Please note! Course description is confirmed for two academic years, which means that in general, e.g. Learning outcomes, assessment methods and key content stays unchanged. However, via course syllabus, it is possible to specify or change the course execution in each realization of the course, such as how the contact sessions are organized, assessment methods weighted or materials used.


On successful completion of ANY studio course, you will be able to:

- identify your most important individual learning goals

- distinguish important milestones in your working process

- document your working process

- present and defend your creative choices and design decisions

- discuss and debate the work of others, and give constructive feedback


In addition, on successful completion of Studio: Visual Narratives course, you will be able to:

- apply aspects of narratives and storytelling in your own design practice

- develop and complete a self-organised design project exploring the various methods and standpoints of visual narrative

- recognise the specific qualities and effects of different media by applying the concept of adaptation

Credits: 12

Schedule: 02.03.2021 - 07.05.2021

Teacher in charge (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022): Arja Karhumaa

Teacher in charge (applies in this implementation): Arja Karhumaa, Robynn McPherson

Contact information for the course (valid 04.02.2021-21.12.2112):

Course teacher: Robynn McPherson


CEFR level (applies in this implementation):

Language of instruction and studies (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022):

Teaching language: English

Languages of study attainment: English


  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    General description for Studios

    The studio course is where you dedicate time and space for an investigative communication design project either individually or in a group. The thematics of the course may vary yearly, and activities can range from autonomous projects to experimental collaboration with an organisation, company, or community. Your task is to plan and execute a practice-based design/research project where learning goals are set both by you individually as well as on a common trajectory with your studio group. Background research in both theory and praxis as well as documentation are an important part of the process. Individual feedback sessions, milestone presentations, peer discussions and readings provide structure and support for your work.

    The four parallel studio courses share joint lectures as well as work-in-progress clinics out of which you can choose those which provides best support to your concept and execution. The final results of all the studio courses are presented in a joint exhibition/installation.


    Studio: Visual Narratives

    In this studio, you explore and develop variations of visual narrative. Here, narrative is defined broadly, focusing on the communicative and multimodal aspects of storytelling, whether linear on non-linear. For example, your project might use the methods of journalism, motion graphics/animation, bookmaking, printmaking, or illustration and comics, and it might start from a standpoint that is either personal, documentary, or curatorial. Through developing your own extensive narrative project, you will gain confidence in defining your individual design approach, and an opportunity to (re)situate your own practice within the vast field of visual communication.

  • Applies in this implementation:

    The course will be held online via zoom, on campus (indoors) as well as in two separate Helsinki locations (outdoors).  

Assessment Methods and Criteria
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    The assessment is a synthesis of your design process, required milestones submitted on time, and the final outcome of the design project. Successful completion of this requires minimum 80 % attendance. 

  • Applies in this implementation:

    Numerical Grading 1–5

    Grade evaluation is divided as follows:

    Classroom discussion, participation and engagement (40%)

    Small assignments (20%)

    Individual project commitment and process (30%)

    Individual project final outcome (10%)

    As evaluation criteria, the following are considered at the end of the course:

    - reflective and original responses to small assignments

    - small assignments and individual project show consideration of convention vs. expression

    - active participation in conversations: commenting, sharing, listening and respect towards fellow students’ work

    - discernible evolution of design and thinking processes

    - submitting all assignments on schedule

    - an element of care in craft and presentation

    - all assignments must be submitted in order to pass the course

  • Note: Students will be required to give course feedback/reflection in order to
    successfully complete this course.

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    12 ECTS = 324 h, of which

    •       27 h joint lectures shared by all studios
    •       90 h studio teaching
    •       39 h working independently OR in joint clinics according to need
    •       168 h independent work

  • Applies in this implementation:

    Classes consist of lectures, workshops, discussions, outdoor site visits, project incubators and support groups. There will also be small independent assignments in between the classes, as well as a short preliminary assignment before the course begins.


Study Material
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Study materials will be provided in the beginning of the course.

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Students from outside VCD are accepted at the teachers' discretion. Upon registration, these students are required to send a portfolio to the responsible teachers. The portfolio should be a pdf consisting of maximum of 5 projects and 10 pages, including one page with a brief letter of intent. These should demonstrate previous experience and/or potential in the area of interest relevant to the studio course.


Details on the schedule
  • Applies in this implementation:

    Detailed schedule will be shared on the first day of course.