Undergraduate study


User Centred Design


Award Course length Course code Typical offer Start date End date
BSc (Hons) DPS/DIntS 4 years full-time sandwich W201 ABB 01 October 2018 22 June 2022
BSc (Hons) 3 years full-time W200 ABB 01 October 2018 16 June 2021


for Art and Design

The Times Good University Guide 2017

Top 10

in UK for overall student satisfaction

NSS 2016


of graduates in work or further study


average starting salary

User Centred Design course overview

The suite of Design courses at the Loughborough Design School equip students with skills and understanding in the effective development and communication of design ideas, the ergonomics of usability and interaction, product styling, three-dimensional designing, and the production and use of prototypes as a key part of design practice.

The User Centred Design course will enable students to develop their understanding and skills in problem solving, design research, evidenced based reasoning, visual communication, three dimensional design, and a range of human-centred methods to aid in the understanding of user desires, needs and capabilities for use in design.

Who should apply for this course?

The BSc User Centred Design tends to appeal to those students who have an interest in A-Level Art and Design and/ or Design and Technology and a science (where course content looks in-depth at users and conducting research to inform design). We find our students come to us having studied a wide range of different subjects alongside what is required to apply.


This course information was first created in late 2016. All of the information on our courses is regularly checked and updated, however from time to time certain modules or areas may change. This happens as we review what we offer in line with industry needs, when staff change or when we are updating courses to improve them based on student & staff feedback. If you would like clarification on a particular item, or wish to confirm anything, please contact us.


All teaching and learning is completed via a number of modules across two semesters. Modules are covered using a combination of lectures, practical classes, workshops, CAD sessions, computer laboratory sessions, working with tools & machinery in tutorials in groups and one on one with academic staff, practical demonstrations, studio sessions and independent study.

Year 1

Year 1 aims to develop the fundamentals of a user focused approach to design, including designing and making skills, modelling skills including 2-D sketching and drawing, 3-D physical modelling (e.g. in foam and resistant materials), computer modelling, design research and an understanding of human variability and behaviour.

Compulsory modules

Design Practice

This module is taken by all undergraduate students in Year one on all three of the School’s undergraduate courses. The module will give you an understanding of: the fundamentals of designing products, the importance of the user and market need, the designer client relationship and the role of the design team. Problem investigation and solving methods are explored along with development of fundamental design skills and presentation methods.  You will cover appropriate design modelling/presentation techniques, including: 2D and 3D virtual and physical prototyping, sketching and general assembly drawings. This module will involve classroom and workshop based activities.

Teaching and learning – lectures, demonstrations, practical classes, workshops and guided independent study. 

Assessment – 100% coursework – this includes the submission of design analysis, synthesis and development work through a range of media supported through weekly contact with staff.

Design Research and Professional Practice 1

This module will help you develop a fundamental understanding of study design, data collection and analysis requirements in the context of design research. There will be a particular emphasis on the practical application of the principles of real world problems using qualitative and quantitative methods.

Prototyping for Evaluation

In this module you will be introduced to product prototyping strategies and the more significant 2D/ 3D dimensional modelling techniques. You will use these in prototyping and evaluating your designs, as well as in the associated decision making processes needed to plan appropriate prototyping strategies. You will also be looking at engineering drawings and how to communicate design ideas through engineering drawings.

User Centred Design

This module looks at the core concepts relating to user centred design and its place in the design universe. It will cover the philosophical approach that user centred design requires and how it can be applied to the development of products, services and systems. It will cover the difference between user centred design, user involvement, participatory design and co-design and show how these approaches complement each other.

Teaching and learning: lectures, practical classes and workshops, project supervision and guided independent study

Assessment: 100% coursework – including project and presentation and two online quizzes 

Understanding Users – Physical

This module will cover a foundation in human anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and anthropometry relevant to ergonomics and humans factors in design.

Understanding Users – Cognitive

This module will give you an overview of human cognition, perception, human error and decision making from the perspective of human factors and ergonomics in design. You will learn the theory alongside how this translates into real-life situations through the use of case studies.

The Environment of Use

This module will look at the relationship between the user and their wider physical environment. It will also cover how the physical parameters impact on user safety, performance and comfort.

