Diploma in Design (N12)

Why DES?

  • The only poly diploma that gives you the chance to specialise in Architecture or Product Innovation 
  • Design for good – master our unique human-centred design methodology to create designs that impact lives & communities   
  • Exciting internships at innovative start-ups or leading multinationals, industry-sponsored projects, masterclasses and workshops by award-winning lecturers and overseas universities, competitions and hackathons
  • A design school with soul and character, inspiring a culture of passion and engagement in learning  

About DES

More than ever, design is shaping the future. Designers play a key role in developing solutions for the many challenges we face today. From architecture to products, and experiences to processes, the designer helps create a better world. In the Diploma in Design (DES) – the only poly diploma with specialisations in Architecture and Product Innovation – you will be trained for creative careers in diverse sectors. 

DES will train you to be a next-gen designer with a curriculum that is infused with the latest technologies, and focuses on new economy skills such as data visualisation and user experience/interface (UX/UI) design. Gain exposure to emerging technologies such as Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence for digital design, as you hone your skills in digital fabrication, 3D printing, digital prototyping & visualisation, data analytics, machine learning and more. What’s more, you will acquire professional certifications in sought-after skills.
As green design innovation gains momentum, our close ties with industry open up opportunities for you to apply your skills to the design of sustainable solutions through a wide range of hands-on activities that include hackathons and industry-sponsored projects. Throughout your 3 years, you will get to engage in real-world learning that equips you with career-ready skills. 

Also, gain access to various activities that celebrate architectural design and the built environment through our partnership with the Singapore Institute of Architects. You will also get to attend masterclasses and workshops delivered by award-winning faculty.

Our unique human-centred design methodology and participatory design modules will also give you opportunities to impact lives as you work on meaningful projects that benefit the community. From redesigning public spaces, upcycling furniture, to proposing concepts for sustainable living, let the world experience the benefits of good design! 

As a design school with a relatively smaller cohort size, we are rich in soul and character. Here at DES, we live design, and inspire you to design for good. Our team of caring and award-winning lecturers will mentor you in this exciting journey to create a better world through design. 

Choose from our flexible and multiple learning pathways ranging from 3- to 6-month internships followed by final-year projects with different types of companies, including reputable architecture firms, design consultancies, well-known non-governmental organisations, established banks and innovative start-ups.

Inspiring Portfolio

Our signature programmes and holistic approach will help you build a winning portfolio with a range of industry-standard design and architectural projects. Here are some examples of outstanding works by DES students.

Upcycled: Giving new life to discarded furniture

Upcycled: Giving new life to discarded furniture 

In a collaboration with one of Singapore’s leading furniture store, Scanteak, and Choa Chu Kang Town Council, DES students put their design and entrepreneurship skills to good use when they upcycled nearly 1,000 kg of discarded furniture from Choa Chu Kang residents into 35 pieces of commercial furniture. The curated collection of designs was displayed for sale at Scanteak’s showroom and the Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre in March 2022 and attracted rave reviews.

Further Studies

As a DES graduate, you will enjoy advanced standing from many related courses in local universities. Some related degree courses include: 

  • Nanyang Technological University 
    • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Product Design 
    • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design Art
  • National University of Singapore 
    • Bachelor of Arts in Architecture 
    • Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Design 
  • LASALLE College of the Arts 
    • Bachelor of Arts (Interior Design) 
    • Bachelor of Arts (Product Design)
    • Bachelor of Arts (Design Communication) 
  • Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts 
    • Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Design Practice
Russell Chew

Russell Chew
Product & Design (PDI)* Innovation graduate, Class of 2011

An industrial design graduate from NUS, Russell is currently a Design Lead for Experience Strategy & Product Design at IBM Consulting. He has created brand-centric customer experiences for global companies such as Shiseido, Mercedes-Benz, DHL and DFS. 

*Renamed the Diploma in Design

Careers

With design-related career opportunities set to grow in the future, DES graduates can look forward to exciting roles in both design and non-design sectors. Yes, design has become so fundamental that many non-design companies are hiring design-trained professionals!

