Design, Enterprise and Innovation MSci

Course overview

  • Course level
  • Course type
  • Duration
    4 years
  • Course options
    Optional placement year
  • UCAS code(s)
  • School
    Aston Business School, School of Engineering & Applied Science

Entry requirements

  • A level (2020 entry)
    BBC-CCC including a science or technical subject.
  • BTEC*
    DDM *See below for more details
  • International Baccalaureate Diploma
    29 overall points with 5, 5, 4 in Higher Level subjects including a science or technical subject at Level 5.
More information

Key dates

The only ‘Design and Entrepreneurship’ focused integrated master degree programme in West Midlands area, or even in the UK

Develop both the design and business skills necessary to thrive in the modern enterprise environment and set up your own enterprise

Optional placement year providing more opportunities for your future career

All assessments are practical and developmental, with a combination of coursework, case studies, and design projects and in class tests

Course summary

Launching in 2020, this new MSci Design, Enterprise and Innovation programme is designed for students interested in developing product design expertise alongside knowledge of business and enterprise development to take on design leadership and entrepreneurship roles in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. A 25% scholarship opportunity is available for 2020 entry.

Entry requirements and fees for 2020 entry

UCAS code: H7N1


£9,250 (£1,250 during placement year) for UK/EU students (2020/21)                       

TBC £19,400* for International students (2020/21)

*Tuition fees are reviewed annually and may increase in subsequent years in line with inflation linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI) to take account of the University’s increased costs of delivering the Programme. When undertaking a placement year a placement year fee applies.

Placement Year (TBC):

£1,250 for UK/EU students (2020/21)       

£2,500 for International Students (2020/21)       

More on fees

Please note:

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of an English language qualification. Find out more about our English language requirements. For more information about qualifications view our Aston in your future webpage.

All applicants will be invited to an Applicant Visit Day.

Typical offer level:

A levels 

BBC including a science or technical subject.
BCC including a science or technical subject (with an EPQ or Core Maths at grade B)
CCC including a science or technical subject (contextual offers and for DTUS applicants)

A Design, Art or Creative A Level is desired but not essential. (For those students who do not have formal qualifications in these subjects, a discretionary process where examples of work are provided can be arranged.) 

Science and technical subjects accepted include: Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Further Maths, Biology, Design Technology. Engineering Science and Electronics.


  • Extended Diploma and National Extended Diploma (science/ technical/ engineering types): DDM
  • National Diploma and Diploma (science/ technical/ engineering types): DM plus 1 A-level at minimum Grade B.
  • Foundation or 90 credits Diploma (science/ technical/ engineering types): DM plus 2 A-levels at minimum grade B
  • Foundation or 90 credits Diploma (any subject): DM plus 2 A-levels at minimum grade B including a science or technical subject.
  • National Extended Certificate or Subsidiary Diploma (science/ technical/ engineering types): M plus 2 A-levels at minimum Grade B.
  • National Extended Certificate or Subsidiary Diploma (any subject): M plus 2 A-levels at minimum Grade B including a science or technical subject.
  • Certificate/National Certificate Level 3: Not accepted

International Baccalaureate Diploma

29 overall points with 5, 5, 4 in Higher Level subjects including a science or technical subject at level 5.

Access to HE

A science or technical subject with at least 30 Distinctions and 15 merits at Level 3. 

Non-standard qualifications


Year 1 entry: We may consider applicants for year 1 entry who are undertaking a 1st year degree elsewhere. You must meet the GCSEs and A level (or equivalent) requirements as listed. In order to be considered you will need to submit a UCAS application as we do not accept direct applications and this must include an academic reference.

Year 2 entry: Please note that second year transfers are not part of the standard admissions process and is up to the discretion of the admissions team and tutor. Applications are only considered if there is space on that year of the programme. Typically, applicants for second year entry must meet the GCSEs and A level (or equivalent) requirements as listed. Alongside this you must have gained (or be expected to gain) 65% overall and 120 credits on an equivalent programme at another recognised university. The equivalency of the programme is reviewed by the Admissions Tutor and you will be required to provide an official copy of the programme specification of this. In order to be considered you will need to submit a UCAS application as we do not accept direct applications and this must include an academic reference.

Year 3: We will not be able to consider any application for Year 3 

The information contained on this website details the typical entry requirements for this course for the most commonly offered qualifications. Applicants with alternative qualifications may wish to enquire with the relevant admissions teams prior to application whether or not their qualifications are deemed acceptable. For less commonly encountered qualifications this will be judged on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the academic admissions tutor.

