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.


- Interpret human-centered design, systems thinking and behavior change approaches to policy-level design briefs.


- Implement these approaches and associated methods within a project brief commissioned from within the Finnish government.


- Analyze collected information and integrate conclusions to develop creative proposals.


- Communicate their processes and outcomes verbally, visually and in writing to those from multiple disciplines, sectors and the public.


- Manage their project content and process, multidisciplinary team work and commissioner relationship.

Credits: 10

Schedule: 01.03.2021 - 24.05.2021

Teacher in charge (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022): Nuria Solsona Caba

Teacher in charge (applies in this implementation): Nuria Solsona Caba, Sanna Tiilikainen

Contact information for the course (valid 09.02.2021-21.12.2112):This course happens over Period IV and V over a total of 12 weeks. Contact teaching will happen every Monday from 1st March until 24th May, except on 5th April (Easter Monday) and 12th April (Period break).

Contact teaching will happen online, using Zoom. Independent group work activities (assignments) are scheduled during contact teaching and outside contact teaching hours, that students will have to arrange with their own teams. Where possible, and following the Covid-19 safety regulations at the time, we encourage you to conduct group work on-site with your team mates. Likewise, independent project work (assignments) could be arranged to happen on-site. 

Contact teaching on Mondays will follow this structure:
09.15 - 12.00 Lecture (online) 
12.00 - 13.15 Lunch break / Mobilise for on-site team meeting (if possible, as described above)
13.15 - 15.30 Independent group assignment (offline / on-site, with your team) 
15.30 - 17.00 Group Tutorial (30 min. slot) (online)

During the week: Independent group assignment arranged by the team. 

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


  • Applies in this implementation:

    This is a practical course where you will apply basic approaches to design of government in a real project brief commissioned by the Finnish Ministries. 

    We will cover three different design approaches to design for social change in government.

    1. Human perspective: Apply human-centred design methods to frame the problem of your brief by conducting ethnographic inspired research methods and qualitative analysis. 
    2. Systems thinking: Use systemic perspectives to analyse complex systems and identify leverage points for design intervention.
    3. Behavioural insights: Basics of cognitive science to implement design interventions that nudge desired behaviour

    We will have guest lectures by expert practitioners on Policy design, System mapping and Behavioural insights, and DfG Alumni to share practical case studies of their work as designers in government. 

Assessment Methods and Criteria
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Assessment is done continuously by course teachers based on:

    • Participation in contact teaching sessions (including 80% attendance unless otherwise agreed in advance with teacher in charge ; attendance is mandatory for the first day of class, for the mid-review and Final Show) 

    • Individual and group work, including management and completion of assignments

    • Learning diaries (logs) and work-in-progress reports (blogs)

    • Presentations and final report

    In addition, teachers will take into account feedback from commissioners on:

    • Quality of project outcomes

  • Applies in this implementation:

    In this course you will have to conduct the following activities: Pre-Readings, Course assignments, Blogs, Readings, Final presentation and Report.

    Pre-Readings (not graded): Most of the weeks you will have one mandatory reading that supports the content of the Monday lecture. This is an individual assignment due before the corresponding lecture. 

    Course assignments (not graded): These are a mix of contact teaching assignments and independent project activities conducted in your project group. Completion of this is mandatory to pass the course. Submissions might be required for feedback. 

    Period IV
    Assignment 1 Team building exercise
    Assignment 2 Background reading
    Assignment 3 Round table prep
    Assignment 4 Research plan
    Assignment 5 Peer-to-peer: Research plan feedback
    Assignment 6 Conduct fieldwork
    Assignment 7 Systems map
    Assignment 8 Affinity diagram
    Assignment 9 Mid-term review
    Assignment 10 Peer-to-peer feedback  
    Assignment 11 Design drivers

    Period V
    Assignment 1 Design intervention
    Assignment 2 Ideation
    Assignment 4 Proposal 
    Assignment 5 Peer-to-peer feedback
    Assignment 6 Final presentation
    Assignment 7 Final report 

    (Note: list of assignments is illustrative and it is subject to change) 

    Blogs (graded): Each student, individually, will write 1 blog throughout the duration of the course reflecting on the project and the design process. The blog is aimed at helping you to document the process and build the final report. 

    Final presentation and Report (graded): At the end of the course the project group will deliver a final presentation and project report summarising the project process and proposal.

    The final grade is calculated in the following way:
    Active participation and contribution to group work: 25%
    Blogs: 25%
    Final presentation: 25%
    Final report: 25%

    Rubrics, describing the assessment criteria for the above mentioned will be shared at the beginning of the course. 

