Transitional Environments Design (MDes)

The transitional design approach is about transforming an understanding of the socio-cultural dynamics into new design strategies and design interventions.


The Master of Design (Transitional Environments Design) (TED) is a specialism developed in response to the unprecedented rural and urban changes that have occurred during the last few decades in Hong Kong and Mainland China. TED aims to develop students' intellectual and practical mastery of the analysis and design of diverse rural and urban environments in the region, with broader implications for global contexts. The approach of this specialism is based on an understanding of the socio-cultural dynamics of the regional context, transformed into new design strategies and design interventions.

  • 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 Transitional Environments Design (TED) specialism focuses on the contemporary Hong Kong/Chinese rural and urban experience in the context of the Greater Bay Area. It offers a unique postgraduate education in rural and urban space design.

Also: Employers of MDes Graduates


In line with the School's critical approach to environmental and ecological design, this tailormade specialism regards design as a holistic and systemic perspective on wicked and entangled global and local problems, following the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations.

Design as a holistic and systemic perspective on wicked and entangled global and local problems, following the Sustainable Development Goals.

Programme structure

The TED comprises a combination of intensively taught short courses that directly support workshop investigation. The studios and workshops take various forms, from individual work to teamwork, and from self-initiated to externally sponsored projects. A range of elective subjects are available to enable students to tailor the experience to their individual interests. Students are expected to be fully committed to the programme and to work well in the studio environment. The specialism concludes with a Capstone Project that unites research, creative exploration, user understanding and prototype testing to provide a solution.

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
SD5716 Regenerative Ecosystems Design (3)
SD5717 Territories, Societies, and Spatial Complexes (3)

Interdisciplinary Studio / Project subjects
SD5738 Urban Systems and Strategies (3)
SD5739 TED 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

Laurent Gutierrez — Professor, PhD, MArch, BArch, PgD, BT, BTS

Laurent Gutierrez

Prof. Laurent Gutierrez is Professor and Specialism Leader of TED's predecessor, Urban Environments Design (MDes). His research interest focuses on the relation between bodies and territories, which includes an array of topics, such as geographic navigations of both real and imaginary territories, the limit of visibility and invisibility, atmospheric conditions, reference to Walter Benjamin's concept of phantasmagoria or the spectacle of making ghosts come alive, using mapping and the development of fictions as the primary mode of investigation. He received his PhD degree from RMIT and studied the processes of modernisation and urbanisation in the Pearl River Delta region.

Gerhard Bruyns — Associate Professor, PhD, MSc, BArch

Gerhard Bruyns

Dr. ir. Gerhard Bruyns is an architect and urbanist. Gerhard is Associate Professor at PolyU School of Design, Discipline Leader of the Environment and Interior Design (BA) programme and Convenor of the PhD programme. His area of expertise in urban environments design includes morphology, geopolitical questions, spatial topographies, radical urbanisation, urban and spatial militarisation, policy, planning, urban design and composition, post-segregated spatial landscapes.

Teaching staff


Entrance requirement

A Bachelor's degree or equivalent in spatial design, architecture, landscape design, or urban and rural design, or a related discipline is required. Candidates with a Bachelor's degree or equivalent in a related discipline, e.g. environmental studies, ecology, or urban studies, will also be considered. 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 email at or by phone +852 3400 3440.