Design Research Methods 1 (10 Credits)

You will learn how research can support the design of a product or service. This module will help you understand different approaches to design research and will explore the use of qualitative and quantitative data collection methods and how to analyse the data collected.

Teaching and learning: Lectures, tutorials and guided independent study

Assessment: 100% coursework -  group report and online quiz  

Year 2

Compulsory modules

Year 2 encourages you develop your knowledge and skills in user research, in the evaluation of design ideas, the presentation of those ideas and further explores design in broader context, including service and system design, user experience and design for emotion. Design projects are undertaken alongside an associated lecture course.

User Centred Design Practice 2

In this module you will learn how to manage a programme of industrial design which will involve development of a brief, the production of a proposal, concept generation, design development, prototyping and presentation. You will also be focusing on specification of product form and user interface and explicitly demonstrate the synthesis of design and ergonomics practices. This module expands on your first year skills and provides a good foundation for the Design Practice activity in your final year.

Design Research and Professional Practice 2

This module will help to further develop your understanding of study design, data collection and analysis requirements in the context of design research. There will be a particular emphasis on the practical application of the principles to real world problems using qualitative and quantitative methods. You will also be using specific computer software that can support the analysis of the data provided by these techniques.

Design and Data Visualisation

This module will help you to extend and enhance your skills in design modelling, communication and presentation as introduced in your first year. You will develop your ability to communicate all aspects of a design process both the outcome, i.e. the product, service or system, and the supporting contexts, requirements and background information.

User Experience Design

This module will help you to broaden your experience and skills as a student designer in user centred design principles and with screen-based product design and communication.

Virtual Product Evaluation

This module will help you to develop your skills in the use of digital evaluation techniques for design practice including human modelling, computer simulation, augmented reality and cardboard VR approaches. You will also develop the skills required to support design development and evaluation with virtual techniques.

Design for Emotion

This module will cover ideas and research findings from design and emotion and how they apply to ergonomics aspects of the design of products and services. This will provide a framework of knowledge for use in future professional life. You will be given a basic understanding of themes in design for emotion that are more important to the design of products and services and knowledge of the methods that may be used to help them be incorporated into design.

System and Services Design

In this module you will be applying various user centred design methods and tools to the design of complex systems and service. This will be based on sound understanding of the nature / behaviours of the complex systems and services as well as the human interacting with them.

Final year

Compulsory modules

In your final year you will use all of the experience and knowledge you have gained in previous years to complete a number of projects that include live industry projects. During this year you will complete your final project, which is usually displayed at the School’s annual Degree Show in June.

User Centred Design Practice 3

User Centred Design Practice 3 is an extended project operating across both semesters of the final year. A brief must be agreed with tutors which exemplifies a design process incorporating detailed consideration of how user centred techniques can be applied to verify that the design intent is being satisfied.

The project spans from the opportunity stage to detailed design and evaluation. The project must involve the creation of a prototype that is then the focus of a detailed user-testing programme, to be designed by the student. An appropriate proposal must be planned and prepared, ethical issues identified and appropriate procedures followed. Execution of the project is likely to include, data collection from users and other stakeholder and appropriate analysis throughout the design and development.

Inclusive Design

In this module you will learn how about human variability, particularly ageing and disability. You will learn about stands, legislation and designer responsibility to the design or particular products, services or systems and how to apply them. The module also explores the specialise requirements of inclusive design from the perspective of diverse user groups. You will also look at different approaches to inclusion as well as where bespoke, customised and exclusive design is appropriate.

Live projects

This module covers two live design projects with briefs set by leading companies that mimic activity in a design consultancy where initial responses to client briefs need to be generated rapidly.

Legal Aspects of Design

This module will help you to develop an understanding of the legal framework to product design and equipment provision in workplaces. You will be learning how to design products, services of systems to comply with appropriate legal requirements.

Optional modules

Students will choose 20 credits from the modules below. These are all subject to availability and timetabling.

Design Research (20 credits)

The aim of this module is for students to develop an in-depth knowledge about an aspect or topic of design in relation to, for instance, to extend investigative, project management and report writing capability.

The Global Studio (10 credits)

This module is taught with a number of external partners in different geographic locations, aiming to provide you with the skills for working in cross-cultural and geographically distributed groups.

