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Executive Master of Systems Oriented Design

The experience-based master’s degree in systems-oriented design is a part-time and seminar-based study programme that comprises 90 credits (ECTS) and is completed after three years. AHO admits students to the programme every other year. The master’s degree is organised in a way that makes it possible to combine it with a full-time job.

The master’s degree in SOD consists of lectures and discussions, and attendance is compulsory. Furthermore, every other session is digital, but attendance remains mandatory. The programme requires a high degree of self-study and a significant commitment from students.

The master’s degree consists of eight independent modules that are taken over the course of two years. The third and final year is dedicated to the master’s thesis (Module 9). Most modules comprise two seminars over the course of three days, one of which is digital in order to reduce the need to travel. This means that the candidate will participate in four modules each calendar year, each of which requires six days of attendance.
Programme descriptions and modules

Class 2023
Class 2021


Class 2023–24
Class 2021–23


One of the modules is a study trip to the annual RSD (Relating Systems Thinking & Design) conference. This is the most important SOD conference, at which practitioners from all over the world meet, listen and discuss a good mix of complex societal and organisational interventions and the development of SOD methods and theories. The trip expenses are paid by the students and are in addition to the tuition fee.

Photo: Hrishikesh Kogje, Parashar Agravat, Rahul Agarwal and Shailendra Jadega Project Guide: Praveen Nahar, NID India (2014)​

From RSD8, IIT, Chicago 2019 (Photo Palak Dudani)



The Department of Design at AHO has academic responsibility for this experience-based master’s programme, and SOD students will be included in the department’s academic community. In addition, the further education master’s programme in systems-oriented design is closely linked to national and international networks related to academic research, teaching and practice. A range of external environments also contribute to the programme. The principal teaching contributors are presented below:

birger.jpgProfessor Birger Sevaldson is an interior architect and furniture designer with experience spanning from architecture to industrial design. Birger has a PhD in digital creativity and conducts research on the development of design processes to meet the continuously growing need for complexity caused by increasing globalisation and sustainability demands. He introduced SOD as a practice that is developed through research by design. Visit his website here.

andreas.jpgAndreas Wettre is an engineer with a master’s degree in business and leadership and experience with technical companies and consultancies. Since 2004, Andreas has worked as a consultant who develops management groups and applies systemic thinking and SOD in these contexts. Andreas has been affiliated with AHO and the Department of Design since 2011, and this engagement has gradually increased to a full-time position. Andreas’ expertise is in implementation and in team and organisational understanding, in addition to his experience of the business sphere, which is both broad and deep.


Reading list

Each module has a syllabus and a list of recommended reading. The student is expected to read the module’s literature prior to the seminar. Articles and compendia will be published on AHO’s learning platform over the course of the programme. Additionally, students will be responsible for buying a small selection of textbooks. The seminars will not be a review of the syllabus, but they should be regarded as part of the syllabus.

Systems-oriented design at AHO

SOD is a way of thinking, but it is also a methodology for visualising complex issues. It is thus a valuable method and skill for understanding, communicating and finding smart interventions that help us to develop better organisations and society.

AHO is a well-renowned international school with a world-leading SOD environment that is highly respected in academic contexts worldwide. Through the Systemic Design Association, the school is actively involved in research in SOD environments in Zurich, Delft and Turin, as well as in India, China, Australia, Canada and the USA.

AHO has an open, diverse, creative and rich student environment formed by different voices and approaches. We are not looking for one way to think, but many ways to explore the world.