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The University of Southampton

OCCT1025 Design for Occupation 1

Module Overview

Design is an art, a skill and a science which is central to the practice of occupational therapy; whether it be the re-design of an environment to suit a particular need, an aesthetic which supports a therapeutic approach or the (re)design of a system or artefact to enable re-engagement with work or leisure. An occupational therapist’s ability to design is critical to the outcome for the person or population with whom s/he is working. In this introductory module, students will discover how to investigate the range of modalities within design that impact upon occupation, health and wellbeing. They will develop underpinning observational skills related to design in these different modalities. Students will also utilise arts, sciences and humanities disciplines to understand the contribution of different design modalities, to support personal meaning within occupation and valued roles Throughout the module, experiential opportunities to practice creative design skills will be provided.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims


Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Identify the importance of design to support occupational performance within professional practice
  • Articulate significant features of design using languages drawn from a range of modalities
  • Demonstrate basic academic and practical skills in understanding the contribution from different design modalities to support occupational performance and personal meaning
  • Work collaboratively and reflectively with peers to understand how a chosen piece of design affects and influences their own personal meaning and occupational performance
  • Receive and/or give feedback to peers in a respectful, non-judgmental and empowering manner
  • Recognise and describe the impact of therapeutic use of design through reflection on personal experience and application of material from a range of relevant disciplines
  • In order to understand the interprofessional nature of design for occupation and the importance of co-production in the design process, students will have opportunities to complete practical projects in collaboration with other agencies such as REMAP and Winchester School of Art.


• Introduction to design modalities to illustrate why this is important in Occupational Therapy practice, including, creativity, ergonomics/human factors, inclusive design and aesthetics • Practice in searching, selecting and applying evidence linked to specific design modalities, with opportunities to access centralised resources such as library services, creative arts resources, interfaculty and external organisations and international contacts • opportunities to explore/use/develop a range of assessment approaches to identify the ways in which design enables or inhibits occupational participation • completion of specific tasks/activities in groups/action learning sets in order to develop collaborative team working skills to practically apply design to environments/artefacts to enhance occupational performance and psychological wellbeing

Special Features

For features such as field trips, information should be included as to how students with special needs will be enabled to benefit from this or an equivalent experience. Students will have opportunities to access professionals from other faculties and disciplines in order to better understand the modalities relevant to the chosen aspect of design that they will analyse in their assignment task. Students will engage in collaborative working with outside agencies and overseas contacts to experience cross cultural effects of design on occupational performance globally. Field trips appropriate to specific design areas may include e.g. joint equipment store and Naidex. Cross cultural work may include internet communication with international and/or Erasmus partners Opportunities for hands on design practice Bringing in experts from a range of arts/sciences and humanities backgrounds to enrich student appreciation of breadth of design as it affects daily life Self-directed learning, reflexivity and peer review will ensure that all students with their mixed abilities will be able to take part at this introductory level

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The methods will include: • emphasis on developing a focussed approach to practical design, working with a range of disciplines from arts, sciences and humanities • brief lectures/seminars to introduce and review generalizable concepts and processes • self-directed learning and preparation in order to make choices, practice skills and present outcomes to peers in relation to the collaborative practical projects • opportunity to work individually, in pairs/teams and action learning sets to complete given theoretical and practical tasks and take part in reflection and peer review processes • personal and/or group activities specifically supported by experts, e.g clinicians, arts and engineering experts, users • Practice in grounding design in users’ personal stories. • specified learning activities within the module will be course completion/compulsory – with an element of choice: i.e. choice of a piece of design impacting on occupational performance to be explained through the language of different modalities. This will expose the students to a range of applications of design in order enable them to progress to the intermediate design module in level five.

Preparation for scheduled sessions20
External visits10
Practical classes and workshops10
Completion of assessment task20
Wider reading or practice73
Follow-up work30
Total study time188

Resources & Reading list

Klanten R, Ehmann S, Hubner M, Sinofzik A (2012). High Touch: tactile design and visual explorations. 

Waggoner D (2003). The Beauty of Life: William Morris & the art of design. 

Allen B (2008). Artifice and Design: Art and Technology in Human Experience. 

Salvendy G Ed (2012). Handbook of human factors and ergonomics. 

Sumsion T (2006). Client Centred Practice in Occupational Therapy: a guide to implementation. 

Design Council Inclusive Design.

Somerson R, Hermano M (2013). The art of critical making: Rhode Island School of Design on Creative Practice.. 

Pheasant S (2006). Bodyspace: anthropometry, ergonomics and the design of work. 


Principles of Inclusive Design.

Applied Ergonomics. 

For resources which are required or considered useful for the module: key texts, text books, data books, software, web sites, other sources of related information.. 

British Journal of Occupational Therapy. 

Access by Design: The Journal of the Centre for Accessible Environments. 

Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (1993). Aesthetics in Design, Colloquium available in University online Library. 

Kroemer KHE (2008). Fitting the task to the human: introduction to ergonomics. 

Todd P (2005). William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Home. 

Boradkar P (2010). Designing things: a critical introduction to the culture of objects. 

Hemmings J (2012). Warp and Weft: woven textiles in fashion, art and interiors. 

Jacobs K (2008). Ergonomics for Therapists. 

Karwowski W, Soares MM, Stanton NA Eds (2011). Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Product Design. 

Stein F (2006). Occupational Therapy and Ergonomics: applying ergonomic principles to everyday occupation in the home and at work. 


Assessment Strategy

Learning Activities – course completion (Action Learning Set presentation – choice of a piece of design impacting on occupational performance to be explained through the languages of different modalities such as OT, ergonomics/human factors/art/engineering. Feature of assessment – linked to another module but might consist of: - Summative – Students will work in guided learning activity groups (GLAs) to identify a piece of existing design (e.g. environment, artefact or process) and analyse its impact on human occupational performance. - Students will then produce Individual written assignments/reports (1,500 words max) related to the chosen aspect of design (above). They will demonstrate their understanding of design principles and how these affect occupational performance.


MethodPercentage contribution
Individual written report  (1500 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Individual written report 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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