Topic outline

  • The course material might change, so please watch this space regularly. 

    Service Design Project Course 4 ECTS

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

    Where: Online, Microsoft Teams

    Note: I will send the invitation to your Aalto University email, which you can access at by logging in with your Aalto email address.   

    Course term: 11 lectures

    Time: 20.09. - 29.11.2022

    Days: Tuesday 18:00 - 20:30

    Workload: 108 hours: 34.5 hours: contact hours / 73.5 hours: Independent work

    Note: The course requires group work outside of contact hours, which you might find demanding; therefore, reserve enough time every week.    

    Grading: 0-5

    Course Language: English (Finish)

    Twitter: #AaltoOpenSD

    Link to Service Design Project Course Lectures on Tuesday evening starting at 18:00.  

    Note! Grades and course certificates 

    The teacher sends grades at least one month after the course to Aalto Open University Office.  

    For grades and course certificates, please get in touch with / Heikki Hassi at

    or visit Certificates and transcripts of records - in English: 

    Todistukset ja opintosuoritusotteet - in Finnish:

    Course Description

    This course aims to initiate participants' ability to utilise individual service design expertise in the practical development of a current service design project with the company partner. Besides the project work, participants also listen to four lectures covering theoretical contemporary SD topics and two practical lectures. One session is dedicated to a guest speaker talk and a virtual visit to the service design agency. Participants are also requested to complete six group assignments and write about their results on Blogger. Assignments assist participants in furthering their company projects. Four project groups establish tight communication with companies' mentors through individual meetings outside teaching hours. Last, participants have two opportunities to present their project work and receive feedback from their mentors and peers.

    Learning Outcomes 

    What you will gain from the course:

    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 concepts.

    2. Collect qualitative and quantitative data and insides in the specific context of a group project with ethical procedures in mind. Collected insides allow learners to understand user 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 various disciplines to generate new business opportunity areas in the context of a selected enterprise. 

    5. Translating digital complexity with utilising systems thinking minimises friction between the user and digital interfaces.  

    6. Recognising future trends to predict strategic service business expansions in diverse domains and contexts and 

    7. Constructively reflect on a group project's progress, learning, lectures, (virtual) visits and other project themes.

    Study material

    At the first lecture, the teacher announced individual lessons and a specific project that the student was working on. Besides, project mentors also might provide material.


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

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

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

    4. The quality of the reflective learning blog posts.

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

    Individual sessions  

    Lecture 1: Course introduction & Projects theme presentations    20.9.2022

    In the first part, the lecture introduces the course's practicalities and technicalities, and in the second, the project mentors present four different project themes. The session finishes with learners selecting their project theme.    

    Group Blog post 1 

    Lecture 2: Understand the bigger picture to develop flexible strategies     27.9.2022

    This systemic design session explains systemic design's role and its relation to service design projects. The second part of the session will be dedicated to strategy's role in service design and related terminology, including strategy and organisational strategy.

    Group Blog post 2 

    Lecture 3: Sustainable business models & ecosystem cooperation     4.10.2022

    This session discusses the role of service design in developing business models in the circular economy and types of circular service business models with representative cases. In the second part, we will deliberate about the ecosystems, ecosystem collaboration and a design-led approach to embracing an ecosystem strategy.       

    Group Blog post 3 

    Lecture 4: Service design in digital/virtual complexity    11.10.2022

    This session translates digital complexity using a design approach to minimise friction between users and digital interfaces. Participants get familiar with relevant terminology and digitalisation's ethical and social implications for future socio-cultural systems to plan advanced service design strategies in digital environments.

    Group Blog post 4 

    Lecture 5: Practical lesson: What makes a successful workshop?        18.10.2022      

    This practical session touch upon matters required to consider before, during and after the workshop, whether this is a virtual or physical co-creative session, following a short discussion on design ethics covering how to write a consent form and information sheet.

    Lecture 6    Midterm presentation              25.10.2022

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

    Group Blog post 5 


    Lecture 7:   Visualisation and prototyping          1.11.2022           

    This practical lecture familiarises course participants with different types of advanced prototyping. The course first presents what prototyping is and why it is essential, following various forms of prototyping: sketching, paper, video prototyping, mock-up etc. Finally, are introduced prototyping applications and how to conduct user testing. 

    Homework: Group Blog post 6 

    Lecture 8   Guest lecture         8.11.2022                

    A guest lecture by Anton Schubert from EY Doberman on the role of designers towards more planet-centred design.  

    Please see below some literature suggested by the presenter for further reading. 

    - WILLIAM MCDONOUGH and MICHAEL BRAUNGART: Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things  
    - Carlo Vezzoli
     Product-Service System Design for Sustainability
    - Naomi Klein
     This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

    - Naomi Klein No Logo 
    - Annie Leonard
     The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and our Health—and a Vision for Change

    - ROBERT KLANTEN, SVEN EHMANN, STEPHAN BOHLE: Cause and Effect: Visualizing Sustainability 

    Lecture 9    The future of service design        15.11.2022                    

    This lecture presents future trends to predict strategic service business expansions in various domains and contexts. 

    Lecture 10     Virtual visit to service design agency        22.11.2022         

    Virtual visit at Rune&Berg - Kuukka will present an experience-focused design agency. 


    Lecture 11     Finalising           29.11.2022             

    In the last lecture, project groups present their final projects' service design solutions and receive feedback from their peers, project mentors and responsible teacher.