Data on the course

Show instruction and examinations
USP-323 Designing for urban governance and services, 5 cr 
Code USP-323  Validity 01.01.2017 -
Name Designing for urban governance and services  Abbreviation Designing for u 
Scope5 cr   
TypeAdvanced studies
  GradingGeneral scale 
    Can be taken more than onceno
Unit Master's Programme in Urban Studies and Planning 

Target group 

Compulsory course for USP Peoples

Aalto University, Department of Design, Product and Spatial Design is responsible for the course

Belongs to the USP-300 module

Is available to students from Geography programme, but the number of students may be limited (applications via JOO-system).


Recommended time for completion: first year

The course is offered in spring term, 4th period (Aalto).

Learning outcomes 

Students who successfully complete this course should be able to:

  • Develop an understanding of urban governance and services as object of design.

  • Utilize core terminologies for planners, designers and researchers working in municipal governance and service development contexts.

  • Demonstrate familiarity with theories, methods, skills and examples of design in the public sector.

Completion methods 

135 working hours. Contact teaching (lectures, presentations, discussions) 45 h. Independent and group work (reading, assignments, essay, personal reflection time) 90 h.


The course provides an overview of the current and emerging uses and roles of design in the public sector. It introduces core terminologies, theories, methods and examples of design, planning and other creative professional roles in the context of urban governance and public services. The aim is to familiarise students with recent knowledge in the design field and to develop their skills in applying design approaches in their studies and profession.
The main themes are:

  • Introduction to present and future approaches, issues and trends, in public governance and service provisioning, with focus on design and planning implications.
  • Introduction to design theories, methods and approaches relevant in the public sector, including design for policy and governance, design for services, design for civil society and activism, design for behaviour change, and information and communication design.
  • Examples of design activities, cases and experts from the field.
  • Critical analysis of the value, potential and challenges of design in the public sector.
Study materials and literature 

List of literature is provided in the beginning of the course.

Activities and teaching methods in support of learning 

Teaching comprises lectures by experts in design studies and governance and case presentations from the government and cities. Students work in reading circles to gain broad knowledge and deepen understanding of their own topics of interest, bringing forth key issues to the common sessions. As a final outcome, students write an essay where they explore a particular topic further and connect it to their own practice. The essays are presented in a final seminar.

Assessment practices and criteria 

Grading 0-5. Assessment is based on participation in contact teaching sessions (including 85% attendance unless otherwise agreed in advance with teacher in charge), completion of individual and group assignments, peer-evaluation and submission of the essay including final presentation.

Other information 

Student numbers

  • Maximum number of students: 30
  • Minimum number of students: 18


Student admissions

All interested students can register through WebOodi (either at Aalto or at University of Helsinki) regardless of their programme.

The order of priority for admitting students:

USP major students;

USP minor students;

Department of Design students and CS students (taken in in the order of registration);

Students for whom the course is part of his/her major's or programme's alternative studies and has been scheduled in the student's PSP (HOPS) for the current academic year;

Exchange students for whom the course is a part of his/her officially approved learning agreement and scheduled to be taken during the current semester;

All other students.

Responsible person 

Antti Pirinen and Ramia Maze;;


Current and future instruction
Functions Name Type cr Teacher Schedule
Designing for urban governance and services  Course   
25.02.20 -31.03.20 tue 09.15-20.00

Future examinations
No examinations in WebOodi