These positions include: 

  • 3D Visualiser 
  • Architectural Coordinator 
  • Architectural Designer 
  • Architectural Technologist 
  • BIM Coordinator 
  • BIM Manager 
  • Construction Management Coordinator 
  • Design Researcher 
  • Facilities Management Coordinator 
  • Furniture Designer 
  • Graphic Designer 
  • Packaging Designer 
  • Product/Industrial Designer 
  • Project Coordinator 
  • Project Manager 
  • Real Estate Executive 
  • Spatial Designer 
  • Urban Design/Planning Assistant 
  • User Experience & Interface Designer
Gavin Low

Gavin Low 
Sustainable Urban Design & Engineering (SDE)* graduate, Class of 2013

Completed a Masters of Architecture at NUS. Currently a management executive at CapitaLand Limited Vietnam. 

*Renamed the Diploma in Design

Samuel Lim

Samuel Lim
Product & Design (PDI)* Innovation graduate, Class of 2010

Apart from being a Senior Architect at Exyte Singapore, Samuel also runs Mu Lin Design Studio, which specialises in architectural and interior visualisation.

*Renamed the Diploma in Design

Shaina Tan

Shaina Tan
Product & Design (PDI)* Innovation graduate, Class of 2015

Shaina is currently a UX Designer at GovTech Singapore. She attained a Bachelor of Arts in Design and Visual Communication at Goldsmiths’ College, University of London on a scholarship and graduated top of her cohort with First Class Honours in 2019.  

*Renamed the Diploma in Design

Entry Requirements

AGGREGATE TYPE ELR2B2-D

To be eligible for consideration, candidates must have the following GCE ‘O’ Level examination (or equivalent) results.

Subject'O' Level Grade
English Language1-7
Mathematics (Elementary/Additional)1-6
Any two other subjects1-6

You must also have sat for one subject listed in the 2nd group of relevant subjects for the ELR2B2-D Aggregate Type listed here (  33KB). This subject will be used for ELR2B2-D aggregate computation.

For students with other qualifications, please refer to the NP website for the entry requirements and admissions exercise period.

Candidates with severe vision deficiency should not apply for the course.

What You Will Learn

DE Experience

This module is a week-long intense exposure to the aspects of Design, Sustainability and Technology in the Design and Built Environment industries. Students will gain an understanding to the fundamentals of sustainability and the application of technology using Human Centric Design methodology to propose solutions to the sustainability challenges. Students will have the opportunity to collaborate with other DE students from different courses and this will allow them to understand the common sustainability goals and challenges in the Design & Built Environment industries.



History & Principles of Design

This module provides students a deeper understanding of how design theory and history have been formulated worldwide in relation to the development of modern society. The module provides students with a historical perspective of design against the backdrop of developments in culture, art and technology.

Students will learn about design movements and iconic design works. The module also covers elements and principles of design such as points, lines, planes, textures and space and the concepts of balance, proportion, symmetry, and contrast etc. Theory of functionality of design and principles of culture, timeline, art/architecture/design movements will be covered.


Design Foundation Studio

In a design studio-based learning environment, this module facilitates the development of critical thinking and fundamental design principles relating to industrial/product and architectural designs. Understanding of Design provides a platform for issues to be addressed including design fundamentals, design process, scale, proportion through design exploration using drawing platform like sketching & rendering.

Students will learn to articulate design ideas and translate them into proposals and material investigations through design primers, design challenges and workshops. Fundamental spatial explorations, particularly focused on general understandings of scale, proportion and composition using tools of representations in both 2D and 3D.

Knowledge and Skills learnt in Fundamentals of Drawing, Model Making, History & Principles of Design and Computer Aided Design 1 will be applied into Design Foundation Studio projects.


Fundamentals of Drawing

This module equips students with important skills in visual thinking, design visualisation, freehand design sketching and rendering for design. The emphasis on hands-on practice enhances students’ creative thinking abilities from basic lines and curves to two-dimensional (2D) sketches and thumbnails, and then to digital three-dimensional (3D) perspective sketches.


Computer Aided Design 1

This module provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to understand and prepare two-dimensional Computer Aided Design (CAD) using AutoCAD student educational version of the software for Architectural, Engineering and Construction (AEC) drawings. Students will be exposed to the various drawings tools using the software and understand the various drawing conventions and standard to prepare technical and construction drawings for Architectural and Product Design projects.


