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Speculative Design - TFT00068H

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  • Department: Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Debbie Maxwell
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

This module builds on your existing critical thinking and technical skills to consider design as a critical, provocative medium that can challenge societal values and norms through horror, humour and delight. You will learn how to respond to complex situations and global societal challenges through the lens of interactive media by employing critical design theories and methodologies. We will explore current and emerging theories and methodologies in the field and meet practitioners working on the cutting edge of speculative and critical design. We will examine diverse examples of design fiction and speculative design before developing your own prototypes individually and in groups during workshop sessions, adopting a visual and material approach to design.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

Module Aims:

  • To develop the ability to understand and respond to complex situations and global societal challenges through the lens of interactive media.
  • To provide an understanding of the theoretical and conceptual positioning of Speculative Design as it relates to technological, political, economic and social contexts.
  • To develop an awareness of the potential and roles for interactive media in critical and speculative design contexts.
  • To provide a creative forum for students to develop reflective, critical, digitally mediated artefacts that challenge assumptions, preconceptions and givens about contemporary life.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • Critique contemporary speculative and critical design artefacts
  • Design a speculative, critical design or design fiction concept
  • Develop and utilise technical skills to realise concept to working prototype stage
  • Design an appropriate format for exhibiting critical design prototypes
  • Demonstrate ability to navigate complex, uncertain problem spaces grounded in social, cultural and global awareness
  • Demonstrate ability to apply creative skills in designing and implementing speculative and critical design concepts
  • Demonstrate ability to consider wider audiences and select appropriate media to realise and showcase speculative design prototypes


Task Length % of module mark
Speculative design prototype, demo and 2500 word report
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Speculative design prototype, video demo and 2500 word report
N/A 100

Module feedback

You will receive individual oral feedback for the weekly design lab sessions, during the class.

You will receive written feedback on coursework assignments using a proforma identifying key requirements and marks awarded for sections of the assignment. This will be in line with standard University turnaround times.

Indicative reading

Indicative Books:

Dunne, A. and Raby, F. (2014). Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming. MIT Press.

Koskinen, I., and Zimmerman, J. (2011). Design Research Through Practice: From the Lab, Field, and Showroom. Morgan Kaufmann.

Tharp, B.M., and Tharp, S. M. (2018). Discursive Design: Critical, Speculative, and Alternative Things. MIT Press.

Yelavich, S. and Adams, B. eds., (2014). Design as Future-making. Bloomsbury Publishing.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.