IA20190 Design Thinking (Online)

Academic Year 2023/2024

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.

The primary objective of this module is to equip students with the knowledge and practical skills to apply Design Thinking in solving real-world challenges. Having completed a shorter Design Sprint already in the Creative Thinking & Innovation modules, the learner will be reintroduced to Design Thinking, while participating in a week-long intensive Design Sprint. Over the course of the module, the learner will be introduced to the key theories and concepts of Design Thinking and work in a team to address a real-world challenge.

This module will present students with a real-world challenge and solutions in solving a problem. The Challenge(s) will be presented by Expert(s) who will be available for interview, and students will be expected to interview members of the public/their community as relevant. This is will take place in the form of an innovative Design Sprint over course of the module. This will involve students working in teams, following the Design Thinking process and presenting potential solutions in the form of a pitch.

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. While working in multi-disciplinary teams, participants will experience the Empathy phase before moving on to the next stages of Design Thinking (Define, Ideate, Prototype & Test) to develop an insightful understanding of a real-world challenge before prototyping and presenting a creative innovative solution.

This module is suitable for students from any discipline. Students must have completed either IA20010 - Creativity & Innovation) or IA20160 - Creativity & Innovation (OL) in order to register for this module. Therefore, this module is suitable for those who are familiar with the basics of Design Thinking, but want to practice and apply the process in a real-world setting.

Format: In-person workshops - 09:30 - 16:30 each day
"Live online" is a highly interactive and dynamic approach to online learning consisting of class discussions, breakout rooms, mini-breaks and team activities and projects throughout the week.
Important: You must be available to attend and participate 9.30am - 4.30pm every day of the module and complete any pre-module tasks and post-module deliverables.

Please check https://www.innovationacademy.ie/courses/ucd-undergraduate-module/ for delivery dates of all UCD Innovation Academy modules for 2023/2024.
At the UCD Innovation Academy, we are Educator Practitioners with extensive real-world experience as academics, business and social entrepreneurs, tech thinkers, creative professionals and design thinking practitioners.
Our teaching is grounded in academic rigour. Our focus is on ‘learning by doing’ in a real-world context. Classes include a combination of individual and team tasks and activities, along with discussions, presentations and reflection.
The Facilitation Specialist will introduce the students to the processes and tools that will enable the students to gain key insights and develop new ideas of value.
Enrolment on an Innovation Academy module means a commitment to active participation and engagement, which necessitates attendance at all scheduled classes

“The teaching team generated a spirit of camaraderie among students of diverse academic disciplines and backgrounds. The exercises and tasks have been brilliantly adapted to work in the virtual world, and I found them challenging and engaging.” 2020 Student

Class Size : We limit our class size to 36 students or less. We require a minimum of 16 participants to ensure enough people for teamwork and a dynamic classroom environment. On very rare occasions, if fewer than 16 registered students register, we will offer students the opportunity to join another class.

Please visit module IA20080 Design Thinking for an in-person equivalent.

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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
• Recognise 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.

Indicative Module Content:

Design Thinking: Empathy, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test, Feedback & Iteration

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Small Group




Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The UCD Innovation Academy takes a 'learning from doing' approach, combining individual, group and often team activities, tasks and projects including presentations, discussions and reflection:

• Active/task-based learning
• Real-world challenges
• Peer and Group work
• Reflective Learning
• Enquiry & Problem-based learning
• Student Presentations
• Teamwork 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
IA20010 - Creativity & Innovation, IA20160 - Creativity & Innovation (OL)

IA20080 - 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


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


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


Group Project: Group project due after the module classes end. 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

• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Facilitators will give verbal feedback on classroom based continuous assessment activities such as presentations, presentation materials and other deliverables. Students will also give and receive peer-feedback. Individual feedback from facilitators will be given to students upon specific request.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.

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