MAPD4100 Sustainable Design Approaches Emneplan

Engelsk emnenavn
Sustainable Design Approaches
Masterstudium i produktdesign – design for kompleksitet
10 stp.


Sustainable Design Approaches introduces the ecological, social, and economic challenges global society is facing today. And how designers may contribute to sustainable industrial production and everyday life styles through new design solution. The course gives an overview of the scientific sustainability principles as well as the political common global goals (Paris agreement and UN's Sustainability development goals, Agenda 2030). It further explores how they may be implemented in the design process.

Systems theory and thinking will introduce you to the elements of sustainability as well as explaining the complexity of relations in socio-ecological systems.You will train your design methodology in finding focus, needs and problem definition related to chosen tasks and user groups, as well as exploring a set of design strategies in idea generation and design of final solution. Finally you are also introduced to methods for evaluation of products and services in order to discuss their contribution to a sustainable development on a product level as well as in a systemic perspective.


Admission to the Master's programme.


After completing the course, the student is expected to have an overview and understanding of the most important socio-ecological challenges the world is facing today and how design can contribute to solving them. Working on this complex topic, the course should bring the students to an advanced level of


  • understanding how products and services can be interconnected in systems and mutually affecting each other
  • understanding the scientific principles of sustainability
  • understanding how to make informed decisions for design strategies to minimize the negative impact on socio-ecological systems
  • understanding the concept of a circular economy and how design can contribute to achieving this
  • understanding the differences between scientific knowledge and political goals concerning sustainability
  • about how people behaviour may affect the environmental impact caused by the product or service systems, and how the design may affect this behaviour
  • about the global challenges of production and consumption as well as how design may contribute to a sustainable development and the UN sustainability goals


  • taking a systems perspective to describe a chosen topic in relation to the sustainability challenges
  • identifying needs on a basic level and related user groups
  • identifying the main environmental impacts caused by a product/service system throughout its lifecycle and make rough estimates of these impacts
  • evaluating choices of sustainable design strategy/strategies to be implemented in the project’s ideation phase, design process & results
  • making design decisions to enable for additional life cycles in a circular economy
  • analysing and comparing sustainability performance (socio-ecological) of product concepts in order to identify areas for improvement and select most promising concepts

General competence

  • understanding the importance of considering sustainability aspects in a design process, identify and apply appropriate tools or methods to minimize or eliminate the negative environmental impact
  • being able to communicate the design process, use of design strategies and tools, as well as evaluations and decisions made to reach the most promising results for sustainability
  • is able to reflect on the consequences of values and strategies chosen by the designer and company in a systemic perspective.

Arbeids- og undervisningsformer

The most important teaching and learning methods for this course are workshops in class, guest lectures, smaller assignments, peer group presentations, excursions, both individual and group project work. The course includes an individual reflection essay about own learning, contribution and group process.

Arbeidskrav og obligatoriske aktiviteter

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

  • Two assignments in group or individual, orally presented or written submission
  • Reflection essay on learning process, downloaded assignment

Vurdering og eksamen

Group or individual written home examination, which consists of:

  • One written report. Describing an understanding of the theory, research and analyses approaches supporting a design practice for sustainability, and relevant methodology in a "tool-box"- format for design practice. The report may vary according to the project and chosen format/layout, but between 10 and 40 pages are expected.

The examination result can be appealed.

Hjelpemidler ved eksamen

No restrictions on examination resources


Grade scale A-F.


Two internal. External examiner is used periodically.