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.


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.

Credits: 5

Schedule: 01.03.2021 - 29.03.2021

Teacher in charge (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022): Antti Pirinen

Teacher in charge (applies in this implementation): Antti Pirinen

Contact information for the course (valid 05.02.2021-21.12.2112):

Antti Pirinen (responsible teacher)
D.Arts, University Lecturer
Spatial and Service Design
Aalto ARTS, Dept. of Architecture

Cansu Pylkkänen (teaching assistant)
M.Sc (Arch.), MA student in Aalto ARTS

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:

    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, and participatory design in the urban context.
    • Examples of design activities, cases and experts from the field.
    • Critical analysis of the value, potential and challenges of design in the public sector.

    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.

  • Applies in this implementation:

    The detailed schedule will be updated to MyCourses before the course start:

Assessment Methods and Criteria
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    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 and the essay including final presentation.

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    The course is 5 ects, which is 135 hours, including:
    - Contact teaching (lectures, presentations, discussions) 30 h.
    - Independent and group work (reading, weekly assignments, essay, personal reflection time) 105 h.


Study Material
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

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

  • Applies in this implementation:

    Link to a pre-reading material will be sent to the participants before the start.

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    The course is only for master's level students.

SDG: Sustainable Development Goals

    10 Reduced Inequality

    11 Sustainable Cities and Communities