Sustainable Design, Msc in engineering

Academic content

Academic content

Programme structure

The Master’s programme in Sustainable Design is a 2 year full time engineering education with special emphasis on design and innovation of sustainable solutions.

The programme includes interdisciplinary components to satisfy the need for combining methods from social science and technology studies with technical subjects and design practices. The programme will provide you with the ability to understand, stage and carry out innovative processes leading to design and the implementation of sustainable products, services and socio-material system solutions through involvement of relevant actors.

Sustainable transition

The programme’s focus on sustainability is reflecting the challenges that development, production, consumption and dismantling of technologies pose for resource utilisation and climate. It builds on the broad notion of sustainability including the environmental, the social and the economical aspect. The realisation of these societal goals implies a focus on sustainable transitions in a design perspective, which is a core activity in the programme.

Sustainable Design

1st semester: staging design for sustainability

During this semester, focus is on understanding and facing the challenges that emerge when designing for sustainability within an organisation. The most salient challenge concerns the fact that current methods and tools for design need to be reconsidered. Therefore, focus is on staging collaborative design processes.

The organisational context where design and innovation unfolds is introduced through the course module ‘Design in organisations’. ‘Production Systems and Sustainability’ is a technical course where you learn how current and future production systems operate, and consider what changes to product design are needed for sustainable production. 'Design for Sustainability' offers quantitative tools to assess environmental impacts to consider their use in the context of existing sustainability challenges.

The project module Staging Collaborative Design for Sustainability offers an opportunity for you to put into practice and expand your knowledge of the course modules by staging collaborative design processes for the design of products, product service systems, services or systems that have a positive impact in sustainability.

Project examples

  • ”Auto dismantlers assemble! Strengthening the network af auto dismantling.”
  • ”Alignment between practices and strategies - in collaboration with DSB”
  • ”Chewing gum litter”

Sustainable Design

2nd semester: Design for sustainable transitions

During this semester, focus is on understanding the fact that achieving sustainability requires the re-design of systems that support societal functions in a long-term systemic perspective.

In the course module 'Sustainable Transitions', you will dive into the most recent developments of the research field Sustainable Transitions, you will learn about the most established theories in the field and you will discuss how design can contribute to the necessary systemic changes that sustainability require. The course module 'Market Creation and Entrepreneurship' will offer an understanding that the needed changes will not happen in existing markets and will not be performed by existing organisations and companies, but that new markets and new organisations need to be created in novel ways to achieve transitions to sustainability.

In the course 'Concept Driven Change' focus will be on understanding, staging and performing the changes that need to take place on an organisational and individual level, often based on conceptualisations of innovation, work and change management to support radical transformations.

The project is written within the theme 'Design for Sustainable Transititions.'

Project examples

  • “Imaginaries of future Copenhagen: A bottom-up perspective on urban development.”
  • “Oh green roofs, where art thou? A report on green roofs in Copenhagen.”
  • “Moving families from cars to bicycles”

“I needed to combine my profile with a humanistic engineering approach where sustainability and stakeholder involvement would come into play."

Augustin, graduate from Sustainable Design

Sustainable Design

3rd semester: Holistic Design

During the 3rd semester, you have the opportunity to choose between studying a semester at another university, carrying out a design project in an international context, carrying out a design research project or doing an internship in a company or organisation.

Project examples

International Design Project:

  • ”The New Hood Stove – An overview of the process, design and technical considerations for an improved Hood Stove for poor Nepalese women”
  • ”Ninha – A muticultural design project in Cartagena, Colombia”

Internship in a Company:

  • ”Sustainable Design Challenges in Rambøll”
  • “Sustainable Design Challenges in Danish Architecture Centre”

Design Research Project:

  • “Theatre-inspired Methodology in Practice-oriented Design for Energy Consumption Living Labs: a Proposal of Tools for Interventions”
  • “Natural Areas and orthopedic handicapped people. How to provide accessibility?”

Sustainable Design

4th semester: Master's thesis

During the last semester, you will carry out your Master’s thesis. You will choose your own topic and collaboration partner, as long as it is related to sustainable design challenges.

Project examples

  • “Copenhagen municipality – design of planning practices for rain water handling”
  • “Transition strategies for sustainable transport in Copenhagen”
  • “Implementing co-design in trend-spotting in a consultancy company”
  • “Improve blind and partially blind people opportunities to communicate their level of disability”
  • “Redesign of blood gas equipment”
  • “Creation of a market for sensor devices to plants”

“This Master’s programme is an interesting combination between project management, engineering, social sciences and design thinking which enables me to understand and tackle complex challenges."

Giulia, graduate from Sustainable Design

Study Method at AAU - Problem Based Learning

Study Method at AAU - Problem Based Learning

The study method at AAU is called Problem Based Learning (PBL). Together with your fellow students you will work with real life problems by way of problem based project work.

learn more about Pbl at aau