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Master of Design

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About the programme

Master of Design is a two-year programme  (120 ECTS). Students who complete the programme are well equipped for a professional career in design. Some students might also choose to pursue an academic career.

AHO has an international profile and the teaching language at Master's level is English.

The design programme nurtures a designerly attitude of ‘Shaping Futures’ in creative, valuable and responsible ways. It has a broad, holistic approach to design that goes beyond its traditional role, emphasising its relevance and importance within contemporary society. The core of the programme is defined by a particular philosophy as regards design methods and processes, aesthetics and communication. Furthermore, we emphasise the importance of placing our practice within an ethical, sustainable and critical socio-cultural framework. AHO aims to be at the forefront of the design field and achieves this through a close link between research and education, as well as close collaboration with the industry, private and public sector.

The studies are geared to meet the challenges facing today’s society and addresses how design can contribute to positive change and understanding, solve complex problems and unveil new opportunities. In sum, we educate adaptive, innovative, and communicative design professionals, while developing a broadly integrated approach to design processes, including collaborative skills and tools with which to assimilate multiple stakeholders.

The design programme at AHO is an integrated five-year master’s degree programme in which the students work on challenges across the fields of industrial design, interaction design and service design. The students are taught in all of these subject areas at foundation level and learn the basic principles, skills and knowledge in the design field. The foundation level, which covers the first three years of the programme, provides all students with the basic interdisciplinary expertise needed by the designers of the future. This expertise also forms a basis for students to make sound choices in terms of specialisation in the fields of industrial design, interaction design and service design at the master’s degree level. Systems oriented design is introduced early, and focused on in the last semester of the foundation level part of the programme. This provides students with the mindset and methods required to understand and deal with the increasing degree of complexity that the design field embraces. 

The two last years of the programme at master’s degree level and the two-year international master’s degree allow students to choose between specialisation in service design, interaction design or industrial design. The programme offers room for students to choose their own approach to the design field and develop their own unique identities as designers.
 

Designers educated at AHO

  • are capable of establishing an independent professional area of work, contribute with original angles of perception and solutions, and practise the discipline at a high international level;
  • can develop concepts and solutions through design-related investigation, ideation, collaboration and projects;
  • know the unique history of the subject, its position in society and are able to reflect on the subject’s cultural and technological preconditions today and looking forward;
  • master the subject’s methods, tools and forms of expression and are able to use these in a targeted, professional and experimental way in creative processes;
  • have knowledge and experience of research and development work;
  • can communicate values and concepts, facilitate dialogue and interdisciplinary processes by applying a broad spectrum of design methods and tools;
  • have the ability to reflect on their own work and transgress their framework of understanding;
  • take responsibility for their own professional development and can use their knowledge and skills in new fields;
  • can reflect on and position their own professional contribution in relation to ethical issues that arise when practising design; 
  • are able to take on different professional roles in a reflected manner and demonstrate good cooperation skills when working with other professional groups.

Graduates should be able to adopt a holistic approach to both problem solving and identifying new windows of opportunity. With people in focus and an empathic approach, you will be able to work with a wide range of different users, stakeholders and systems. AHO’s unique courses in systems oriented design familiarise students with methodology and approaches used to meet the complexity and systematic challenges in society, industry and culture. Designers from AHO should be able to take responsibility for the consequences of their practical training and projects, and take different users and technologies, ecology, nature and long-term sustainability into consideration in their work.
 
AHO's perspective is that good design creates aesthetic and functional products, services and experiences that delight and improve the lives of people and contribute to a resilient and long-term sustainable future.


Programme structure

We encourage students to choose courses based on their own professional interests. Which courses are available to the student depend on course-specific prerequisites, as well as the path of study the student has been admitted to. 

Students in the two-year Master of Design will follow the same courses as students in the five-year integrated Master of Design. There are no programme-specific courses for the two-year master.

The first year of the degree is structured around courses and projects from the different paths of study. The first semester of the second year is dedicated to the chosen specialization, or to interdisciplinary work based on systems oriented design. Parallel to this, the students start to plan and find a theme for their diploma projects. The final semester is dedicated to the diploma project, which can be done in close co-operation with external companies and organisations, or in connection with the research and development currently taking place at the Institute of Design and Centre for Design Research

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Industrial Design
Semester Studio course (24 ECTS) Specialization (6 ECTS)
1st semester
 
Industrial Design 1 or System Oriented Design
 
Elective specialization
2nd semester Elective studio course* or exchange semester Elective specialization or Exchange semester
3rd semester Elective studio course** Pre-Diploma (obligatory)
4th semester Diploma (30 ECTS) (obligatory)
 
 
 
Interaction Design
Semester Studio course (24 ECTS) Specialization (6 ECTS)
1st semester
 
