MAPD4210 Design and Culture Course description

Course name in Norwegian
Design and Culture
Study programme
Masterstudium i produktdesign – design for kompleksitet
Year of study
FALL 2020
Course history


Design is widely acknowledged as an increasingly interdisciplinary and complex field; designers take solving complex social and cultural issues as their domain. Issues concerning strategic planning, collaborative, participatory and human centred design require designers to adapt a broad, humanistic point of view. The aim of the course is to make design students aware of the relevance of knowledge of cultural values and meanings, and their impact on design. The course introduces strategies for integrating social responsibility, critical thinking and the use of ethnographic, generative and other design research methods for fostering awareness, reflexivity, criticality and empathy.

Required preliminary courses

Admission to the Master's programme.

Learning outcomes

After completing the course, the student is expected to have achieved advanced level in the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence: 


The student has:

  • knowledge about culture and its role, both from a personal and professional perspective
  • knowledge of central cultural terms and cultural values
  • attained knowledge on methods that involve human interactions and interaction between people and Products
  • has a good understanding for how  reflexivity, criticality and empathy works as crucial factors in informed design practises


The student is able to:  

  • reflect critically on the role of design in a cultural context
  • challenge established perspectives and norms in the field
  • integrate cultural perspectives into the development of a product.
  • use aesthetic methods and strategies to develop products
  • use visual, materialized as well as verbal articulation to give non-verbal data meaning
  • interweave different  forms of knowledges from experiences and theory

General competence 

The student has a developed understanding for:

  • the relevance of knowledge of cultural values and meanings, and their impact on design
  • sustainable responsibility and autonomy for cultural  issues in design


  • design in a cultural context
  • cultural practices and cultural values.
  • methods for creative designprocesses  
  • critical reflection, discussions and writing related to the theme and own professional   work 
  • pitching your own design/research projects in the context of the course

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, workshops, discussions, presentations, self-study, practical work and tutoring. 

Course requirements

The following required coursework must be approved before the student can take the exam:  

  • written project description (design pitch) with a defined research aim 500-700 words.
  • presentation to fellow students and teachers (10 minutes)


Individual or group portfolio examination. The portfolio consists of:

  • Poster - visualisation of the essence of the project, (optional a concise and integrated text)
  • Product in optional media.
  • Research-based design project/proposal 1500 -2500 words.

The examination result can be appealed

Permitted exam materials and equipment

No restrictions.

Grading scale

A grading scale of A (highest) to F (lowest) where A to E is a pass grade and F is a fail grade


Two internal examiners. External examiner is used periodically.