Bachelor's Programme in Design
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Objectives of studies
The Bachelor’s Programme in Design builds on the ethos of Finnish and Scandinavian design: developing solutions that are human-centred, societally relevant and environmentally conscious. Drawing from this Nordic approach to design education, students are encouraged to find their own identities, ways of working and professional niche as designers. Design graduates have:
- A designer’s view of the world. Graduates are highly context-sensitive, asking what, how, and particularly why, as they propose new directions for how to shape the world around them.
- Unique and personal designer identities. Graduates carve out their own professional identities and creative ways of working as designers.
- Comprehensive design toolboxes. Graduates are trained to use contemporary tools, methods and processes for design as well as conduct research in design.
- Ideation and prototyping skills. Graduates generate strong ideas, are able to bring them into life and materialise their solutions regardless if they are embracing business, cultural or societal problems and opportunities.
- Expertise and knowledge of design in different areas. Graduates are trained to design creative products, services, systems and the synthesis of all three.
- Teamwork, co-creation and facilitation skills. Graduates thrive in working with different people, cultures and world views, enabling them to pursue a variety of design careers .
- Impact consciousness. Graduates are informed about their responsibility to respect sustainability, the environment and social values in their design.
Upon graduation from the Bachelor’s Programme in Design, graduates will have a strong foundation to reflect the world and shape it for the better: figuring out what could be, proposing how it could be, and explaining why it should be.
Structure of studies
The Bachelor’s Programme in Design is organised by the School of Arts, Design and Architecture and comprises a total of 180 ECTS credits. The three-year programme consists of:
- Major studies (106-116 ECTS)
- Common general studies (34 ECTS)
- Minor studies (15-25 ECTS)
- Elective studies (15 ECTS)
The first two years of studies are fast-paced and during the third year, students usually dive in to complete their bachelor’s thesis and minor studies. After completing the Bachelor’s programme in Design, students are entitled to continue their studies in one of the following Master’s Programmes:
- Collaborative & Industrial Design
- Creative Sustainability
- International Design Business Management
- New Media Design & Production
- Visual Communication Design
Content of studies
The student-centred curriculum embraces the expanding nature of design and its role in society. Specifically, students are guided to analyse and explicate the meaning of design for users, business, society and the environment. The programme embodies an abstract and thematic perspective on design: starting from a larger societal theme, investigating what it could be, and exploring what could be through the design of a product, service and system that would improve the status quo.
Theory and practice inform and strengthen each other, building on the world-class research in design and media at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Consequently, courses and studios are grounded in a combination of hands-on design work, lectures, seminars, workshops, group projects, self-studies and critiques. Topics covered vary from strategic and sustainable design to product design and digital development and manufacturing. Examples of the wide course selection include:
- Introductory Design Project (8 ECTS)
- Digital Service Design Project (9 ECTS)
- Design Futures (6 ECTS)
- Design and media cultures (4 ECTS)
- Strategic Identity and Design (5 ECTS)
- Sustainable Design (5 ECTS)
- Thematic Studio (12 ECTS)
At the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, students have access to world-class facilities, including brand new studios and workshops for physical (printing, metal, wood) and digital (3D printing, electronics, web) projects. The studio and workshop supervisors and masters are experts in their fields, ready to support students when needed. Further, students work closely with teacher teams, who facilitate a thriving mode for learning in the classroom, including constructive feedback, critique, comments and open discussions during courses.
Lively Campus & Student Life
Aalto University is located in Otaniemi, ten minutes away from the Helsinki city centre. The brand new campus, with its cutting-edge facilities near nature, is a cosy home base for over 12,000 students. Students meet each other not only during their studies but also at multiple recreational events and activities. Hundreds of different student clubs and associations related to culture, sports and other hobbies are available – something for everyone, as an attendee or organiser. Overall, everyday life at the campus is filled with inspiring encounters among students, faculty and societal partners looking to hire.
Each year, twenty students admitted to the Bachelor’s Programme in Design form a tight group. It enables not only strong peer support throughout their studies but also life-long friendships and unforgettable memories. Thanks to the small group sizes and close teaching methods, faculty get to know and support each student during their studies.
Upon joining the programme, students are welcomed to an international community of competent, creative and responsible individuals. Students and faculty come from across the world, bridging students with the global design network. Students are encouraged to apply for exchange studies and internships to further enrich their journey towards a designer. To ensure an extensive selection of opportunities, the School of Arts, Design and Architecture has strong connections to other leading design schools and universities across the globe.
Aalto University is international by nature, welcoming thousands of degree and exchange students from abroad each year. These students join the diverse Aalto community not only through studies, but multiple free time events, activities and celebrations around the campus. Programme administrators, active student tutors and student support services work rigorously to help international students integrate into Nordic culture and welcome them at home in Finland.
Students are encouraged to be open minded towards other domains as well, for example by choosing their elective courses and minors from other Aalto schools. Students can choose any course they feel will best support their paths as designers.
Aalto University is well-known for bridging disciplines of business, arts, technology and science. The lively campus and freedom to choose elective courses across the university bring students from different fields under one roof. This spontaneous multidisciplinary environment sparks new ideas, gathers enthusiasts around them and gives birth to friendships, networks, and every so often, shared projects upon graduation.
The School of Arts, Design and Architecture has a long tradition of successfully collaborating with external partners in projects and courses and nurture close relationships with a number of companies and public sector organisations. Companies, nonprofits and public organisations frequently reach out to Aalto University as the leading design school in the Nordic region to work with students on real-world societal problems and business opportunities. A degree from the Bachelor’s programme in Design gives graduates a foundation for pursuing a professional career in the private, public, cultural and academic sectors and to explore problems and opportunities with other design professionals in the fields such as:
- Communication design
- Digital design
- Industrial design
- Interaction design
- Product design
- Service design
- Strategic design
- Sustainable design
Additionally, as future-oriented designers, graduates are expected to be entrepreneurial and self-directed in their endeavours and explore opportunities in new and emergent areas of design. This can entail working with clients independently as a design consultant, an entrepreneur or as a member of a team within a larger organisation.
Aalto University has well-established career services that help you find employment in Finland and abroad. Aalto students tend to find interesting positions with ease upon graduation. If an academic career is of interest, the bachelor’s programme in design prepares for master’s studies that serve as a great basis for doctoral programmes.