Practice-based and professionally oriented, MA Service Experience Design and Innovation encourages students to find innovative design solutions for challenging social-focused briefs.
We caught up with Course Leader Silvia Grimaldi to talk about live project briefs, learning by doing and being a part of the postgraduate community at LCC.
Tell us about MA Service Experience Design and Innovation, how did the course develop and what makes it different?
We offer an immersive and industry focused programme where students work on long and short projects with both public sector and private organisations. Service Design projects are by nature complex, involving a diverse range of collaborators with different priorities and values and the course provides students with the necessary tools to fully investigate these contexts and through meaningful interventions.
From the very beginning of the course students work directly with the people they are designing with in a wide variety of contexts through research and co-design strategies, gaining the confidence to engage with stakeholders along with the ability to analyse and apply the results of this engagement. The course is very much rooted in practice and the students learn by doing and engaging in live projects.
What is the advantage of studying the course at LCC?
Located within the Design School at LCC, the course has a strong studio culture and an ethos of learning by doing. Students work in groups on the first few projects and are able to learn not only from staff but also from each other’s varied professional and cultural backgrounds. Engaging with research into different areas of design and innovation feeds directly into the teaching as well as the projects students engage with.
All students have access to our technical facilities and can book onto basic learning courses that enable them to experiment with software and digital tools as well as with more traditional printing, letterpress, 3D construction and prototyping.
Postgraduate students are part of the LCC Graduate School and are invited to multiple talks and events across a range of design and media disciplines. The course also takes advantage of links with other courses including MA Interaction Design Communication, MA Graphic Media Design and MA Design Management and Cultures.
By joining the course, students also become part of the research community at LCC and benefit from exposure to the network of contacts, alumni, and links with industry and public sector organisations. Students are part of a much larger community of learners and researchers and are able to attend and participate in events, talks and workshops across the University.
What kind of projects can students expect to engage with and how does the course explore the relationship between theory and practice in a professional context?
Every year we try to run a balance of public and private sector projects, and most of these projects are live. This year we ran a project with Camden Council about ageing and loneliness in the borough which came out of the Public Collaboration Lab, an AHRC funded partnership between UAL and Camden Council.
We are also running a project with international sporting goods company Decathlon about developing managers’ capacity to deal with change within the organisation as well as a project with the charity Plan UK to look at different forms of public engagement with causes.
Practice and theory are both embedded into everything that we do, so each practice based project will have underpinning theory, and each theory-based assignment will have an element of practice or research-through-design.
In the first and second terms, students work on one project unit and one theoretical unit in parallel. In the third and fourth terms students specialise in their major projects or thesis, where practice and theory are integrated into a self-initiated project. Our lessons can take the forms of lectures, practical workshops, tutorial sessions, presentations and pitches, industry talks, museum visits or technical sessions.
What skills/interests do you look for from applying students?
An interest in and understanding of Service Design or social innovation and experience of working in a people-centered manner. Some of our applicants come from traditional design backgrounds, for example from graphic design, product design, interaction design, or architecture and spatial design, while others come from other backgrounds such as business and management, marketing, finance, anthropology or customer services.
Applicants from a design or related background are expected to show a portfolio of work showing finished projects as well as development work. Applicants who are not from a design background are expected to show some engagement within design, for example through their work experience, self-initiated projects, attending Global Service Jams or participating in OpenIDEO.
Where could this course lead graduates in terms of employment/future projects?
The vast majority of our graduates find employment in the design industries, whether as Service Designers, UX Designers, Design Researchers, or Service Design consultants. We continuously engage with our alumni and many come back and give talks or workshops to the current students, making it a very friendly community. We also engage directly with recruiters and service design agencies, and our degree show is often the site of impromptu interviews.