Model Making

This module provides students with the knowledge and skills of model making as a mean of design exploration as well as design presentation for architecture or product design prototyping. Students will be exposed to various processes, techniques and materials used in model making. Students will learn to make 3D models using hands-on skills and techniques in the workshop and also learn to about advanced model making techniques such as 3D printing and laser cutting. Students are required to apply and incorporate their model making knowledge and skills to their design projects.

Design Studio 2 (UX & Spatial Design)

This module equips students with an experiential and spatial understanding of spatial context with respect to basic anthropometry, ergonomics and contextual response to specific programs. An understanding will be built of form, space and order that defines design. This module facilitates the development of critical thinking to formulate design ideas that cover the basic tenets of User Experience (UX) which includes spatial planning, ergonomics, customer journey map, user personas etc. Students will learn how to apply and integrate their creativity, knowledge and skills on a project from design process to design development in the context of enhancing user experience. A series of studio design studies and exercise will prepare students to address design approaches from industrial to small architectural design.


Computer Aided Design 2

This module builds upon the Computer Aided Design 1 module which focuses on 2D drawings. Students will be introduced to 3D modelling in this module. Students will learn to model objects in 3D using RHINO software. Topics include toolbar layout, view ports setting, 2D & 3D curve creation and continuity, 3D solid modelling, 3D surface creation and continuity, construction plane, dimensioning, colour & layer etc. Students’ learning is enhanced through hands-on exercises.


Design Communication 1

This module equips students with a fundamental set of skills for technical presentation, visual representation and conceptual communication in the field of spatial/product design. Students will begin to cultivate a heightened sensitivity to the surrounding through design communication. It explores how design is presented through the use of various modes of design and presentation techniques using digital media, which are essential tools for designers to effectively present their ideas.

Basic Graphic Design Principles and Elements, Grid Systems and Typography will be taught to give students the foundation of a good visual presentation of their product. Software such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator will be introduced to help students acquire the essential skills in executing their visual presentation and communicating their design in an appealing and effective manner. The module culminates in projects which requires the students to hone their design presentation skills, which is also valuable in areas of spatial/product design.


Career & Professional Preparation 1

This module helps to give students a foundational introduction to their three-year diploma course curriculum and how it prepares them for industry. It will help them to embark on their three-year course with the end in mind, through guided reflection of their personal characteristics, and producing an overall game plan for their future education and career goals. The module aims to deepen students’ commitment to the sector that the course prepares them for.

ARCHITECTURE SPECIALISATION

History & Theory of Architecture (60 hours)

This module introduces students to fundamental knowledge of basic structure, natural architectural materials and simple construction techniques. Focus topics include anthropometry, accessibility, IEQ (Indoor Environmental Quality) and basic passive design strategies. Students will be required to apply their knowledge through the analysis of small scale buildings as well as their design projects, and to detail them in a meaningful manner.


Architectural Materials & Technology 1 (45 hours)

This module introduces students to fundamental knowledge of basic structure, natural architectural materials and simple construction techniques. Focus topics include anthropometry, accessibility, IEQ (Indoor Environmental Quality) and basic passive design strategies. Students will be required to apply their knowledge through the analysis of small scale buildings as well as their design projects, and to detail them in a meaningful manner.

Computer Aided Design 3 (45 hours)

This module builds upon the Computer Aided Design 2 and Design Communication 1 modules which focuses on fundamental set of skills for technical presentation, visual representation and conceptual communication. Students are introduced to advanced skills in 3D Modeling for architecture using BIM software such as Autodesk Revit for Architecture. Students will gain an understanding of BIM processes as well as equip students with the relevant and fundamental 3D Modeling skills to start a project using BIM.

Career and Professional Preparation II (30 hours)

This module equips students with skills necessary to seek and secure work. They will also be equipped to communicate their personal brand in a positive way. As students sharpen their communication skills, they will also learn how to market themselves effectively. Students must be able to produce a resume, a digital portfolio, an elevator pitch and have gone through at least one mock interview.


PRODUCT INNOVATION SPECIALIZATION

Design Studio 3 (Research)

This module allows students to apply various Data Analytics methodologies and techniques through design sprints in studio-based projects. Students will Blend Design thinking and Data analytic tools to understand, analyse and uncover market trends and patterns that will lead them to drawing hypothesis and synthesizing well-informed problem statements that will influence the creation of design solutions that are consumer centric.

