Smart Service Design (SSD)

Creating meaningful service interventions to meet broader societal and business challenges.


The Master of Design (Smart Service Design) (SSD) is an interdisciplinary specialism focusing on designing at the intersection of business, technology and human ingenuity to create meaningful service interventions for broader societal and business challenges. This specialism expands the scope of design beyond the current commercialised and compartmentalised professional practices by orienting it towards the "socio-technical dimension of design" with a critical, systemic and human-centred perspective within the context of service.

The specialism is designed to nurture students and develop their theoretical and practical knowledge of service design. SSD fosters the extension of students' abilities through a deep understanding of the technological, commercial, societal and organisational contexts, presenting the transformation of design opportunities into new and sustainable service experiences.

  • Application Timeline - Sep 2022 Entry
  • Applications start: Sep 23, 2021
  • Application deadline: Apr 30, 2022
  • Info Session: Jan 8, 2022
  • Late application deadline for locals: June 26, 2022

    Limited admission and scholarship places for local students remains available. If you are keen to start your study in September 2022, please let us know your intent to apply with your Personal Statement and updated CV asap before June 20. Upon faculty's approval, you will have 4 working days to submit a complete application on eAdmission with all required documents.


The aims of this specialism are:

  • to deepen the understanding of end-to-end service journeys and design service ecosystems across multiple services;
  • to identify how the centrality of users' needs and interests of different groups of stakeholders in the human-centred design process is complemented in business and organisation in the broader service industry, and apply the same in practice;
  • to develop and apply service design to a range of business, societal and environmental challenges through studios, collaboration with stakeholders, partners and experts across multiple disciplines, and using service design at a strategic, operational and systems level; and
  • to accelerate new service design practices and ways of systems thinking to advance skillsets and practices for service innovation.

Also: Employers of MDes Graduates


PolyU is the first university in Hong Kong that offers both Bachelor's and Master's degrees in service design education in response to the rapidly increasing global demands of service. The focus of Smart Service Design is beyond the scope of user experience design, information design, product design, or any other single output of design application; rather, it focuses on a broad design spectrum that integrates design, business, technology and human needs to create service solutions of tomorrow and bring new value to the service industry and society at large.

Through advanced service design methodologies, SSD offers a unique interdisciplinary educational environment that meets diverse learning needs and provides students with opportunities to reshape their own design practices. This specialism offers students to work and involve themselves in the creation of transformations and evaluations of service products and content across both digital and offline channels through lectures, studio learning, workshops and their capstone research projects.

Our graduates will be equipped with the necessary professional skills to meet the demands of careers in the service industry. They will play different roles not only in conventional design-related professions, but also in management and strategy in various service sectors, such as consumer electronics, mobility, healthcare, tourism and hospitality, finance, public service and so on.

Transforming design opportunities into new and sustainable service experiences.

Programme structure

The subjects in Semester 1 offer foundational knowledge of service design and advanced research skills through a combination of lectures, studios and multidisciplinary project collaboration.

In Semester 2, the subjects foster a sensitive and critical lens towards the latest socio-technical developments that have an impact on the service economy. Studios and Lab Studies subjects articulate diverse perspectives of service factors and mastery of service approaches students can learn to evaluate, transform and create future services in the service sector.

Summer Term integrates knowledge, skills and practice through either self-directed or industry-sponsored project with students intended areas of interest. A Capstone Project concludes the year with an experience that synthesises learning in a real-world setting, and demonstrates a significant and integrative final service project.

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
SD5412 Advanced Service Design Methods and Tools (3) or
SD5413 Socio-Technical Service Ecosystem (3) or
SD5414 Systemic Innovation and Designing Future Services (3)

Lab Studies subjects
SD5432 Lab Studies in Data-Driven Service Design (3)

Specialism Studio / Project subjects
SD5438 SSD Specialism Studio (3)
SD5439 SSD 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. Normally it takes 1 year to complete the specialism.

Specialism leaders

Shera Park — Assistant Professor, PhD

Shera Park

Dr Shera Park received her PhD in service design from the Royal College of Art (RCA) and her bachelor's and master's degrees from Hong-Ik University and the University of Westminster, London respectively. Her industry experience began as a designer at Hyundai Group and moved from design to marketing and ultimately to developing multidisciplinary projects across communication design, digital marketing and service strategy in her role as Head of Digital Communication for LG Electronics Europe. Her projects included a new service strategy and business model to improve London air quality which was awarded 'Winner for Business Innovation in the Private Sector' at the Service Design Network. 

Teaching staff


Entrance requirement

A Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent in design, business, humanities, or a technological field is required. Candidates wtih other tertiary qualifications complemented by sustantial relevant profesional 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 qualifications, i.e. Official Full Transcripts and Degree Certificates 
  • Portfolio (refer to FAQ for requirements and submission)
  • 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, 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.