Scholarship Opportunity

It is hard to avoid awareness of plastic pollution throughout the world. With an estimated 8 million tonnes dumped into oceans every year, which chokes out wildlife, there is an urgent need to provide global solutions to this crisis. 

We're offering a 25% scholarship to a student who demonstrates that they have the potential to be entrepreneurial in the area of product design. The Product Design Enterprise Scholarship is a 25% reduction in tuition fees for 4 years. It is open to all qualified applicants for this new MSci undergraduate course. 

As a designer, it is your task to respond to this global challenge and create a product solution which can either: reduce the use of plastic packaging, use plastic waste in an innovative way to create new products, or provide solutions to take plastic waste out of rivers and oceans.

Your design should focus on one of these areas and be:

  • innovative
  • feasible
  • entrepreneurial

To apply for the scholarship, complete the form below and upload a short video (2-3 minutes) presenting a design idea that makes a positive impact on plastics use. The closing date for applications is 31 January 2020.

Find out more and apply here. 

Course outline

Entrepreneurship and design innovation are seen as fundamental aspects of UK economy. Creating value through design is a challenge that requires being organisational and business savvy as much as it requires talent, methods and skills.

You will learn about how design and management practices come together to benefit development, as well being enabled to start your own business. The programme delivered jointly by School of Engineering and Applied Science and Aston Business School will equip you with not only solid design skills but also enterprise development competence to take on design leadership and entrepreneurship roles in future

You will be supported by a wide networks of entrepreneurs, mentors and investors from local and national communities such as BSEEN, Birmingham Enterprise Community, Enterprise Nation and Centre for Growth throughout your study.

This programme allows you to get a Bachelors degree, a Masters degree and 1 year work experience all within just 4 years, which can normally take at least 5 years on a standard course.

As James Dyson and Steve Jobs (both of whom have a design background), are you ready to shape the future through design entrepreneurship?

This programme aims to:

  • Provide students with appropriately structured curricula, combining teaching and learning in theoretical design issues with practical skills training.
  • Provide an up-to-date and professionally focussed curriculum and offer students the opportunity to obtain relevant industrial experience by providing the option of a sandwich placement year.
  • Provide a grounding in the principles of design management in technology, manufacturing and concept development.
  • Develop the knowledge, skills, behaviours and attitudes that are necessary for the stimulation of design entrepreneurial activity.
  • Facilitate the activities and opportunities required to enable aspiring entrepreneurs to develop their fledging enterprises.
  • Further develop students’ specialist knowledge and build on their experience in order to enhance their entrepreneurial effectiveness in design expertise.
  • Produce capable graduates who have the product design expertise alongside knowledge of business and enterprise development to take on design leadership and entrepreneurship roles in career.
  • Develop the self-regulatory skills and motivation necessary to enable students to embrace the life-long learning and development of both themselves and others as a fundamental life skills.
Subject guide and modules

Design cannot create value without business. Design departments or design enterprises can achieve sustained success only if their organisational structures, business models and strategic choices are showing an awareness on the market and are fit for competing on continuous design and novel products and services. Designers who understand what enterprises and organisations are made of find it easier to contribute on strategical and tactical level, and develop their practice. Students from this new programme will gain knowledge on how to develop design from a business perspective, how to manage design from a managerial perspective, as well as prepare the students to start their own design related business.

The programme will be delivered jointly by the School of Engineering and Applied Science and Business School in 2020. In years 1 and 2, the students will study and work with the students from all Product Design programmes to equip themselves with solid design skills and a design-thinking mind-set. Students will be given the flexibility to change to BSc Product Design and Management Programme by the end of the second year. In years 3 and 4, the students will study and work closely with the students from the MSc and BSc Enterprise Development programme of Aston Business School to set up and run their own enterprises.

Year 1


  • Design & Experimentation 
  • Prototyping & Development 
  • Design Fundamentals 
  • Engineering Principles
  • Engineering Practice

Year 2


  • Design and Engineering for the User 
  • Design Studio
  • Digital Design Skills
  • Product Experience 
  • Product, Market and Intellectual Property
  • Design Management and Innovation*

*achieve satisfactory level in this module to progress to MSci level study 

Year P - Optional placement year

Year 3


  • Product Design Final Year Project 
  • Advanced Design Management and Innovation
  • Enterprise Creation
  • Creating and Leading High Performance Teams
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Year 4


  • Enterprise Management and Growth
  • High Performance Teams
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Challenge
Learning, teaching and assessment

This programme consists of core case studies and projects, and many of these are team-based and simulate product development in the working world. You will undertake individual and group projects throughout your studies. There are also opportunities to undertake projects that have industrial partners.

The programme encompasses lectures, tutorials, coaching, labs and directed study. Additional lectures and seminars provided by specialists from industry will support your learning.

