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NES8011 : Problem Solving through Innovation PG

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Miss Katie Wray
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


To practice the process of ideation and opportunity development through forensic examination and testing of assumptions upon which business propositions are based. The module will use a scientific approach to the analysis of identifiable problems and will focus on refining and validating problems before moving forward. Students will be expected to interact with potential users and stakeholders to identify opportunities for innovation. This module is not about simulating a business plan, but instead about becoming certain enough about an idea that students can learn beyond the module how to action the idea on a solid foundation using readily available learning resources (if they desire).
This module will support students that wish to propose new ideas within an employment context (intrapreneurship) as well as to equip them with the foundation from which to jump off into widely available funding and support for well proven commercial propositions.
There are follow-on opportunities available through the University’s Start Up Programme in the Careers Service.

Outline Of Syllabus

The problem-opportunity development process
Critiquing and constructing project and business propositions
Market research and the forensic examination of assumptions
Finding customers
Market analysis
Formulating a commercial opportunity; funding and finance
Intellectual Property
Minimum Viable Product Challenge
Commercialisation workshop
Group Coaching Meetings

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion601:0060:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials201:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical16:006:00workshop
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00Synchronous development meetings
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity131:0013:00Planning and Market Research
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This module invites students from across disciplines to ‘bring their individual skills and interests with them’ and combine personal experience, industrial knowledge and interest areas to facilitate ideation, innovation and problem solving. The module is active for the pre- through post-school period and will require significant group and independent work outside of lectures to plan and undertake real market research (interaction with users and stakeholders) and ideation.
Pre-school activity will include an introduction to problem identification; from which students will, in groups, unpack to find an actionable aspect of the problem to present for feedback at the start of the first taught week. This actionable problem will become the stimulus for market research, leading to the group market research report.
A significant focus of the module is on the individual’s ability to self-appraise their own capacities and capabilities for problem-solving through innovation with a view to how they may be deployed to solve problems and approach work in the future.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report2M70Group market research report to demonstrate the profile of an opportunity (1,500 words per person, group size 4-6)
Report2M30Individual self-reflection (1,500 words)
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation2MCompulsory presentation for formative feedback
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Key skills of creativity, planning, organising, team working, personal enterprise, and communication will be utilised and developed; these will be assessed via the University’s tool for peer evaluation of group work contribution.
Formative: Oral presentation of an ‘actionable-problem’ to receive feedback on progress towards final report.
Students will draw down from stimuli such as the UN SDGs to work backwards in identifying an actionable problem which, if solved will demonstrate progress within the challenge area. Spending time researching and presenting the actionable aspects of the problem is key before moving forward in pursuit of a realistic solution.
Assessment 2: Group Market Opportunity Report (70%)
Drawing upon research work, skills and practice throughout the module, this group assessment will document the conclusions that have been drawn around the opportunity identified.
Assessment 3: Individual Self-Reflection (30%)
Students will develop awareness and a wide range of key skills within the graduate attributes framework through experiential learning that contextualises an innovation mind set. Through reflection and review students will draw outcomes and develop an evidence base for the future.
Group assessment will be subject to peer assessment using the University’s tool for peer evaluation of group work contribution.

Reading Lists