Design, Master's Programme, 120 credits

This programme offers an interdisciplinary design-based approach to tackling societal challenges through service design, sustainable design and visual media design. Established and innovative design concepts are incorporated in a unique, collaborative setup across campuses.

Design, Master's Programme

Autumn 2021, Full-time, Linköping

Design, Master's Programme - Second admission round mainly for Swedish and EU/EEA students

Autumn 2021, Full-time, Linköping

Design, Master's Programme

Autumn 2022, Full-time, Linköping

Design as a discipline increasingly finds itself at the centre of innovation and change towards better and more sustainable futures. Design is now becoming integral in organisations, NGOs, businesses, public sector as well as policy development and governance to take on challenges that will define and make alternative futures possible.

The purpose of this programme is to train qualified and confident designers who can enter these complex contexts, take on leading roles and co-create well-designed solutions and facilitate conditions that make change possible.

Choose your own focus

This interdisciplinary programme addresses multiple system levels and gives you the opportunity to critically examine current systems, institutions and norms. Societal challenges such as Food Waste, Repair, Civility and Nomadic Welfare form the backbone of the programme. These issues are explored together with stakeholders in the wider systemic context of the surrounding society.

At LiU we are leading in educating designers within three tracks – Service Design, Sustainable Design, and Visual Media Design, with a world-class research team at the intersection between design and services, a state-of-the-art facility for visual media research, and a strong team devoted to design and sustainability.

Service Design

Design for service systems, with stakeholders in the public, private, or third sector. Exploring methods and tools to drive co-design of service interactions and service systems on multiple levels. Finding out about new models for value creation and change, such as sharing, commons, etc. We engage in projects where design doing and humans are at the centre of the design practice, supported by knowledge from cognitive science and value co-creation. Services are design objects that are systemic and demand taking multiple perspectives, such as social innovation, policy development, and transformative service.

Sustainable Design

Design of sustainable systems, with accompanying business models, products and services. Project-based exploration of solutions that may promote a transition to a sustainable society and empower people interacting with those systems. We explore different philosophical perspectives on the relation between sustainability and design, such as circular economy and nature-inspired design. We work with a slight focus on product design, exploring through physical and digital prototyping what preferable futures might look like.

Visual Media Design

Design and conceptualisation of interactive visual environments, going beyond screens and handheld units. We explore approaches to design interactive augmented and immersive information spaces. We work with studio-based exploration of advanced concepts at the intersection of graphic design, interaction design and information visualisation.

Diverse competences combined

We are reaching out to students with different backgrounds, not necessarily with previous academic design qualifications, but with strong design abilities and a desire to develop design beyond specific materials and disciplines. Our current cohorts have students from diverse backgrounds spanning not only varied design fields but also include political science, electrical engineering, and linguistics amongst others.

Syllabus and course detailsShow/Hide content

The backbone of the programme are the interdisciplinary studio classes in the first three semesters, where you work in mixed teams on societal challenges. Courses on design methodology and philosophy, track courses, and electives combine for a well-rounded syllabus.

Semester 1

Studio 1. Exploring the design challenges around products and goods.
Codesign, tools and approaches. How to plan and facilitate creative work together with stakeholders.
Design – Strategy and Management. How design can be utilised as a strategic and management tool.
Track course. Pick one of the following:

Contemporary perspectives on value creation. Studying sharing, commons and other approaches to value.
Sustainable strategies. Different perspectives on sustainability, and how they translate to design.
Advanced visualisation design. Building design capabilities in data visualisation, visual storytelling and more.

Semester 2

Studio 2. Interdisciplinary work on challenges in service systems, including policy and resource integration.
Norm-creative perspectives on design, power and change. How intersectionality, decolonialism and posthumanism relate to design.
Track course. Pick one of the following:

Thinking with representations. Tools and methods for thinking in design and thinking through design.
Design for sustainable everyday life. Design strategies to impact everyday behavior, habits and activities.
Augmented information spaces. Beyond print and screens towards designing hybrids of the physical and the virtual.