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    The course is 10 ECTS. This equals 270 total hours of work, or 19.2 hours per week, which is roughly 3 full working days per week. Students should not take another big course at the same time. Contact teaching is scheduled on 1 day per week.Tentative distribution of student workload below.


    Contact teaching days:

    - 24h lectures and  individual/group guidance (workshops, tutorials, peer-feedback)

    - 4h group sharing or presentations

    - 42h independent work on given assignments


    Independent individual/group work:

    - 12h project and groupwork planning

    - 62h stakeholder and systems research and analysis

    - 57h design development and communication

    - 8h learning diaries and work-in-progress reports

    - 28h preparing presentations and report

    - 30h time to think

  • Applies in this implementation:

    Assignments will contain specific information on workload and guidance to support the necessary skills to complete each task. Additionally, each group will have weekly tutorials with their mentor for 30 min.

    Activities have been distributed week-by-week to consider a balance in the workload. Please check the overview of the week by week activities to help you plan your time ahead. We will share the overview and detailed schedule at the beginning of the course. 

    Note that there are certain weeks that are more demanding than others. Specially on Period IV the group work is more intense. Weeks 2-4, will be heavier than the rest due to arranging and conducting fieldwork.In contrast, in Period V the intensity on group work will decrease. 


Study Material
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Course literature is adjusted on a yearly basis. See also the report ‘Design for Government: Human-centric governance through experiments’ (in Finnish ‘Design for Government - kokeiluilla ihmislähtöistä ohjausta’) produced by Design for Government with Demos Helsinki for the Finnish Prime Minister’s office.

    Students in the course sign an agreement about intellectual property rights (Creative Commons CC BY 4.0), in accordance with the course contract with project commissioners.

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    This is an advanced studio course. This means that the course does not focus on acquisition of basic knowledge but on the application of knowledge to address project briefs commissioned from governmental ministries. As the course is part of a multidisciplinary master program (Creative Sustainability), sources of knowledge come from diverse disciplines. Students are expected to have basic knowledge in areas such as user research and human-centered design (such as ‘empathic’ approaches), systems thinking, policy design and design for behavioral change (such as ‘behavioral insight’). Students should have good to excellent knowledge and experience of such areas from previous courses and/or other equivalent experiences.

Registration for Courses
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    All interested students can register through WebOodi. Additional application information will be emailed to you by the teacher.

    Selection of students for the course is based on an additional application process that checks some prerequisite knowledge for the course. Based on the submitted applications, if there are more qualified applicants for the course than there are places in the course, there will be a selection process.

    If there is a selection process, the order of priority in student selection is: CS students for whom the course has been scheduled in the students PSP (HOPS) ; students for whom the course is part of their major's or programme's alternative studies and has been scheduled in the student's PSP (HOPS) for the current academic year, exchange students for whom the course is a part of his/her officially approved learning agreement and scheduled to be taken during the current semester; all other students.

    DfG is a multidisciplinary elective course. Therefore the order of priority for student selection is also based on prerequisite knowlege and the learning outcomes of the course. 

  • Applies in this implementation:

    On the first day of the course students will be assigned to a project group and a project brief. The groups will have 4 teammates with different backgrounds. The teams will be arranged to include diverse perspectives: such as design, tech, social or business backgrounds, gender balance and nationality diversity. The project brief and teams will be assigned based on these criteria – and cannot be changed.

    Groups won't change during the course and students will work on the same project brief and with the same teammates for the rest of the course. 

SDG: Sustainable Development Goals

    8 Decent Work and Economic Growth

    10 Reduced Inequality

    11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

    12 Responsible Production and Consumption

    16 Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

    17 Partnerships for the Goals


Further Information
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Minimum number of students: 12 ; Maximum number of students: 15-27 ; Number of student places depends on number of project briefs from ministries.

    Postgraduate (doctoral) students can take the course on the same workload basis as master’s students. Bachelor students can apply if they have completed at least 180 ECTS.

    More information (including Frequently Asked Questions) at

  • Applies in this implementation:

    On the first day of the course students will be assigned to a project group and a project brief. The groups will have 4 teammates with different backgrounds. The teams will be arranged to include diverse perspectives: such as design, tech, social or business backgrounds, gender balance and nationality diversity. The project brief and teams will be assigned based on these criteria – and cannot be changed.

    Groups won't change during the course and students will work on the same project brief and with the same teammates for the rest of the course.