IA20080 Design Thinking for Innovation

Academic Year 2021/2022

***All UCD Innovation Academy modules are delivered online in the 2020/21 Academic Year. Classes will run from 9.30am –4.30pm each day with a combination of live online classes, self-directed learning and group activities. See https://www.innovators.ie/undergraduate-electives/ for more info and testimonials from our students.***

This module introduces the learner to the essentials of Design Thinking. Over the course of the module, the learner will be introduced to the key theories and concepts of Design Thinking and then work in a team to address a real-world challenge.
This module will interact with an external organisation to help them solve a problem within their business. Typically this is will take place in the form of an Innovation Design Sprint over course of the module. This will involve students working in teams, following the Design Thinking process and presenting potential solutions to senior management within the organisation.
Over the course of the module, participants will be introduced to the five stages of Design Thinking through experiential learning activities, talks with guest speakers and team-based activities. Then working in multidisciplinary teams, participants will use the empathy phase to develop an insightful understanding of a real-world challenge before prototyping a creative solution.

Design Thinking is a user-centric creative problem-solving process which is increasingly applied across public and private sectors to solve real-world challenges. It is a proven and repeatable approach that can be used to gain real-world insights and then to identify new opportunities, solve problems, and develop innovative solutions using an iterative process.

This module is suitable for students from any discipline, and for those with little or no prior experience of Design Thinking, as well as those who know the basics but want to apply in a real-world setting. But, there is no requirement to have any experience in Design Thinking to participate in this module.

Our team of Entrepreneurial Specialists will introduce the students to the processes and tools that will enable the students to gain key insights and develop new ideas of value.

UCD Innovation Academy

At the UCD Innovation Academy, we are a group of Educator Practitioners with extensive real-world experience as academics, business and social entrepreneurs, tech thinkers, creative professionals and design thinking practitioners.

We take an action-oriented approach to learning, with a combination of individual, group and class tasks and activities, including discussions, presentations and reflection. All of our teaching is grounded in academic rigour, but our focus is on ‘learning by doing’ in a real-world context. This module will be delivered in a virtual environment using a number of interactive tools and techniques to enhance the online learning experience.

**Enrolment in an Innovation Academy module means a commitment to active participation and engagement, which necessitates attendance at all scheduled classes.**


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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module, learners should have the ability to:

• Demonstrate a practical understanding of the five stages of the Design Thinking Process
• Develop the ability to evaluate the relevance of Design Thinking and its benefits for both personal; and professional purposes.
• Gain an understanding of foundational skills of creativity, teamwork and communication necessary for the successful application of the design thinking process
• Demonstrate the application of the five design thinking stages in the context of a real-world challenge
• Recognize the value of feedback to enhance problem solving.
- Develop skills in communication, teamwork and presentation.

Indicative Module Content:

Students will be introduced to the Design Thinking Framework with key concepts and models shared through readings, video content and powerpoint slides. Students will be brought through a 5 day Design Thinking Sprint in a team environment to solve a real world issue from a real world organisation. In most cases an external host company will be involved in the sprint and the students will be exposed to their challenges to solve using the Design Thinking Framework.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning


Small Group




Online Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
All Innovation Academy modules will be delivered online for the 20/21 academic cycle. The Innovation Academy take a learning by doing approach, combining individual, group and often team activities, tasks and projects including presentations, discussions and reflection:

• Active/task-based learning
• Peer and Group work
• Reflective Learning
• Enquiry & Problem-based learning
• Student Presentations
• Case Study Learning

Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
IA40420 - Design Thinking

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Presentation: Team Project Presentation Throughout the Trimester n/a Pass/Fail Grade Scale Yes


Assignment: Reflection Report Throughout the Trimester n/a Pass/Fail Grade Scale Yes


Continuous Assessment: Online and offline tasks and activities Throughout the Trimester n/a Pass/Fail Grade Scale Yes


Attendance: This module requires active participation and engagement, which necessitates attendance at ALL scheduled classes (80% attendance is required to pass this component) . Throughout the Trimester n/a Pass/Fail Grade Scale Yes


Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
Repeat Within Two Trimesters
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback will be given to students upon request. This will include feedback based on their participation during the module and their deliverables.

Lewrick, m., Link, P., Leifer,L. (2018) The Design Thinking Playbook, Wiley, New Jersey
Name Role
Ms Jacinta Owens Lecturer / Co-Lecturer