Intelligent Systems Design (MDes)

Designers see the world as systems to be organised and integrated.


The Master of Design (Intelligent Systems Design) (ISD) is an emerging specialism with interdisciplinarity in its core, based on the integration of intelligent technologies, system theories, and innovation design approach, pulling together professional knowledge in the areas of design and STEM. To achieve "industrial transformative innovation," ISD aims at bolstering the most cutting-edge and competitive industries enabled by advanced technologies and processes such as AI, industry 4.0, robotics and AIoT (AI+IoT), through systemic design innovations.

  • Application Timeline - Sep 2022 Entry
  • Applications start: Sep 23, 2021
  • Application deadline: Apr 30, 2022
  • Info Session: Jan 8, 2022


A combination of theory, planning strategies, research and technical skills provide the foundation for studios that explore emerging aspects of user experience (UX) and interaction design, based on human needs and pleasures as well as technological development.

The aims of this specialism are:

  • to nurture creativity and design ability of the students by enabling them to embrace intelligent also systemic approaches;
  • to develop students' awareness of present and emerging technologies in the innovation industry and advanced manufacturing (e.g. industry 4.0) environment;
  • to promote an understanding of the supporting marketing and business practices; and
  • to enhance the awareness of the impact of designed objects on human, social, environmental, and global domains through developing more responsible, transparent, and ethical design processes. 

Also: Employers of MDes Graduates


The Master of Design (Intelligent Systems Design) (ISD) is directed at students who have a passion for people and technology, and are curious about the future and willing to shape it through design. In principle, ISD is open to all the talents who can innovate masterfully within this broad spectrum, who have a perspective, who will search out where the wicked challenges are and who are willing to be the future agents of change.

ISD students take advantage of the legacy education and culture from its predecessor, MDes (Interaction Design), and of the specifically tailored technological learning environments supporting non-STEM background students. Those with a Bachelor's degree in design (interaction, user experience (UX), graphic communication, product or industrial), STEM, communication, or even psychology and anthropology may find ISD to be the next step in their professional development.

Innovating masterfully, searching out where the wicked challenges are, being willing to be future agents of change.

Programme structure

The Master of Design (Intelligent Systems Design) (ISD) is structured by a combination of intensively taught subjects that directly support the ISD Studios and Lab Studies.

  • The ISD Studios take various forms, covering individual work to teamwork, and self-initiated to externally sponsored projects.
  • The Lab Studies provide a unique platform for students: to be involved in the "real-world" research projects, to have access to the lab equipment which are normally more research-oriented, technologically-advanced and hands-on compared with classroom teaching materials, and to work together with more established and experienced researchers in the field.

On top of these, a range of elective subjects is available for tailoring the learning experience based on individual interest. Students are expected to be fully committed to the study and to work in the studio environment.

The specialism concludes with a Capstone Research Project that unites research, industry collaborations, social investigations, creative exploration, user understanding and prototype testing to provide a solution.

To receive the award of Master of Design, students must successfully attain a total of 36 credits from the following subject categories: Compulsory Common subjects for 6 credits, Compulsory Specialism subjects for 15 credits, Elective subjects for 15 credits (12 credits from Elective Pool A and 3 credits from Elective Pool B).

Compulsory Common subjects (6 credits)

SD5008 Research and Analysis for Design (3)
SD5009 Research and Academic Writing (3)

Compulsory Specialism subjects (15 credits)

Specialism Major subjects
SD5513 Theories in Interaction Design (3) or
SD5514 Advanced Visualisation and Interaction (3)

Lab Studies subjects
SD5532 Lab Studies in Intelligent Systems Construction (3)

Specialism Studio / Project subjects
SD5538 ISD Specialism Studio (3)
SD5539 ISD Capstone Research Project (6)

Elective subjects

Elective Pool A (12 credits)

Foundation subjects
SD5114^Design Methods (Advanced) (3)
SD5115 Design Project Management (3)
SD5116 Design for Transformation (3)
SD5511 UX Design Fundamentals (3)
SD5512 Prototyping and Scripting (3)
SD5411 Designing Services (3)
SD5711 Design for the Biosphere (3)
SD5712 Design for Change (3)
SD5713 Design Systems Thinking (3)

Specialism Major subjects
SD5117^Innovate with Lifestyle and Culture (3)
SD5513 Theories in Interaction Design (3)
SD5514#Advanced Visualisation and Interaction (3)
SD5412 Advanced Service Design Methods and Tools (3)
SD5413 Socio-Technical Service Ecosystem (3)
SD5414 Systemic Innovation and Designing Future Services (3)
SD5716 Regenerative Ecosystems Design (3)
SD5717 Territories, Societies, and Spatial Complexes (3)

Elective Pool B (3 credits)

Interdisciplinary Studio / Project subjects
SD5131^Interdisciplinary Project (3)
SD5431 Interdisciplinary Studio (3)
SD5731 Regenerative Environments Design (3)

Lab Studies subjects
SD5132 Lab Studies in Human Cyber-Physical Systems (3)
SD5531 Lab Studies in Systems Design (3)
SD5532# Lab Studies in Intelligent Systems Construction (3)
SD5432 Lab Studies in Data-Driven Service Design (3)
SD5732 Lab Studies in Applied Technologies for Territorial Design (3)

# denotes subject containing pre-requisite requirement.
^ denotes subject containing co-requisite requirement.

Class delivery mode & duration

Classes are normally held during daytime on weekdays. It normally takes 1 year to complete the specialism.

Specialism leaders

Stephen J. Wang — Professor, PhD, MA, M.Eng, BA, SFHEA

Stephen J. Wang

Prof. Stephen Wang is Professor in UX Design & Design Intelligence and Scheme Leader of Master of Design. He is also one of the Project Leaders of the Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence in Design (AiDLab), a research operation jointly established by PolyU and the Royal College of Art (RCA). He is also a key founding member of the PolyU Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT). Before joining PolyU, Prof. Wang was the joint Head of MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering and MA/MSc Global Innovation Design programmes at RCA which were delivered jointly with Imperial College London and the RCA Director of RCA-IIS Tokyo Design Lab, London. 

Teaching staff


Entrance requirement

A Bachelor's degree or equivalent in design, STEM, or in a related discipline, e.g. communication, psychology or anthropology, 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
  • Personal statement
  • Two letters of recommendation (academic/ work)
  • Evidence of academic qualification, i.e. degree certificate(s)/diploma(s) and final official transcript(s)
  • Portfolio (refer to FAQ for guidance notes)
  • IELTS/ TOEFL report (click here to view PolyU's English Language Requirement) 


All admissions must go through the interview process. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend an interview either in-person or online.

  • Number of credits: 36

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

  • Tuition: HK$4,850 per credit for local students; HK$5,550 per credit for non-local students

Financial Aid

  1. A number of 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.  
  2. 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.
  3. This specialism under Master of Design is an eligible programme of the Targeted Taught Postgraduate Programmes Fellowships Scheme (2022/23). MDes Scheme has been allocated 26 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.

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 may apply to this programme as non-locals and will require a student visa to take this 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 e-mail at or by phone +852 3400 3440.