Design Practices (MDes)

Designers need to gain new knowledge and find a specialised area of their own.


The Master of Design (Design Practices) is a hands-on, studio-based specialism directed at students who want to deepen their innovative abilities, who are curious about design and business integration, and who enjoy the creative form challenges of making objects and ideas that improve people’s lives. Designers with a Bachelor’s degree in product design, fashion design, interaction design, architecture, product engineering, interior design or communication design may find Design Practices to be a logical next step in their professional development.

  • Application Timeline - Sep 2020 Entry
  • Applications start: Sep 26, 2019
  • Review deadlines:
    Early Round: Dec 13, 2019
    Round 1: Jan 24, 2020
    Round 2: Mar 6, 2020
    Round 3: Apr 30, 2020
  • Fellowships application deadline: Apr 30, 2020
  • Programme application deadline: Jun 30, 2020

Important updates

  • Now is at the final stage of the admissions; the start of the 2020-21 academic year is just three months away (Sep 7, 2020).  Applicants, non-locals in particular, who want to be considered for the September 2020 entry must submit an online application and settle the application fee by Jun 30, 2020, 11:59 PM (local time). Ensure the online application form is filled out to the best of your ability, and the submission is in order with all required support documents. Due to extremely limited time for processing, incomplete applications will not be considered. The only exception may be given to applications with pending English test results, however, the official English report^ must be ready by Jul 17, 2020. (Last update: Jun 8, 2020)
  • For applicants who are not able to take the TOEFL or IELTS tests in-person due to the suspension of test centers as a response to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the University has announced the special arrangement to accept the following test results as alternatives in meeting the English language requirements^ of our taught programmes for the September 2020 entry: (i) TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition: Score of 80 or above; or (ii) IELTS Indicator: Overall band score of 6 or above; or (iii) Duolingo English Test: Score of 105 or above. (Last update: Jun 3, 2020)


This specialism focuses on design as a strategic tool for the consumer economy. Interdisciplinary projects embrace business strategy and brand development, identifying opportunities for innovation and user experience. This full-time international programme responds to the world’s industrial and technological transformation. The development of a high level of research, analysis, strategic vision, aesthetics, and technical mastery in development, fabrication and commercialisation of design prepares students for leadership roles.

See also: Employers of MDes graduates


This specialism seeks to join practical strategies for innovation with formal aspects of design development, by making design through:

  • real-world project development
  • teamwork approaches to problem solving
  • cultural considerations as well as business & technology
  • customers’ needs and goals
  • design entrepreneurship and brand creation

Learn more about: International academic collaborations

Our students are not only trained to develop products, they are also taught to create solutions for clients along with business strategies and related products and services.

Programme structure

Primarily a studio experience, some projects will be sponsored by leading companies with real business context provided as the base for collaborative workshops. This is a full-time, intensive one-year programme. Theory and method subjects are delivered during weekends over four consecutive weeks each. A "capstone project" concludes the year with an experience that synthesizes learning in a real-world setting.

Common Core Subjects (compulsory) (1 credits)
SD5400 Vision and Change (1 credit)

Specialism Core Subjects (compulsory) (32 credits)
Theory/Method Subjects (9 credits)
SD5018 Research and Analysis for Design (3 credits)
SD5104 Branding: From Local to Global Strategies (3 credits)
SD5202 Innovative Products and Services Development (3 credits)

Workshop Subjects (23 credits)
SD5401 Value Strategies for China (4 credits)
SD5405 China Lifestyle Transformation (4 credits)
SD5406 Design Experience (4 credits)
SD5409 Capstone Research (4 credits)
SD5410 Design and Make Capstone Project (7 credits)

Electives* (3 credits)
These will be drawn from regularly occurring subjects within the MDes Scheme, including:
SD5012 Future Contexts for Design (3 credits)
SD5015 Globalization and Design (3 credits)
SD5021 Chinese Traditions and the 21st Century (3 credits)
SD5022 Special Topics in Contemporary Design I (3 credits)
SD5023 Special Topics in Contemporary Design II (3 credits)
SD5163 Managing Value Creation (3 credits)
SD5203 Designing Services (3 credits)
SD5216 Introduction to Intellectual Property: Fundamentals and Strategy (3 credits)
AF5340 Finance and Accounting for Design Business (3 credits)
MM5761 Marketing Management (3 credits)

* Remarks: Not all elective subjects are offered every year. Time table will be provided by individual MDes Specialism before the academic year begins. Students should refer to the Scheme Document and may consult Specialism Leader when choosing electives.

