Transitional Environments Design (MDes)

The transitional design approach is about transferring 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 responding to the unprecedented rural and urban changes that have occurred during the last few decades in Hong Kong and China. TED will develop a high level of 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 transferred into new design strategies and design interventions.

  • 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 Transitional Environments Design (TED) draws 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 environment and ecological design, this tailormade specialism regards design as a holistic and systemic perspective to wicked and entangled global and local problems following the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations.

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

Programme structure

The Master of Design (Transitional Environments Design) (TED) is structured by a combination of intensively taught short courses that directly support a workshop investigation. 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 tailor the experience to individual interests. The expectation is that the student is fully committed to the programme and works 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 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
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

Classes are normally held during daytime on weekdays. It normally takes 1 year to complete the specialism.

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, or urban and rural design or in a related discipline is required. Candidates with a bachelor's degree or equivalent in a related discipline, e.g. environmental studies, ecology, and urban studies, will also be considered. 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
  • 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 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 may apply to this programme as non-locals and will require a student visa to take this 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.