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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: Conceptualisation of Sustainable Value Chains

During this semester, the focus is on conceptualising sustainable value chains related to organisation, economics and market. The organisational context, in which design and innovation processes are happening, is introduced through the course module ‘Design in Organisations’. The economic dimension of design is introduced through the course module ‘Market Creation’.

You can choose between two elective modules: ‘Distributed Technological Design’ and ‘Design for Sustainability’. In the project module ‘Conceptualisation of Sustainable Value Chains’, you will use the knowledge gained from the two course modules and the selected elective module in order to explore how sustainable value chains can be realised in organisations and on the market, taking your point of departure in a realistic problem definition.

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 Strategies as Responses to Wicked Problems

During this semester, the focus is on design strategies as responses to wicked problems, and on how it is possible to tackle these wicked problems through a design approach. In the course module ‘Staging Participatory Design’, you will learn strategies for how to stage design processes. In addition, the course module ‘Sustainable Transition’ focuses on how to stage larger transition processes.

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