Design Strategies (MDes)


The Master of Design (Design Strategies) is directed at people who are established in their careers and wish to deepen and enhance their strategic thinking and methods by integrating design, business, and technology. The specialism is intended for both design and non-design professionals with solid working experience in or related to the areas of design, such as communication, brand management, production, marketing, engineering or teaching. Those who are considering becoming entrepreneurs, taking on more responsibility for design-led business development, or translating new technology into designed experiences and practical applications will benefit from this specialism. Design Strategies has been rated as one of the World’s Best Design Thinking Programs by BusinessWeek.


With the introduction of the restructured one-year full-time Master of Design (MDes) curriculum in the academic year 2022/23, the existing Design Strategies will no longer be offered. Click here to view all revamped MDes specialisms, which are full-time study programmes. 


This specialism seeks to locate design strategically in the context of business and technology by exploring best practices as shown in case studies, human-centered explorations to identify previously unrecognised user needs and desires, comparative analyses of business opportunities, successes, and failures, analyses of branding strategies, and with particular attention to the local context of transforming original equipment manufacture (OEM) to original design manufacture (ODM), and finally to own brand management (OBM). The specialism is applicable to both business and nonprofit organisations and extends across local and global issues.


This specialism seeks knowledge in design that facilitates the integration of design, technology and business by:

  • creating value by design
  • applying design to business development
  • transforming OEM/ ODM to OBM
  • branding products and services for domestic and international markets
  • exploring culture differences and issues in local and global contexts
  • understanding customers’ needs and goals

Learn more about: International academic collaborations

Programme structure

Design Strategies has a flexible approach to learning for engaged professionals. Subjects are taught on weekends with most subjects taken in any order after the completion of a selection of core subjects. For example, a typical 3-credit subject requires three weekends spread over a 4–5 week period. Not a studio programme, the purpose of this specialism is academic — to deepen design understanding and integrate design in its business and technological context through reading, thinking, discussing, and writing. The programme concludes with a report that synthesizes individual experience and interests with programme materials leading to strategic development for an organisation or in the pursuit of social or cultural goals.

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

Specialism Core Subjects (compulsory) (17 credits)
SD5001 Innovation Tools for Strategic Design (3 credits)
SD5002 Design and Culture: Cultural Identity and Authorship (3 credits)
SD5018 Research and Analysis for Design (3 credits)
SD5104 Branding: From Local to Global Strategies (3 credits)
SD5303 A Proposition for Design - Vision and Opportunity (5 credits)

Electives* (18 credits)
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)
SD5202 Innovative Products and Services Development (3 credits)
SD5203 Designing Services (3 credits)
SD5217 Design and Innovation: Protecting Creativity (3 credits)
AF5340 Finance and Accounting for Design Business (3 credits)
MM5761 Marketing Management (3 credits)

Electives* offered by other specialisms
SD5502 Information Architecture & Visualization (2 credits)
SD5507 Graduate Seminar I: Theories in Interaction Design (2 credits)
SD5508 Graduate Seminar II: Human Computer Interaction (2 credits)
SD5509 Prototyping and Scripting (3 credits)
SD5520 Concept Workshop (1 credit)
SD5701 Urban Ecology (2 credits)
SD5702 The City from Inside (2 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

Normally classes are held during weekends except one core subject and one elective that are delivered on weekday evenings. Each subject requires three weekends spread over 4–5 weeks. Normally it takes 2 years to complete the specialism.

Specialism leaders

Laurent Gutierrez — Professor, PhD, MArch, BArch, PgD, BT, BTS

Laurent Gutierrez

Laurent Gutierrez is a Professor at the School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University where he leads the Design Strategies (MDes) and the Urban Environments Design (MDes) . His PhD is on the “Processes of Modernization and Urbanization in China focusing on the Pearl River Delta region”. His research areas include Strategic Planning, Urban Environment, Relationship between Design, Art and Politics in Asia.

Dr. Sandy Ng — Assistant Professor, PhD, MA, BA

Dr. Sandy Ng

Sandy began her teaching career, sponsored by the Asian Pacific Scholarship at the University of Hawaii in Mānoa in the United States. Her passion for the display and reception of art led her to curate a two-part exhibition titled “The Three Perfections” that examined the significance of Chinese calligraphy at the Honolulu Museum of Arts. Inspired by the multicultural society in Hawaii, she is concerned with the process and effect of cross-cultural exchange on artistic expression. While pursuing her studies in Great Britain, she taught Cultural Studies subjects at the University of Sussex. Before joining the School of Design, she taught in the Fine Arts department at the University of Hong Kong, offering thematic courses that scrutinized cultural manifestations in contemporary societies.

Teaching staff

Recent collaboration partners


Entrance requirement

A Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent; and a minimum of two years of professional experience in a design related field is required. Candidates with other tertiary qualifications complemented by substantial relevant professional experience will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

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 
  • IELTS/ TOEFL report^

~ Design Strategies applicants need to provide an employment proof for meeting entrance requirements.
^ If you are not a native speaker of English, and your Bachelor's degree or equivalent qualification is awarded by institutions where the medium of instruction is not English, 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 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: 2 Years (part-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 2021-22. 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.
  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 Government, 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 Programmes Fellowships Scheme (2021-22). MDes Scheme has been allocated 22 fellowship places. Each Fellowship subsidises HK$120,000 of the programme tuition. Details are available online on UGC's website for public information. Visit SD news for information on eligibility, selection criteria, application procedures and application results and deadline.
  5. No scholarship is available for non-local students for 2021 entry.

Remarks: 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)

This programme  with classes held on Friday evenings/ weekends  has a student group consisting of local professionals, expatriates, as well as non-local students.

For those of you who have been staying in Hong Kong under various types of visa/ entry permit: holders of a valid employment visa may apply to this programme as locals, and holders of a dependant visa or a visa under IANG as non-locals but do not require a student visa.

Mainland Chinese and nationals of other countries may apply as non-locals. You will need a student visa or a multiple entry visa to take up this programme, depending on your place of residence during your study.

Non-locals moving to Hong Kong for study will need a student visa and are required to enroll at least 9 credits in compulsory semesters (Semester 1 and 2).

For those who are based in cities close to Hong Kong and able to make travel arrangements to attend classes, you will need a multiple entry student visa. This visa permits multiple journeys to Hong Kong, and allows a maximum number of stay for each journey and for a year according to the class timetable. A study plan, in addition to other documents, is required for applying for this visa. 

You will be informed by the Academic Registry (AR) of the details of visa applications, immigration regulations, health care, cost of living and other non-academic matters of concern to non-local students if you are offered admission to our programmes.

Visa applications are processed and determined by the Immigration Department of the Government (IMMD) of the HK SAR via PolyU upon admission. The process may take 8 to 10 weeks upon receipt of all the required documents.

MDes Talks: Student Blog

MDes Talks is a series of blog posts produced for prospective students who are considering graduate education in design by current students. It is set out to share their first-hand experience in the d-school pedagogy, their projects, takeaways, and student life in general.


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