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Design Strategy and Innovation MA

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Subject area: Design
Mode of study

1-year full-time; 3-years part-time

PG code


Start date


Design Strategy and Innovation MA


Postgraduate Loans: From 1 August 2018 , students who live in England will be able to apply for a Postgraduate Loan in academic year 2018/19 of up to £10,609. Find out more

Not all options * for this course are eligible for the Postgraduate loan. (* distance learning /January start or part-time option). If you are unsure you can contact the Student Centre, +44 (0) 1895 268268, email us: student.centre@brunel.ac.uk

About the course

This unique international, multi-disciplinary course will develop design managers and leaders as catalysts for strategic innovation and change.

The programme comprises compulsory modules of theoretical and analytical topics in areas such as innovation, creativity, team-working and leadership. Special features include analytical design exercises, multimedia educational material, research methods, case studies, design audits and international placements.

The aim of the course is to create closer links between design and industry and to widen the horizons of design management students, enabling you to make informed reference to the world beyond design – to users, the market, new technology, economics, politics, law and the global environment.

See what our design students say about our courses.

"Saffron Brunel Brand Prize WINNER 2014"


All organisations use design, but few master its use strategically. This course provides the skills and knowledge to students wishing to enter this exciting and rewarding field of endeavour.

This innovative course was one of the first Master’s programmes - globally - that sought to explain the relationship between innovation and design and the importance of applying a strategic approach using design thinking, design methods and process.

Today we remain a unique course internationally and attract students from all over the world, from different creative and design backgrounds, both with one purpose…to become masters of design strategy.

By the time you graduate you will be equipped to:

  • apply thinking, design methods and process to identify opportunities for innovation and drive changes in commercial, public and/or no-for-profit organisations
  • explore how strategic design could be used to deliver a whole spectrum of innovation ranging from an innovative business model right through to new products/services
  • show expertise in your chosen specialism in exciting fields, such as social innovation
  • critically evaluate the relationship of design, creativity, innovation and enabling technologies
  • demonstrate personal initiative in addressing challenging issues relevant to industry and other organisations and /or the design profession.


Contact our Enquiries team.
Course Enquiries: +44 (0)1895 265599 (before you submit an application)
Admissions Office: +44 (0)1895 265265 (after you submit an application)

Course content

The balanced combination of critical examination and rigorous academic research and creativity is a unique characteristic of our Design Strategy and Innovation MA programme at Brunel.

You will do a three-phase programme:

Phase One modules: Taught Element (September - December)

Strategic Design Management

This module explores the effective use of design in a commercial, business and social context. Beginning with the roots, history & development of design management, the 12-week lecture and workshop programme explains where design can be found in companies large and small, its relationships with marketing and other departments, how design is used to deliver business goals, and the importance of measuring design effectiveness. The module:

  • discusses the use of new product development, service design and the link between design, branding and innovation
  • considers cost and value of design, global versus local, and the impact of e-commerce and digital branding in a future context
  • assesses the differences and the inter-dependence of design leadership and design management, with the help of guest speakers and contemporary case studies.

Branding Strategy Studies

We explore how brands are built or rebuilt through design, how brands can be analysed both from a consumer and financial perspective. We also:

  • discuss the importance of user experience, internal cultures in off-line and virtual communities
  • consider specialist areas such as place branding or luxury fashion brands, how adding value through brand extensions
  • investigate the rise of social media, digital, sensory experiences, plus emerging concepts such as brand spirituality or sociability and their impact on society and brands.

Innovation Strategy and Management

This module explores how design could be a catalyst for various types of innovation ranging from new products and services, right through to a new way of running an organisation.

  • It enables students to evaluate user needs and market demands, and discusses key factors influencing innovation development, such as digital economy, sustainability, collaborative economy and social responsibility.
  • It also investigates emerging practices and processes in the field of design, innovation and management in order to help students develop appropriate strategic directions for innovation and innovation culture.

Design Research

Rigorous research is required for all kinds of strategic planning. This module helps students develop research skills and knowledge, which will prepare them for practical research in organisations/consultancies and academic research if they wish to continue their studies at the doctorate level. The module:

  • explores the role and application of design research and its relationship with creative thinking
  • introduces a wide range of tools to address and solve problems and develop design opportunities within a realistic commercial and/or social context.
  • enables students to formulate appropriate methodologies for design strategy and pragmatic solutions.

Phase Two Modules: Taught/Tutored (January - April)

Design Innovation Futures: Seminar & Workshop Programme

Design Innovation Research Project 1

Design Innovation Research Project 2

Phase Three Module: Student-led (May - August)


This module provides students opportunities to develop and demonstrate sophisticated and advanced knowledge about the role of strategic design in innovation and/or branding. You are expected to carry out research and present a coherent dissertation on current and challenging issues relevant to design management, branding and/or innovation.

Your work needs to be critical and creative, well written and suitably visual thesis to demonstrate the ability to address a carefully formulated design strategic issue. It will include evidence of a sound rationale, analysis and evaluation, integrated creative thinking related to methods and/or design concepts.

