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 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 (Event details/ Register)

News: Master of Design offers local students an option for part-time mode of study for Sep 2023 Entry (Read more)


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 industry 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 programme begins with subjects that offer foundational knowledge of service design and advanced research skills through a combination of lectures, studios, and multidisciplinary project collaboration.

The programme is followed by subjects that provide a detailed and analytical perspective on the latest socio-technical developments that have an impact on the service economy. The Studios and Lab Studies subjects articulate diverse perspectives on service factors and service design approaches that students can use to evaluate, transform, and create future services in the service sector.

The final stage of the study is where knowledge, skills and practice integrate through either a self-directed or an industry-sponsored project in each student's area of interest. A Capstone Project, which is a significant and integrative final service project, synthesises students' learning in a real-world setting.

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
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

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

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 Hongik 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 equivalent in design, business, humanities, or a technological field 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 qualifications, i.e. Official Full Transcripts and Degree Certificates 
  • 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 email at or by phone +852 3400 3440.