Master of Design

Sept 2017 Entry
Programme code: 73035

Duration & Credit Requirement

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

Fund Type
Initial Registration Credits

4 for local students
10 for non-local students

Tuition Fee

HK$4,000 per credit for local students
HK$4,400 per credit for non-local students

Programme Leader(s)

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


Financial Support

Three types of financial support are available: (1) Scholarships, (2) Continuing Education Fund and (3) Extended Non-means-tested Loan Scheme. Only local residents are eligible to apply for (2) and (3).

  1. There are two kinds of scholarship available: (a) Scholarships for Graduates of QS Top Design Schools and (b) Scholarships Offered by MDes Full-time Specialisms. Please refer to SD’s website at for details. Students awarded more than one of the above can only retain one scholarship and must forfeit the other. PolyU reserves the right to change or withdraw scholarships at any time. In case of any dispute/disagreement, PolyU's decision is final.
  2. Some subjects in the MDes scheme are included on the Continuing Education Fund (CEF) list of reimbursable courses for local residents. For further information on the CEF or the reimbursable course list, please visit
  3. The Extended Non-means-tested Loan Scheme (ENLS) offers interest-bearing loans to eligible students for covering tuition fees. For details of the scheme, please refer to the government's website at

Aims & Characteristics

Programme Aims

The Master of Design Scheme contains five different 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 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 competences 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 transformations occurring during the past few decades in Hong Kong and China. Urban Environments Design aims at the development of 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 the 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 on 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 have curiosity 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 faculties 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/China 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 has helped us achieve our position as the top-ranked design school in Asia (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2015, 2016; 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, the first permanent architectural work in Hong Kong of the late Ms Zaha Hadid, one of the most influential figures in the world of architecture in recent years. It provides a high level, well-equipped teaching and learning environment for students.


Career Prospects

MDes graduates have been successful in securing ideal positions in their chosen fields. They are hired 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 and teaching. 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 will be sponsored by leading companies with 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.


Classes are normally held during daytime on weekdays except for three subjects, which will be delivered during weekends. Each of these weekend subjects requires 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.


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. 


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 is a one-year, three-semester programme. It 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.


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 centers on a student-defined capstone design project that synthesises the learning of the programme.


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 will be conducted to provide a means to advise students about the appropriateness of particular specialisms to their personal and career development. Individual specialisms will, however, continue to undertake specialism-specific interviews and will 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 is 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, or Business, or a technological field, or the equivalent in a related discipline 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

No information is available at present.


For further information on application and admissions, please contact: 
Ms Stephanie Ho (tel: (852) 3400 3440; email:


For academic matters, please contact:
Ms Christine Tsin (tel: (852) 2766 4919; email:

Student Message

I studied Marketing at the University of Ottawa in Canada and interned as a marketing assistant at an agency before joining the International Design and Business Management programme.


After a year in the School of Design, my understanding of design did a 180-degree turn. It was eye opening: design is more relevant and is everywhere now. The programme did not teach me how to become a good designer through hard skills, but rather it taught me how to become a “thinker”, equipped with the methods and tools that would help me to expand my understanding of the processes a designer should go through when facing challenges.


Overall, the programme produces many great graduates who find mysteries and turn them into discoveries. 

Alan Auyeung

After two years of learning Chinese in Paris and graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Design in Brussels, my aim was to combine these two things in a Master's programme in Asia to enhance my future career. I was familiar with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University as a well-known design school in Asia. Hong Kong seemed the perfect place for me.


The programme, MDes Design Practices, has given me a better understanding of how design can be implemented in the real world setting through collaboration with companies and professionals as tutors. The school has provided me with connections and I was given the chance to work for Microsoft in Shenzhen in front-end design. It would never have happened without the great contact list of Professor Roger Ball.


I found the facilities, such as the SLA 3D printer and metal coating facilities, quite amazing and very unusual for a design school. Having my own desk in an open space open 24/7 and exchanging ideas with my classmates were valuable experiences throughout the year.

Victor Bauman

I pursued the MDes Design Strategies programme after obtaining my MBA because I also wanted to get a professional postgraduate degree in design. The MDes equipped me with intelligent capital: design concepts, generative tools and research methods. I now know more about my path in the future.


