Engineering Design Research Methodology | 7.5 ECTS | PhD Course

Engineering Design Research Methodology | 7.5 ECTS | PhD Course

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In today’s competitive business environment a significant competitive advantage is owned by those companies that are able to design and developed product and services better and fasters than the others. The increasing shift toward the provision of product service systems has created the need of a new way to design and developed things, taking into consideration aspects that were scarcely considered before. In such a context the traditional design method might be too limited to satisfy the evolving needs of designer and engineers. Design research is a fast-growing field of inquiry with significant importance in terms of helping society to create products and processes of improved quality and for enhancing the environment in which we live. The step-wise, hands-on approach of DRM studies the ways in which design research can best be undertaken to address specific questions. This study gives rise, for the first time, to a generic and systematic design research methodology intended to improve the quality of design research – its academic credibility, industrial significance and societal contribution – by enabling more thorough, efficient and effective procedures. This course focuses on how to study the design environment, how to understand what is needed, how to come up with ideas for improvement and how to evaluate such ideas. In other words it deal with how to do research in product service systems design.

Objectives of the course

The objective of the course is to prepare doctoral students researching and working on topics in the engineering design area to conduct research work of high scientific quality. The course will also:

  • give the students insights into existing design research theories and models in order to choose an appropriate theoretical background,
  • provide an overview of the methods applied in design research in order to enable the students to select and develop the approach most suited for their own research challenge,
  • give the opportunity to meet and confront with researchers working in the product and service systems design.


The contents of the course is structured into the following sections:

  • History and background of design research
  • Frame design research in the Scientific Method
  • How to define a research question and hypotheses
  • Literature Review methods and analysis
  • The Design Research Methodology: studies and support methods
  • Publishing academic results
  • Presenting academic results
  • Research ethics and code of conduct

Learning outcomes

The following learning outcomes are examined in the course:

  • Knowledge and understanding
    On completion of the course, the student will be able to:
    • Know how design research is carried out
    • Understand the nature and use of research theories
    • Understand the scientific relevance of published literature
  • Competence and skills
    On completion of the course, the student will be able to:
    • Choose suitable qualitative and quantitative methods in design research
    • Formulate research questions and hypotheses
    • Determine his/her own theoretical areas of contribution
    • Determine measurable success criteria for his/her research
    • Define a plan for his/her own research
  • Judgement and approach
    On completion of the course, the student will be able to:
    • Assess the of the validity of research done in engineering design
    • Reflect on ethical implications of research and publishing

Learning and teaching

The course consists of lectures, theoretical work and a practical course project. The course is taught in English. The course builds upon the Design Research Methodology. In the course the participant use the DRM to clarify and plan research, with the own research project as assignment base. Every student delivers three assignments (literature study, ARC diagram, and finally a research plan) that is presented and discussed with the peers in the course.

Assignment and grading

To pass on the course the following is required:

  • Assignment #1: Analysis of research questions and research hypothesis
  • Assignment #1b: Analysis of literature reviews
  • Assignment #2: Research Plan write-up including presentation

The examination consists of active participation in lectures and seminars, submission and presentation of a written assignment. Grading is Pass (G) or Fail (U). Course examiner is Professor Tobias C. Larsson, and after completion of the course the participant will receive a course certificate.

Course evaluation

The course responsible is responsible that the doctoral student have the opportunity to comment on the course.


Below is a list on some books and papers that can be seen as input for the course work. Access will be given to these books and papers, and complete reading list will be handed out at course start.

  • Core
  • Additional reading
    • Blessing, L.T.M., 2003, What is this thing called design research? DS 31: Proceedings of ICED 03, the 14th International Conference on Engineering Design, Stockholm.
    • Eckert, C. M.; Stacey, M. K. and Clarkson, P. J. (2003). The spiral of applied research: A methodological view on integrated design research. In: Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED’03), 19-21 August 2003, Stockholm, Sweden.

Course responsible

The main teachers are (other experts in the field will be involved and invited):

  • Professor Tobias C. Larsson, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Blekinge Institute of Technology.
  • Biträdande Professor Alessandro Bertoni, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Blekinge Institute of Technology.
  • Guest lecturers


Pending participants availability


Please apply through the kunskapförmedlingen website (PM4: Engineering Design Research Methodology #2—Kunskapsförmedlingen (


For more information, please contact; Tobias C. Larsson (course examiner) Professor Mechanical Engineering, Blekinge Institute of Technology, +46 (0)455 38 55 25, or Alessandro Bertoni, Biträdande Professor Mechanical Enginerign,  Blekinge Institute of Technology,

Categories: Education, Research