About the programme

The Professional Doctorate in Design (DDes) is aimed at candidates who currently work in a design discipline, and who wish to engage in research that relates to their professional role. It is also appropriate for candidates who wish to enhance their experience and employability through research training in Design, including those who wish to pursue an academic career. Fields of study may include, but are not limited to:

  • Graphic Design and Typography
  • Digital Design
  • Interaction Design
  • 3D printing/additive manufacture
  • Architecture
  • Product Design
  • Interior Design
  • Fashion

The DDes is a structured doctorate that can be undertaken part-time using a combination of online and on-campus research activities and supervision. This allows candidates to study in their home countries and to attend at the University only once per year. Candidates can also choose to attend for blocks of full-time study at the University, thereby shortening the overall duration of their studies, and playing an active role in the university’s research community.

The course philosophy is that practice and research cannot be separated. Candidates will be expected to continue with their professional practice and to bring this to bear upon the research questions in the professional doctorate. Most candidates will have established workplaces. For those who do not, or for self-employed or studio practitioners, we offer blocks of time at the University with studio and workshop space provided. At the end of the course we expect that candidates will present a portfolio of both textual and non-textual work, including a written thesis and supporting artefacts that tell a comprehensive story about the research project, its context, its methods and for whom the outcomes will have impact.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why choose this programme?

  • Outcomes include both written thesis and practical
  • Part-time doctorate that can be undertaken by candidates based overseas via a virtual research environment, with attendance on campus once a year.
  • Directly addresses the international debate concerning the nature of research in creative areas.
  • Equips candidates with a range of conceptual and practical skills.
  • Structured assignments providing a thorough grounding in practice-led research and the relationship between academic and professional values individual supervised research in the candidate’s own area of professional expertise.
  • Individual supervised research in the candidate’s own area of professional expertise.
  • Leads to an internationally recognised UK doctorate in Design.

Teaching methods

The course begins with a series of online study and research skills, which provide a thorough grounding in the philosophical and theoretical issues surrounding notions of so-called practice-based research and the relationship between academic and professional values. At the end of Year 1 when this Phase has been successfully completed, the candidate then undertakes an individual supervised research project in his or her own professional discipline. During this second Phase there are online study materials and structured learning experiences that guide the candidate towards the presentation of a comprehensive outline of the doctoral research. Once the second Phase has been successfully completed (normally during Year 3), the candidate focuses on the production of a written thesis and accompanying artefacts that communicate the content of the research project. Throughout the whole programme we expect both practice and theoretical research to be completely integrated.

Programme experts

Professor Alessio Malizia

Find out more about Professor Alessio Malizia

Dr Barbara Brownie

Find out more about Dr Barbara Brownie

Professor Grace Lees-Maffei

Find out more about Professor Grace Lees-Maffei

Professor Ljubomir Jankovic

Find out more about Professor Ljubomir Jankovic

Dr Pat Simpson

Find out more about Dr Pat Simpson

Dr Silvio Carta
Director of the Professional Doctorates in Fine Arts (DFA) and Design (DDes)
Find out more about Dr Silvio Carta

Dr Steven Adams

Find out more about Dr Steven Adams

Dr Thomas Cuschieri

Find out more about Dr Thomas Cuschieri

Entry requirements...

Normally a postgraduate degree in a relevant subject, IELTS 6.5 minimum for non-native English speakers.

To apply, we ask you to develop a project proposal of 1000 words which outlines your research. This should demonstrate knowledge of existing practice and literature related to your field of interest, an indication of research questions, some thought about research methods and how your own project will make an original contribution to the wider field of practice and research. You will need to identify the broad subject area of your research, and the professional context in which your questions or issues arise and describe who is interested in these questions and who may benefit from your research. 

For advice on writing your proposal for entry, please see our latest proposal writing guidelines.

Programme fees



Start DateEnd DateLink
05/09/202031/07/2021Apply online (Full Time)
05/09/202031/07/2021Apply online (Part Time)


Start DateEnd DateLink
05/09/202131/07/2022Apply online (Full Time)
05/09/202131/07/2022Apply online (Part Time)