Topic outline

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

    Service Design Project Course 4 ECTS

    Responsible teacher: Dr Helena Sustar,   

    Where: Online, Microsoft Teams

    Note: I sent the invitation for the first lecture to your Aalto University email, which you can access at by logging in with your Aalto email address.   

    Course term: 11 lectures

    Time: 20.2.2024-29.4.2024

    Days: Tuesday 18:00 - 20:30 Helsinki time 

    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

    Twitter: #AaltoOpenSD

    Link to Service Design Project Course Lectures starting Monday at 18:00 (Helsinki time).  

    Link to replacing lecture on 7th of May at 18:00 (Helsinki time).  

    Note! Grades and course certificates 

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

    Please contact / Heikki Hassi at, Planning Officer, for grades and course certificates. 

    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 listened 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. Extract business requirements, visualise the experience from the user, front and back-end operations, and connect the system joins to create new or improved service concepts.

    2. Collect qualitative and quantitative data and insights 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. Select and employ appropriate strategic service design tools and methods in collaboration with the company/organisation project partner.

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

    5. Translate digital complexity by utilising systems thinking to minimise friction between the user and digital interfaces.  

    6. Recognise 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 might also 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 Assignment 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 Assignment 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 Assignment 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 will 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 Assignment 4 

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

    This practical session touches upon matters required to be considered 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              26.3. 2024

    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, the lecture introduces prototyping applications and how to conduct user testing. 

    Lecture 8   Guest lecture                 9.4.2024

    Guest lecture by Sandra Castañeda Elena. The theme is jet to be decided.

    Lecture 9    Virtual visit to service design agency               16.4.2024      

    Virtual visit of Futurice by Anni Knutin. 

    Group Assignment 6 

    Lecture 10          The Future of Service Design          23.4.2024 

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

    Lecture 11     Finalising           29.4.2023           

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