Class delivery mode & duration

Classes are normally held during daytime on weekdays except for three subjects, which will be delivered during weekends. Each of these weekend subjects requires three weekends spread over 4–5 weeks.

Normally it takes 1 year to complete the specialism.

Specialism leaders

Newman Lau — Associate Professor, BEng, MPhil, PhD

Newman Lau

Dr. Newman Lau is an Associate Professor in School of Design at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He has an MPhil degree from the Electronic Engineering Department at HKUST and a PhD from PolyU. His research interest lies in the areas of optical motion capture technology, character animation, movement analysis, online interactivity, user experience design, interactive media, and cross-disciplinary multimedia works. Some of his recent projects include interactivity and exercise gaming for health care and a platform for teaching and learning. He is interested and responsible for building technical infrastructure, leading the development team and implementing architecture for research and collaboration.

Teaching staff

Recent collaboration partners


Entrance requirement

A Bachelor’s degree in design or the equivalent in a related discipline and professional experience in design is preferred.

A complete application includes

  • Application form
  • Letter of intent
  • Three letters of recommendation (Academic/ Profession)
  • Evidence of academic qualification, i.e. Official Full Transcripts and Degree Certificates 
  • Portfolio (refer to FAQ for requirements and submission)
  • IELTS/ TOEFL report^

^ Except for native English speakers whose Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent qualification) is awarded by a recognised university where the medium of instruction is English. Otherwise, you are expected to fulfil the following minimum English language requirement for admission purpose: A Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of 80 for the Internet-based test or 550 for the paper-based test; OR An overall Band Score of at least 6 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). All English language test scores are considered valid for two years after the date of the test.

All admissions must go through the interview process. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend an interview in person (for local applicants) or over internet video calls (for non-local applicants). 

  • Number of credits: 36

  • Normal Period of Study: 1 Year (full-time)

  • Tuition: HK$167,400 (local) / HK$190,800 (non-local); Initial Programme Fee: Local student HK$18,600 (4 credits x HK$4,650)/ Non-local student HK$53,000 (10 credits x HK$5,300)

Financial Aid

  1. Subject to approval, a financial aid as an Alumni Bursary# (with a reimbursement of an amount equivalent to 5.4 credits) will be granted to PolyU Design BA graduates admitted into the Master of Design programmes in 2020-21. Eligible admittees will be informed of the application procedures before the academic year begins. This financial aid, offered in limited places, is administered by the School/ PolyU.
  2. Some subjects in the MDes scheme are Continuing Education Fund (CEF) reimbursable for eligible Hong Kong residents (who have the right of abode or the right to land or to remain in Hong Kong without restriction). Students taking these subjects will benefit from the CEF subsidy ceiling of HK$20,000. For further information on CEF, eligibility and the reimbursable courses list, please visit CEF official website.  
  3. Extended Non-means-Tested Loan Scheme (ENLS), administered by Student Finance Office (SFO) of the HK Governments, offers interest-bearing loans to eligible local residents (who have the right of abode in the Hong Kong or have resided or have had their homes in Hong Kong continuously for three complete years prior to the commencement of the programme) to settle tuition fees. For details of the scheme, eligibility and application, please refer to SFO official website
  4. This specialism under Master of Design is an eligible programme in the Targeted Taught Postgraduate Fellowships Scheme (2020-21). Each Fellowship subsidises HK$120,000 of the programme tuition. Local applicants who want to be considered for the Fellowships Scheme should submit an online application together with all required documents by Apr 30, 2020. Incomplete submission or submission after the deadline is normally not acceptable. For related announcement by the University, please refer to the Academic Registry webiste. For more information on application, eligibility and award offering, please refer to our news.
  5. No scholarship is available for non-local students for 2020 entry.

Remarks: This financial aid is not applicable to CEF reimbursable courses. Applications from those who have obtained other forms of financial aid from the government or the PolyU pursuing the same programme will not be considered. The School reserves the right to change the terms or withdraw from offering the financial aid. In case of any dispute or disagreement, the School’s decision is final.

Type of VISA (for International Students)

People’s Republic of China and foreign nationals, and those who are holding a valid employment or working holiday visa/ entry permit may apply to this programme as non-locals. You will need a student visa to take this full-time programme.

Holders of dependant visa or a visa under IANG are also considered as non-locals but do not require a student visa.

Applicants will be informed by the University’s Academic Registry (AR) about the visa application process when receiving the Notice of Offer. 

Visa applications are processed and determined by the Immigration Department of the Government of the HK SAR. The process normally takes 8 – 10 weeks upon receipt of all the required documents. 


Should you require further assistance, feel free to contact us by email at or by phone +852 3400 3440.