers are not always ‘designers.’ Whereas most designers will have experiencing of collaborating with colleagues from related disciplines such as engineering, marketing and R&D, and may seek advice from specialists during a project, transformation design is truly interdisciplinary, forming teams in which economists, policy analysts, psychologists and others all take part in the design process itself. Collaborators in transformation design, no matter what their background, are likely to be strong in their core discipline and able to connect to adjacent disciplines.

-       Red Paper 02, Transformation Design, P.20, 2006

This emphasis upon collaborative working and real world engagement is explored through projects exploring the impact of the Internet of Things, “big data” and emerging technologies on subjects as diverse as high-rise living, improving the experience of homeless people, encouraging political discourse. Many projects are “live” with organisations as diverse as Toshiba, the Scottish Government, Tesco bank and Alzheimer’s Scotland offering graduates a professional portfolio of work upon graduation.

International links are also important and the January Winter School held in the Scottish Highlands is a collaboration with students and faculty from Schools such as Royal Academy of Design (Copenhagen) and KISD (Køln), while participants from Japan and the USA may also feature. Sharing knowledge, methods and approaches to design issues shaped more by culture and context than by formal considerations allows students to explore complex issues and the experiences of the diverse users and stakeholders of contemporary design – whether these are artefacts, services or interactions.

Consequently, the aesthetics of experience, our engagement beyond objects, services or interactions and the examination of organisations and large scale systems, in particular public services, is central to this programme of study. How can public sector service providers or large-scale organisations respond to the needs, current and future, of those whom they seek to engage with? What are the consequences for social, civic and economic life of digital technologies? How will emerging scientific practices and forms of knowledge be offered to people as useful and empowering interactions?

Graduates of this programme should be able to demonstrate a critical faculty, an awareness of design innovation as a way of thinking about the present as it relates to the future and of understanding the complexity of contemporary life as an issue for exploration, rather than a problem to be solved. Our alumni will work across disciplines and in collaboration with others who possesses expert knowledge, and so demonstrate the capacity for synthesising knowledge in a creative manner, rather than merely applying existing approaches.