Driver and Vehicle Ergonomics (10 credits)

In this module you will learn about the diverse human factors issues associated with the design and use of road vehicles within a systems context.

Entrepreneurship and Innovation (10 credits)

This module will cover a range of issues on entrepreneurship which are related to the development of technical and non-technical innovation. You will also cover a range of topics on small and medium sized businesses.

Advanced Environmental Interaction (10 credits)

This module focuses on the issues of designing artefacts and systems for complex and extreme physical environments. It particularly looks at products people wear and products for use under extreme conditions.

Human Factors in Intelligent Systems (10 credits)

This module will cover a broad understanding of the diverse human factors issues associated with systems that have some level of ‘intelligence’ build into them.

Please note: optional modules are subject to availability and timetable permitting.

For indicative information on modular weight, content and assessment type please see module specifications.


Assessments for modules will include: reports, CAD files, essays, assessed laboratory sessions, class tests, group presentations and reports, submission of prototypes, folios, logbooks, e-posters, presentation boards, computer simulations & examinations.

For an indicative overview of the aims, learning outcomes and structure of this course please see the programme specification.

The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. Please see Terms and Conditions of Study for more information

W201 User Centred Design - BSc (Hons) DPS/DIntS

ABB including Design and Technology or Art and Design
34 (6,5,5 HL) including HL Design Technology or Visual Arts with 4 at SL Mathematics
BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Art and Design: DDM
GCSE Mathematics Grade C/4

W200 User Centred Design - BSc (Hons)

ABB including Design and Technology or Art and Design
34 (6,5,5 HL) including HL Design Technology or Visual Arts with 4 at SL Mathematics
BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Art and Design: DDM
GCSE Mathematics Grade C/4


Applicants are selected on the basis of their UCAS application, and also a portfolio submission and interview in order to assess academic potential beyond that provided as part of the application. An interview also gives applicants the opportunity to visit the department, meet staff and students, see facilities and get an insight into what it is like to be a student at Loughborough.

More information on portfolios can be found on the here

Course fees 2018/19

UK/EU fee: £9,250   |   International fee: £20,500

You should plan for inflationary increases to fees in future years of study.

Additional costs for course

All costs for direct engagement in taught modules are included as part of the tuition fees – this includes materials used in the workshops and safety equipment. From time to time students will need to cover the costs of project work and the creation of design folios. This amount will depend on what materials, manufacturing techniques and other creative choices the student makes. An allowance for costs incurred for individual projects is allocated for year 2 and final year. In the final year the school contributes £100 to the cost of creating the final year project. The final mark awarded for all assessed submissions bears no relation to the amount of money spent on the work. Students will not gain any marking advantage merely through the costly development of work.

Graduate Destinations

This brand new programme, that will begin in 2017, has been developed to address strong industry demands for highly skilled graduates in this area. The programme will deliver graduates capable of targeting a broad range of career opportunities ranging from interaction design at companies such as IBM through to Human Factors specialist at Jaguar Land Rover.

What employers have to say

As part of the new course development process the School contacted a number of employers to understand their needs when it comes to graduate employees. This played a big part in the decision making process and below are some comments from prospective employers.

Considering our strong emphasis on user-centred design and IBM Design Thinking, our longstanding relationship with Loughborough has proven to be immensely helpful, thanks to the comprehensive training these graduates received during their design degrees.

Bob Lukas
Global Executive Creative Director, IBM

UCD provides the philosophical basis of everything we do, so it’s no surprise that we applaud and value a course that teaches the approach and embodies the skills, techniques and methods that we like to employ.

Martin Freer
Director, CCD Design & Ergonomics

Professional placements and study abroad

82% of our eligible students from our design courses are on placement or a placement & study abroad combination in the 2015 – 2016 academic year. A placement or study abroad with placement combination can be taken during the third year of study. 

Please see the School’s website for more information about placements and studying abroad 

Our students



Industrial Design & Technology


Design School


BA (Hons)

Year of Study




Industrial Design and Technology


Design School


BA (Hons)

Year of Study


Department / School Key Information Sets

BSc (Hons) DPS/DIntS 4 years full-time sandwich

UCAS code: W201

BSc (Hons) 3 years full-time

UCAS code: W200