Knowledge and Skills learnt in Data Analytics for Design, Design Communication 2 and Computer Aided Design 3 will be applied into Design Studio 3 projects.


Data Analytics for Design

This module aims to equip students with critical thinking, problem solving, analytical and decision-making skills. Students will be introduced to fundamental knowledge and tools in data analytics in the context of design research. Students will learn various tools (such as Tableu/PowerBI) to effectively aid them in data collection, analysis and synthesis of data, uncovering data patterns and drawing hypothesis or conclusion.

Students will also learn how to effectively visualise and present data to the targeted stakeholders through data collection and visualisation tools.

Students will apply what they have learnt in this module to Design Studio 3 (Research) into a collaborative project.



Design Communication 2

This module introduces students to image-based communication – image as language, and visual personality. Students will explore visual literacy and design principles through graphic, illustration and photographic-based image-making. Emphasis will be placed on building a foundation for strategic thinking, exploration, experimentation and self-discovery when creating or working with images and designs for different contexts. Building the capacity to communicate information effectively through words, image and graphic compositions.

Students will learn to branding and packaging design. They will discover the structure and strategies of developing a successful brand statement and explore forms, structures, materials, colour, imagery, typography and regulatory information to make a product ready for marketing. Adobe InDesign will also be introduced to help students acquire the skills in executing their visual presentation and communicating their design in an appealing and effective manner.


Computer Aided Design 3

This module aims at equipping students with the fundamental skills in using a computer-aided design (CAD) tool to produce three-dimensional (3D) solid models, as well as two-dimensional (2D) engineering or detailed drawings using various 3D softwares such as CREO/Fusion 360. Topics include 3D modelling, 2D drawing, orthographic projection, sectioning, dimensioning, limits and fits, linear tolerancing, Geometrical Dimensioning & Tolerancing (GD&T) and parts assembly. Students will also learn the fundamentals, conventions and practices of engineering drawing based on the International Standards Organization (ISO) guidelines. If time permits, sheet metal modelling, mechanism application, simple surface modelling and CAD files transfer from CREO/Fusion 360 to other CAD software will be introduced.

Students will apply what they have learnt in this module to Design Studio 3 (Research) into a collaborative project.


Career and Professional Preparation II

The module prepares students to write effective cover letters and resumes. Preparation and enhancement of portfolio to meet professional standard as well as development of presentation skills, and improvement of job-seeking techniques will also be covered in the module.

ARCHITECTURE SPECIALISATION

Design Studio 4 (Design for Manufacturing & Assembly 1) (120 Hours)

This module further enhances the competency level of the skills developed in the Design Studio 3 module. The students will advance in the learning of design exploration with emphasis on modularity and pre-fabrication technology, adapted and suited for natural and urban contexts.

Students begin by exploring forms and structure and how they are further informed through contextual, physical, social and cultural considerations. They will also apply conceptual thinking in the formulation of design narratives as well as derive spatial programming based on the understanding of the client, users and design brief.

Through the studio project, students will develop critical design solutions with compliance to statutory requirements and design considerations for manufacturing & assembly of holistic architectural design for small to medium scale architectures.


Architectural Materials & Technology 2 (45 Hours)

This module expands students’ knowledge of architectural materials and building technology using large-scale structure, more advanced construction techniques and processed architectural materials.

Focus topics consist of basic DfMA (design for manufacturing and assembly), prefabrication construction technique, Green Building Design and the related Green Mark schemes. Students are required to apply their knowledge through the analysis of medium to large scale buildings as well as their design projects, and to detail them in a meaningful manner.


Building & Environmental Systems (45 Hours)

This module introduces students to basic building services and their impact on architecture and the environment.

Students learn the local codes and practices on mechanical services, electrical supply, air-conditioning, fire-fighting provision, drainage, waste management and sewerage. Students will also be introduced to renewable energy, building services used in Green Building Design and the related Green Mark schemes.

Supplemented with green building performance analysis software, site visits and case studies of exemplary Green Mark buildings, students are required to apply their knowledge and incorporate the relevant building services to their carbon-neutral architectural design project.


