Digital Service Design MSc

  • Overview
  • Course Content
  • Special Features
  • Teaching & Assessment
  • Employability
  • Fees
  • Entry Criteria

About the Course

What is Digital Service Design? It’s the art of building customer experiences with a strong digital element. 

This new multi-disciplinary course is designed to help graduates develop cutting-edge user experience design techniques for designing digital products and services. The course features close integration with leading digital companies to help you develop deep knowledge of both design theory and practice as well as to equip you for employment in the digital sector.

The course has been designed in collaboration with Wilson Fletcher, a leading digital design studio, to closely mirror current professional practices. The course includes two industry internships, networking opportunities, one-to-one mentoring from experienced professionals and the opportunity for a company-sponsored dissertation project.

Throughout the course, you will be working closely with leading digital-industry figures from organisations such as:

BBH LBI The Guardian
D4SC Marks & Spencer Tribal / DDB
Friday Mace & Menter UsTwo
Furthermore ORM Virgin Media
FutureHeads RBS W12
The Guardian RMA consulting Wired UX Ltd
HUGE SapientNitro
Hugo & Cat Telegraph media group


The main aim of the course is to prepare students for roles in the fast-growing digital industry by providing a course led by industry experts and practitioners. By the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Generate ideas and turn them into viable concepts and working prototypes.
  • Work in multidisciplinary teams in a studio setting and take responsibility for your work.
  • Problem-solve and design for both user and business needs.
  • Understand the skills, tools and methodologies necessary to develop compelling strategies, products and services.
  • Design and develop experiences, products and services of high quality with digital media at their core.
  • Demonstrate a critical and practical understanding of the issues relevant to digital service design and their use in the context of modern industry and commercial environments.
  • Have a thorough and clear understanding of the methodologies and professional skills necessary for effective digital service design in a business environment.
  • Reflect, critically and in-depth, on relevant aspects of the state-of the art of both the practice and theory of digital service design.


Student Recruitment Coordinator
Department of Computer Science
Brunel University
Tel +44 (0)1895 265939

Course Content

Term 1:

Digital Design Methodologies and Internship (30 credits)

You will be introduced to digital service design. You will be taught by industry experts and  will learn methodologies and approaches currently used as best practice. You will learn how to select and apply the most appropriate method for any given project or challenge.

Part of this module will be a three-week internship with a digital design team/company. This will help you to develop core design and communication skills, as well as how to work effectively in multidisciplinary digital teams.

Example topics include:

  • market and user research methodologies
  • journey mapping
  • design thinking
  • storytelling
  • designing omni-channel experiences
  • portfolio building

Digital Innovation (15 credits)

You will develop the knowledge and skills necessary to implement digital business models and technologies that help organisations to capitalise on business opportunities.

Example topics include:

  • understanding and justifying change
  • change management
  • digital business models
  • managing technology risks
  • ethical issues in change

Systems Project Management (15 credits)

This module will help you develop a critical awareness of the central issues and challenges in information systems project management.

Example topics include:

  • traditional project management techniques and approaches
  • the relationship between projects and business strategy
  • the role and assumptions underpinning traditional approaches
  • the ways in which the state-of-the-art can be improved

Term 2:

Digital Service Design Applications and Internship (30 credits)

This module will develop upon the methods and skills learned in the Digital Design Methodologies module studied in term one, with the added context of a variety of projects based on real-world briefs.

Example topics include:

  • prototyping
  • understanding product life cycles and building effective roadmaps
  • product design
  • how to move design into production
  • behavioural design

ICTs and Strategic Change (15 credits)

You will learn about the central issues and challenges in strategic approaches to information systems.

Example topics include:

  • the nature of strategic planning and its key components
  • the relationship of IS/IT strategy to organisational aims and strategy
  • the assumptions of traditional planning approaches to strategic ICT adoption
  • state-of-the-art responses to issues and challenges

Data Visualisation (15 credits)

You will learn how to visually present insight drawn from large data sets to communicate your findings. You will gain an understanding of human visual perception, data visualisation methods and techniques, dashboard and infographic design and augmented reality. An emphasis is also placed on visual storytelling and narrative development.

Example topics include: 

  •  understanding human visual perception
  •  data visualisation methods and techniques
  •  dashboard and infographic design
  •  augmented reality
  •  visual storytelling and narrative development

Term 3:

Dissertation / Final Project in industry (including Research Methods)

Your dissertation is an opportunity to showcase your enthusiasm and subject skills to potential employers, and also serves as valuable experience and a solid building block if you choose to undertake an industry-based dissertation project.

You will be encouraged to critically examine the academic and industrial contexts of your research, identify problems and think originally when proposing potential solutions.

As preparation for the dissertation, you will be given a  grounding in both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis to enable you to conduct empirical and/or experimental research.

