[Print version]

Master of Design

Sept 2020 Entry
Programme code: 73035

School of Design

Stream Code

DPF for Design Practices (Full-time)
DSP for Design Strategies (Part-time)
INF for Interaction Design (Full-time)
IDB for International Design and Business Management (Full-time)
UEF for Urban Environments Design (Full-time)

Mode of Study Mixed Mode

Normal Duration

Design Practices - 1 year (Full-time)
Design Strategies - 2 years (Part-time)
Interaction Design - 1 year (Full-time)
International Design and Business Management - 1 year (Full-time)
Urban Environments Design - 1.5 years (Full-time)

Credits Required for Graduation

36 for Design Practices specialism,
36 for Design Strategies specialism,
36 for Interaction Design specialism,
36 for International Design and Business Management specialism,
36 for Urban Environments Design specialism

Initial Registration Credits

4 for local students
10 for non-local students

Fund Type Self-Financed

Tuition Fee

HK$4,650 per credit for local students
HK$5,300 per credit for non-local students

Targeted Taught Postgraduate Programmes Fellowships Scheme
A total of 15 fellowships shall be awarded to local students. Please click here for details.

PolyU reserves the right to change or withdraw the fellowship at any time. In case of any dispute/disagreement, PolyU’s decision is final.

Programme Leader(s)

Prof. Laurent Gutierrez
BTS, BT, PgD, BArch, MArch, PhD


During the application period, the School reviews applications in several admissions rounds. Early Round: December 13, 2019; Round 1: January 24, 2020; Round 2: March 6, 2020; Round 3: April 30, 2020.

Aims & Characteristics

Programme Aims

The Master of Design Scheme contains five specialisms: Design Practices, Design Strategies, Interaction Design, International Design and Business Management (ID&BM) and Urban Environments Design. Hong Kong, as a world-class city, is an international environment that blends Eastern and Western influences. Students study in English but explore the increasingly world-changing context of Chinese culture as they acquire interdisciplinary skills and cultural experiences that extend creative, critical and analytical thinking and development across boundaries. Aspects of interdisciplinary design among different specialisms corresponding to global trends are highly encouraged within the Scheme. The international and interdisciplinary faculty prepares students to take charge of their future learning and development in design's nimble and quickly changing environment.


Master of Design (Design Practices)

This specialism focuses on design as a strategic tool for the consumer economy. Interdisciplinary projects embrace business strategy and brand development, identifying opportunities for innovation and user experience. This full-time international programme responds to the world’s industrial and technological transformation with a focus on China. The development of a high level of research, analysis, strategic vision, aesthetics and technical mastery in the development, fabrication and commercialisation of design prepares students for leadership roles.


Master of Design (Design Strategies)

This specialism seeks to locate design strategically in the context of business and technology by exploring best practices as shown in case studies, human-centred explorations to identify previously unrecognised user needs and desires, comparative analyses of business opportunities, successes and failures, and analyses of branding strategies, with particular attention paid to the local context of transforming original equipment manufacture (OEM) into original design manufacture (ODM)  and finally to own brand management (OBM). The specialism is applicable to both business and non-profit organisations, and extends across local and global issues.


Master of Design (Interaction Design)

This specialism seeks to enhance human ability and quality of life through the design of innovative, interactive and experiential ideas, based on a synthesis of human thought patterns and habits with technical means. A combination of theory, planning strategies, research and technical skills provide the foundation for workshops that explore emerging aspects of interaction design, based on human needs and pleasures as well as technological development.


Master of Design (International Design and Business Management)

International Design and Business Management aims to nurture "T-shaped" professionals with high-level competencies to better understand and manage global business dynamics and to function in and contribute to design-sensitive and technologically intensive business environments. These competencies enable students to lead the transformation of their respective local enterprises and challenge existing mindsets through technological innovations and product and service design from an integrative design-thinking management approach. Ultimately, ID&BM aims to have impacts at the regional and global levels by meeting the demand for well-balanced business developers, entrepreneurs, and product and service innovators.


Master of Design (Urban Environments Design)

This full-time international postgraduate programme responds to the unprecedented urban changes that have occurred during the last few decades in Hong Kong and China. Urban Environments Design aims to develop a high level of intellectual and practical mastery of the analysis and design of diverse urban environments in the region, with broader implications for urban contexts worldwide. The approach of Urban Environments Design is based on an understanding of socio-cultural dynamics of the regional context transferred into new design strategies and design interventions.



Design Practices is a hands-on studio-based specialism directed at students who want to deepen their innovative abilities, who are curious about design and business integration, and who enjoy the creative challenges of making objects and ideas that improve people's lives. Designers with a Bachelor’s degree in product design, fashion design, interaction design, architecture, product engineering, interior design or communication design may find Design Practices to be the logical next step in their professional development.


