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 at its core, based on the integration of intelligent technologies, system theories, and innovation design approaches, 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 2023 Entry
  • Applications start: Sep 22, 2022
  • Review deadlines:
    Early Round: Dec 9, 2022
    Round 1: Feb 3, 2023
    Round 2: Mar 17, 2023
    Round 3: Apr 30, 2023
  • Programme application deadline: Apr 30, 2023
  • Info Session: Jan 7, 2023


A combination of theory, planning strategies, research, and technical skills provides the foundation for studio subjects that explore emerging aspects of user experience (UX) and interaction design, based on human needs and desires 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 and 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 aimed at students who have a passion for people and technology, and are curious about the future, and keen to shape it through design. In principle, ISD is open to all talented students who can innovate masterfully within this broad spectrum; who have a global perspective; who are willing and able to identify "wicked" challenges; and who are eager to become the future agents of change.

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

Innovating masterfully, having a global perspective, being willing and able to identify 'wicked' challenges, and being eager to become the future agents of change.

Programme structure

The ISD comprises a series of intensively taught subjects that directly support the ISD Studios and Lab Studies specialism subjects.

  • The ISD Studios subjects take various forms, from individual work to teamwork, and from self-initiated to externally sponsored projects.

  • The Lab Studies subjects provide a unique platform for students to gain exposure to "real-world" research projects; to familiarise themselves with lab equipment (which is normally more research-oriented, technologically advanced and hands-on than classroom teaching materials); and to work with established and experienced researchers in the field.

In addition, a range of elective subjects is available to tailor the learning experience based on individual interests. Students are expected to be fully committed to their studies and to work well in a studio environment.

The specialism concludes with an Industry Research Project that unites research, industry collaboration, social investigation, creative exploration, user understanding, and prototype testing to provide solutions.

To receive the award of Master of Design, students are required to attain a total of 36 credits from the subject categories below:

    • 6 credits in "Compulsory Common" subjects;
    • 15 cerdits in "Compulsory Specialism" subjects;
    • 15 credits in Elective subjects (12 credits in Elective Pool A and 3 credits in 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

For full-time students, the normal duration is 1 year; for part-time students, the normal duration is 3 years. A full-time study load is 36 credits in a year; a part-time study load is 6 – 9 credits in a compulsory semester (Semester 1 and 2).

Full-time and part-time students follow the same timetable and attend classes together. Classes are normally held during the daytime on weekdays. 

Specialism leaders

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

Stephen Jia Wang

Prof. Stephen Jia Wang is Scheme Leader of Master of Design, Professor in UX Design & Design Intelligence and Director of the Future Caring Mobility Research Centre. 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 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. Portfolios of professional work are required. Before submitting their portfolios, applicants should read Guidance Notes on Design Portfolios.

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 Guidance Notes on Design Portfolio)
  • 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)/ 3 years (Part-time)

  • Tuition: HK$5,600 per credit for local students; HK$5,900 per credit for non-local students

Financial Aid

  1. 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's website.
  2. This specialism under Master of Design is an eligible programme of the Targeted Taught Postgraduate Programmes Fellowships Scheme (the Fellowship Scheme) in 2023/24 academic year. MDes Scheme has been allocated 26 fellowship places. Each fellowship subsidises HK$120,000 of the programme tuition. Details about the Fellowship Scheme are available on the University Grants Committee (UGC) 's website. For information on eligibility, assessment criteria, and application procedure, visit PolyU eProspectus. It is expected that local applicants are informed of their MDes admission and Fellowship application results at the same time.
  3. The Master of Design (MDes) is offering two entry scholarship schemes to outstanding non-local creative talent to further their studies in Hong Kong. The scholarship programmes are part of the MDes' new vision to develop proactive leaders and game changers for the future of industries. International Excellence Scholarship (IES) and Top Universities Scheme (TUS) are the two scholarship programmes, with 50% and 15% tuition scholarships valued at HK$106,200 and HK$31,860, respectively. For details, please refer to the announcement for details. The initial screening of nominations begins in late January 2023. Scholarship quotas are limited, so applying early is advantageous.

PolyU reserves the right to change or withdraw the fellowships/ scholarships at any time. In case of any dispute/disagreement, PolyU’s decision is final.

Type of VISA (for International Students)

Mainland Chinese and nationals of other countries may apply to this programme as non-locals and will require a student visa to take up this programme.

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


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