Curriculum for the Master's Programme in Sustainable Design, 2019

1: Preface

Pursuant to consolidation Act 172 of February 27, 2018 on Universities (the University Act) with subsequent changes, the following curriculum is established. The programme also follows the Joint Programme Regulations and the Examination Policies and Procedures for The Faculty.


2: Basis in Ministerial orders

The Master’s programme is organised in accordance with the Ministry of Higher Education and Science’s Order no. 1328 of November 15, 2016 on Bachelor’s and Master’s Programmes at Universities (the Ministerial Order of the Study Programmes) with subsequent changes and Ministerial Order no. 1062 of June 30, 2016 on University Examinations (the Examination Order) with subsequent changes. Further reference is made to Ministerial Order no. 106 of February 12, 2018 (the Admission Order) and Ministerial Order no. 114 of February 3, 2015 (the Grading Scale Order).

3: Campus

The programme is offered in Copenhagen.

4: Faculty affiliation

The Master’s programme falls under The Technical Faculty of IT and Design, Aalborg University.

5: Study board affiliation

The Master’s programme falls under Study Board of Techno-Anthropology and Sustainable Design

6: Affiliation to corps of external examiners

The Master’s programme is associated with the external examiners corps on Nationwide engineering examiners/Design

7: Admission requirements

Applicants with a legal right of admission (retskrav)

  • Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Design (AAU)

Applicants without legal right of admission:

  • Design and Innovation (DTU)
  • Integrated Design (SDU)
  • Architecture and Design, specialisation in Industrial Design (AAU)

8: The programme title in Danish and English

The Master’s programme entitles the graduate to the Danish designation Civilingeniør, cand.polyt. i bæredygtigt design. The English designation is: Master of Science (MSc) in Engineering (Sustainable Design).

9: Programme specifications in ECTS credits

The Master’s programme is a 2-year, research-based, full-time study programme. The programme is set to 120 ECTS credits.

10: Rules concerning credit transfer (merit), including the possibility for choice of modules that are part of another programme at a university in Denmark or abroad

The Study Board can approve successfully completed (passed) programme elements from other Master’s programmes in lieu of programme elements in this programme (credit transfer). The Study Board can also approve successfully completed (passed) programme elements from another Danish programme or a programme outside of Denmark at the same level in lieu of programme elements within this curriculum. Decisions on credit transfer are made by the Study Board based on an academic assessment. See the Joint Programme Regulations for the rules on credit transfer.

11: Exemptions

In exceptional circumstances, the Study Board study can grant exemption from those parts of the curriculum that are not stipulated by law or ministerial order.  Exemption regarding an examination applies to the immediate examination.

12: Rules for examinations

The rules for examinations are stated in the Examination Policies and Procedures - published at this website:

13: Rules concerning written work, including the Master’s Thesis

In the assessment of all written work, regardless of the language it is written in, weight is also given to the student's formulation and spelling ability, in addition to the academic content. Orthographic and grammatical correctness as well as stylistic proficiency are taken as a basis for the evaluation of language performance. Language performance must always be included as an independent dimension of the total evaluation. However, no examination can be assessed as ‘Pass’ on the basis of good language performance alone; similarly, an examination normally cannot be assessed as ‘Fail’ on the basis of poor language performance alone.

The Study Board can grant exemption from this in special cases (e.g., dyslexia or a native language other than Danish).

The Master’s Thesis must include an English summary (or another foreign language: French, Spanish or German upon approval by the Study Board). If the project is written in English, the summary must be in Danish (The Study Board can grant exemption from this). The summary must be at least 1 page and not more than 2 pages (this is not included in any fixed minimum and maximum number of pages per student). The summary is included in the evaluation of the project as a whole.

14: Requirements regarding the reading of texts in a foreign language

It is assumed that the student can read academic texts in his or her native language as well as in English and use reference works etc. in other European languages.

15: Competence profile on the diploma

The following competence profile will appear on the diploma:

A Candidatus graduate has the following competency profile:

A Candidatus graduate has competencies that have been acquired via a course of study that has taken place in a research environment.

A Candidatus graduate is qualified for employment on the labour market based on his or her academic discipline as well as for further research (PhD programmes). A Candidatus graduate has, compared to a Bachelor, developed his or her academic knowledge and independence so as to be able to apply scientific theory and method on an independent basis within both an academic and a professional context.

16: Competence profile of the programme

The graduate of the Master’s programme will aquire the following competencies: 


  • Has knowledge, which in chosen areas, is based on the highest international level of research, within the following areas: 
    • Sustainable design
    • Innovation and organizational change processes
    • Staging participatory design
    • Entrepreneurship and market creation
    • Can understand and critically respond to these knowledge fields and their methodologies, as well as identify scientific problem areas within and across them


  • Master engineering and science related methods, methods from innovation studies and methods from network-based analysis of organizations, institutional and interest related context and can with these analyze sustainable technological innovation
  • Can critically consider above-mentioned theories and methods, develop new models for sustainable technological innovation and in collaboration with networks of different actors transform these into strategic plans of action
  • Can discuss and communicate professional and scientific issues regarding sustainable innovation with technical experts, decision-makers, senior executives, government officers, NGO’s and various users


  • Can manage work- and development situations that are complex, unpredictable and require new solutions
  • Can independently initiate and complete professional and cross-disciplinary collaboration and take a professional responsibility within design- and transition processes
  • Can independently take responsibility for own professional and cross-disciplinary development within the scientific fields of design, technology and sustainability

17: Structure and Contents of the programme

The programme is structured in modules and organised as a problem-based study. A module is a program element or a group of program elements, which aims to give students a set of professional skills within a fixed time frame specified in ECTS credits, and concluding with one or more examinations within specific exam periods. Examinations are defined in the curriculum.

