Topic outline

  • Service Design Project Course 7.3.-16.5.2023

    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: 7.3.-16.5.2023

    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 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 (Helsinki time).  

    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 contact / Heikki Hassi at, Planning Officer. 

    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 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    

    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 Assignement 1 

    Lecture 2: Understand the bigger picture to develop flexible strategies    

    This systemic design session explains its role and 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 Assignement 2 

    Lecture 3: Sustainable business models & ecosystem cooperation     

    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 Assignement 3 

    Lecture 4: Service design in digital/virtual complexity    

    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 Assignement 4 

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

    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              11.4.2023

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

    Group Assignement 5 


    Lecture 7:   Visualisation and prototyping                  

    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. 

    Group Assignment 6 

    Lecture 8   Guest lecture               25.4.2023       

    André Santos, Design Strategist at iDE Innovation Lab,

    André will be talking about his past and present work, the organisation where he works and the role of service design in the complex challenges of the 21st century. Have a look at some of André's work examples here

    Lecture 9    The Future of service design                          

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

    Lecture 10     Virtual visit to service design agency              

    Presentation of the Sonder Design Collective on 9.5., by Damaris Rodriges. 

    Check Sonder at

    Lecture 11     Finalising                      

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

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