Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module BUSI4N230: Design Thinking for Innovation (Fudan DBA)

Department: Management and Marketing

BUSI4N230: Design Thinking for Innovation (Fudan DBA)

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2020/21 Module Cap None.
Tied to N1A460


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • none


  • This module aims to explore at an advanced level the theory and practice of design thinking, with particular emphasis on its role in the development of new products, services and business models. The approach adopted is problem-based, encouraging students to become entrepreneurs, marketers, visual strategists, ethnographers and storytellers. In the process, students gain both a deep conceptual understanding of the whole design thinking process and a comprehensive toolkit with which to address real-world innovation challenges.


  • Fundamentals of Design Thinking:
  • History and practice of design thinking
  • Major schools of thought – Stanford, Nordic, Societal, etc.
  • Human-centred design philosophy and the psychology of the designer
  • Design theory, principles, terminology and rhetoric
  • Design thinking, innovation and customer experience (CX) design
  • Stages and Methods:
  • Discovery – searches, analogues, observation, customer analytics, etc.
  • Interpretation – contextual analysis, user safaris, shadowing, personas, profiling, mobile ethnography, etc.
  • Ideation – CX mapping, touch-point analysis, brainstorming, design canvas, storyboarding, etc.
  • Experimentation – design propositions, prototyping, value co-creation, walkthroughs, market testing, iteration, etc.
  • Evolution – blueprinting, lifecycle mapping, implementation planning, command-and-control structures, outcome metrics, etc.
  • Design, Innovation and the ‘Real-World’:
  • Design thinking “best practices’, methodological limitations, and critiques of ‘human-centred’ and ‘customer-centric’ innovation
  • Innovation and the sustainability challenge
  • Legal, ethical, regulatory, commercial and societal dimensions

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of the significant aspects of design thinking theory and practice as they apply within commercial and social contexts
  • Advanced understanding of human-centered design principles as they apply within innovation processes
  • Awareness of the legal, ethical and regulatory dimensions of design thinking practice
  • Critical understanding of the innovation process and the contribution of design thinking to that process
  • Advanced knowledge of human-centred design principles as they apply within both commercial and not-for-profit contexts
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to apply customer experience (CX) analysis models within a real-worlds context
  • Ability to design and implement a full design-thinking programme, selecting and responsibly applying appropriate techniques at each stage in the process
  • Analyse the user experience in a detailed and structured format, identifying key behaviours, touch-points and moments throughout the business journey
Key Skills:
  • Skills of enquiry and explanation through design thinking practice
  • Ability to understand and resolve the problems and issues in undertaking doctoral research
  • Effective written communication
  • Identify and critique key schools of thought within the design thinking community and their distinct methodological contributions
  • Scope, develop, facilitate and project-manage a design thinking programme to address a live innovation challenge

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Teaching is undertaken in San Francisco, encompassing a field trip to Silicon Valley in order to study innovation processes and infrastructures first-hand. Delivery is via workshops which comprise a balanced mix of lectures and practical classes, together with visits to Silicon Valley organisations where design thinking methods can be observed in situ. Lectures provide conceptual input, discussion of case studies, debate of legal/ethical issues, etc. Practical classes provide training in, and exposure to, key design principles and design thinking techniques. Learning takes place through attendance at lectures, preparation for and participation in practical classes, and private study.
  • Learning will also occur through tutor-supported, as well as self-supported learning groups. In addition, guided reading will address key topics. This range of methods will ensure that students will acquire the advanced skills and knowledge to enable them to develop a thorough understanding of this specialist field of study.
  • The assessment of the module takes the form of a research project in design thinking, to test students' knowledge and understanding of the subject-matter and their ability to apply appropriate techniques. Formative assessment is continuous, undertaken within practical classes.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshop 4 Daily 8 32
Tutor-supported Learning Groups via webinars and other e-learning tools. With follow-up support as necessary using videoconferencing software. 48
Self-supported Learning group (self-organised by students, monitored by Fudan Office) 20
Preparation & Reading (reading list provided consisting of current published articles relevant to module content, available within library) 200
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Assignment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Students design and conduct a design thinking research project during the course of the module, employing appropriate methods to develop, test and evaluate an original product/service innovation. 5,000 words max 100% same

Formative Assessment:

Formative work is undertaken within the practical classes. Students receive training and practice in the use of key customer experience analysis and design thinking methodologies linked to their summative assignments, with continuous assessment and feedback throughout.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University