Computer Aided Design 4 (45 Hours)

This module builds upon the Computer Aided Design 3 module which focuses on 3D Modeling and starting a project using BIM, the students are introduced to advance BIM Modeling tools and processes.

Students will explore advance 3D Modeling for family creation, building simulation and analysis and parametric design. Software such as advance 3D rendering and Adobe Creative Suite will also be introduced to the students to harness the techniques of 3D visualisation and visual storytelling in one’s creative design process, and seamlessly integrate these outputs into compelling presentations and portfolio of works.




PRODUCT INNOVATION SPECIALISATION

Design Studio 4 (Design Entrepreneurship)

This module prepares students to undertake individual projects with the aim to design, make and market a range of design solutions that must be commercially viable.

With commercialization as the main focus, students are required to identify a business opportunity and craft their own design brief to develop human-centered innovations through service, product or experience.
At the end of this module, students will be able to pitch a brand strategy that includes cost analysis and cost plan. Along with their design proposals, students are required to implement their strategies via different media such as the use of materials, part drawings, production methods, marketing/e-commerce platforms and packaging. Design Entrepreneurs will be invited to share and give advice during pitching sessions.

Knowledge and Skills learnt in Design Development, Entrepreneurship and Marketing and Aesthetics & Ergonomics will be applied into Design Studio 3 projects.



Design Development

This module focuses on the understanding and applications of materials and manufacturing processes that would influence the development of products and experiences. As part of design development, students will be exposed to digital fabrication and rapid prototyping tools and technology such as 3D printing and laser cutting. Students will also be required to consider different methods of designing parts/components in a product and understand how it would influence the form, function and cost of the design solution.

Students will apply what they have learnt in this module to Design Studio 4 (Design Entrepreneurship) into a collaborative project.



Entrepreneurship & Marketing

This module introduces the business of design and entrepreneurship within the realm of product design and development. Students will learn to combine traditional business strategies with design thinking methodologies to develop new initiatives and design financially viable businesses. Learning from case studies, students can adapt from best practices, learn to develop quick prototypes to test and iterate business concepts, create value proposition into commercially viable enterprise. Students will learn the important connection between product design & development with other functions in a business organization, marketing strategies, e-commerce, and social media marketing. Topics include types of business environment, general management functions and characteristics, design management, project/product manager role, marketing process, business plan and project management etc.

Students will apply what they have learnt in this module to Design Studio 4 (Design Entrepreneurship) into a collaborative project.



Aesthetics & Ergonomics

This module aims for students to be exposed to visual trends, basic principles of ergonomics, and the aesthetic and semantic aspects of products. In addition to basic principles and analysis, topics are learned in context to applications in product design, the influence of these design factors in consumers' preference for a particular product or system.

Students will apply what they have learnt in this module to Design Studio 4 (Design Entrepreneurship) into a collaborative project.


ARCHITECTURE SPECIALISATION

Design Studio 5 (Design for Manufacturing & Assembly 2) (150 Hours)
This module enhances the level of the design skills with the considerations for spatial adaptability and sustainability considerations in an urban context. Students are to explore different aspects of the architectural design considerations from the contextual, physical, social and cultural perspectives.

Students will develop interpretive analysis, conceptual and critical thinking to formulate the design narratives and to orchestrate spatial and experiential sequence through creative exploration and creation of form, space, and program. Students will develop critical design solutions with compliance to statutory requirements and design considerations for manufacturing & assembly of holistic architectural design.


Architectural Materials & Technology 3 (45 Hours)

This module expands students’ knowledge of architectural materials and building technology using large-scale structure, more advanced construction techniques and processed architectural materials.

Focus topics include more advanced study of DfMA (design for manufacturing and assembly), PPVC (Prefabricated Prefinished Volumetric Construction) and DfM (design for Maintainability) consideration for design and detailing.

Students are required to apply their knowledge through the analysis of large scale and high rise buildings as well as their design projects, to produce a set of construction drawings.


Architectural Practice (45 Hours)

This module applies architectural design in the context of a professional practice. Students are introduced to architectural practice organisation, the roles and responsibilities of architects, and their relationships with the other consultants and professionals of a building project team.