You will be assessed by a combination of coursework, case studies, design projects and in class tests. At Enterprise Development stage (Years 3 and 4), all of the assessments are authentic, allowing you to demonstrate what you have achieved without having to endure the stress of revision and the challenges of memory recall in a crowded exam hall. All of your assessments will be practical and developmental.

Teaching staff

Dr Wei Liu

Programme Director for MSci Design, Enterprise and Innovation

Wei has a cross-disciplinary education and teaching background in design, engineering and management. She obtained degrees from industrial design and design strategy, and then a PhD in design management from the University of Cambridge. She was a visiting fellow at Harvard Business School to explore the design education in different areas. Previously she worked as a faculty member at Cambridge judge business school and had teaching experience in design schools in China, UK and Denmark. Her research and expertise are design management, design for (additive) advanced manufacturing, new product development management, product design innovation and entrepreneurship.

Mr Simon Finley

Associate Dean Learning and Teaching of Aston Business School

Following a career in accountancy with KPMG Simon retrained as a teacher. Having taught in secondary and private accountancy education Simon joined Aston in 2013. Although he began working in Aston’s accounting department his passion for innovation and disruption in the education sector soon found him leading the Business Schools online, vocational and executive education. Following a number of years studying the Finnish education system and training in their world renowned coaching methods Simon set up the University’s new suite of innovative enterprise programmes in 2018.

Miss Elaine Mackie

Lecturer in Product Design

Elaine joined Aston’s School of Engineering and Applied Science at the beginning of 2016, having previously been a Senior Lecturer in Automotive and Transport Design within the School of Art and Design at Coventry University. Prior to that she was a Senior Designer at Atkins Rail and Vehicle Designer at Interfleet Technology (which has been part of the SNC-Lavalin Group since 2011).

Dr Becky Mallaband

Senior Lecturer in Product Design

Becky is a lecturer in Product Design and has been based at Aston University, in the Mechanical Engineering and Design department since 2015, having previously been a Research Associate and Lecturer in the Loughborough Design School. Her research and expertise are in the area of User Centred Design and much of her research has been conducted in the Domestic Energy domain.  

Dr Timothy Whitehead

Lecturer in Product Design

Timothy joined Aston University is 2017 having previously been a programme leader of Digital Product Design at De Montfort University. He has previous experience as an industrial designer and works on research relating to the design of products for low income economies.

Dr Laura Leslie

Head of Mechanical Engineering and Design

Laura teaches on the CDIO modules and the first year Engineering Science module. Her research interests include Biomaterials and medical device testing, the interaction between artificial implants and the human body and Alternatives to animal testing.

Dr Gareth Thomson


Gareth joined Aston University in January 2009, having previously been the course director of the Mechanical Engineering course at the University of Dundee. In his time at Dundee he was involved in not only the Mechanical Engineering programme but also set up a joint Product Design degree with Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. Prior to this he was a researcher involved in laser applications at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

Dr Mark Prince

Senior Lecturer in Mechanical Design

Mark is a former Aston graduate with experience in mechanical design and analysis. His research interests are in ophthalmic and medical device development and he has experience in designing microsystems for biological structure interfacing, and exploiting vision technologies. Mark has expertise in 3D computer solid modelling, rapid prototyping and rapid manufacture, computer aided engineering, electronic/mechatronic design, and optical and contact microscopy and imaging techniques.

Mr Jon Hewitt

Visiting Teaching Fellow

As a practicing designer, Jon brings day to day experience from the commercial world into the learning environment at Aston. His work affords opportunities to design for differing consumer markets and demographics, working with varied sizes of company and studios globally. Jon's students benefit from this industry exposure in terms of learning approaches that are focussed on creating relevant, compelling and meaningful product experiences.


Studying this programme will give you access to excellent facilities to support your learning, assessments and experience. These faciltities include:

  • Design studio - an interactive space with Wacom tablets, surface modelling and Adobe Suite design software.
  • Model shop - which features laser and foam cutting equipment, silicone moulding and vacuum forming facilities and 3D printers.
  • State-of-the-art computing facilities, including CAD labs, numerically controlled machine tools, document production, and research.
  • Dedicated co-working space at Aston Business School for enterprise development.
Contact details

EAS Undergraduate Admissions Office

+44 (0)121 204 3400


Dr Wei Liu (School of Engineering and Applied Science, Programme Director)


Mr Simon Finley (Aston Business School)


"I’ve loved the opportunity for collaboration between students and staff. The placement year was also really valuable."

Alex Perkins
Strategic Technology Team, BAE Systems Central Technology Office and Founder of Sustain18, a design consultancy