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Unit information: Design and Systems Thinking for Innovation in 2022/23

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name Design and Systems Thinking for Innovation
Unit code INOV10001
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Parker
Open unit status Not open
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Units you must take alongside this one (co-requisite units)


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School/department Centre for Innovation
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Unit Information

Why is this unit important?

To innovate you need new ways of looking at problems to find novel and creative solutions. This unit examines both the interconnectedness of various factors to understand the bigger picture (systems thinking) problems whilst bringing together a human-centred problem solving focus (design thinking) to create innovative solutions to design challenges. Design and Systems Thinking strategies provide deeper insights about the users and the systems involved in a problem, to define and reframe problems and generate solutions or alternative approaches than those that already exist. In this unit you will learn to structure your natural creativity by applying these strategies to come up with innovative solutions and develop prototypes for different kinds of problems and themes.

How does this unit fit into your programme of study?

Design and Systems Thinking for Innovation is a foundational unit for all innovation students. On this unit you will be introduced to core skills that you will build on in other all other innovation units. Through group work, individual reflection and prototyping you will learn through practical application what it is like to be an innovator.

Your learning on this unit

An overview of content

This unit will cover theories of design and systems thinking and how they apply to creative innovation. Skills will be developed through practical, critical, application of design processes. Students will focus on defined problems and use a range of tools and techniques to develop design solutions and reflect on the efficacy of their ideas

How will students, personally, be different as a result of the unit

As a result of working on this unit students will gain first-hand experience of working with design, systems thinking and prototyping. Students will gain confidence from sharing their ideas and develop the ability to generate solutions that others may not have thought about before.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

1. Apply theories of design and systems thinking in creative innovation contexts.
2. Employ ideation and prototyping techniques to develop solutions to real world issues.
3. Develop design research skills including problem definition, data collection, idea generation and testing.
4. Reflect critically on different techniques and own emergent practices.

How you will learn

Students will learn through practical, studio-based workshop sessions. Generative methods will be used to allow students to produce new ideas and enable reflective learning on creative processes.

How you will be assessed

How you will be assessed

Tasks which help you learn and prepare you for summative tasks (formative):

Formative feedback will be given on group work. Students will be asked to present their interim findings and ideas and prototypes in a variety of media and settings (e.g. SWAY, Powerpoint, MURALs, tutor led groups, buzz groups). Tutors will provide oral and written feedback on progress and encourage the students to reflect critically on the techniques they have employed.

Tasks which count towards your unit mark (summative)

Individual Reflective Critique, 2000 words or equivalent, (60%). [ILOs 1, 2, 3, 4]

An individual reflective critique on the application of design and systems thinking strategies in practice based contexts

Team Project, 3000 words or equivalent, (40%). [ILOs 1,2,3,4]

A team-produced presentation of a student developed design solution, including research, prototype (s), and relevant user input.

For the Team Project, the word count will be shared across the group

When assessment does not go to plan

When required by the Board of Examiners, you will normally complete reassessments in the same formats as those outlined above. However, the Board reserves the right to modify the form or number of reassessments required. Details of reassessments are normally confirmed by the Centre shortly after the notification of your results at the end of the academic year.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. INOV10001).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.