Topic outline

  • The course material might get change before the course start, so please watch this space regularly.

    Service Design Project Course 4 ECTS

    Responsible teacher: Dr Helena Sustar, @helena.sustar,   

    Where: Online, Microsoft Teams

    Course term: 11 lectures

    Time: 06.10. - 15.12.2020

    Days: Tuesday 17:30 - 20:30

    Workload: 108 hours: 40 hours: contact hours / 68 hours: Independent work

    Note: Course requires group work outside of contact hours and you might find it demanding therefore reserve enough time every week.    

    Grading: 0-5

    Course Language: English (Finish)

    Twitter: #AaltoOpenSD

    Note! Grades and course certificates 

    Teacher sends grades at the latest one month after the course to Aalto Open University Office.  

    For grades and course certificates, please contact

    or visit Certificates and transcripts of records - in English: 

    Todistukset ja opintosuoritusotteet - in Finnish:

    Course Description

    The main aim of this course is the student's ability to utilise individual service design (SD) expertise in the practical development of an innovative project. The student understands service characteristics and knows how to take these into account when redesigning or developing innovative SD concepts. Then, she/he gets familiar with the design process and utilising appropriate SD tools at a particular stage of project development. At the end of the course, the student demonstrates an application of gained SD knowledge during the course on the practical project of selected (sustainable) services by proposing innovative systemic, strategic and user experiences solutions and concepts.

    Content and Structure 

    The course structure supports' student learning and gaining SD skills in several different means: through readings, lectures, discussions, blog reflections and practical exercises of utilising various SD tools. Students are encouraged to examine the given project theme holistically from the sophisticated systemic level, strategic and business perspective up to individual service user experiences.

    First, student, employ design principles, selected strategic and business strategies, systems thinking, and SD tools with chosen Finnish company or public organisation. Then, he/she gets familiar with relevant terminology related to digital complexity (DX, DXP, CX, digital platforms, AI, AR, VR, blockchain technology, IoT) and ethical and social implications of digitalisation for future socio-cultural systems. This him/her assist in planning advance SD strategies in digital environments. The third set of lectures introduces what future SD trends are. During the course, the student examines service providers' perspective as well as user side by adopting different essential and specific SD tools. The set of lectures concludes with prototyping and visualisation techniques. Last but not least, the student is working on a given project together with project mentor, had the opportunity to visit (virtually) an SD agency and listen to a talk of selected academic and industry-related guest speaker.

    Learning Outcomes 

    After this course, the student accomplishes in 

    1. extracting business requirements, visualising the experience from the user, front and back-end operations and connecting the system joins to create new or improved service strategies;

    2. collecting qualitative and quantitate data and insides in the specific context of her/his project with ethical procedures in their mind. This gives him/her to understand user's and stakeholders' needs and behaviours to design meaningful service value propositions;

    3. selecting and employing appropriate strategic service design tools and methods in collaboration with the company/organisation project partner;

    4. facilitating (if proper) co-design workshops with professionals from different disciplines, to generate new business opportunity areas in the context of a selected enterprise; 

    5. translating digital complexity with utilising systems thinking wit the aim to minimise friction between the user and digital interfaces;  

    6. recognising future trends to predict strategic service business expansions in different domains and contexts and 

    7. constructively reflect on a group project progress, learning, lectures, (virtual) visits and her/his and other projects theme.

    Study material

    Is announced at the first lecture and it is related to individual lectures and a specific project that student is working. Besides, project mentors also might provide a particular material.


    1. The innovative use of service design tools in the given project

    2. The quality of the project progress presented at the midterm presentation and the final presentation  

    3. The inventiveness of the project service design solution or a concept 

    4. The quality of the learning blog posts

    5. Participants need to attend the course at least 80%

    Individual lectures 

    Lecture 1: Course introduction & Projects themes            Tuesday 6.10.2020

    The first lecture consists of two parts: a course and project introduction. The first part starts with introducing the course technicalities, practicalities and course content. Following, requirements for the individual and group work; essential dates related to course deliverables including of the midterm and the final presentation. Introduction lecture also instructs on the blog writing, constructive reflections on course readings, following course assessment. In the second part of the lecture, four different projects' themes are presented. Each project is supported with relevant literature provided by project mentors. The lecture concludes with team-building exercise.  