Some of our digital design partners will be offering final project opportunities.

Special Features

You will have the opportunity to do two internships with prestigious companies from the cutting-edge of digital design. As well as providing internships and visiting lecturers, these companies will form the foundation of a network of industry contacts that will be invaluable when you enter into the world of employment.

  • You will work on a number of individual and group practical projects based on real-world briefs.
  • You will develop the technical, interpersonal, creative and strategic skills needed to succeed in the digital service design industry.
You will explore areas of design and rapid prototyping, innovation methodologies, interview and workshop facilitation, journey mapping, customer research methodologies, project management and how to develop and present actionable recommendations and much more.

Teaching and Learning

The course is delivered by a team of academics and design professionals.

You will be taught by our lecturers and practising researchers, consultants and designers through a mixture of lectures, seminars, lab sessions, guest lectures from industry experts, talks and workshops.

Our industry partners come from a wide variety of backgrounds and have experience working on high-profile projects at companies like Wilson Fletcher, Marks & Spencer, The Telegraph, W12, Virgin Media, BBH, IDEO, Friday, SapientNitro, RBS, Hugo & Cat etc.

The course is led by Dr Steve Love, Course director, and Dr Alessio Malizia. They both have strong research backgrounds in the area of digital service design and human-computer interaction. They will use this experience to provide you with theory-based teaching that is based on up-to-date research in this exciting area.

Find out more about Dr Steve Love

Find out more about Dr Alessio Malizia

How will I be taught?

  • Lectures – These provide a broad overview of key concepts and ideas relating to your course and give you a framework from which to carry out in-depth study.
  • Studio workshops – These are normally stand-alone, three-hour sessions in which students can develop, understand and practise using industry-standard equipment. Workshops provide an informal environment in which to explore new ideas and apply what you have learned in lectures, with the help of a tutor.
  • One-to-one – You will have one-to-one supervision for your dissertation project. If you go on an internship, you will also be allocated an industrial tutor who will help you to set objectives, monitor your progress, and provide further support if you need it. You will also have a personal academic tutor who will provide both academic and pastoral support.

Other – The course will also feature guest speakers from prominent organisations, research seminars and external site visits.


You will be assessed through a combination of coursework, examination and dissertation. You will also produce a portfolio of evidence for the Digital Design Methodologies module. Examinations are held in May.


You will be allocated an industrial mentor who will provide guidance on a range of non-academic issues such as CV writing, preparing job applications and job interview practice.

You will also have access to a network of contacts in companies not normally available to students who are undertaking similar courses at other institutions.


Graduates will be equipped to work in leading digital design agencies and consultancies as well as innovative blue-chip companies that have design departments. Fields you might go into after this course include:

  • App development
  • Copywriting
  • Digital design
  • Digital product design
  • Digital project management
  • Front-end development
  • Information architecture
  • Interaction design
  • Product management
  • Research
  • Service design
  • Strategy
  • User experience design
  • UX architecture


This course is focused on employment. The content is based on the latest research, but you will have significant practical opportunities as the course features two three-week internships (one in term one and one in term two). Placements will be found within the following companies as well as other digital design companies: Wilson Fletcher, ORM, Hugo & Cat, DDB, Furthermore, BBH, The Guardian, M&S, W12, Friday, UsTwo. 

Selected students will also have the opportunity for a company-sponsored dissertation project in term three.

At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.

» More about Employability

Fees for 2015/16 entry

UK/EU students: £9,000 full-time

International students: £16,500 full-time

Read about funding opportunities available to postgraduate students

UK/EU students can opt to pay in six equal monthly instalments: the first instalment is payable on enrolment and the remaining five by Direct Debit or credit/debit card.

Overseas students can opt to pay in two instalments: 60% on enrolment, and 40% in January for students who commence their course in September (or the remaining 40% in March for selected courses that start in January).

Fees quoted are per annum and are subject to an annual increase.

Entry Requirements

A UK first or second class (2:1) Honours degree or equivalent internationally recognised in any discipline. An interest in technology, human computer interaction, communication and design is required.

Applicants with other qualifications with industrial experience (that is relevant to the subject area) may be considered and will be assessed on an individual basis. Industrial certifications may be taken into account. Such applicants may be required to attend an interview .

Entry criteria are subject to change.

English Language Requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 (min 6 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 58 (51 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 65% (min 60% in all areas)

Brunel also offers our own BrunELT English Test and accept a range of other language courses. We also have a range of Pre-sessional English language courses, for students who do not meet these requirements, or who wish to improve their English.

Our International Pathways and Language Centre offers a range of foundation and pre-masters courses to provide you with the academic skills required for your chosen course.

Page last updated: Thursday 11 December 2014