In recent years, the business world has paid increasing attention to design thinking. The MDes strengthened my view/vision on design thinking. There is a trend in market research towards the integration of two perspectives when conducting an analysis and identify opportunities for new product/service offerings: design thinking and business analysis. I am using the tools I acquired to develop, research and integrate these two approaches in my business development projects.


The MBA aims to teach managers a set of skills for tackling problems, whereas the MDes aims to help designers and managers to generate their own skills or tools to use when they encounter problems.

Gwen Chan

I chose the MDes Design Practices course for a number of reasons. The design school has a good reputation and the course description suggested a practical and hands-on approach to design, which suited my previous design experiences in both my studies and my professional career. I was also aware that the School of Design (SD) had a lot of industry connections, thus making it an ideal choice to further my design education and serve as a stepping stone for my professional design career in Asia.


Some of the key assets that I have come to develop through my studies at PolyU SD include a better understanding of design research, an increased ability to articulate and communicate my ideas with confidence and a deeper understanding of design and it important role in society.


I especially enjoyed the projects with industry partners and a real-world focus, especially the “Design Experience” and “Values Strategies for China” projects. These courses were excellent, well prepared and executed by the project leaders.

Sebastien Chung

I studied Material Science and Engineering at Beihang University for both my Bachelor and Master’s degrees. Before joining the International Design and Business Management programme, I worked as an editor/art editor for China Metallurgical News.


I have noticed that I have become much more open-minded in the past 12 months in the ID&BM programme. After graduating from engineering school, I used to focus on the solution and rule out other infeasible ideas. After learning design thinking, I understand that some sort of messy exploratory process is necessary at the beginning of innovation, and this is exactly where breakthrough ideas might be discovered. I have learnt to enjoy the chaotic design process and try not to kill possibilities at the early stage; this is one of the most important lessons I learnt in the School of Design. My way of thinking also changed after attending the marketing classes. These helped me to develop a business sense: to see the big picture and to be goal-oriented in the business world.

Duan Ye, Wayne

I came to the course with many years of industry experience. Having the right mix of classmates, in terms of people at different stages of their careers, with diverse experiences and backgrounds, was critical, yet I found this to be missing in the majority of colleges. PolyU met this need, as the majority of students have plenty of experience and diversity in their profiles.


My most valuable experience in the MDes programme has been the extremely open-minded knowledge sharing with faculty members and classmates on subjects beyond the course materials, and a close understanding of the local cultural values and lifestyle. All of this has given me a more multi-dimensional perspective, both in my work and my personal life. The one-year sabbatical I invested in this programme has been a life-changing milestone. It has influenced more than my position, hierarchies, financial benefits and so on – I feel its biggest contribution has been in the way I look at things, whether issues or experiences. This approach has brought a uniqueness and value to my interactions and outcome. I feel the Design Strategy course considerably supports one to advance in terms of thinking about leadership, as has certainly been the case for me.

Vishal Kapoor

Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city with a vibrant mix of cultures. At PolyU, I have the opportunity to interact with people both from the East and the West. What I enjoy most in the MDes programme is the challenge of design thinking in the assigned projects, which has elevated me to a new height in my design career. In Design Practices, most of the professors are well connected to the industry, thus providing us with opportunities to work on projects in the real world. With all of this training, my perspective has diversified and enabled me to take on projects with greater challenge.

Ong Guat Teng

The Graduate Seminar on interaction design theory is really useful and helpful to me. It started with the basic level of interaction and communication between people, and then progressed to a deeper level of interaction between people and objects. I learnt that interaction design is more about designing the activity between people; we care about the relationship between people instead of UI design. The “Design and Value Creation” class helped me to connect design with business and marketing. The biggest influence the programme has had on me is in changing the way I think. Finding a problem and providing a proper solution to it is more important than designing something pretty. I see design differently when I take a broader view and at a higher level – one that is more about people. I have come to understand that design is a cycle: designers identify a problem, address it with a design solution and present it to users to get feedback; the designers then refine and improve the solution and go back to the users for more feedback. Design should always provide a better solution.

