Professional Diploma in Service Design

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Blended, 3hr sessions (Sept to May)


20 credits




20th September

What is this course about?

Service designers create solutions for complex systemic and societal challenges, developing experiences that address the needs of a diverse range of stakeholders. The Professional Diploma teaches the application of design methods, tools and thinking to sectors such as healthcare, technology, finance, transportation and education.


A range of Exit awards have been designed into each offering to reflect diverse learner needs. The programme actively facilitates mobility within the college and across Creative Futures Academy and provides articulation into a variety of postgraduate programmes and career pathways.
Completion of 5 credits = Exit Award: Professional Certificate – Service Design
Completion of 20 credits = Exit Award: Professional Diploma – Service Design

What to expect?

The programme seeks to empower students from fields such as design, business, sociology, systems thinking, education, banking, technology and the public sector to shape the services of the future through design thinking and doing. The global service economy is growing rapidly and accounts for more than 70% employment in all OECD countries, presenting exciting possibilities for design. Through a series of live projects, students will engage with complex economic, technological, political and social issues, creating new service solutions that revolutionise everyday experiences.


Service Design is increasingly recognised as a vital skillset to help address the challenges of the new experience economy, and the course seeks to meet the new demands of industry and wider society. Projects, activities and workshops will expand on methods and principles from human-centred design and design thinking, applying these to the development and delivery of new consumer and public services, transforming user experiences.


The programme encourages participants to integrate research, creative practice and contemporary methods, theory and contexts.


The modules seek to prepare students with the practical and theoretical means to develop contemporary service design practice and theory within a specialist award, while benefitting from a broader interdisciplinary creative discourse and community of practice.


Successive modules allow participants to develop their specialist practice, their professional, technical and organisational skills and their knowledge and application of critical contexts to:


  • EXPAND creative thinking to support a change of perspective across and beyond the sector.
  • CONNECT with social and cultural change to create impact.
  • BUILD sustainable communities of interest that grow without discipline.
  • INCUBATE agile creative practitioners, businesses and organisations that can change the social, cultural and economic worlds.
  • POSITION change from a communication and content led place.
  • ALIGN learning and teaching to a change-led view of the world, society, economies and sectors in and beyond Ireland.
  • ENGAGE with emerging technology, tools and practices to create continual change in the creative sector.

The programme aims to:

  • provide participants with appropriate skills and knowledge that can be applied to their professional development as a creative practitioner;
  • develop participant’s knowledge and skills to prepare them for further life-long learning;
  • assist participants in developing their own practice in relation to contemporary creative practice and discourse.

Opportunities to Engage

The Professional Diploma provides the opportunity for students to engage in an inter-disciplinary educational experience, working alongside postgraduate students from across the School of Design, including the MSc Medical Device Design and MA Interaction Design.  We encourage our students to explore contemporary themes that connect all the design disciplines.  Building on the knowledge and skills developed at undergraduate level and professional practice, students encounter new contexts in which to develop their skillsets and deepen their knowledge of design through a range of interdisciplinary projects, before undertaking a major project within their chosen design discipline.


Students will have the opportunity to pursue a project of their choice in Trimester 2. This project could be related to a service design opportunity in a student’s current place of work, a personal interest, or as a response to a brief negotiation with a mentor/project partner.

Future Careers

We encourage our students to experiment and take risks in order to carve new understandings of design and make technical innovations within, and across Service Design. Graduates have gone on to secure positions in the fields of Service Design, UX, Experience Design, CX and Strategic Design.


In challenging the purpose, methods and ambitions of contemporary service design practice and research, students will identify opportunities and develop their own creative careers.

Indicative Timetable

The Professional Diploma in Service Design will be delivered across 2 trimesters (Sept to May), at a rate of 10 credits per trimester.


In Trimester 1 it will require a commitment of 6 x 3 hours sessions plus a one week-long in-person design sprint.


In Trimester 2 the commitment will be 12 x 3 hour sessions.


The programme will be delivered in a blended format – this is to afford the student cohort the convenience of online learning, and the opportunity to also connect and collaborate together in-person.

Entry Requirements

Educational Standard

All applicants are expected to present an approved Bachelor degree at minimum level of 2nd class honours (2.2)

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)  – Applicants who do not meet the minimum academic entry requirements for admission may be considered on the basis of a recognition of previous  learning  whether based on prior relevant experience or other relevant credited or non credited or learning (RPL). In such cases each applicant will be considered on a case-by-case basis based on a review of the applicant’s CV and other supporting documentation.
Please contact for further information.
Qualifying Examination –  In certain cases the academic team may choose to set a qualifying assignment in order to assess an applicant’s suitability for admission.

Candidates may be required to pass a qualifying examination set by the relevant department before being accepted to a Masters degree programme. Attendance at selected undergraduate lecture courses at NCAD, together with related written work may be prescribed.

You may apply for the programme if you are currently completing your Undergraduate Degree. NCAD will review the rest of your application If necessary, we can make you a Conditional Offer. When your degree is completed and you send us final transcripts we will upgrade this to a Full Offer.

Applicants who have not been educated through English must show proof of achieving IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6 in the writing section on the Academic Version) or an equivalent score in another accepted test.

Essential Supporting Documentation

  • A statement framing your reasons for applying to the programme, i.e. how attending the above selected course will benefit you and your practice  (500 words)
  • A recent CV
  • Certified transcripts of previous programmes followed
  • Certified copies of degree/ certificates and/or other appropriate third level qualifications bearing the official stamp of the institution.
  • Reference 1 (Academic – Head of School/Department preferred)*
  • Reference 2 (Tutor or Current/Recent Employer)
    • Some referees prefer to submit the reference directly to the college. If this is the case, please instruct your referee to email a standard reference to Please make sure all references contain the letterhead and the institution contact email address for the referee.

Find out more HERE

Watch: Service Design Information Webinar

Fees and how to apply

There is no application fee for the Programme.

The programme is €2,200.

For information on tuition fees please follow this link.

Contact the course leader:
Dr Caoimhe McMahon,


Teaching Staff from NCAD School of Design as well as visiting Lecturers including

  • Hazel White – Open Change
  • John Lynch – Context Studio
  • Sinem Lacin – Pfizer
  • Lynsey Duncan – Intercom
  • David Cooke – Newswhip
  • Tim Macartur – Novartis
  • Dhruv Sharma – Scottish Government
  • Anne Dhir – Sparck
  • Filip Szymczak – Optum

Contact NCAD Admissions


CFA and Kilkenny Arts Office Bursaries:

Kilkenny Arts Office has joined forces with CFA to offer bursaries this Autumn to Kilkenny based artists seeking to gain new qualifications and skills to expand their practice. The bursaries range from €500 to a maximum of €2,000. Find out more HERE

CFA and CCI Skillnet Collaboration:

Creative Futures Academy is delighted to collaborate with Cultural & Creative Industries Skillnet to offer a special partnership rate for a range of upcoming courses. This support means we can offer a partnership fee to successful applicants (employed / freelance / sole traders that are ROI residents)

Details and application information is available HERE


CFA Scholarship

A CFA scholarship encourages the participation of learners from sections of society that are significantly under-represented in higher education by offering one free place on all of our CFA short courses.

Find Out More
Register Interest