Institute for Design Innovation MPhil, PhD

Institute for Design Innovation
Entry requirements:
2:1 +
3 years (PhD), 2 years (MPhil)
6 years (PhD), 4 years (MPhil)
Start date:
January, April, July, October 2018
UK/EU fees:
International fees:



in the UK for Art and Design

The Complete University Guide 2018


in the world for Design

QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017


The Institute for Design Innovation welcomes explorative research proposals with novel methodologies and creative approaches to the grey areas of design research.

The research agenda of the Institute for Design Innovation builds on the idea that design contributes to and enables innovation in multiple ways and on various levels. The Institute is currently engaged in and developing further four research areas in the wider design innovation arena, with a focus on the use and application of design knowledge, skills and approaches into varied contexts.

The Institute for Design Innovation regularly offers a range of PhD studentships. We invite well formulated proposals in the focal areas below and also welcome explorative proposals with novel methodologies and research approaches on topics which investigate the grey areas of design research that have received scant attention to date but represent potentially valuable avenues of investigation.

Our facilities

Loughborough University London benefits from excellent learning and teaching facilities. Our purpose-built lecture theatres and seminar rooms are fitted with the highest quality audio and visual equipment to ensure you can enjoy a truly immersive and stimulating learning experience.

The campus offers a range of versatile workspaces to cater for independent study, group activities and collaborative project work.

You will also benefit from 24/7 access to our campus Library, which has over 5000 print items and access to 1.2 million e-books, journals and research papers via the University's online resources. You will also be able to choose from over 602,000 print items to borrow from Loughborough's Pilkington Library, which can then be delivered to the London campus for free.

We also offer and Inter-Library Loan service, which is a fantastic service for our Research students because it provides access to electronic articles that are not available from Loughborough University Library. This will give you access to thousands of articles from other libraries around the UK and occasionally from overseas that you may need for research purposes. Sometimes these resources can be obtained as photocopies or PDFs which you can then keep.

If you want to discover more information about what we have to offer at Loughborough University London, you can book a guided campus tour here.

Who should apply?

The Institute for Design Innovation has an interest in the issues of design that have received scant attention to date, but have the potential to deliver outstanding outcomes for design. These issues include Design Value, Design Delivery, Design Exploration, Design Meaning and Design Practice.

Read more about Loughborough University London on our blog.

Entry requirements

A 2:1 honours degree or its equivalent.

IELTS: overall 6.5 with minimum 6.0 in each component.

Research areas

Through pursuing one of our postgraduate research programmes, research students will have the opportunity to work with top researchers and industry leaders, and gain first-hand experience of real-life problem solving. The aim is to create a vibrant, enthusiastic, and forward-thinking community, where world-leading academics and talented students work closely together to research world leading inventions.

Design Value

Value creation is a central concern in design innovation. This area of research is focused on value creation perspectives in and through the application of design into multiple contexts involving users, organizations, ecosystems and society at large. The area examines managing user and customer involvement in new product, service and business development, co-creating value in the (new) creative and culture industries, and applying design(ers) thinking into new and disruptive business models.

Design Meaning

A focal issue in design outcomes, processes and capabilities is linked to the creation of meaning. This research area examines design – driven innovation of meaning, with a focus on the role and impact of design and designers as cultural intermediaries, examining the creation of meaning, culture and materiality-related perspectives in multiple contexts and environments. The relationship between design and culture is also a focal area of interest, together with new modes and future perspectives of design driven innovation.

Design Delivery

Designing public policies and services is a central challenge in our societies today. This research area links the study of the development of innovative policies to the research on delivery of relevant and coherent services that help to deliver innovation that matters. The area furthermore examines the role of design and designers in sustainable product service systems, social enterprise and services, and the circular economy. 

Design Practice

How we design, what we design, and who designs are some of the key questions for design practice today. This area of research investigates teams and groups in creativity and design driven contexts, through exploring collaborative, interdisciplinary and multicultural practices and approaches. The area also investigates transformational leadership, activism and critical thinking in design management and practice today and in the future.

Design Exploration

As the interaction between users, organizations and ecosystems becomes more complex every day, exploring new design contexts becomes increasingly important. This research area aims to give space to and explore the grey areas of design research that have received scant attention to date but represent potentially valuable avenues of investigation. This could include exploratory or emerging themes linked to phenomena such as urbanization and smart cities, regeneration issues, digitalization and similar. This area is open to exploratory topics, imaginative contexts and novel methodologies.

On-going research projects

The Institute for Design Innovation is involved in numerous on-going research projects, including the following research areas:

  • Design of new value-based partnership models with development impact and transformation of current development paradigm shift into opportunities among the development organisations
  • Knowledge processing in teams and information processing among members that lead to enhanced performance
  • Living Labs co-created by communities, as strategies to explore, build and create future circular cities that are meaningful for city inhabitants
  • Methodologies for engaging young people in the design of preventative mental healthcare services, with a particular emphasis on technology-enabled solutions, new business models and services as part of the Smart City programme

Engaging communities in sustainable rural development through developing community development projects with a focus on social entrepreneurship, social innovation and incubation activities that can improve livelihoods of rural villages in Europe

Your personal and professional development

Support and guidance that you'll receive from your supervisor

The recruitment of new PhD students is a continuous process at the Institute. Research students will be closely guided by expert researchers, as well as national and international industrial organisations.

Skills and experience that you can expect to gain

Our PhD students are linked to major companies, have access to extensive research and computing facilities, and participate in large scale international collaborative projects, providing them with exceptional postgraduate research experience.

Future career prospects

The Institute for Design Innovation is led by a faculty of inspiring, research-driven academics, who are committed to delivering teaching that is informed by their own discoveries.

We collaborate with businesses; multi-national corporations, governing bodies as well as regional and international organisations, to ensure that our research is industry leading and can have a multitude of real-world applications. This ensures the knowledge you acquire is cutting-edge and at the forefront of your discipline.

Fees and funding


Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Special arrangements are made for payments by part-time students.

Who you'll be working with

How to apply

All applications for research opportunities are made online. We strongly recommend contacting the department in advance of submitting an application to discuss your ideas.

The Institute for Design Innovation welcomes explorative research proposals with novel methodologies and creative approaches to the grey areas of design research. The Institute for Design Innovation has an interest in the issues of design that have received scant attention to date, but have the potential to deliver outstanding outcomes for design.

Applications for research should indicate the Institute within which you would like to study and preferably the member(s) of staff whose research area is of most interest to you. If you’d like to make an application, we recommend contacting your preferred supervisor in advance to discuss your research proposal in more detail. Please use our online application portal to submit your research proposal, and clearly outline the question you intend to address. You should also include an overview of your subject area and proposed research methods.

Email Professor Mikko Koria, Directorof the Institute for Design Innovation or to apply direct.