Singapore University of Social Sciences

Design Inquiry: Analysis and Synthesis

Design Inquiry: Analysis and Synthesis (DES541)


Design inquiry is foundational to creating offerings that are useful, usable, and desirable. Analysis and synthesis are two crucial activities in most design and design inquiry projects. During the sensemaking process, analysis is concerned with recognising patterns and generating insights, while synthesis uses the insights to inform the development of new offerings. Students will examine the major phases of the design process, including problem framing, use of appropriate frameworks, methods, and tools to plan, design, and execute studies for exploration, generation, and evaluation, collect and analyse data, generate insights, and synthesise findings. The outcome of the design inquiry allows designers to gain a deeper understanding of the design challenge and use the learning to inform the generation and evaluation of potential offerings. Note: This course addresses the key research concepts and skills needed for all the elective design studio courses in both the graduate certificate and graduate diploma in experience design programmes.

Level: 5
Credit Units: 5
Presentation Pattern: EVERY REGULAR SEMESTER


  • Importance of research to design
  • Design as inquiry: Conducting ethical research
  • Design research and research design
  • Planning and executing of a design inquiry
  • Research vs. design methods of inquiry
  • Methods for exploration and discovery
  • Methods for generation and prioritisation
  • Methods for experimentation and evaluation
  • Design and research analysis
  • Facts, findings, and Insights
  • Design and research synthesis
  • Design as communication and storytelling

Learning Outcome

  • Appraise the value of research in design practice and design education.
  • Examine the role of user research in different phases of the design process.
  • Evaluate qualitative and quantitative methods related to design research.
  • Propose appropriate methods of inquiry for a specific design project.
  • Formulate and execute an overall strategy for the exploratory, generative and evaluative studies with appropriate justification.
  • Collect relevant data for the exploratory, generative and evaluative studies using appropriate inquiry and design methods.
  • Organise learning from inquiries through appropriate analysis and synthesis for design insights to inform new design opportunities.
  • Prepare appropriate design documentation that captures and organises the design inquiry process, rationale and outcome.
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