    The practical implication of an SD tool: Provotype

    Reading 1 & Homework 1

    Lecture 2: Understand the bigger picture                 Tuesday 13.10.2020

    This lecture concerns planning the initial part of the project; however, seeing it as a part of a bigger picture. Lecture on systemic design will be given explaining what the systemic design is and how it is related to service design. The lecture will present arguments on why systemic design is essential now and what are systemic design methods that could be utilised in these complex projects following the first exploration of project themes by examining future trends, adopting three horizons exercise. 

    The practical implication of an SD tool: Three horizons (3H)

    Reading 2 & Homework 2


    Lecture 3: The role of strategy in service design           Tuesday 20.10.2020

    At this lecture, we will discuss the role of strategy in service design. We will debate the business design, and several strategic design tools will be presented following the play of a board planning ATLAS game. The game enables service designers and professionals to plan service co-development projects, and it can be used as a tool for learning about service co-development methods. The game permits players to study and discuss their real-life problems in the game stetting, analyse their project's issues and identify appropriate participants, techniques and processes.

    The practical implication of an SD tool: a MURAL project planning tool 

    Reading 3 & Homework 3

    Lecture 4     Practical lecture: What makes a great workshop?             Tuesday 27.10.2020 

    This lecture will concern "What makes a good workshop?" where will be disused issues that we have to take into account before the workshop, during the workshop and after the workshop? Then, will follow a short discussion on design ethics covering how to write a consent form and information sheet after the lecture will be time for mentoring of individual groups.

    A practical implication of an SD tool: Workshop template & Mapping workshop actions exercise

    Reading 4 & Homework 4 

    Lecture 5:  Service design in digital complexity and beyond               Tuesday 07.11.2020           

    This lecture will translate digital complexity utilising design approach to minimise friction between the user and digital interfaces. Students get familiar with relevant terminology (DX, DXP, CX, digital platforms, AI, AR, VR, blockchain technology, IoT) and ethical and social implications of digitalisation for future socio-cultural systems to plan advance service design strategies in digital environments.

    Lecture 6    Midterm presentation                 Tuesday 10.11.2020

    This entire lecture is dedicated to mid-term projects presentations, projects' evaluations, feedback and discussions. Feedback will be peer to peer-assisted in addition to mentors and responsible teacher feedback. 

    Reading 5 & Homework 5  

    Lecture 7:   Visualisation and prototyping           Tuesday 17.11.2020       

    This lecture familiarises students with different types of advanced prototyping. The lecture starts with what is prototyping and why is essential. Then, are demonstrated rapid prototyping, sketching and paper prototyping, video prototyping, mobile application design, and how to create mockups, wireframes and prototypes with PowerPoint. Finally, are introduced prototyping apps to create prototypes faster and how to conduct user testing. 

    Reading 6 & Homework 6  (See reading material in Materials -> Reading Material & Homework)

    Lecture 8   Virtual visit at Vincit service design agency               Tuesday 24.11.2020

    Andrew Matias and Carolina Faria will be presenting Vincit company, their business strategy and various sustainable projects that the company pursued in the last couple of years. There will also be a discussion about the tools that Vincit developed for more planet centric designs called Planet Centric Design tools. Some of you would remember them as we used them at the Basic of Service Design Course.

    Lecture 9       Guest lecture                  Tuesday 01.12.2020         

    Guest lecturer Ida Urmas, Circular Designer Ethica Oy. Ida has been running the EcoDesign Sprints with Ethica most recent clients.

    The latest article reporting about EcoDesign Sprints can be read at EcoDesign Learning Factory – new service ideas for circular economy

    Before the lecture, you can get familiarised about EcoDesign Sprints here and here. If you have any questions for Ida Urmas regarding EcoDesign Sprints please send them to me by email before the lecture. 

    Lecture 10     The future of service design themes (Sustainability)         Tuesday 08.12.2020 

    This lecture is dedicated to future trends to predict strategic service business expansions (e.g. sustainable and circular business models) in the different domains and contexts. 

    The practical implication of an SD tool: Sustainable business model canvas 

    Lecture 11     Finalising                Tuesday 15.12.2020           

    At this last lecture, each group will have the opportunity to present their Final projects' service design solution and get feedback, which will be peer to peer-assisted, in addition to responsible teacher feedback.