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Engineering Design Centre

Professor P John Clarkson FREng


Professor P John Clarkson FREng

Professor P John Clarkson FREng

Director, Cambridge Engineering Design Centre

Research groups: Automotive Design Group, Change Management Group, Healthcare Design Group, Inclusive Design Group, Process Management Group
Telephone: +44 1223 748247

Departmental webpage

photograph of Professor P John Clarkson


  • B.A., Engineering (Electrical Sciences), University of Cambridge, 1984
  • Ph.D., Engineering (Electrical Machines), University of Cambridge, 1988
  • Doctor Honoris Causa (Engineering Design), KU Leuven, 2012
  • Sc.D., (Engineering Design), University of Cambridge, 2017

John Clarkson returned to the department in 1995 following a seven-year spell with PA Consulting Group's Technology Division. He was appointed director of the Engineering Design Centre in 1997 and a University Professor in 2004. He is directly involved in the teaching of design at all levels of the undergraduate course.

At PA John was Manager of the Advanced Process Group where he gained wide experience of product development with a particular focus on the design of medical equipment and high-integrity systems, where clients required a risk-based systems approach to design to ensure timely delivery of safe systems.

His research interests are in the general area of engineering design, particularly the development of design methodologies to address specific design issues, for example, process management, change management, healthcare design and inclusive design. As well as publishing over 800 papers, he has written and edited a number of books on medical equipment design, inclusive design and process management.

John is currently leading a team with the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal College of Physicians and the Academy of Medical Sciences to develop a systems approach to healthcare redesign and continuous improvement.


ORCID id: 0000-0001-8081-7706

Journal of Engineering Design (Associate Editor)

Research in Engineering Design (Editorial Board)

Design Science (Editorial Board)


Selected Publications


CLARKSON, P.J. and COLEMAN, R. (2015) History of inclusive design in the UK, Applied Ergonomics, 46(B), 235-247. Available from Elsevier A description of the development of Inclusive Design in the UK, from its early beginnings, through academic research, to its emergence as a toolkit for design.

CLARKSON, P.J., WALLER, S.D. and CARDOSO, C. (2015) Approaches to estimating user exclusion, Applied Ergonomics, 46(B), 304-310. Available from Elsevier A description of methods developed to estimate levels of user exclusion and reasons for such exclusion when using products.

HURTIENNE, J., HORN, A-M., LANGDON, P.M. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2013) Facets of prior experience and the effectiveness of inclusive design, Universal Access in the Information Society, 12(3), 297-308. Available from Springer A study that argues that experience has components, exposure and competence, that are directly relevant for design and that they can predict, to different degrees, the usability of a product.

WALLER, S.D., LANGDON, P.M. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2010) Using disability data to estimate design exclusion, Universal Access in the Information Society, 9(3), 195-207. Available from Springer The ONS disability data source is explained in detail, and a method is presented that uses this data to estimate the exclusion associated with several tasks that occur in series or in parallel.

LANGDON, P., LEWIS, T. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2007) The effects of prior experience on the use of consumer products, Universal Access in the Information Society, 6(2), 179-191. Available from Springer Addresses the issue of what features of products make them easy to use and whether and in what way individual prior experience affect the learning and use of a product design.

PERSAD, U., LANGDON, P.M. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2007) Characterising user capabilities to support inclusive design evaluation, Universal Access in the Information Society, 6(2), 119-135. Available from Springer Addresses designers' needs for user data by setting out the sensory, cognitive and motor dimensions of user capability that are important for product interaction.


CLARKSON, P.J., BOGLE, D., DEAN, J., TOOLEY, M., TREWBY, J., VAUGHAN, L., ADAMS, E., DUDGEON, P., PLATT, N. and SHELTON, P. (2017) Engineering Better Care: a systems approach to health and care design and continuous improvement, Royal Academy of Engineering, ISBN: 978-1-1909327-35-1. Available from Royal Academy of Engineering A description of a systems approach, expressed as a series of ordered questions, to explore poeple, systems, design and risk perspecrtives on a system.

CARD, A.J., WARD, J. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2014) Generating Options for Active Risk Control (GO-ARC): Introducing a Novel Technique, Journal for Healthcare Quality, 36(5), 32-41. Available from Wiley A description of a before and after pilot study of the Generating Options for Active Risk Control technique, a tool to assist the generation of the risk control options.

HORBERRY, T., TENG, Y-C., WARD, J., PATIL, V. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2014) Guidewire retention following central venous catheterisation: A human factors and safe design investigation, International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine, 26(1), 23-37. Available from IOS Press An investigation and analysis of the incidence of retained guidewires and the proposal of effective and practical solutions to reduce future risk.

BENIUK, K., BOYLE, A.A. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2012) Emergency department crowding: prioritising quantified crowding measures using a Delphi study, Emergency Medicine Journal, 29(11), 868-871. Available from BMJ The identification of eight quantified crowding measures, using a Delphi study, which present a comprehensive view of how crowding is affecting ED operations and highlighted areas of concern.

WARD, J.R., BUCKLE, P. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2010) Designing packaging to support the safe use of medicines at home, Applied Ergonomics, 41(5), 682-694. Available from Elsevier The results of a project for the National Patient Safety Agency to evaluate the value of improved design of medication packaging.

CLARKSON, P.J., BUCKLE, P., COLEMAN, R., STUBBS, D., WARD, J., JARRETT, J., LANE, R. and BOUND, J. (2004) Design for patient safety: a review of the effectiveness of design in the UK health service, Journal of Engineering Design, 15(2), 123-140. Available from Taylor & Francis The results of a project for the UK Department of Health and the Design Council to evaluate the value of design in improving patient safety.