Elective. Choose from courses in engineering, social science and design.

Semester 3

Studio 3: Sociotechnical intervention. Working with external stakeholders to initiate change in society.
Design research methodology. Understanding how design practice can be part of academic knowledge production.
Track course. Pick one of the following:

Transformation for design. Understanding design as organisational change and knowledge integration.
Disruptive technologies. The role of technological leaps in transforming society for better or worse.
Immersive information spaces. Designing sensory immersion for experience, learning and more.

Elective. Choose from courses in engineering, social science and design.

Semester 4

Master thesis project. A semester-long design project on a topic of your choice; an opportunity to learn, explore and specialise.

Track videos

Service Design

Are you interested in exploring methods and tools to drive co-design of service systems on multiple levels? Stefan Holmlid talks about the Service Design track.

Sustainable Design

Are you interested in the design of sustainable systems, with accompanying business models, products and services? Renee Wever talks about the Sustainable Design track.

Visual Media Design

Are you interested in exploring approaches to design interactive augmented and immersive information spaces? Jonas Löwgren talks about the Visual Media Design track.

A detailed syllabus, curriculum and information on courses, including literature, can be found in our study information database via the link below. For entry requirements and tuition fees, please click the ”Admission requirements” tab at the top of the page.

WebinarShow/Hide content

Gain valuable insights on the MSc Design Programme with Professor Stefan Holmlid and second-year student Luis Rodrigues. In this webinar, they cover the application procedure, the programme structure, and the master’s thesis.

What is a design worthy challenge?Show/Hide content

Play this video to hear some of our students talk about what they see as design worthy challenges.

Career opportunitiesShow/Hide content

You may find employment

  • as interaction designer or product designer
  • designing for service or policy
  • in the public or voluntary sectors
  • as an entrepreneur or with start-ups
  • with social innovation initiatives
  • in urban planning or design for sustainability
  • in the communications field
  • with established industrial actors seeking to overhaul their innovation processes.

Naturally, you will also be eligible for a career as a PhD student in Design.

Student testimonialShow/Hide content

Lyn Cao - China - Current student

Lyn Cao, China

”Social integration in both small and large contexts is my goal. Design is about making things work better. It’s about understanding people and creating empathy for what individuals need and want. In service design, we try to understand the big picture of holistic service systems and create solutions with the stakeholders to improve the current services or create new ones. This is a quite new major and it includes knowledge from many disciplines. Also, the process is great fun and full of unexpected surprises! Being fully aware of how design can be used to solve problems in the world, that’s what I am going to do.”

Stories from the programmeShow/Hide content

Application & admissionShow/Hide content

We are accepting about 30 students to this programme each year. Admission is based on your portfolio, an essay assignment and other documents.

In order to apply, you must meet the basic entry requirements. Read about them here.

To register a full application to the Design master’s programme, all steps below must be completed. Partial/incomplete applications will be rejected.

  1. Apply at no later than 17 January 2022.
  2. Prepare the following documents:
    a) Your resume
    b) Your portfolio, curated and annotated to demonstrate why you are a suitable candidate for the Design master’s programme. What we are looking for is your aptitude for interdisciplinary work, your ability to explore and learn through design, and your craft skills in design process execution, finishing and presentation. Make sure to indicate your individual contribution to all team-based portfolio items. Here are some guidelines on how best to prepare your portfolio.
    c) An essay of 300-500 words on what you find to be a design-worthy challenge, and how the Design master’s programme and the track of your choice would help you in addressing that challenge.
    d) Samples of academic writing (if available). You may include up to five samples. Your bachelor’s thesis can be a very useful sample. You can also submit term papers and other academic writing assignments. Please include a clear statement on your individual contributions to all multi-authored texts.
  3. Upload your documents to no later than 1 February 2022.


All texts must be in English, except the academic writing samples (2 d). Documents and work samples should be in PDF format. Files can be zipped. Maximum file size: 10 MB.

Key dates

Here are all 2022 autumn semester key dates at