Research & Art

UWAS Course Call 2020-2022

Course call open until 15.11.2019
UWAS Banner 2019-2020
Graphic design: Heini Hälinen

Since 2016, UWAS has offered all Aalto students a possibility to engage in arts-based, transdisciplinary education. Each year, we organize approximately 30 elective courses that have spanned from creative coding to water systems, and from sausage-making to sculpting. There are not prerequisites to take UWAS courses, which means that everyone despite of their disciplinary background has be possibility to attend.

UWAS course portfolio is compiled from course proposals that we collect every second year. This is to ensure a living curriculum that is responsive to current issues and concerns both locally and globally. Initially, UWAS aims to be a test-site for arts-based education beyond disciplinary boundaries.

You will find a link to the course proposal form at the bottom of the page.

NOTE: Deadline for proposals is November 15 2019!

What does transdisciplinary education mean?

For UWAS, to start from the premise of transdisciplinarity is to approach learning and teaching as practices that pass through and cross over both existing and emerging disciplines. Rather than distributing new knowledge and skills for those who seem to lack it or, alternatively, abolishing disciplinary traditions, transdisciplinary education denotes a joint endeavour to approach the world from multiple angles at once and learn from each other. As no discipline owns issues like climate change or social inequality, UWAS encourages the formation of communities of teachers and learners who, together, can tackle these and other issues in new and creative ways, ensuring that the viewpoint of art and creative practices is included in this process.

Who can propose and teach UWAS courses?

UWAS courses can be proposed and taught by Aalto faculty as well as hourly-paid teachers outside Aalto. We require each teacher to have at least Master’s degree and preferably some previous experience in teaching. Doctoral students are eligible to teach UWAS courses; however, Master degree students are not.

Criteria for a successful UWAS course proposal

As transdisciplinarity is the starting point for all UWAS courses, we prioritize proposals that expand the boundaries of art, design, and architecture and utilize knowledge and skills from various disciplines. When assessing course proposals, we focus on the following four areas:

1) Course content, conceptual framework, and methods reflect the variety of practices and ways of knowing in art, design, and architecture. They are topical and based on research and/or professional expertise.

2) Skills taught in the course are based on artistic or design-based thinking but also enable students to reflect and reassess their own disciplinary knowledge and life experiences.

3) The content and objectives are thematically-orientated, allowing students from multiple fields to contribute to the contents and discussions of the course.

4) Course may support and develop teacher’s own educational practice

Course categories for 2020-2022

This year, each proposal should address one of the following course categories listed below. The aim of these categories is to connect course content to broad, transdisciplinary frameworks, and spark ideas of new course contents.

Anthropocene courses address issues such as global warming, sustainability, resources, and energy. They respond to and reflect on the great challenges related to our current geological era.

Actions courses deal with different aspects of making and creating in arts, design, and architecture, and explore their connections to practices in other fields.

Reflections courses offer theoretical and critical approaches to present human and non-human conditions. This might include explorations of futures and utopias, identity and identities, and global and local ecosystems.

Manifestations courses deal with communication, visualization, presentation, and representation of information, how is it applied, and how to understand its impacts.

Collaborations courses explore participatory and cooperative practices in arts, design, and architecture, and their links to other fields.

Tensions courses explore traditions, paradigms, and histories between disciplines, and how they are expressed and reflected upon today.

Course Proposal Specifics 

UWAS courses typically are

3 or 5 credits
Scheduled for afternoons and evenings
3 credit courses: meet once a week during one teaching period (6 weeks + evaluation week)
5 credit courses: meet once a week and may span to two teaching periods (please note that for some students this might cause conflicting schedules)
Have at least 15 students
Taught in English; however, we also accept proposals for courses taught in Finnish
Open for Bachelor and Master degree students

We do not typically organize courses that 

Have less than 3 or more than 5 credits
Are intensive courses that last only one or two weeks
Are scheduled over multiple periods
Have less than 12 students


One credit (1 ECTS) is approximately 27 hours of student work. This includes all activities related to the course: study session, individual work, group work, excursions, etc. It also includes the time that students use to reflect on the content of the course. Bear in mind that study sessions are merely one part of the credit distribution.

3 credits: 80 hours, over two weeks of full-time work
4 credits: 108 hours, approximately three weeks of full-time work 
5 credits: 135 hours, approximately three and a half weeks of full-time work

For example, a 3-credit lecture-based course (80 h) that lasts one period (7 weeks) can be distributed in the following way: Lectures 21 h, Individual work 50 h, Reflection 10 h.

Since UWAS courses often involve collaborative work, discussions, and/or practice, regular attendance is required. While it is up to the teacher to decide their attendance policy, UWAS courses have often required at least 80% attendance.

Source: Estimated and perceived: A guideline on workload by Aalto University pedagogical training (

Teaching periods for 2020-2022


Period I and evaluation week: 7 Sep – 23 Oct 2020
Period II and evaluation week: 26 Oct – 11 Dec 2020
Period III and evaluation week: 11 Jan – 26 Feb 2021
Period IV and evaluation week: 1 Mar – 16 Apr 2021
Period V: 19 Apr – 4 Jun 2021


Period I and evaluation week: 13 Sep – 29 Oct 2021
Period II and evaluation week: 1 Nov – 17 Dec 202
Period III and evaluation week: 10 Jan 2022 – 25 Feb 2022
Period IV and evaluation week: 28 Feb – 14 Apr 2022
Period V: 19 Apr – 3 Jun 2022

Proposal process

1) October – November 2019: Proposals are collected

2) December 2019: UWAS Working Group goes through the proposals, decides the preliminary course list, and presents it to the Artistic Activities Steering Group.

3) December 2019 – January 2020: UWAS Working Group informs the applicants whether their proposal has been accepted or not. If the proposal is accepted, Working Group may also to revise some aspects of the proposal.

4) January – February 2020: Courses are scheduled and budgeted

Further inquiries

If you have further questions about the proposal process or UWAS in general, please contact the UWAS working group: Juuso Tervo ([email protected]), Alejandro Pedregal ([email protected]), and Mari Kekola ([email protected]).

Course Proposal Form

To access the course proposal form, please click the following link:

NOTE: Deadline for proposals is November 15 2019!



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