IIE BA Honours in Design Leadership – Distance

Qualification information
  • COURSE: Honours; Postgraduate Degree
  • MODE: Distance
  • DURATION: 2 years | Part-Time
  • NQF LEVEL: 8
  • CREDITS: 120
  • SAQA ID: 118641


The IIE Bachelor of Arts Honours in Design Leadership is where design, creativity and innovation meet. Equipping graduates with the theory and practical knowledge to make a real impact as Creative Directors, Senior Designers, Design Entrepreneurs and Design Leads.

The magic of design lies in collaboration where students engage in a number of creative projects, individually as well as part of interdisciplinary teams. With sound research and high-level conceptual problem solving, graduates develop a portfolio which illustrates solutions which add true economic, environmental and social value. Skills which are essential in this world where design, brand, business and technology collide in the most exciting way. Design Leadership graduates learn to sharpen and expand their thinking to be wholly human-centered. With a deeper knowledge of design research and ability to plan and execute complex design solutions, the degree lays a strong foundation for further Master’s studies.

Transforming ideas into solutions which make a genuine difference in peoples’ lives - this is design. Creating and implementing sustainable, desirable and effective solutions. The scope of design careers has widened significantly and graduates with skills to think, question and create to better the human experience are in great demand. The paradigm shift in the role of design, and the designer specifically, has rendered the need for designers with advanced knowledge and skills in the areas of foresight, problem-finding abilities and evidence-based approaches.

The IIE currently offers a range of Bachelor of Arts degrees in a variety of design disciplines. This Bachelor of Arts Honours in Design Leadership provides students with a focused postgraduate qualification relevant to their individual design disciplines and opens up a pathway for further postgraduate studies.


  • Design Leadership
  • Design Strategy and Management
  • Solution Design
  • Collaborative Design
  • Design Research

Design Leadership
This module critically examines a range of key design leadership theories that frame the complex interrelationships between design, brand and business. The module engages with debates that are not bound by traditional disciplinary concerns in order to develop critical and creative engagement with complex societal and sustainable challenges. The future role of the designer and the development of design leaders are critically explored.

Design Strategy and Management
This module analyses the processes of strategic evidence-based design, decision-making and the alignment of creative teams with these strategies and decisions. Students will consider the ethical and entrepreneurial role of design. Principles regarding the planning and management of own enterprises and design projects are applied.

Solution Design
This module develops students’ ability to solve complex design problems using appropriate design approaches. Students are required to demonstrate their strategic thinking and independent conceptual skills as designers. Students independently refine their skills and reflective awareness in a selected focus area of design and develops design outcomes within sustainable and social contexts, supported by research and documentation.

Collaborative Design
This module focuses on collaboration, where ideas are generated and communicated in areas such as brand design, design systems, services, communication design, environments and objects. Solutions are grounded on contextual research and project outcomes contribute to a portfolio that shows creative, conceptual and strategic skills. Furthermore, the module deepens multidisciplinary professional learning and builds broader skills in complex project planning, leadership and adaptability.

Design Research
The purpose of this module is to develop students’ knowledge of design research concepts, principles and practices and foster their ability to perform both academic research and research aimed at informing design solutions. The module exposes students to various design research methods and techniques and introduces students to the development of an academic proposal and research report. The module guides them through the process of argument development, academic writing and reporting on research, whilst integrating design theory and contemporary discourse. Emphasis is placed on independent and critical thinking, analysis, research design and methods, written and visual communication of findings.

At the end of this qualification, you will achieve the following Exit Level Outcomes (ELO):

ELO1: Critically engage with advanced inter-disciplinary theories and discourse in the broad fields of design and design leadership.
ELO2: Plan, develop and evaluate strategic, innovative design solutions for complex design problems that are guided by evidence and ethical considerations in multifaceted and diverse contexts.
ELO3: Conduct research that can inform the design process and outcomes as well as explore problems and complex issues pertaining to the broad discipline of design.
ELO4: Learn independently and in a self-critical manner to develop competencies suitable for life-long development in design and design leadership.

Study further with IIE Pathways

The successful completion of the IIE BA Honours in Design Leadership enables you to progress into an appropriate Master’s qualification, subject to meeting the admission requirements.

Distance delivery includes:

  • An online learning system that leads students through the content, prescribed material and activities.
  • Online academic navigators (tutors) who are subject experts and maintain the human experience of the learning process.
  • Weekly live sessions with your distance navigators.
  • A dedicated success navigator who supports students throughout the learning journey.
  • Access to our online information centre and resources.


While you can generally structure your study time as you need, there are scheduled online sessions during which you will get mediated support. Scheduled assessments in the form of online activities, assignments and exams are paced to ensure your studies progress.