Interaction Design 1 or System Oriented Design
 
Elective specialization
2nd semester Elective studio course* or exchange semester Elective specialization or Exchange semester
3rd semester Elective studio course** Pre-Diploma (obligatory)
4th semester Diploma (30 ECTS) (obligatory)
 
 
 
Service Design
Semester Studio course (24 ECTS) Specialization (6 ECTS)
1st semester
 
Service Design 1 or System Oriented Design
 
Elective specialization
2nd semester Elective studio course* or exchange semester Elective specialization or Exchange semester
3rd semester Elective studio course** Pre-Diploma (obligatory)
4th semester Diploma (30 ECTS) (obligatory)
 
 
 
*Elective studio course (based on prerequisites) in the 2nd semester in accordance with the current programme description approved by the Academic Committee. ** Elective studio course (based on prerequisites) in the 3rd semester in accordance with the current programme description approved by the Academic Committee.  

Learning outcomes – Interaction design

Interaction design is about how we use, experience and understand digital technologies. The Institute of Design takes a purposefully broad and interdisciplinary approach to interaction design that builds on, and integrates with, the institute’s other design fields, such as industrial design and service design. Through the interaction design courses at AHO, the students develop general knowledge, project experience and specialised skills that are relevant across the digital design sector, including iterative methodologies, design for internet and screens, electronics and software, and user research and testing.
 
A central approach across the foundation level and master’s degree courses is to develop creative exploration of technology as a material for design in order to foster critical understanding, invention and processes of innovation. This covers different methods for prototyping interactive experiences, working with emerging technologies and ways of developing interfaces and digital products. Through projects with industry partners, the students develop broad general knowledge about methodologies and tools used across the digital design sector in general, as well as project experience from specialised industries. Through the interaction design courses, students also develop general competencies in digital culture in order to contextualise the designer’s role in relation to the ongoing digitalisation  of society and industry.
 

Learning outcomes – Industrial design 

In general, industrial design concerns the development of new useful physical products by utilising methods, tools and mindsets that have been refined over many decades, if not centuries, of practice. Over the years, the discipline has developed a unique expertise in suggesting creative solutions to a wide range of problems in contexts ranging from the smallest personal consumer product to major infrastructure projects such as trains and other means of transportation. Industrial design typically revolves around aesthetically strong expressions designed using methods specially developed to promote creative and useful products that are appropriate for their intended purpose. Often, industrial design takes a very holistic stance, suggesting how and why a certain product should be designed to work in complex environmental, social, technical or economic systems.
 
Industrial design at AHO capitalises heavily on our rich heritage, building further on the legacy of Scandinavian Design. The hallmarks of this tradition are inventive, useful and aesthetically refined quality products that will last for a long time. Based on all the specific problems and opportunities every contemporary time and place provides, however, it also has the ambition to continually hone this tradition. Being the first industrial design programme in Norway, it has established a procedure to continuously refine the expertise required for each specific context. As an example, having experienced how production tended to move from Norway, the institute pioneered rapid prototyping, now additive manufacturing, as a means for the designer to also produce the product. As a complementary measure, close connections were established internationally with countries that, like China, are more specialised in the production phase. This has proved to provide new exciting opportunities for both our students and Norwegian companies. When it comes to what is arguably the biggest challenge of our time, namely climate change, we are currently working on a digitally augmented version of industrial design's core competence, using models to make future, not yet existing, alternative solutions more discussable and thinkable. With this, we hope to prepare our students by providing them with a reflective mindset and skillset that enable them to design urgently needed products, rather than products aimed at mere consumption. 
 

Learning outcomes – Service Design

Service designers form and organise services to create utilisation value for their users. This involves working on how services are structured across, among other things, digital touchpoints, physical environments and visual communication. Service design has become increasingly relevant in Norway as over 70% of value creation in the Nordic countries is in the service sector. As a result, there is an increasing appreciation of the value service design provides in relation to both public and private sector service innovation.
 
Service design at AHO builds on and integrates various design fields, such as industrial, systems thinking and interaction design. Through the service design courses at AHO, the students develop general knowledge, project experience and specialised skills that are relevant not only for service design as it is today, but also for its future development. This includes methods relating to mapping, planning, communicating and designing for the intangible nature of services. 
 
An AHO Service Design graduate should be able to balance the experiential with the functional, and have an eye for detail within a holistic view of the overall experience. This demands strategic design acumen and an understanding of the consequences of front stage change on backstage infrastructure and procedure. It requires an understanding of user needs and experience whilst still being able to design for brand-relevant services offering responses to customer needs. It demands strategic, analytical and systemic thinking whilst still being able to deliver ‘delight’ in the final design solutions.

 

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Finance

There is no tuition fee at AHO.

Please note that students from non Nordic, EU, EEA and EFTA countries must document economic subsistence (NOK 103 950) in order to obtain a student residence permit in Norway. Read more here.

AHO does not offer scholarships.