International Design and Business Management (MDes)

Innovation is not just about being creative and open-minded, it is even more about multi-disciplinary teams that can deliver on the promise.


ID&BM is a multidisciplinary specialism based on an integrative design thinking management approach, pulling together professional knowledge in the areas of design, business and technological fields to achieve "managing design as a competitive strategy" in an international business setting. Globalisation in business and education has rapidly diminished boundaries between countries, cultures, and economies. ID&BM will provide a ‘meeting point’ for students and faculties amongst the collaborative institutes from different regions of the world, which enables cross-cultural and -disciplinary project teams to solve and manage real-life design, business and technical problems. ID&BM is targeting intakes distributed across Hong Kong, mainland Chinese and international students, and across design, business and technological fields.


With the introduction of the restructured one-year full-time Master of Design (MDes) curriculum in the academic year 2022/23, the existing International Design and Business Management will no longer be offered. You may consider the related, new programme, Innovative Business Design, or check out all revamped MDes specialisms here.


ID&BM aims to nurture "T-shaped professionals" with high-level competencies to better understand and manage global business dynamic and to function in and contribute to design-sensitive and technological-intensive business environments. These competencies enable students to lead the transformation of their respective local enterprises and to challenge existing mindset in technological innovations, product and service designs from an integrative design thinking management approach. Ultimately, ID&BM aims to create an impact at the regional and global levels by meeting future talents demand of well-balanced business developers, entrepreneurs, products and services innovators.

See also: Employers of MDes graduates


Students, irrespective of their disciplinary background, learn together to nurture a new mindset and attitude where cross-disciplinary stimulation is the foundation of innovation. They will: 

  • apply theories and concepts of the three domains underpinning this specialism
  • evaluate cultural differences and their implications for leadership and effective management of design and business activities
  • identify and evaluate the means by which value creation may be managed 
  • participate effectively in the design, implementation and comprehensive evaluation of projects involving multidisciplinary and multicultural teams
  • demonstrate the ability to view, frame and resolve design issues by adopting multiple perspectives 
  • understand and perform the integrative design thinking roles of a T-shaped professional in a business environment

Learn more about: International academic collaborations

Innovations are precious metals; business management is the craftsmanship that turns these rare and valuable metals into exceptional jewellery

Programme structure

ID&BM begins with an intensive seven-week introduction to the Essential Knowledge in each of the three disciplines, then followed by a series of compulsory subjects which centers on corresponding theories and/or practices. In the second semester, the focus is on two team-based ID&BM Multidisciplinary Projects collaborated with private or public organizations, while students can choose elective subjects in design and business disciplines to enhance their individual career profile. Capstone Reflective Thesis synthesises the learning in ID&BM at the summer term.

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

Specialism Core Subjects (compulsory)
Theory/Method Subjects (15 credits)
SD5151 Essential Design Theories and Concepts (2 credits)
MM5001 Essential Business Theories and Concepts (2 credits)
SD5152 Essential Integration of Technologies in Design & Business Innovation (2 credits)
SD5163 Managing Value Creation (3 credits)
SD5164 Lifestyles, Cultures and Innovation (3 credits)
MM5251 Cross-cultural Management (3 credits)

Workshop Subjects (14 credits)

SD5171 Multidisciplinary Project 1 - Research and Analysis (3 credits)
SD5172 Multidisciplinary Project 2 - Solution Development (6 credits)
SD5173 Capstone Reflective Thesis (5 credits)

Elective Subjects* (6 credits)
These will be drawn from regularly occurring subjects within the MDes Scheme, including: 
SD5001 Innovation Tools for Strategic Design (3 credits)
SD5002 Design and Culture: Cultural Identity and Authorship (3 credits) 
SD5012 Future Context for Design (3 credits)
SD5015 Globalization and Design (3 credits)
SD5018 Research and Analysis for 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)
SD5104 Branding: From Local to Global Strategies (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)
MM5712 Marketing Management in China (3 credits)
MM5761 Marketing Management (3 credit)
MM578 Service Marketing (3 credits)
MM588 Brand Marketing (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 Scheme Document and may consult Specialism Leader when choosing electives.

Academic Collaborations
Exchange Partners: Northumbria University’s MSc Multidisciplinary Innovation programme, Thammasat University's Design, Business & Technology Management programme; Design Workshop with University of Technology SydneyKöln International School of Design (KISD).

Exchange Programme
The programme provides ID&BM students an opportunity to study one semester (the second semester) in Thammasat University's Design, Business & Technology Management (DBTM) programme or Northumbria University's   MSc Multidisciplinary Innovation programme, to gain broader experiences and horizons in this domain.

Class delivery mode & duration

Classes are normally held during daytime on weekdays, except some shared electives are delivered on weekday evenings and weekends. Each of the weekend subjects requires three weekends spread over 4–5 weeks.

It normally takes 1 year to complete the specialism.

Specialism leaders

Sylvia Xihui Liu — Assistant Professor, PhD

 Sylvia Xihui Liu

Dr Sylvia Liu has both academic and industrial experience. She obtained her PhD degree from PolyU in 2010 under the supervision of Prof. John Heskett and became visiting assistant professor in 2011. Before her PhD study, she was design manager at Nova Design. Her consultancy services ranged from product design, branding and design strategy and has earned several international design awards, such as IDEA, iF and Red Dot. Her research interest focuses on design management capability. The outcomes of her research include papers in top design journals,  innovative business models and design policies. Since 2013, she has been invited as adviser for developing the national design policy of China related to Made in China 2025 and One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR). 

Kevin Denney — Professor of Practice (Social Innovation)

Kevin Denney

Kevin Denney is a Design Strategist. Kevin hails from Chicago where his did his graduate studies at the IIT, Institute of Design. Kevin’s focus is on designing cities for health and prosperity. In his work in industry and academia, Kevin emphasizes the importance of developing models and frameworks that enhance collaboration across domains.

Teaching staff

Recent collaboration partners


Entrance requirement

A Bachelor’s degree in Design, or Business, or Technological fields, or the equivalent in a related discipline is required; preferably with 2 years relevant professional experience. Candidates with other tertiary qualifications complemented with 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 
  • 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 Years (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 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/ 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 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. Merit-based entry scholarships are offered competitively for non-local students in 2021-22. One or two students may be awarded after nomination and the value of the scholarship shall be equivalent to 25%-50% tuition reimbursement/ offset.

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.

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.


You can now view the playback of the previous webinar on Design-led Innovation hosted by PolyU International Design and Business Management faculty. In the webinar, deputy specialism leader Mr. Benny Leong, and faculty Dr. Jörn Bühring have shared their presentation around Asian Century, Mega Trends, Industries Affected, Career, and Value Proposition. And in the Q&A session, they addressed some of the frequently asked questions. 


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