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University of Exeter Business School

Digital Service Design

Module titleDigital Service Design
Module codeMBAM959B
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Professor Mark Thompson (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks

5 days

Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module takes the form of some introductory lecture content and readings, leading up to a 100% immersive, online ‘gamified’ activity, during which you learn about an existing organisational service, and design a digital replacement. The sprint  activity draws on and develops core content from MBAM962, and provides hands-on experience of the key activities involved in a digital discovery activity, which commonly precedes, and justifies, the investment/build phase in agile organisations. You will conduct a series of ‘time boxed’ activities that include user research, user persona development, digital service design, front-end design, and service architecture.  Teams compete to build, and explain, a compelling digital service design blueprint.  The elective makes use of online whiteboard tools in a pioneering way.  No technical experience required.

Module aims - intentions of the module

Organisations across all sectors, whether legacy or startup, are increasingly digitizing existing services, or designing new, digital, services to thrive in the digital economy.  The module equips you with the understanding - and, crucially - experience – of the discovery process, where ideas for new digital services are developed, tested, and justified to the business.  You will have the ability to develop key components of the business case for new digital services (whether the audience is investors or senior management), and/or also to discuss and critique ideas for new digital services proposed by others.  With the increasing turn to ‘digital’, this elective aims to equip you with the basic skills, and the confidence, to engage in this crucial area of modern organizational activity.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. design and lead an agile sprint activity where ideas for new digital services are developed, tested, and justified to the client;
  • 2. apply digital service design in discovery exercises comprising UX, service mapping, and service architecture dimensions;
  • 3. critically evaluate how open standards/architecture and cloud-based technology can underpin user-centred digital services.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. critically appraise the principles of digital service design in order to develop key components of the business case for new digital services;
  • 5. demonstrate how a modular approach can enable new digital services to be assembled quickly and often at low cost;
  • 6. deepen engagement with the digital content covered in MBAM962, specifically platform/ecosystems, digital infrastructure, a data-oriented approach, and digital innovation in order to develop key components of the business case for new digital services.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. take a global outlook: apply creative intelligence and ethical imagination to complex problems to ensure that environmental and social governance is taken into account;
  • 8. apply critical thinking: present and defend strategic analyses in multiple forms (written, verbal, digital) based on case material, desk based and empirical research;
  • 9. work with a collaborative mind-set: give and receive feedback at all levels in a confident and respectful manner. Work inclusively across multi-cultural groups to research, explore and prepare a persuasive argument against an assignment or client brief;
  • 10. develop an ethical perspective: improve personal effectiveness through consciously and diligently making decisions on behalf of all stakeholders, environmental, social and financial;
  • 11. demonstrate technological and digital literacy: identify and apply relevant technologies to source, process and communicate accurate information.

Syllabus plan

The module builds on and develops directly the digital material in MBAM962.  Such material includes but is not limited to:

  • Transformational potential of shared infrastructure
  • Platforms/ecosystems as an emerging business model
  • The increasingly central role of data in driving customer-centric service offerings
  • The importance of the principles of modularity, APIs, and interoperability in digital businesses
  • The ethical implications, and concerns, surrounding collection and use of data.

This module provides you with the opportunity to deepen your understanding of this academic content by experiencing its implications for digital service design.  In addition, the module offers new academic content:

  • The increasing use, and benefits/disadvantages of agile management techniques
  • The key components of, and detailed activities involved in, designing new digital services (please refer to module description above).

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity4Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity4Facilitated practitioner show & tell
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity10Immersive SPRINT exercise
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity10Group Solution preparation
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity3Group Solution presentations
Group Discussions4Facilitated group discussions
Guided Independent Study115Reading, research, group work, writing

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Feedback throughout the design sprint process. 20 hours’ Group design thinking 1-11Verbally, in digital design environment

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Week-long assessment of group engagement with digital design sprint, culminating in a 30 minute group presentation.30Across 20 hours’ group design sprint accompanied by a 30-min presentation1-6Written feedback
An individual assignment will comprise a 3,500 word report taking the form of a proposal for a new digital service.703,500 words 7,8,9,10,11Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Week-long assessment of group engagement with digital design sprint, culminating in a 30 minute group presentation (30%)Individual reflection report (1,500 words, 30%) 1-66 weeks after briefing
Individual essay which reflects on the group design process and the resulting client solution (70%) Individual essay (3,500 words, 70%) 7-116 weeks after briefing

Re-assessment notes

As a group presentation will be difficult to replicate the student will be asked to produce an individual reflection on the group design process.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Jongerius, P., & Offermans, A. (2013). Get agile!  Scrum for UX, design and development. BIS Publishers.

Kelley, T. (2002). The art of innovation. Penguin Random House.

Knapp, J. (2016). Sprint: How to solve big problems and test new ideas in just five days. London: Bantam Press.

Osterwalder, A. et al. (2014). Value Proposition Design. Wiley: New Jersey.

Key words search

Digital; Service Design; Agile; Sprint

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date