70 504 System Oriented Design with specialization in ID, SD or IX


Passed foundation level courses at AHO or equivalent education (bachelor) in design

Recommended prerequisite knowledge

Finished first year of master studies.

Course content

Systems Oriented Design´s objective is to learn to deal with increasing complexity, larger contexts and understand greater depth and more of the consequences of our choices, both for business, trade, retail, public services and community. Such deeper understanding is called systems thinking. When addressing sustainability systems thinking is crucial. System Oriented Design has developed an approach to systems thinking that is specially developed for practicing designers.
Read more on www.systemsorienteddesign.net

Learning outcomes

Expected learning outcomes and goals:

1) The students are expected to be able to work independently and use their experience from the previous education in their design projects.

2) All students will be introduced to Systems Oriented Design as a tool and approach, to work with a higher degree of complexity.

3) The students are expected to be able to evaluate their project systemically, regarding scope, impact, synergies and thresholds. They should be able to scope their mapping with relevance to their own specialization.

4) To prepare students for professional design within one of the selected specializations (PD ID or SD) or by SOD or other directions chosen by the student or within a more general (hybrid) direction in design. The students are expected to show maturity in the execution and development of the chosen design direction.

5) To initiate the opening and development of new themes and fields of design.

Systems thinking provides an approach for developing a deeper understanding of sustainability, ethics, culture, social communication and technology. These aspects will be discussed in lectures but will also be discussed naturally in the projects. The contents of these discussions will be related to the respective projects and will vary according to the project content and themes.
Students will gain a general understanding of systems thinking and especially about SOD. They will develop knowledge of adaptive expertise and competence in opening new design fields.

On completing the course, students will have learned the techniques of SOD including GIGA-Mapping, Timeline mapping, Rich Design Space, Zip analysis. They will have experience in facilitation and co-design.

On completing the course, the student will gain understanding in a:

DESIGNERLY APPROACH: Provide the student with knowledge in design thinking and in research by design.

AESTHETICS: Give students an understanding that aesthetics are an integral part of GIGA-Mapping and advanced design thinking. Understanding composition and visual thinking as the designer's key overall approach.

SUSTAINABILITY: Understanding the broader concept of sustainability as a systemic concept.

ETHICS: Understanding ethical issues from a systemic approach, in special relation to intended and unintended consequences of design.

CULTURAL AND SOCIAL UNDERSTANDING: Understanding society from a systemic approach. How systems relate and interact with each other and why a holistic approach is needed and how to achieve that.

PROCESS, TOOLS AND METHODS: Make students able to handle an open process where the goal is not a foregone conclusion. Learning the ability to handle the uncertainty that comes from working with great complexity. Learning to recognize the designer's strengths and weaknesses in collaboration with opening up new fields for design. Learning to be both humble and courageous.
Learning the tools, concepts and methods from system-oriented design. Very Fast Learning (VFL) and rich designer (Rich Design Space) taught as concepts to support the handling of complexity. Systemic Design overarching approach and field. System-oriented design specific approach. GIGA-Mapping and timeline mapping, Zip analysis, synthesis techniques, and other tools and techniques.

COMMUNICATION: Learning to communicate with partners. Learning to produce very complex projects in an understandable way.

MATERIAL AND TECHNOLOGY UNDERSTANDING: Learning to understand the materials and technologies like systems. Depending on the type of project and partner.

Working and learning activities

Students work closely with a partner (organization or enterprise) . They rehearse on co-design, on building their expert networks and facilitation. By applying Very Fast Learning (VFL) to get a deeper insight into the problem and your partner.

GIGA-Mapping form the foundation for a very quick learning process. Students work individually or in groups and build up their activities and partial learning shapes itself according to the their projects require.

DESIGNERLY APPROACH: Through lectures and discussions.
AESTHETICS: Through lectures on visual thinking and diagramming. Also through developing giant maps in several iterations where the aesthetic expression is integrated into the overall thinking.

SUSTAINABILITY: In lectures and practiced in the project

ETHICS: Discussed in lectures and project work through a systemic approach.

CULTURAL AND SOCIAL UNDERSTANDING: Discussed in lectures and in relation to project work through a systemic approach.

PROCESS, TOOLS AND METHODS: Through lecture and project-related discussions. Individual projects are trained in cooperation with external partners combined with internal guidance. Through workshops, lectures, discussion of examples and group learned SOD and GIGA-Mapping, Very Fast Learning (VFL) and Rich Design Space. Synthesis Techniques discussed and practiced.

COMMUNICATION: Communication within the project trained through co-inquiry, co-mapping and co-design and use of giant maps to form consensual images of complex situations. Communication externally trained through lectures, exercises and the use of appropriate techniques such as posters, video or narratives.


There is obligatory attendance at lectures, tutorials and presentations.

Professor in charge

Linda Blaasvær