Read more about the structure of postgraduate degrees at Brunel and what you will learn on the course.


In the words of one of our close partner consultancies – ‘We choose Brunel Masters students because they hit the ground running’.

Our approach is to blend academic research and theory with sound practitioner expertise both in terms of our teaching team and our invited guest speakers. We believe our graduates are highly skilled and well-motivated enough to make a meaningful creative and strategic contribution to any business from their first day.


MA graduates hold positions in some of the world’s most prestigious agencies and organisations including: Saffron, Imagination, Interbrand, The Brand Union, Sapient Nitro, Macmillan Cancer, Proctor & Gamble, Shell, Instituto Ethos, LG Electronics, LBi Australia, Flamingo, Asus, Point-Blank International, ebay, Yahoo, ICC Lowe Zurich, The Brand Team, John Lewis, Modern Atlanta, Brabantia, Nokia, Hexagon, Bentley Motors, Weber Shandwick, BBH London, CIA Inc, Kohler Mira, Nasty Gal, Saudi Aramco, Nestle Korea, JKR, Virgo Communications Inc (Caribbean), LinkedIn, Rufus Leonard, WPR Beauty Spa Cosmetic, ihandmade.cn, Huawei, Amazon, BBC 3, Orange, Axiom, Samsung, Rapp Collins Athens, Cheil worldwide, Shiseido, Barnardo's, FutureBrand, Unilever, Leo Burnett, Kempinski Hotels, Alibaba.com, Truphone, Nike Colombia

Work placements

Our students have completed placements and design audits with following major companies and corporations: Grange, Wolff DIms, British Airways, Xerox Europe, HSBC Bank, Black and Decker, IDEG and Hasbro UK.

This might explain why many of our alumni now work for some of the world’s leading consultancies including Saffron, New Edge, Design Bridge, Imagination and Seymour Powell, as well as ‘blue-chip’ companies such as Lenovo, Samsung, British Airways, The Virgin Group, Dyson and HSBC amongst others. Some like Brunel so much they elect to stay on with us for a few more years and study design research for their PhD.

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

Entry criteria 2018/19

  • A 2:2 (or above) UK Honours degree, or equivalent internationally recognised qualification, in a design or closely related creative subject. Other subjects with relevant work experience will be assessed on an individual basis.

Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.

International and EU entry requirements

If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions

This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.

English language requirements

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

You can find out more about the qualifications we accept on our English Language Requirements page.

If you require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK, you must prove knowledge of the English language so that we can issue you a Certificate of Acceptance for Study (CAS). To do this, you will need an IELTS for UKVI or Trinity SELT test pass gained from a test centre approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and on the Secure English Language Testing (SELT) list. This must have been taken and passed within two years from the date the CAS is made.

Should you wish to take a pre-sessional English course to improve your English prior to starting your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider for the same reason.

We offer our own BrunELT English Test and have pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet requirements or who wish to improve their English. You can find out more information on English courses and test options at the Brunel Language Centre.

Special features

'Rich Design' - This is a term we use to describe the many extracurricular activities on offer for Design and Branding students at Brunel. The programme varies each year - here are few events from recent years:

  • Made in Brunel ‘Masters 2025’ mega workshop event
  • Competitions sponsored by BT, KFC, Heathrow Airport, Crown Packaging
  • Presenting at Innovation Workshop for major supermarket brands
  • Facilitators for University / Industry Digital Event
  • L*unchBox Workshop in France (started in 2008)
  • Co-Innovate sponsored presentations to industry groups from Korea, Brazil and elsewhere
  • Participants in ‘international brand research’ led by major brand group
  • Internships
  • Industry and University Research workshops (participants/facilitators).

Brazilian week - We host an annual visit from top Brazilian designers, with joint activities organised with Brunel students. It’s an extremely exciting and rewarding experience for both our students and visitors.

Design consultancies - Many design staff at Brunel are practicing design consultants in their own right, and also work closely with several design consultancies, including Design Bridge. an international brand design agency. This has resulted not only in this company participating in Design Futures, but offering student projects, internships and also graduate employment positions.

Eminent speakers - Every year, our ‘Design Futures’ event offers students the chance to use their research to find design-based solutions to issues facing the world. Design Futures also features eminent guest speakers from all aspects of the design profession, who offer their views on the future of design and its role in meeting global challenges.

Industry and professional focus: London is arguably the most important design and creative capital in the world. Brunel Masters plays a key part in this vibrant landscape. Consequently students leave with a realistic and cutting edge set of skills and knowledge. A world renowned consultancy has praised Brunel design graduates for their ability to ‘hit the ground running’ – meaning they start work understanding modern branding and are able to immediately contribute to strategic thinking within a company.

International flavour: Our MA Design courses draw a truly international mix of students, creating a diverse pool of creative talent at Brunel that attracts employers.

Fees and funding

Fees for 2018/19 entry

UK/EU students: £8,750 full-time; £4,375 part-time

International students: £18,000 full-time; £9,000 part-time

Some courses incur additional course related costs. You can also check our on-campus accommodation costs for more information on living expenses.

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).