You are viewing information for England.  Change country.

Innovation: designing for change

Innovations emerge from complex, dynamic, iterative processes. But how do designers, engineers, entrepreneurs, managers and users create opportunities and generate ideas for innovation? How are ideas developed into successful products, services and systems? What are the impacts of design and innovation? This online module uses a range of contemporary case studies to explore such questions. Its concerns go beyond innovation for commercial advantage to consider how, through responsible design, innovation can contribute to the development of a more sustainable future. The module includes a design and innovation project in which you will identify and research a problem, and develop your own solution.

What you will study

Central to the module is a project which will give you the opportunity to apply some of the concepts and methods that you will learn.

The module is structured into two parts, each made of up of three blocks that explore different aspects of innovation.

In Part 1 you’ll focus on how opportunities and ideas for innovation are created.

Next, in Part 2 you’ll consider how ideas for innovation are implemented and may result in widespread adoption. You’ll begin working on your project in this second part of the module.

The study material, which is delivered online, makes extensive use of a range of media and resources to support your learning.

Part 1 – Creating ideas and opportunities for innovation

Block 1: Exploring innovation sets the scene for the whole module. This block presents a number of case studies, including mobile phones and racing bikes, which introduce you to the design and innovation process, its outputs as product, service or system innovations, and its impacts. A model, which is used throughout the module to enable you to understand the design and innovation process, is presented at the end of this block.

Block 2: Sustainable innovation focuses on how design and innovation can address major challenges such as climate change and how the relationships between products, people and context offer opportunities to design things differently. This block will help you critically evaluate design and innovation practices and to integrate social, technical and environmental knowledge in design thinking.

Block 3: Visions for change considers the role of visions of change in creating and promoting opportunities and ideas for design and innovation. It introduces approaches and tools that you can use to help develop visions of change. The block ends with a discussion of responsibilities and ethics of design and innovation.

Part 2 – Implementing ideas for widespread adoption

Block 4: Innovation projects: working for change focuses on the practice of designing product, system, and service innovations. You will learn how to undertake a design and innovation project and develop a design brief from your own ideas. This block will help you to select, use and evaluate a range of tools and methods to help with your design and innovation project.

Block 5: Creating concepts: places for people explores the processes and outcomes that contribute to the making of sustainable homes and built environments to show how design specifications and concepts are developed as part of the innovation process. It will equip you with the design thinking skills and tools to help you further develop your project.

Block 6: Implementing innovation: transport futures draws on case studies of projects in the area of transport and mobility to show how the details of an innovative product, service or system are developed. This block considers how the case for the implementation of these innovations is made and presents tools to assist in this process and help you to plan how your project might be advanced beyond the module.

If you are considering progressing to The engineering project (T452), this is one of the OU level 3 modules on which you could base your project topic. Normally, you should have completed one of these OU level 3 modules (or be currently studying one) before registering for the project module.

Entry requirements

This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from previous studies at OU levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject.

This interdisciplinary module is designed to be suitable for students with a wide range of interests – arts, design, engineering, the environment or business – whether you have a technical background or not.

You will need to be confident studying online as all the study materials for this module are delivered online via the module website.

There are no prerequisites for this module, although if you choose to study it on a standalone basis it would be useful to have studied the OU level 2 module Design essentials (T217).

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please speak to an adviser.

What's included

All the study materials for this module are presented online – there are no printed study materials.

They are available from the module website, and include:

  • Module Guide
  • Accessibility Guide
  • video and other multimedia
  • OpenDesignStudio – the online design studio for this module
  • software downloads including the CES EduPack materials database and CompendiumDS (a tool that facilitates the mapping of ideas).
  • other formats such as ebooks in EPUB and .mobi format for some tablets.

You will need

To study the module and complete the activities you will need a digital camera – 2 megapixel or greater – to take photos of your work.

Although not essential to study this module, you might also find it desirable to have access to the following:

  • a scanner e.g. to bring sketches onto your computer
  • a video camera.

The CES materials database used on this module needs to be run using Windows, which can include Windows on an Apple Mac computer. There are online alternative resources you can use if you have a Mac without an available Windows system.

Computing requirements

A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a desktop or laptop computer with Windows 7 or higher.

The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

To participate in our online discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will provide advice and guidance, help you with the study materials, and mark and comment on your work.

Tuition will take place across a range of media: there are both face-to-face and online group tutorials, as well as two day schools. As a rough guide, fifty per cent of tutor support will be online, with fifty per cent being face to face. You are strongly encouraged to attend as many tutorial opportunities as you can.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

You must also submit the end-of-module assessment (EMA) online.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying T317 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Innovation: designing for change (T317) starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2021.

Course work includes:

5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Student Reviews

See what other students thought.

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.