User Experience & Service Design

Ulster University - Belfast

User Experience & Service Design

User Experience (UX) and Service Design is a unique, research-focused Masters that brings together three of design's emerging specialisms - UX, Service Design, and Design Thinking - as part of a single educational experience.

The course responds to continuing changes in contemporary design practice by foregrounding human experience and social research approaches.

Teaching takes place over three semesters. Semester one focuses on principles and techniques, semester two sees students specialise, and in semester three, students work on an individual, self-directed project.

There is a strong emphasis on group work and collaboration throughout. By connecting to external organisations, companies, and wider stakeholders, it is expected that you will expand horizons and push boundaries, exploring how design may contribute to real change in the areas of technology, leisure, and daily life.

MA UX and Service Design offers you a creative context in which to advance your existing knowledge, and a space to develop new forms of practice based on a 'reimagining' of the possible.

For further course details please see "Course Web Page" below.

Subjects taught

Year one
Design Thinking
This module investigates and critically evaluates knowledge and understanding of the wider theoretical development of design as a discipline. The module provides students with a forum for the critical evaluation of the nature of contemporary design thinking and its manifestation in diverse practices. Students are expected to challenge their personal and collective assumptions about the nature of design thinking, to develop knowledge and understanding of current developments in design research and to formulate new emergent paradigms of design practice in the context of a multidisciplinary, complex environment, especially those pertaining to the areas of interaction design, service design, and/or other design thinking-based approaches.

Development Specialist Group Studio
The module informs and develops students' abilities to meet future design challenges with its focus on the research, development, management and critical evaluation of practical research and outputs. Through experimentation, innovation and debate, it facilitates self-directed, sustained collaborative practical and intellectual enquiry. Enabling the student to articulate and underpin their practice with strong theoretical and contextual reflection and analysis, it prepares students to produce a practice led and critically sound project proposal that generates the foundation for their Masters Projects.

Exploration and Enquiry: Principles, Strategies and Tactics
This module provides students with the necessary critical, practical and intellectual frameworks to initiate, evaluate, negotiate and develop a sustainable creative practice within their respective field. The module combines presentations from professionals and researchers that provide a forum for peer discussion and debate. It focuses on the development of self-directed practice-led research and the establishment of a sustainable creative and critical engagement. Advanced digital and analogue skills, technologies and processes will be introduced and appropriate techniques and technologies employed by the students. Students will audit their own skills and their project needs and resource implications. The module offers students the opportunity to acquire new skills and knowledge, to consider initiating interdisciplinary or strategic partnerships.

Creative Entrepreneurship
This module aims to provide students with an understanding of the role business plays within the creative industries. By focusing on developing students'entrepreneurship awareness it seeks to ensure that they are equipped with the skills needed to establish sustainable creative practices

Masters Project
This module provides a period of sustained self-motivated and practice-led creative engagement. It brings to a resolution a body of work relevant to the area of focus for the student's Masters programme, whether interaction design, service design, or design thinking. The module realises key skills and knowledge concerning the management, documentation, evaluation and dissemination of the creative and practice-led research process in relation to these domains. Finally, it also facilitates a sustained independent period of enquiry within a clearly determined creative body of practice, underpinned by exploration of a range of critical and contextual frameworks evidence in a final, Masters report.

Entry requirements

Applicants must hold a degree (with at least 2ii Honours standard) or equivalent or demonstrate their ability to undertake the course through the accreditation of prior learning.

The course interlinks the domains of User Experience Design, Service Design and Design-Thinking. Students first explore aspects of each before selecting a personal focus during Semester 2.

The specific requirements for admission are detailed below:

i) Applicants should normally hold a good honours degree in design practice or cognate subject from a University of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, from the Council of National Academic Awards, the Higher Education and Training Awards Council or from an institution of another country which is recognised as being of an equivalent standard.

ii) Applications are welcomed from diverse backgrounds however where there is a discipline shift the applicant must represent a coherent rationale for this shift and evidence prerequisite understanding and skills/experience (see below).

iii) Interview by portfolio and proposal. Portfolios must be digital but multiple file types are acceptable (e.g., .pdfs, .docx, .pptx, .jpegs, etc.). Portfolios may also take a variety of forms. For example, if applicants come from a non-design background (e.g., the social sciences), they may use the portfolio to demonstrate research competencies or outline a series of possible projects.

The programme is devised specifically to support continuing lifelong learning for professions in a rapidly changing field. Therefore APL (Accreditation for Prior Learning) will be considered as evidence of exceptional ability appropriate to recruitment to the programme. Applications from professionals with extensive professional, industrial and/or commercial experience but lacking recent or higher level academic qualifications will be encouraged. APL (Advanced Prior Learning) will be considered as evidence of exceptional ability appropriate to the course.

English Language Requirements
If English is not your first language this course requires
a minimum English level of IELTS (academic) 6.0 with no band
score less than 5.5, or equivalent.

This course is open to international (non-EU) students.

For full entry requirements please see "Course Web Page" below.

Application dates

Your Application
Application is through the University's online application system (see "Application Weblink" below).

Post Course Info

Career options
Graduates have an increasingly wide array of career options available, including User Experience Designer, Design Researcher, Service Designer, Digital Product Designer, Interaction Designer, and Strategic Designer. Our course includes industry collaborations allowing for regular access to local and international practitioners and design leaders.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters at UK Level 7

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Daytime

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    Course provider