Emneplan forMAPD5210 Visualizing Complexity

Engelsk emnenavn
Visualizing Complexity
Høst: Masterstudium i produktdesign – design for kompleksitet
20 stp.


This course introduces students to several methods and approaches for systems oriented design analysis and development for complex settings. The complexity relates to social/political, environmental, economic, management, and technological contexts in which the designer as well as products and service that they create, will perform and influence. One of the major methods in this course is GIGA-mapping, which builds on cooperation among students and clients, with lay-people, professionals, stakeholders, and researchers from other disciplines (intra- and inter disciplinary). GIGA-mapping involves the visualization of data in order to accumulate, communicate, and analyse data to understand and create products and services within complex strategic systems and structures.


Admission to the Master's programme.


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 will attain knowledge within

  • general systems theory
  • cybernetic and communication theory
  • system dynamics and analysis
  • game dynamics in systems
  • methods for data gathering in complex settings (visual interviewing, design probes and play probes, co-design, among others)


The student is capable of 

  • describing exceedingly complex contexts through systems thinking as basis for design
  • creating GIGA-maps on the basis of complex settings through data gathering, analysis, cooperation and creative processes
  • using GIGA-maps as conversation tools
  • utilizing methods for data gathering, sharing, cooperation, analysis, and documentation: visual interviewing, design probing, play probing, participatory design, co-design, feministic design, auto-ethnographical research, mapping workshops, GIGA-mapping workshops, and analysis: by theoretical overlay, of relations, patterns, causality, stakeholder, systems dynamics, and concept mapping, on the basis of visualizations data
  • documenting all findings in common visualizations and reducing data into graphs that communicate essences of discussions, findings, tendencies, and so forth
  • creating services and products on the basis of the above mentioned skills


General competence 

The student attain advanced competence in systems oriented design by:

  • developing the ability to understand and handle complexity and systems thinking in design processes in teams and complex organizations, and in products, systems, and service design projects
  • holistic thinking and understanding of design projects in relation to sustainability, environmental and social megatrends, general societal contexts and dynamics, culture, politics, market and technological contexts
  • communication and cooperation by visualization, GIGA-mapping, and other types of mapping
  • all which contribute to the capability to play a lead and cooperative role in design related projects in public and business contexts
  • the ability to implement a chosen specialization as an additional approach or focus within this specific course context


Systems oriented design

  • general systems theory
  • cybernetic theory
  • conversation theory
  • systemic relations
  • visualization of exceedingly complex situations

Game dynamics in systems

  • Engagement in systems
  • Play and game mechanics in systems

Systems oriented methods for data gathering in complex settings

  • visual interviewing
  • design probing, play probing
  • mapping workshops

Methods for the analysis of data and design

  • ZIP
  • systemic relations
  • cybernetic analysis & Praxis/ behavior analysis
  • distinctions of functioning systems and structures
  • systems dynamics
  • causal dynamics
  • feedback loops, reinforcing loops, balancing loops
  • relational mapping
  • stocks, flow, delay, buffers, goal, autopoietic, backlog, information flow, paradigm analysis in relation to intervening in systems for change

Arbeids- og undervisningsformer

The most important teaching and learning methods for this course are: workshops, group work, lectures, discussions (conversation theory based), studio courses and tutoring

Arbeidskrav og obligatoriske aktiviteter

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

  • One note of reflection. Max 1000 words.
  • One group assignment and peer-group presentation. Various number of depending on collaborating partners etc.
  • workshop documentation

Vurdering og eksamen

Individual or group portfolio examination. The portfolio consists of 

  • One gigamap / systems mapping.

The examination result can be appealed. 

Hjelpemidler ved eksamen

No restrictions.


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 examiners are used regularly.


We welcome candidates from a wide range of professional areas because this course; Visualizing Complexity, could contribute to better understanding and dealing with complexity in many different fields. Though, an interest and understanding for how design processes works are needed, but we more than welcome applicants from other disciplines where innovation and development is fundamental.


To apply for this programme you need:

  • A bachelor’s degree, or an equivalent degree.

  • CV

  • A portfolio consisting of documented works related to development and/or innovation processes. A diversity of projects from development of products, systems or services will be found relevant. The ability to define and analyze a design problem, skills in visualization and presentation and creativity will be looked for.

  • A letter of motivation that explains your motivation for applying this course and demonstrate how learning outcomes in the course can contribute in further professional work.