What you need in terms of technology, time and materials:

  • The appropriate technology equipment and tools are essential to succeed in distance study.
  • A reliable internet connection (we recommend 5-10 GB of data per month), your own device with at least Windows 8 or macOS 10.15 (Microsoft Office 365 is available as a free download for IIE students), and Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge Chromium or Firefox.
  • An uninterrupted power supply is also highly recommended.
  • Prescribed textbooks are available for online purchase.
  • Online students need to commit to approximately 20-25 hours a week for online engagement (most of which is after hours) with material and assessments to succeed.
  • All final semester exams need to be written at an IIE campus or other approved exam centre.

Please note synchronous sessions generally take place after hours.

To succeed in your distance journey, you need to be:

  • Self-motivated and invested in your learning journey.
  • Disciplined and able to balance studying with work and family commitments.
  • Able to direct your own studies, maintaining a diligent pace.

To assist you in succeeding in your distance journey, our teaching approach is:

  • Student-centric: we facilitate your thought processes to foster innovative ideas and creative solutions.
  • Authentic: we use real-life examples and case studies.
  • Activity-based: We move your learning forward through applied activities and assessments.
  • Discussion-based: we ask you questions and stimulate debate to provoke deep thought and insights about course content.

Examination centre options for assessments written on campus

  • All final semester exams as indicated on your Programme Assessment Schedule (PAS) can be written online, at an IIE campus, or at an approved exam centre where appropriate.
  • From 2024, we are planning to offer you the ability to write your exam online, which will be invigilated.
  • Your device needs to fulfil the minimum requirements as above with internet connectivity, a working webcam and audio recording ability, with battery life sufficient for the exam duration in case of power outage once the exam has started.
  • Whilst Android devices and tablets can be used for your studies, they cannot be used for online exams.
  • You are responsible for making contingency plans in case of planned power outages.
  • You need to be alone in a quiet environment for writing your exams online.

Where assessments cannot be written online or students do not have access to an appropriate device

  • For students based in South Africa, online students may select any campus of The IIE’s Varsity College, Rosebank College, Vega, or IIE MSA as their Examination Centre.
  • An alternative examination centre is only permissible for students studying abroad and those located in a province of South Africa where there is no IIE campus. If there is no IIE campus within reach, an alternative venue will need to be sourced by you. For non-IIE venues, there is an alternative venue levy per module.

Tuition Fees

Total Fee for 1st year modules for new registrations starting in 2024
R42 400 Full Settlement Total Fee
R44 560 Instalment Total Fee (6 Monthly Instalments)
R45 400 Instalment Total Fee (10 Monthly Instalments)

A *Pre-Registration Fee of R2 500 is included in the Total Fee
Deposit of R13 368 is included in the Total Fee for the 6 Instalments option.
*Refundable if admission criteria for the qualification is not met.

Total Fee for 2nd year modules (subject to an annual fee increase)
R21 200 Full Settlement Total Fee
R22 280 Instalment Total Fee (6 Monthly Instalments)
R22 700 Instalment Total Fee (10 Monthly Instalments)
Deposit of R6 684 is included in the Total Fee for the 6 Instalments option.

Please note:

  • Applications for the 2024 intake are subject to a non-refundable application fee of R400.
  • You will be required to complete a new contract annually which will include fees for that year.
  • Returning students can consult the bill of costs on the website to obtain their 2024 fees based on their basket of modules.

Entry Requirements

  • An appropriate NQF Level 7 Bachelor’s degree with an average of 60% in the final year; OR
  • An appropriate Advanced Diploma, provided that a 360 credit Diploma OR appropriate equivalent has been completed, with an average of 60% in the final year.

Please note:

  • Candidates are normally required to have a minimum final year average of 60% in the qualifications final-year (NQF L7) modules. Those with a final year average of 55 - 59% will be admitted if they attained 60% or higher for the designated cognate/core discipline final-year (NQF L7) modules.
  • All candidates are required to submit a Design portfolio.

Senate Discretionary Admission:

  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL): Candidates who fall outside the above criteria, but who can demonstrate, to the satisfaction of The IIE that they have an appropriate, related qualification or work-based learning, which has taken the candidate to the equivalent of an NQF Level 7 equivalent qualification, may be considered for admission into this programme through an RPL process.

Additional Notes:

  • Graduates of The IIE who do not meet the admissions requirements for admission to Honours can enrol for and repeat all or some of their NQF 7 modules in order to improve their marks so that they can meet the entry requirements for Honours. These graduate students will then receive an additional transcript after the completion of the repeat module(s), where the repeat module(s) will appear as a second iteration of the module(s) on the transcript. The marks from the second iteration can then be used for admission to Honours in the subsequent academic year. This option is only available to graduates from The IIE and do not apply to graduates from other Higher Education (HE) institutions.

International Admission:

  • A SAQA NQF L7 Evaluation Certificate in an appropriate field and meeting the additional admission requirements.
Jobs in this field:
  • Senior Designers
  • Creative Directors
  • Art Directors
  • Senior Digital Designers
  • Design Entrepreneurs
  • Design Strategists
  • Design Consultants
  • Design Managers