Design Innovation & Transformation Design

Key Facts


Programme Overview


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.

Innovation School Website

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.

Indicative Additional Costs
Individual departments levy material fees as indicated on this page. You should budget for each year of your programme of study and should allow for costs over and above your fees and maintenance, particularly if expensive materials or projects are chosen.

Head of School
Dr Gordon Hush

Programme Leader
Jonathan Baldwin

Programme Coordinator
Dr Iain Reid

Subject Leader
Sneha Raman

Research Methods Lecturer
Dr Mafalda Moreira

Fergus Fullerton-Pegg

Programme Overview

This programme is taught at the GSA's campus in the Highlands of Scotland. More information on living and studying at our Highlands campus is available here.

The world we live in and the issues we face are becoming increasingly complex. The practice of design as a profession and as a form of exploring the world and creating knowledge must respond to this. We now recognise it is not enough to solve problems. Expanding opportunities exist for design to play a strategic role in mapping complex situations and enabling transformation towards preferable futures.

Transformation Design focuses on change-oriented approaches to design, which engage with complex social or systemic issues. We seek to understand complexity and work with stakeholders in participatory design processes to combine multiple alternatives, images, narratives and aesthetics, and develop strategies to trigger processes of transformation.

Real world engagement

Through this programme you will experience collaborative working and real world engagement preparing you for a dynamic design career. We research and teach through projects that combine strategic thinking with hands-on exploration to shape future contexts in areas such as healthcare, education, housing and politics. The programme is studio based and many projects are ‘live’ with organisations as diverse as Toshiba, the Scottish Government, Tesco Bank and Alzheimer Scotland, offering you a professional portfolio of work upon graduation. 

Design for the future

In this course you will learn to apply innovative design practices and emerging approaches to the increasing body of work, which addresses complex systemic issues. You will explore new forms of design in relation to public participation, social and technological innovation and policy-making. You will develop your own personal perspective on Transformation Design and define new roles for the designer within complex social, economic and political contexts.

An international outlook

This programme is taught at the GSA’s Highlands and Islands campus. Our international links provide an opportunity to gain experience that is relevant on a global platform. You will experience our annual Winter School, whichis a collaboration with students and faculty from Schools such as The Royal Academy of Art & 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 will allow you to explore complex issues and the experiences of the diverse users and stakeholders of contemporary design – whether these are artefacts, services, interactions or systems.

Career destinations

The course is ideal for those who wish to work at a strategic level collaborating with diverse stakeholders including policy makers, industry and those in the third sector. 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 understand the complexity of contemporary life as an issue for exploration rather than a problem to be solved.