Students learn about the the regulatory and discretionary building codes and standards that architectural design in Singapore must conform to and correspondingly, the standard procedures for project application to the relevant authorities. Students are to apply relevant guidelines to their design projects.

Introduction of principles of contract administration and project management at various stages of a building and construction project will be taught.


PRODUCT INNOVATION SPECIALIZATION

Design Studio 5 (Innovation)

This module prepares students to undertake a major individual project with the aim of designing a trend-setting, innovative, human-centered product with revolutionary tech driven features. Students are required to apply relevant design methodologies and skills they have learnt thus far, and complete the entire design process. At the end of this module, students will be able to identify and predict emerging trends and design opportunities that will transform a business eco-system and propose design emerging tech-driven solutions along with a proof-of-concept high fidelity prototype along with a project portfolio.

There will be guests lectures on emerging design trends.
Knowledge and Skills learnt in Technology in Design, User Interface and Digital Prototyping will be applied into Design Studio 3 projects.


Technology for Design

This module introduces students to leading edge smart technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation, Internet of Things (IOT) etc. and its applications in product design. Students will be exposed to programming boards such as Arduino, Raspberry Pi etc., AR/VR tools and platforms, along with essentials and principles of engineering design with focus on applications in designing smart products and smart experiences.

Students will apply what they have learnt in this module to Design Studio 5 (Innovation) into a collaborative project.


User Interface & Digital Prototyping

User Interface Design introduces students to the discipline of designing user interfaces. The module teaches students how to use structuring frameworks such as structure maps and wireframes to the components users interact with that allow them to achieve their goals with the system. This module introduces principles that allow for good interface design, critical design patterns for various contexts, how to appropriately select patterns to promote more enjoyable interactions, and how to aesthetically design an interface to maximize delight and deliver on the product's communication objectives. Students will learn effective prototyping methods in order to present their designs and user test their hypotheses. Students will take a prototyping workshop concurrently to help them build prototypes of their designs.

Students will apply what they have learnt in this module to Design Studio 5 (Innovation) into a collaborative project.

3-Month Internship

This module provides students with the opportunity to gain experiences and apply the knowledge and skills learnt in a working environment. Students will enhance their abilities in problem solving, communication and interpersonal skills in the module. This 12-week industry attachment may be held in local or overseas. In order that the students can complete this module in the academic year for graduation purposes, this module begins earlier than the normal semester commencement date.

Capstone Project

This module provides students with the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills learnt during the first 2 years and part of the third year to complete a major project. Students will enhance their abilities in problem solving, communication and interpersonal skills in the module. In this 12-weeks full-time project module, students will undertake a major individual task, completing the life-cycle product design and development process that involves the phases from the conceptualization of product idea to the product design phase, prototype making, and testing, and finally preparation of drawings and documentation for production purposes. In order that the students can complete this module in the academic year for graduation purposes, this module begins earlier than the normal semester commencement date.

6-month Internship

This module provides students with the opportunity to gain experience and apply the knowledge and skills learnt in a working environment. Students will enhance their abilities in problem solving, communication and interpersonal skills in the module. This 22-week industry attachment may be held locally or overseas. In order that the students can complete this module in the academic year for graduation purposes, this module begins earlier than the normal semester commencement date.

ARCHITECTURE SPECIALISATION

Design Studio 6 (Place-Making) (150 Hours)

This module covers the final year project where students will develop architecture design projects from inception to completion in a succinct manner. Through the study of architectural precedents and site analysis, students' design proposals should demonstrate a keen understanding of context, environment and spatial programming as well as sensitivity to materials techniques and skills to bring out the essence of their design through the use of various representational media to communicate design ideas effective.

The meaning of a space in relation to its function and human activities is also demonstrated against social and cultural aspects from small to large scale architectures and place-making perspective within an urban interventions. This module covers various Architectural exploration on identity, public space, community and sustainability



3-month Internship (150 Hours)

This module provides students with the opportunity to gain experiences and apply the knowledge and skills learnt in a working environment relevant to the course. Students will enhance their abilities in problem solving, communication and interpersonal skills in the module.

The internship may be local or overseas, depending on the availability of internship companies. Students are required to submit weekly reports, interim and final reports, and present the internship experiences in an oral presentation at the end of the internship.