Social Design (BA) [Senior Year]

Nurturing Creative Changemakers for a Better Society

Brief programme outline


Programme/ Stream Code 

73416 - SDS (Senior Year Admission)        

Mode of Study
Full Time
Number of Credits
Normal Period of Study
2 years 
Local Student: HK$42,100 per academic year

Aims and objectives

This programme attempts to expand the scope of design beyond
the current commercialised and compartmentalised professional
practices by orienting towards the ‘social dimension of design’,
with emphasis on civic participation, social engagement and
collaborative design practices. Dedicated to the promotion of social
and cultural sustainability, the programme focuses on the realisation
of social innovations and civic goals through the framework of
design thinking and solution prototyping.

The programme aims to:

  • augment students’ (empathic) understanding of social needs/changes from real-life perspectives
  • introduce students to methods for social observation, ethnographic design research and co-designing practices
  • engage students with outside partners to address social issues and develop design resolutions
  • inaugurate designerly thinking into the professional practices of nondesign disciplines
  • prototype and realise design solutions for sustainable and positive social change


Upon successful completion of this Programme, students will be able to:

  1. Appreciate and reflect upon the multiple social dimensions of design and their real-world complexity;
  2. Learn independently and continuously develop cultural, social, technological and design literacy through local, regional and global contexts;
  3. Explore and address social and community issues through design research, experimentations and reflective implementation practices;
  4. Make acute analysis of social situations and propose creative and realistic design solutions;
  5. Apply professional skills of design to deliver outcome with real-life impact;
  6. Communicate and collaborate with social institutions, communities and people to experiment with different approaches to social design;
  7. Develop strategic and design insights for relevant business, social and cultural endeavours;
  8. Design projects and create platforms and solutions for positive social change.

Programme structure

The BA (Hons) in Social Design is divided into two levels:

Level 3 (Year 1) - learn to research and apply knowledge and skills

Students are expected to broaden their critical knowledge and analytical ability through contextual research, design thinking and integrate conceptual and technical skills into the development and communication of creative ideas in projects and other opportunities.

Level 4 (Year 2) - learn to be collaborative, initiative and resourceful

Students are expected to incorporate knowledge, insights, design skills and social resources into creative and meaningful projects that will potentially generate positive impacts on societal systems. Students shall identify issues critical to future professional and social conditions and take the initiative to tackle them in collaboration with corresponding partners or stakeholders.


Senior year students are required to complete a total of 60 credits in order to graduate; including 9 credits earned from General University Requirements subjects, 9 from Common Compulsory Subjects, and 42 from Discipline-Specific and Elective Subjects.

Senior Year Curriculum

General University Requirement

9 (Credits)


Cluster-Area Requirements (CAR)

Language and Communication Requirements (LCR)*




Common Compulsory Subjects

9 (Credits)

Introduction to Design Theories and Culture

Cooperative Project



Discipline-specific Compulsory Subjects

33 (Credits)

Professional Communication in Chinese for Design

Professional English for Design Communication

Researching People, Things and Contexts

Visualizing Network, Media and Community

Creative Citizenship in Practice

Participatory Design and Innovation in an Ageing Society (with APSS)

Design for Social and Cultural Business

Co-creation and Project Proposal Writing

Capstone Project 1: Research, Planning and Prototyping

Capstone Project 2: Realization, Documentation and Evaluation


Elective Subjects (Social Design elective or other disciplines with at least one APSS subject and one SD subject)

9 (Credits)



Communication Design to Foster Sustainable Behavior


Service and Experience Design


Public Facility and Street Furniture Design


Interactive Media and Marketing


Information Design

Overseas Study Trip


Design for Ageing and Silver Industries


Inclusive and Universal Design


Social Capital


Corporate Social Responsibility


Social Entrepreneurship and Enterprise


✓ Compulsory Subjects

*Senior Year Students who fail to meet the equivalent standard of the Undergraduate Degree LCR will be required to take up to 9 credits of degree LCR subjects.

  Project Showcase

Why Social Design?

_〈誰要做個 Social Designer?〉蕭競聰 (in Chinese)
_〈設計改變社會 2017 Beyond Social Innovation〉 Credit: U Magazine, 30 December 2016 (PDF format, in Chinese)

_ Video: "Designing with Community?"
An introductory talk on what Social Design does by Mr Chan Kam Fai (in Cantonese)

Career prospects

Answering to the emerging design demands and market for social innovations globally and in Hong Kong, the School of Design strives to expand its spectrum of design so as to contribute to the newly developed international movement of Social Design. Since social design is transdisciplinary by nature, this top-up programme of the senior year curriculum is set to admit candidates from a broader spectrum of disciplines, ranging from different areas of design to other social or service fields. The programme aspires to breed a generation of well-rounded dynamic designers and project coordinators who will become design practitioners, consultants and changemakers in service of social needs.

Graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary in professional design practice to help sustain the creative and social economy. They have a wide choice of careers as designers in mainstream industries or in alternative creative and social enterprises. Graduates can become designers not only in design consultancies, but also project coordinators and producers in the fields of social and cultural business, nongovernmental organisations or the public sector, etc.

Discipline leader

Michael Chan — Programme Leader, Senior Teaching Fellow, MArch, BA

Michael Chan

Michael Chan is an architect, the Management Council Member, and Project Leader of the Wu Zhi Qiao (Bridge to China) Charitable Foundation who work with the village development and improvement projects in China and Japan since 2003.

In the past 18 years, Michael has successfully completed over 23 projects, including 14 footbridges, 7 village centers, and a series of community enrichment projects in various provinces in China such as Sichuan, Chongqing, Xian, Yunnan. Lanzhou and Guizhou. Besides, Michael also buildup the village projects in Keihoku, Soni, Tango, and Nishijin, Japan since 2018

The project brings different university students to work closely with the professionals in conducting research, design, and construction projects with the remote villages located in different provinces in Mainland China and Japan. All projects were supported by the China and Japan governments.

The projects were worked by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Team with the students from School of Design and Faculty of Construction and Environment (Civil Engineering, Building Construction, and Land Survey).

Through encouraging university student volunteers from Hong Kong and Mainland China in design and build footbridges and village facilities in remote and poor villages in the Mainland with green concepts.


Teaching staff


Please click HERE for application details.