Teaching methods and exams

The programme is based on a combination of academic, problem-oriented and interdisciplinary approaches and organised based on the following work and evaluation methods that combine skills and reflection:

  • lectures
  • instructions
  • project work
  • work in laboratories and workshops
  • experimentations
  • workshops
  • exercises (individually and in groups)
  • teacher feedback
  • reflections
  • portfolio work
  • external activities
  • case work
  • peer assessment
  • study groups

All modules are assessed through individual grading according to the 7-point scale or Pass/Fail. All modules are assessed by external examination (external grading) or internal examination (internal grading).

Curriculum content

The Master’s program is an engineering education with special emphasis on design and development and innovation of sustainable solutions. The program includes interdisciplinary components to satisfy the need for combining methods from social science and technology studies with technical subjects and design practices.

The education will provide the student 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 involving relevant actors.

The programs’ focus on sustainability is reflecting the challenges that development, production, consumption and dismantling of technologies poses for resource utilization and climate. It builds on the broad notion of sustainability that includes the environment, the social and the economy. The realization of these societal goals implies a focus on sustainable transitions in a design perspective as the core to the program’s activities.

18: Overview of the programme

The tabel below shows all project and course modules on the master program, the amount of ECTS’s and the assessment for each.

Offered as: 1-professional
Module name Course type ECTS Applied grading scale Evaluation method Assessment method
1 Semester
Conceptualisation of Sustainable Value Chains Project 15 7-point grading scaleInternal examinationWritten and oral exam
Design in Organisations Course 5 7-point grading scaleInternal examinationWritten or oral exam
Market Creation Course 5 7-point grading scaleInternal examinationWritten or oral exam
Electives 1. sem.
Choose 1 course
Course 5
2 Semester
Design Strategies as Responses to Wicked Problems Project 20 7-point grading scaleExternal examinationWritten and oral exam
Sustainable Transition Course 5 7-point grading scaleInternal examinationWritten or oral exam
Staging Participatory Design Course 5 7-point grading scaleInternal examinationWritten or oral exam
3 Semester
Version A
Design Research Project Project 30 7-point grading scaleInternal examinationOral exam based on a project
3 Semester
Version B
Project Oriented Study in an External Organisation Project 30 7-point grading scaleInternal examinationOral exam based on a project
3 Semester
Version C
International Design Project Project 30 7-point grading scaleInternal examinationOral exam based on a project
4 Semester
Master’s Thesis Project 30 7-point grading scaleExternal examinationOral exam based on a project

Electives 1. sem.
Choose 1 course
Module name Course type ECTS Applied grading scale Evaluation Method Assessment method
Distributed Technological Design Course 5 Passed/Not Passed Internal examination Written or oral exam
Design for Sustainability Course 5 7-point grading scale Internal examination Written or oral exam

The master program is based on a progression in which the complexity of the themes is progressively increasing:

1st semester:Conceptualisation of Sustainable Value Chains

On this semester the focus is on conceptualising sustainable value chains related to organisation, economics and market. The organisational context that design and innovation processes are happening in is introduced through the course module Design in organisations and the economic dimension of design is introduced through the course module Market creation. The students are to choose between two elective modules: Distributed technological design and Design for sustainability. In the project module Conceptualisation of sustainable value chains, the students use knowledge gained from the two course modules and the selected elective module and explore how sustainable value chains can be realised in organisations and on the market, with point of departure in a realistic problem definition.

2nd semester: Design Strategies as Responses to Wicked Problems

On this semester the focus is on design strategies as responses to wicked problems and how it is possible to tackle these wicked problems through a design approach. In the course module Staging participatory design, the students will learn strategies for how to stage design processes, and the course module Sustainable transition focuses on how to stage larger transition processes.   

3rd semester: Holistic Design

On this semester the students are given the opportunity to take a semester at another university, carry out a design project in an international context, carry out a design research project or do a Project-oriented study in an external organisation.

4th semester: Master Thesis

At the last semester the students are to carry out their master thesis. It is free for the students to choose topic and collaboration partner themselves, as long as it is related to sustainable design challenges.

19: Additional information

PBL introductory course

All students who have not participated in Aalborg University’s PBL introductory course during their Bachelor’s degree must attend the introductory course “Problem-based Learning and Project Management”. The introductory course must be approved before the student can participate in the project exam. For further information, please see the Department of Planning’s website. 

20: Commencement and transitional rules

The curriculum is approved by the dean and enters into force as of September 1, 2019.

The Study Board does not offer teaching after the previous curriculum from 2017 after the summer examination period 2020.

21: Amendments to the curriculum and regulations