IEU Experience


Are you ready to challenge today’s physical, experiential, functional and emotional reality through the power of design? Offering a unique combination of solid foundations in design theory with a project-based methodology focusing on real-life challenges, the Bachelor in Design trains audacious individuals seeking creative solutions for a more sustainable life.

We sat down with third- and fourth-year IE University students Naqiya Mustafa Kantawala and Yoko Hwang who answered the most commonly asked questions about the Bachelor in Design program.

Why did you decide to study the Bachelor in Design?

Naqiya, a third-year student, says: I wanted to choose a course that was the most versatile and allowed me to explore as much of the design field as possible. Having to choose something specific is a tough decision when you haven’t really tried the different design fields. This course encouraged me to explore and combine all aspects of design. The future of employment in design is uncertain, but as long as you have fundamental knowledge in design, you will easily be able to adapt to any challenge presented to you in the future. 

Yoko, a fourth-year student, tells us: I was really attracted to the program because of all the opportunities to gain knowledge in various aspects of design over the four years. As you go through the program, you learn which area of design you’re most interested in, as well as which ones you’re not. 

What are the main topics in the program?

Naqiya: The bachelor combines both practical and theoretical knowledge with hands-on work to create a well-rounded four years of studying design. Beginning with a broad introduction to design, you’ll learn research, writing and presentation techniques, as well as how psychology and culture impact design. You’ll gain practical experience in various design studios and learn about sustainability, trends, design management and much more.

Yoko: Areas we focus on are UX (user experience), product, visual and strategic design. You learn something different every semester.

What was your favorite class and with which professor? Why?

Naqiya: My favorite class was Design Studio I, which had a really intensive yet fun activity to brand our own country. It was with the professor Ritxi Ostáriz, who’s really passionate about the class and pushed us to produce amazing work.

Yoko: I loved the Design Studio, where you spend a lot of time working on the various projects. I feel like it’s where I learned the most: from using software to developing ideas and receiving panel feedback. It’s a lot of time, dedication and it can be overwhelming at times, but the final outcome is worth it. 

What is the average class like? How long is it? What’s the workload like? Do you do more individual or group work?

Naqiya: Classes range from one-and-a-half hours to four hours for studio classes, and include projects that are both completed individually and as a group, depending on the project.

Yoko: Most of our classes are group projects in order to foster a collaborative environment. However, if you want to work alone, professors sometimes allow it, but it’s a lot of work for only one person to do. By working in groups you’re able to exchange ideas and progress even more. Sometimes you can get overwhelmed or hit creative blocks when working alone.

Do professors place more emphasis on practical or academic learning?

Naqiya: The methodology of most of the classes is learning by doing. You learn not by being told what to do, but by simply beginning the task and learning along the way which methods you are naturally more comfortable with. If you have specific questions, professors are there to guide you.

Yoko: The professors try to incorporate both practical and theoretical aspects into most of the courses. Some classes begin with a bit of theory, teaching the basics, and then move forward into practical work.

How many hours will I spend doing homework or studying?

Naqiya: Every project and assignment requires a different amount of time, so you’ll honestly just keep working until the deadline—as long as it takes to create a quality finished product. It depends on the effort you put in and how easy of a process it is. 

Yoko: In my case, I stayed up late working since I like working at night, but it really depends on your productivity level and what time of day you work best during.

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What are finals and deliverables like?

Both: Most of the courses have project finals rather than exams, but it depends on the professor and the course being taught. Some final project presentations usually include a guest jury panel. 

How do you prepare for class?

Naqiya: Only theory classes have required reading. Otherwise, the program is mostly project-based. You have to show that you’ve progressed in your project and present it to the teacher in class for feedback.

Yoko: It depends on the professor teaching the course. In the Design Studio courses, you never stop brainstorming and designing, and since you have desk critiques—when the professor sits with you and your team to discuss your progress—you should always have something completed to show, whether that is research or brainstorming.

What does a day in the average Bachelor in Design student’s life look like?

Naqiya: A typical student’s day begins in the morning with hours of class, then you have a lunch break and sometimes class in the afternoon. Most of the day is spent working on projects. There are generally one to two classes in a day. You have to manage your time in groups in order to complete projects. Some projects do require late nights in order to finish everything, but don’t worry—the studios are always full of design and architecture students almost all hours of the day and night.

Yoko: Most students spend a lot of time in the studio, using the Fab Lab. Make sure you do those workshops in order to be allowed to use the machines.

What opportunities are there for students to take exchange programs?

Naqiya: Unfortunately, exchange this year was canceled due to the pandemic. However, there are exchange opportunities available in North and South America, Europe, Australia, Singapore and the Middle East. It’s a great opportunity to explore different courses and other parts of the world. 

Yoko: Hopefully in the future students will have more places to go with the Bachelor in Design program. In my case, I studied abroad at the University of Miami.

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Naqiya and Yoko’s top tips for hitting the ground running on the Bachelor in Design program:

  • The more effort you put in, the more you’ll get out of the program, so challenge yourself and don’t leave things to the last minute.
  • Focus on what skills you’re learning rather than the grade you get.
  • Never say you can’t do something before trying it.
  • Have a good work ethic and support your peers. Helping your classmates is the best way to learn.
  • If you get stuck on a creative project, look to places like YouTube for inspiration.