Design Strategies is directed at people who are established in their careers and wish to deepen and enhance their strategic thinking and methods by integrating design, business and technology. The specialism is intended for both design and non-design professionals with solid work experience in or related to the areas of design, such as communication, brand management, production, marketing, engineering or teaching. Those who are considering becoming entrepreneurs, taking more responsibility for design-led business development, or translating new technology into designed experiences and practical applications, will benefit from this specialism. Design Strategies has been rated as one of the World’s Best Design Thinking Programmes by BusinessWeek.


Interaction Design is directed at students with a passion for people and technology, who are curious about the future and want to shape how information is accessed and used, how environments might change based on need or how embedded information in products support use. Those with Bachelor's degrees in design (visual communication, product, digital media, or environmental design), communication, information technology or even psychology may find interaction design to be the next step in their professional development.


International Design and Business Management is a multidisciplinary specialism based on an integrative design thinking management approach, pulling together professional knowledge in the areas of design, business and technology to "manage design as a competitive strategy" in an international business setting. Globalisation in business and education has rapidly diminished boundaries between countries, cultures and economies. ID&BM provides a "meeting point" for students and faculty amongst the collaborating institutes from different regions of the world, which enables cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary project teams to solve and manage real-life design, business and technical problems. ID&BM is targeting intakes distributed across Hong Kong, mainland Chinese and overseas, and across the design, business and technological fields.


Urban Environments Design draws on the contemporary Hong Kong/Chinese urban experience to offer a unique postgraduate education in urban space design. In line with the School's human-centred critical approach to environment design, this studio-based specialism integrates the design of multiple scales and typologies of urban environments. Urban Environments Design focuses on the analysis and design of hybrid and composite interior environments, urban public spaces and urban systems and strategies.

Recognition & Prospects

PolyU Design: Reputation Built Since 1964

PolyU Design has been an important and dynamic hub for design education in Hong Kong since 1964. Our long-standing heritage and dedication to innovative, flexible programmes have helped us achieve our position as one of the top-ranked design schools in Asia (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019; Business Insider’s World’s Best 25 Design School list, 2013). Our Master of Design (Design Strategies) programme is rated as one of the World’s 30 Best Design Thinking Programmes (BusinessWeek, 2009).

The School of Design is located in the Jockey Club Innovation Tower, a permanent architectural work in Hong Kong by the late Ms Zaha Hadid, one of the most influential figures in the world of modern architecture. The stimulating architecture provides a high level, well-equipped teaching and learning environment for students.

Career Prospects

MDes graduates are successful in securing ideal positions in their chosen fields. Some are hired in-house or in agencies as specialists into a wide range of functions in design, such as product design, interaction design, spatial design and branding. Some have broadened their professional fields and taken on positions in project management, research and teaching. Others run their own design studio.

Industries that have hired our graduates include fashion, retail, hospitality, financial services, healthcare, toys, consumer electronics, information technologies, advertising, research and development, higher education and also public services. Visit our website for a list of companies and organisations at which our full-time graduates have worked.


Core Areas of Study

Design Practices

Primarily a studio experience, some projects are sponsored by leading companies with a real business context provided as the base for collaborative workshops. This is a full-time, intensive one-year programme. Theory and method subjects are delivered during weekends over four consecutive weeks each. A Capstone Project concludes the year with an experience that synthesises learning in a real-world setting.

See the curriculum on our programme web page.

Classes are normally held during the daytime on weekdays, except for three subjects, which are delivered at weekends. Each of these weekend subjects takes three weekends spread over 4-5 weeks.

Normally, it takes 1 year to complete the specialism.


Design Strategies

Design Strategies has a flexible approach to learning for engaged professionals. Subjects are taught on weekends with most subjects taken in any order after the completion of a selection of core subjects. For example, a typical 3-credit subject requires three weekends spread over a 4–5 week period. Not a studio programme, the purpose of this specialism is academic—to deepen design understanding and integrate design in its business and technological context through reading, thinking, discussing, and writing. The programme concludes with a report that synthesises individual experience and interests with programme materials leading to strategic development for an organisation or in the pursuit of social or cultural goals.

See the curriculum on our programme web page.

Normally classes are held during weekends except one core subject and one elective that are delivered on weekday evenings. Each subject requires three weekends spread over 4–5 weeks.

Normally it takes 2 years to complete the specialism.


Interaction Design

Interaction Design is structured by a combination of intensively taught short courses that directly support a workshop investigation. Workshops take various forms from individual to team work and from self-initiated to externally sponsored projects. A range of Electives are available to tailor the experience to individual interests. Some classes meet during weekends and evenings. The expectation is that the student is fully committed to the programme and works in the studio environment. The programme concludes with a Demonstration Project that unites research, creative exploration, user understanding and prototype testing to provide a solution. 

See the curriculum on our programme web page.

Classes are normally held during daytime on weekdays, with the exception that some shared Electives are delivered on weekday evenings and weekends. Each of these weekend subjects requires three weekends spread over 4-5 weeks. 

