MA Programme Description

Service Design

First Year 

At the outset of the programme, students are introduced to the scope of the overall programme and co-design a personalised academic pathway reflecting their background, context for the learning and personal goals for undertaking the course. 

Term 1

A common platform for the School of Design complemented by three halfday seminars focusing on service innovation, value creation in the public sector, and envisioning future service experiences. These represent the three platforms offered by Service Design. 

Term 2

In this term, we explore the fundamental principles of Service Design and the key tools and techniques starting with an introduction to the design research tools and methods used in both academia and professional practice. Workshops provide an opportunity for students to carry out specific skill drills applied to standalone briefs which can then be applied to the individual or group project that runs alongside the formal sessions. A series of 3 further Service Design Seminars also provides a thread of critical thinking and discourse, focusing on the design industry, social and public innovation as well as service, digital and the experience economy. 

The second half of the term focuses on value creation through the development of ideas in a specific domain. Lectures, masterclasses and workshops include themes of sustainability, social innovation, data-driven innovation, the digital and physical environment within the service landscape. Students also embark on the Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Design course as part of the Imperial College Business School MBA programme, an opportunity for students to evolve their service design practice in a different context and demonstrate its value and use in an entrepreneurial journey. 

The three Service Design Seminars look at Service & Value, Service Science and Introducing Service Ecosystems. During Term 2 we will explore the three different platforms – Envision, Public Service and Policy Innovation, and Service Innovation and help students select which platforms they would like to specialise within for the remainder of their final year.

Term 3

This focuses on the complexity of service design and hence examines Systems Design by addressing the deployment of services, understanding business and understanding organisations. The three Service Design Seminars focus on General System Theory, People in Services and Service Business and Strategy. Interim Exams take place in the middle of Term 3 after which students will focus on completing the IE&D project, help second-year students in the planning of Show RCA as well as take part in organising a range of events to create an engaging platform for future employers, academics and practitioners. 

Second Year 

Collaborative and Final Projects Students will be asked at the start of Term 4 to select the primary platform they will be focusing on for their master’s project as well as group project that’s undertaken in Term 4. They may choose one or more platforms but their primary choice will relate to their personal tutor who will be the relevant platform leader. Amongst the skills which the course seeks to develop in its students, are the abilities to manage large, long-term projects and to collaborate with others, including other professionals from different design disciplines, as well as those from different professional or industry backgrounds.

Critical & Historical Studies

The RCA provides a unique environment for postgraduate art and design students to reflect upon their own practice, and to engage with students from their own and other disciplines. The role of Critical & Historical Studies (CHS) is to support the studio programmes in enabling these critical engagements to take place. The courses offered by CHS to first year studio-based MA students propose an intellectual framework within which they can begin to establish a coherent relationship between theory and practice.

In the autumn and spring terms there are a series of College-wide seminars and lectures. The autumn term series will relate to your particular discipline (though it is possible to elect to join a series being offered to students on other programmes) whereas the spring term series will be more broad-based and cross-disciplinary in nature.

In the spring and summer terms, a CHS tutor will give you individual tutorials to support the development of a dissertation which is submitted *at the end of the Summer Term.* The dissertation should be between 6,000–10,000 words in length – this is a major piece of work and you will be not be able to submit for the Final Examination until you have passed this assessment.

Service Design Studio
Service Design Studio
Photographer: Richard Haughton