Dr Qian Sun


  • Dr Qian Sun is a senior tutor in Service Design at the Royal College of Art.

    She teaches a range of subjects including Design Management, Branding and Design Thinking.  Alongside her teaching activities, she is actively involved in research and has worked on a number of academic projects. Before commencing her academic career, she worked as an in-house product designer and for a number of design consultancies in China.

  • Biography

  • Dr Qian Sun completed her PhD in 2006, fully funded by a prestigious ORS scholarship. Her doctoral research considered consumers’ value perceptions using a Means-End Chain approach, and further explored its implications in strategic marketing planning in emerging markets. Following her PhD, Dr Sun worked on a range of research projects in design and related fields with international partners, both from Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and industry, investing her research profile with a strong international dimension.

    Before joining the RCA in 2013, Dr Sun was Programme Leader in MSc/PGDip Design Management at the University of Salford. 

  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • Selected Publications

    Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

    Sun, Q. (2013), ‘The Conception of Branding in not-for-profit SMEs’, International Journal of Management Cases, 15(4), 386–400.

    Sun, Q, Williams, A. and Evans, M. (2011), 'A Theoretical Design Management Framework ', The Design Journal, 14(1), 112–31.

    Sun, Q. (2010), 'Embedding Employability in the Curriculum: A Comparative Study of Employer Engagement Models Adopted by Design Programmes in China and UK ', Journal of Chinese Entrepreneurship, 36–48 

    Articles in Magazines and Periodical Newsletters

    Sun, Q. (2012) ‘Design Education in the UK: The Students Speak’, DMI Review, Design Management Institution, December 2012, 36–45

    Sun, Q. (2011) ‘What Policies Matter to Design’, SEE Bulletin, June 2011, 2–7

    Sun, Q (2010) 'Design Industries and Policies in the UK and China: a Comparison', DMI Review, Design Management Institution, December 2010,.70–7 

    Book Sections

    Williams, A., Cooper, R., Evans, M. and Sun, Q. (2009) ‘2020 Vision - The UK Design Industry Ten Years On', in T. Inns, ed., Designing for the 21st Century: Volume 2: Interdisciplinary Methods and Findings, Farnham: Gower Publishing, 39–54.

    Papers in Peer-Reviewed Conference Proceedings

    Sun, Q. and Almeida, S. (2012) ‘Designing Experiences in Events – A study on event agencies in Portugal’, Leading Innovation through Design, International Design Management Research Conference, Boston, August 2012

    Sun, Q. (2012), ‘Embedding Learning-to-Learn into the Curriculum’, in Crossing Talents! Transversality in Design, Aalto University, Helsinki: School of Art, Design and Architecture, pp.117-125

    Sun, Q. (2011) ‘The Conception of Branding in not-for-profit SMEs’, The 8th International Conference for Marketing, Management, Finance, Consumer Behaviour, Tourism and Retailing Research for International Research in Consumers Location and their Environments (CIRCLE), April 2011

    Sun, Q., Zhang, L., Williams, A. and Pieniazek, M. (2009), ‘Engaging Employers in Delivering Design Programmes: A Comparative Study of Student Employability between China & UK’, in DesignEd Asia 2009, Hong Kong: Hong Kong Polytechnic

    Sun, Q., Sridhar, N. and O'Brien, M. (2009), ‘Consumer Perception of Product Stimuli: an Investigation into Indian Consumer Psychology and its Implications for NPD Process and Strategy’, D2B2 Tsinghua International Design Management Symposium 2009, Beijing: Adelphi Research Institute for Creative Arts and Design

    Williams, A. and Sun, Q. (2009). ‘Managing The Design Businesses Of The Future: Implications For The UK Design Industry’, D2B2 Tsinghua International Design Management Symposium 2009, Beijing: Adelphi Research Institute for Creative Arts and Design

    Sun, Q., Williams, A. and Evans, M. (2008), ‘The Development of a Model of Relations within the UK Design Industry, & its Implications for the Management of Design Businesses’, 15th International Product Development Management Conference, Hamburg: European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management (EIASM)

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  • Awards and Grants

  • Design for the UK and Chinese Consumer Markets

    Principle Investigator: Dr Qian Sun
    Funding body: The Research Council UK Office in China
    Award: £12,000 


Research interests

Dr Qian Sun’s research interests include Design Management, Design Thinking, Design Policy, Branding and, more recently, Service Design. 

Current and recent research

Design for the UK and Chinese consumer markets (July 2010–August 2010)

Role: Principle Investigator
Funded by: Research Councils UK
Partners: Shanghai Jiao Tong University, IDEO, SPoint, Intel, GM and Cisco   

This project delivered a summer school on cross-cultural research in design and developed partnerships with a range of MNCs, local organisations and HEIs in Shanghai. Participants included 19 students/researchers from eight higher education institutions in the UK, who collaborated with 16 Chinese students, as well as representatives from five major Chinese companies.

Collaborative Partnership for Employability, Entrepreneurship and Global Citizenship  (April 2008–January 2009)

Role: Project Manager
Funded by: British Council / Prime Minister’s Initiative Round 2
Partners: University of Salford, East China Normal University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Harbin Institute of Technology

This project aimed to develop collaborative a partnership to share best practice and thereby enhance student employability and entrepreneurship. 

2020 Vision: The UK Design Industry in 2020 (March 2007 – April 2008)

Role: Researcher
Funded by: EPSRC and AHRC / Designing for the 21st Century
Partners: University of Salford, Lancaster University, BDI

This project aimed to identify challenges and opportunities facing the UK design industry over the next decade and to develop a framework to signpost and support change.        


Research students