Charlotte Wang

In my view, there is no doubt that the School of Design is one of the top 10 design schools in Asia. It is valuable to experience a different education system and curriculum in Hong Kong compared with mainland China. The School’s postgraduate programmes only admit a small group of students each year, providing ample opportunities for us to engage with tutors and fellow classmates, to reflect and improve ourselves. The tutors guide us to think systematically and critically, and demonstrate how to apply theoretical approaches to professional practice. They are approachable, and they provide each of us with the necessary help to support our learning.


During the year and a half I spent studying the Urban Environments Design course, I had the chance to attend the School’s excellent public lecture series. The speakers from all around the world are famous in their research areas. Almost every week students can participate in a public lecture. Outside the classroom, Hong Kong, as a city, provides a context relevant to my study: I learn about local culture, urban issues and how society transforms itself in the built environment. This has been an enriching experience.

David Wang

As a student with an engineering background, I was asked several times why I chose to take the MDes Interaction Design programme after my information engineering degree. Some people might consider it a big change from engineering to design, but I just chose what I am quite interested in. As an engineering student, I enjoy exploring how things work and how to build a product. More importantly, though, I like to think about how a product/system is related to people and how they use it. Things change a lot when people are involved. I like beautiful things and like to imagine how new products change people’s lives, so during my Bachelor’s degree, I researched the programmes in which I could combine my background in technology and interest in design. When I found the MDes Interaction Design programme, I thought it might be a good choice for me. 


I am still doing my internship in the US and am pleased to have been offered a job during my internship, which gives me lots of confidence as I am still a starter in the field of design. I have developed several key assets during my studies. The first is design thinking – the ability to identify and solve the problem. Every day, the work here is about solving problems, although sometimes finding the problem is more important. The second is teamwork, as design is all about collaboration. The third is the hands-on ability to quickly test and iterate ideas. 

The thing I enjoy most about the overall SD experience is how diverse our class is: we are from different backgrounds – engineering, psychology, industrial design, graphic design – and from all over the world, with people from nine countries, I believe. Working with them on projects is what I miss most. 


I also really appreciate how the SD focuses on design. Other schools related to HCI are computer/coding-focused or research-focused, but this is a design school – I have learnt a lot of hands-on skills and design thinking here. 

Yang Pu

Additional Documents Required

Curriculum Vitae


Employer's Recommendation


Personal Statement


Programme Leaflet


Transcript / Certificate



  • Portfolio is required for Design Practices, Interaction Design, International Design and Business Management and Urban Environments Design specialisms.
  • Portfolio (format, requirement and submission)

    Portfolio can be submitted once. Its format can be in Printed Hard Copy/ Digital Copy/ Online Portfolio (Personal Website).

    Printed Hard Copy should be within A3 size. It can be sent to "School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, V810, 8/F, Jockey Club Innovation Tower, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong" and remarked "For Master of Design Application".  Please be advised that submitted portfolio will not be returned.

    Digital Copy should be limited to file size of 10MB or below. Files must be submitted via an online platform at Note that applicants will need an application number to login to this platform. This application number is generated automatically after an application is submitted via PolyU eAdmission System. After that, details of the online application cannot be changed. Therefore, do not submit your online application if you know there will be further changes.

    Online PortfolioSimply indicate the URL of your personal website in the online application. The URL should enable reviewers to access and view a portfolio online without needing to download. Online portfolio sites (e.g. Coroflot, Behance) or online services (e.g. ISSUU) that allow realistic and customizable viewing of digitally uploaded material are acceptable, as long as the requirements are met.

    We do not accept CD- / DVD-rom or file submission by email.

    Specialism-specific Requirements for Design Practices (MDes): (a) A minimum of six projects is required. (b) Completion dates (month and year) of the projects must be indicated. (c) Three most representative projects must be stated, in order of self-assessed success rate. (d) Among the projects presented, two of them have to be undertaken professionally.

    Please contact us if you have any questions regarding portfolio preparation and submission.
  • Other supporting documents such as copies of relevant professional qualifications and awards (if any) are optional. Documents that are not issued originally in English should be accompanied by certified, literal English translations.

Info Seminar

No information is available at present.