One year is normally required to complete this specialism.


International Design and Business Management

ID&BM begins with an intensive seven-week introduction to the essential knowledge in each of the three disciplines, followed by a series of Compulsory Subjects which centre on corresponding theories and/or practices. In the second semester, the focus is on two team-based ID&BM Multidisciplinary Projects in collaboration with private or public organisations, and students can choose Elective Subjects in design and business disciplines to enhance their individual career profiles. The Capstone Reflective Thesis synthesises the learning in ID&BM during the summer term.

See the curriculum on our programme web page.

Classes are normally held during daytime on weekdays, with the exception that some shared Electives are delivered on weekday evenings and weekends. Each of these weekend subjects requires three weekends spread over 4-5 weeks.

One year is normally required to complete this specialism.


Urban Environments Design

Following an introductory seminar, which initiates students in the Urban Environments ethos and approach, the first year of the programme is structured around three half-semester studio subjects, each of which is paired with a seminar subject that provides a knowledge base for the respective studio. Each project is undertaken in collaboration with a public- or private-sector partner, addressing spatial design challenges that emerge from the partner’s real-world operations and institutional culture. The final semester centres on a student-defined capstone design project that synthesises the learning of the programme.

See the curriculum on our programme web page.

Seminars and workshops are normally held during the daytime on weekdays. Electives are delivered during weekends. Each of the weekend subjects requires three weekends spread over 4–5 weeks.

It normally takes 1.5 years to complete the specialism.

Entrance Requirements

A common recruitment and intake procedure is conducted to help advise students about the appropriateness of particular specialisms to their personal and career development. Applicants for individual specialisms, however, will also undertake specialism-specific interviews and apply some specialism-specific requirements (see below). Applicants are required to indicate their choice of specialism upon application.

If you are not a native speaker of English, and your Bachelor's degree or equivalent qualification is awarded by institutions where the medium of instruction is not English, you are expected to fulfil the University’s minimum English language requirement for admission purpose. Please refer to the "Admission Requirements" section for details.

Applicants will also normally be required to demonstrate oral competence in English by means of an interview.


Specialism-specific requirements:

Design Practices

  • A Bachelor’s degree in design or the equivalent in a related discipline, and professional experience in design is preferred.
  • Portfolios will be reviewed during the selection process.

Design Strategies

  • A Bachelor's degree or the equivalent and a minimum of two years design-related professional experience are required. Candidates with other tertiary qualifications complemented by substantial relevant professional experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Interaction Design

  • A Bachelor's degree in design or the equivalent in a related discipline is required. Candidates with other tertiary qualifications complemented by substantial relevant professional experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • Portfolios will be reviewed during the selection process.

International Design and Business Management

  • A Bachelor's degree in design, business or a technological field, or the equivalent in a related discipline, is required; preferably with two years' relevant professional experience. Candidates with other tertiary qualifications complemented by substantial relevant professional experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • Portfolios will be reviewed during the selection process.

Urban Environments Design

  • A Bachelor's degree in spatial design field or the equivalent in a related discipline (e.g. interior design, environment design, landscape design, architecture, urban design) is required. Candidates with other tertiary qualifications complemented by substantial relevant professional experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • Portfolios will be reviewed during the selection process.
Other Information

Note to Applicants

1. Before applying, read through the following sections on the School's website:

2. Submit your IELTS or TOEFL report together with the rest of your application. Applications without a satisfactory English test score will not be reviewed. 

3. If you are currently in your final year of study, you should provide a transcript showing your academic record up to your most recent semester. Certification of GPA/Average Score is needed if the information is not shown on your transcript.

4. Ensure all relevant fields are filled out even if you have already provided your CV. Failing to do so will result in an incomplete application. We encourage applicants to provide full details of their Post-secondary Qualification and previous and/or current Employment - information and corresponding evidence submitted on eAdmission will be used to assess applications in meeting entrance requirements. Incomplete applications cannot be processed promptly.

5. There is a limit to the number of admission places for each programme, early applications are advantaged.

6. The School reviews the applications in several admissions rounds and decisions are made on a rolling basis from early February 2020.


For further information on applications and admissions, please contact:

Ms Stephanie Ho 
Tel: (852) 3400 3440
Email: sdsteph@polyu.edu.hk


Academic matters, please contact respective Specialism Leaders:

Design Strategies, Urban Environments Design 
Prof. Laurent Gutierrez
Tel: (852) 2766 5502
Email: sdlgut@polyu.edu.hk  

Design Practices
Dr Newman Lau
Tel: (852) 2766 4345
Email: mcnewman@polyu.edu.hk 

Interaction Design
Dr Kenny Chow
Tel: (852) 2766 5480
Email: sdknchow@polyu.edu.hk 

International Design and Business Management
Dr Sylvia Liu
Tel: (852) 2766 5447
Email: sylvia.liu@polyu.edu.hk