IA40610 Design for User-Centric, Sustainable Solutions

Academic Year 2021/2022


The purpose of this module is to enable students bring a Systems and Design Thinking approach to co-create and test, innovative, potentially viable solutions for real-world challenges of sustainability.

Over the course of this module you will work in a multi-disciplinary team on a real-world challenge or need presented by an external 'client' organisation.

Building on what has been covered in the other modules, you will apply Systems and Design Thinking approaches to research the challenge and its context (from environmental, social and economic perspectives) and engage with key stakeholders to identify key insights before developing potential innovative solutions.

Using an approach of prototyping and intentional iteration you will test your assumptions, re-iterate and pivot your prototype, as required, in order to develop a validated approach.

You and your team will present your proposed solution to your class, invited guests and your 'client' organisation.

Over the course of the module, you will be expected to undertake a significant amount of self-directed study specific to your project (covering, technical, environmental, legal, ethical, financial and business aspects) as appropriate. You will be supported throughout the project by a team mentor, with access to a network of experts and practitioners.

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 rigor, but our focus is on ‘learning by doing’ in a real-world context.


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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

• Appropriately select and apply Systems and Design Thinking processes and tools for use in novel real-world challenges of sustainability (appreciating the comparative role, importance and limitations of each)

• Follow and manage the five stages of design thinking in real-time in a real-world context to gain a deep, informed understanding of a sustainability challenge, to identify insights, generate, evaluate, test and iterate potentially viable solutions.

• Work effectively in a multidisciplinary team on a real-life challenge, adapting your approach as required to ensure success.

• Communicate a new product, service, solution or business concept in an efficient, effective and compelling manner to key decision-makers

• Practice personal reflection as a tool for continuous self-improvement and self-directed learning to quickly develop an overview and understanding of fundamentals of new areas as relevant to your professional work.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Small Group




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
All Innovation Academy modules take a learning by doing approach, combining, individual, group and team activities, tasks and projects including presentations, discussion and reflection:

• Activity/task-based learning
• Peer and Group work
• Reflective Learning
• Enquiry & Problem-based learning
• Student Presentations
• Guest Speakers
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: This module requires active engagement, requiring attendance at ALL scheduled classes and mentoring sessions, as well as completion of assigned tasks and presentations. (80% attendance is mandatory) Throughout the Trimester n/a Pass/Fail Grade Scale Yes


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


Presentation: Project Report and Presentation Throughout the Trimester n/a Pass/Fail Grade Scale Yes


Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
In-Module Resit Prior to relevant Programme Exam Board
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.