Name Cr Method of study Time Location Organiser
Designing for urban governance and services 5 Cr Lecture Course 1.3.2021 - 29.3.2021
Name Cr Method of study Time Location Organiser
Designing for urban governance and services 5 Cr Course 25.2.2020 - 31.3.2020
Designing for urban governance and services 5 Cr Course 26.2.2019 - 2.4.2019
Designing for urban governance and services 5 Cr Course 20.2.2018 - 3.4.2018

Target group

Responsible programme: Urban Studies & Planning / Aalto University

The course belongs to the USP Peoples study track

Learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this course should be able to:

  • Develop an understanding of urban governance and services as objects of design.

  • Utilize core terminologies for planners, designers and researchers working in municipal governance and service development contexts.

  • Demonstrate familiarity with theories, methods, skills and examples of design in the public sector.


Recommended time for completion: first year

Aalto teaching period IV (spring term)


The course provides an overview of the current and emerging uses and roles of design in the public sector. It introduces core terminologies, theories, methods and examples of design, planning and other creative professional roles in the context of urban governance and public services. The aim is to familiarise students with recent knowledge in the design field and to develop their skills in applying design approaches in their studies and profession.

The main themes are:

  • Introduction to present and future approaches, issues and trends, in public governance and service provisioning, with focus on design and planning implications.
  • Introduction to design theories, methods and approaches relevant in the public sector, including design for policy and governance, design for services, design for civil society and activism, design for behaviour change, and information and communication design.
  • Examples of design activities, cases and experts from the field.
  • Critical analysis of the value, potential and challenges of design in the public sector

Activities and teaching methods in support of learning

Teaching comprises lectures by experts in design studies and governance and case presentations from the government and cities. Students work in reading circles to gain broad knowledge and deepen understanding of their own topics of interest, bringing forth key issues to the common sessions. As a final outcome, students write an essay where they explore a particular topic further and connect it to their own practice. The essays are presented in a final seminar.

Study materials

List of literature is provided in the beginning of the course.

Assessment practices and criteria

Assessment is based on participation in contact teaching sessions (including 85% attendance unless otherwise agreed in advance with teacher in charge), completion of individual and group assignments, peer-evaluation and submission of the essay including final presentation. Grading scale 0-5.

Additional information

Language of instruction: English

Completion methods

The course is 5 ECTS, which is 135 hours, including:

  • Contact teaching (lectures, presentations, discussions) 45 h.
  • Independent and group work (reading, assignments, essay, personal reflection time) 90 h
  • Contact teaching Tuesdays between 9:15-15:30