The master's programme has four main components, which make up the overall themes of the four semesters: When design takes place, Design and meaning, Design in context, and the Master's dissertation.
The four components offer introductions to four different approaches to design: one based on philosophy and theory of science, a historical approach, a socio-cultural approach, and an approach based on practice and process methodology. The programme has an interdisciplinary foundation and draws on a wide range of theoretical insights from architecture, design, engineering, the humanities, anthropology, sociology and other areas. In the programme, these four components and theoretical tracks are integrated and related to the participants' own professional experiences through lectures, debate and written assignments.
The purpose of this semester is to provide an understanding of the current challenges facing designers and design-based companies today. In this semester, the students look at the most recent results within design research with an emphasis on the role and process of design. The focus is on issues concerning the sociology of the profession in relation to professional traditions and ethos, and the students are introduced to a wide repertoire of methods for planning and managing design processes based on insights from anthropology, ethnography, organisational theory, innovation theory, creativity theory, and user-centred design, among other fields. Throughout the semester, these theories and methods are related to the participants' own practice with a focus on their own design roles, methods and processes.
The second semester revolves around the design object. The students are given an introduction to relevant issues based on philosophy and the theory of science concerning the nature of the world and how it may be perceived as well as analyses of specific design products. During this semester, the students learn about methods of analysis from design semiotics, semantics, phenomenology, material culture and visual culture, among other fields. These perspectives form the basis for discussions about where and how meaning is created and about design value, aesthetics and culture based on the participants' own works and those of others.
The third semester is focused on strategies for the distribution and consumption of design. This semester offers new insights from management theory, marketing and consumer studies and introduces specific methods for design management, branding theory and strategic design. The semester further includes discussions on contemporary conditions for design and consumption based on new theories on globalisation, the experience economy, immaterial design, consumption, and sustainability and in relation to concrete exercises in strategy and value creation.
In the fourth and final semester, the focus is on the graduation project. The semester looks at the application and implementation of the theories and methods reviewed in the three previous semesters in relation to the issues or fields that the individual participants choose to address in their master's dissertation. The first two seminars of the semester are based on group assignments and symposiums drawn from the participants' specialties. The final seminar is structured as a series of open, oral exams on the basis of the dissertation.