WYNN, D.C. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2017) Process models in design and development, Research in Engineering Design, DOI 10.1007/s00163-017-0262-7. Available from Springer An organising framework for design and development process models that clarifies the topology of the literature and relates the main perspectives that have been developed.

WYNN, D.C., CALDWELL, N.M.H. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2014) Predicting change propagation in complex design workflows, ASME Journal of Mechanical Design, 136(8). Available from ASME A simulation model to manage change propagation through design workflows, predicting the resource requirements and schedule risk of a change process.

MAIER, J.F., WYNN, D.C., BIEDERMANN, W., LINDEMANN, U. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2014) Simulating progressive iteration, rework and change propagation to prioritise design tasks, Research in Engineering Design, 25(4), 283-307. Available from Springer A model that explores the combined effects of progressive iteration, rework and change propagation during design of interconnected parts within a product architecture.

CHALUPNIK, M.J., WYNN, D.C. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2013) Comparison of ilities for protection against uncertainty in system design, Journal of Engineering Design, 24(12), 814-829. Available from Taylor & Francis A framework to compare the concepts of reliability, robustness, adaptability, versatility, resilience and flexibility as applied to systems design.

WYNN, D.C., GREBICI, K. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2011) Modelling the evolution of uncertainty levels during design, International Journal on Interactive Design and Manufacturing, 5(3), 187-202. Available from Springer An analysis of the influences of evolving uncertainty levels on the design process with a focus on uncertainties associated with choosing the values of design parameters.

CLARKSON, P.J. and HAMILTON, J.R. (2000) Signposting: a parameter-driven task-based model of the design process, Research in Engineering Design, 12(1), 18-38. Available from Springer A model of design is proposed, founded on the assumption that a design process can be constructed from a predefined set of tasks in which the confidence in key design parameters is used as a basis for identifying, or signposting, the next task.


MAIER, J.F., ECKERT, C.M. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2017) Model granularity in engineering design - concepts and frameworks, Design Science, 3, DOI 10.1017/dsj.2016.16 . Available from CUP Introduction to model theory, including terminology from a range of fields, leading to a classification framework for granularity in engineering design.

HAMRAZ, B., CALDWELL, N.M.H., RIDGMAN, T.W. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2015) FBS Linkage ontology and technique to support engineering change management, Research in Engineering Design, 26(1), 3-35. Available from Springer The development of an ontology for function, behaviour and structure (FBS) linkages and its application to the case of a diesel engine.

KOH, E.C.Y., CALDWELL, N.M.H. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2013) A technique to assess the changeability of complex engineering systems, Journal of Engineering Design, 24(7), 477-498. Available from Taylor & Francis The development of a matrix-based approach to generate change indices for individual components of a system in order to systematically review the changeability of the systems.

HAMRAZ, B., CALDWELL, N.M.H. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2013) A Multidomain Engineering Change Propagation Model to Support Uncertainty Reduction and Risk Management in Design, ASME Journal of Mechanical Design, 134(10). Available from ASME Proposal for a multidomain model which combines concepts of both the function-behavior-structure (FBS) model with the change prediction method (CPM).

CLARKSON, P.J., SIMONS, C.S. and ECKERT, C.M. (2004) Predicting change propagation in complex design, ASME Journal of Mechanical Design, 126(5), 788-797. Available from ASME A quantitative investigation of change propagation in helicopter design leading to a proposed method for predicting change paths in complex systems.

ECKERT, C.M., CLARKSON, P.J. and ZANKER, W. (2004) Change and customisation in complex engineering domains, Research in Engineering Design, 15(1), 1-21. Available from Springer A qualitative investigation of change propagation in helicopter design leading to a proposed framework for describing patterns of change in complex systems.


WYATT, D.F., WYNN, D.C. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2013) A scheme for numerical representation of graph structures in engineering design, ASME Journal of Mechanical Design, 136(1). Available from ASME Discussion of an approach to improve access to design spaces of graph structures, by converting graph structures into numerical values and vice versa.

CRILLY, N., MOULTRIE, J. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2009) Shaping things: intended consumer response and the other determinants of product form, Design Studies, 30(3), 224-254. Available from Elsevier Presentation of a framework that represents designers as holding distinct intentions for how product visual form should be interpreted by consumers.

JARRETT, J.P., DAWES, W.N. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2007) An approach to integrated multi-disciplinary turbomachinery design, ASME Journal of Turbomachinery, 129(3), 488-494. Available from ASME Design process execution is improved through the combination of an open data architecture and the dynamic 'Signposting' design process management system.

MAIER, A.M., ECKERT, C.M. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2006) Identifying requirements for communication support: A maturity grid-inspired approach, Expert Systems with Applications, 31(4), 663-672. Available from Elsevier The description of a maturity grid-inspired approach to audit communication practices in design, the social and cognitive processes by which information is selected, messages are exchanged between interacting partners, and meaning is created.

MOULTRIE, J., CLARKSON, P.J. and PROBERT, D. (2006) Development of a design audit tool, Journal of Product Innovation Management, 220(B7), 1157-1174. Available from Wiley Description of a design audit tool that captures good design principles in a form accessible to industry. The tool is based on process maturity principles and explicitly targets the design related activities in small firms.

CRILLY, N., MOULTRIE, J. and CLARKSON, P.J. (2004) Seeing things: consumer response to the visual domain in product design, Design Studies, 25(6), 547-577. Available from Elsevier Discussion of consumer response to product visual form within the context of an integrated conceptual framework, with a particular emphasis on the aesthetic, semantic and symbolic aspects of a cognitive response to design.