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The University of Southampton

ARTD6116 Design Laboratory

Module Overview

This semester 2 module aims to prepare students for their Final Project by adopting increasingly exploratory, speculative and critical approaches to design. Students participate in a Lab. Project* set for the whole programme culminating in an interim exhibition, after that students are assigned a personal tutor and start the process of defining a research focus for their Final Project. The teaching is centred on practical workshops covering relevant media production techniques and design research methods, whilst lectures seed potential research topics and wider social, cultural, ecological and political concerns. This module emphasises collaboration, critical and experimental approaches to design and enables students to develop innovative and rigorous research proposals. * The Lab. Project changes to reflect key contemporary disciplinary issues; previous topics have included: Data Visualisation, Speculative & Critical Design, Remix Culture and Post-Digital Print.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the Lab. Project topic and an advanced understanding of a research topic;
  • theoretical underpinnings of design research and practice-led research.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • independently select and effectively employ advanced media production and design research methods;
  • analyse complex range of material, identify and communicate a clear research focus.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • communicate the process and outcomes of design activities in a range of outputs including an exhibition;
  • collaborate effectively on a group project and manage your time proficiently.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • demonstrate exploratory, experimental and critical approaches to design via speculative outcomes;
  • define a design approach and research focus;
  • write reflectively and critically debate module’s key themes at an advanced level.


Indicative content subject to change in relation to the Lab Project topic: • Design research theory and methods • Practice-led research • Critical and speculative design • Film editing and compositing • Data visualisation • Reflective writing

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: Workshops Lectures Tutorials Presentations Site visits Learning activities include: Design practice Group activities Independent study Reading Blogging Reflective writing

Independent Study350
Total study time400

Resources & Reading list

Dunne, A., (2008). Hertzian Tales: Electronic Products, Aesthetic Experience, and Critical Design. 

Muratovski, G,. (2016). Research for Designers – A Guide to Methods and Practice.. 

The Future of Design: When you come to a fork in the road, take it..

Critical Everything.

Frascara, J., and Winkler, D,. (2008). On Design Research. Design Research Quarterly. ,3 .

Fallman, D. (2008). The Interaction Design Research Triangle of Design Practice, Design Studies, and Design Exploration. Design Issues. ,24 , pp. pp.4-18.

Ratto, M., (2011). Critical Making: Conceptual and Material Studies in Technology and Social Life. The Information Society: An International Journal. ,27 , pp. pp.252-260.

Speculation is Part of Every Designers Practice.



Portfolio Development


MethodPercentage contribution
Portfolio 80%
Project report  (800 words) 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Portfolio 80%
Project report  (800 words) 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Project report  (800 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Equipment and Materials

The School has good computing facilities and a wide variety of media equipment including cameras, monitors and iPads available for students to borrow free of charge. The programme also provides most of the materials required for workshops and entrance fees for exhibitions visited.


Recommended texts for this module may be available in limited supply in the University Library and students may wish to purchase the mandatory/additional reading text as appropriate.

Travel Costs for placements

Students will be required to meet the production costs associated with displaying their work in the Interim Exhibition. Students may also be asked to meet the cost of transport to nearby cities for field visits, stationary, paper, drawing materials and sketchbooks.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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