CoDesign - design, participation, democracy


Through seminars, workshops and group assignments, this course offers an interdisciplinary, critical and practical understanding of co-design and participatory design.
The course aims to form a basis for reflective practice regarding how to work with participation and citizens’ engagement in relation to different issues, from the design of technologies, to social innovation, from urban planning to production processes.
It connects, among others, to the topics of: co-creation, open innovation, user-driven innovation and social innovation, design activism, cultural production, living labs, fab labs and urban labs, urban planning, co-production, products and systems design.

Admission requirements

1. General eligibility + the equivalent of English course B in Swedish secondary school.
2. At least 45 credits in one main field.


credits 60% final grades 20% national university aptitude test 20%


Syllabus for students autumn 2017

Course Code:
KD335B revision 1.1
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
No main fields
Date of ratification:
22 February 2017
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Culture and Society
Enforcement date:
28 August 2017
Replaces Syllabus ratified:
22 February 2017

Entry requirements

1. General eligibility + the equivalent of English course B in Swedish secondary school.
2. At least 45 credits in one main field.

Specialisation and progression relative to the degree regulations

The course can normally be included in a general degree at undergraduate level.


This course offers an interdisciplinary, critical and constructive understanding of co-design and participatory design (for now on co-design).The course is aimed at forming a basis for reflective practice regarding designing in an for participatory and co-production processes that entail the engagement of different actors in exploring a specific issues, articulating it and collaboratively formulating possible responses.
Through seminars, hands-on workshops and reflective exercises, the course introduces both some hands-on methods and approaches, as well as notions and theoretical framings to support reflection on aspects of power, democracy and representation in participatory design/ co-design processes. The course connects to approaches and topics such as: open, user driven and social innovation, design activism, cultural production, social media, living labs, fab labs, urban planning, products and systems design, situated material interaction, etc.


The course is structured in a series of thematic modules, and intertwined in these the students do smaller co-design activities/interventions in a smaller multidisciplinary group. This can be of the students own choice and initiative, and will be the basis for appropriation and reflection.

Each module is composed of one or more lectures, workshops, supervision sessions and a seminar:
Lectures mainly focus on: background and history, fundamental theoretical concepts, examples and practical approaches as well as overall ethical and critical issues and concerns.
Workshops mainly focus on: practically trying out core co-design approaches and methods as well as critical discussion of these.
Seminars mainly focus on: in groups students present own experiences of ‘co-design activities/intervention’ and explore main concepts and ‘critical issues’ related to the course and module literature.
Supervision happens in smaller groups and is related to the smaller co-design activities/interventions.
At the end of the course, students individually write a short written reflection on selected ’ co-design experiences’, theories and approaches in relation to one’s own main area of study or practice.

Learning outcomes

After ending the course, the student should be able to:

• demonstrate some knowledge of core theories, ethics and issues within the area of co-design/participatory design (PD); especially questions around design, participation and democracy [1]
• display understanding of some co-design approaches, methods and examples [2]
• actively engage in planning and staging series of co-design activities by displaying skills of adapting and situating selected co-design approaches [3]
• display skills in collaborating with users and other stakeholders throughout the course [4].
• analyse and evaluate participation of various stakeholders based on own co-design activities/interventions and selected theoretical perspectives [5]
• reflect upon a few personally selected issues (theories, ethics, methods and/or approaches) within the area of co-design, and relate them to one’s own main area of study or practice [6]
• evaluate some of one’s own co-design experiences during the course, to identify possibilities and challenges of appropriating co-design for active participation of different stakeholders within ones own main area of study or practice [7]
• Communicate some co-design theories, experiences and key insights verbally, visually and in writing for different audiences; as well as constructively discuss and comment on the work of others [8]

Learning activities

The course is a combination of lectures, workshops, seminars and smaller PD activities/interventions in multidisciplinary groups of the students own choice, and individual reflective writing.


The course is assessed in three ways:

1) Codesign process portfolio: a video presenting the fieldwork and process of the group project, including positive and negative experiences of co-designing with various stakeholders It should be aimed for selected relevant external stakeholders, the following learning outcomes are assessed: 2, 3, 4, 5, 8. 6 Hp
2) Design Thing documentation: a visual and written deliverable that documents the concept and the staging of the final Design Thing. The final Design Thing aims at engaging a broader audience with the findings the groups have been developing in their projects. Moreover it aims at connecting the practical project work with broader notions and concerns from participatory design/ co-design field. the following learning outcomes are assessed:// 2, 3, 5, 8. 6 Hp
3) A final individual written reflection where students will discuss on how co-design relates to their own practice and/or fields of study. Such a reflection should refer both to some insights gained through the group project as well as some theoretical notions presented in the lectures and discussed during the seminars.
the following learning outcomes are assessed:1, //5, 6, 7, 8. 3 Hp

Grading system

Fail (U) or Pass (G).

Course literature and other teaching materials

Simonsen, Jesper and Robertson, Toni (eds.) (2013). International Handbook of Participatory Design. Routledge. (280 p)

Ehn, Pelle, Elisabet M. Nilsson, and Richard Topgaard (eds.). (2014). Making Futures: Marginal Notes on Innovation, Design, and Democracy. MIT Press. (340 p)

Eriksen, Mette Agger. (2012). Material Matters in Co-Designing – Formatting & Staging with Participating Materials in Co-design Projects, Events & Situations. PhD dissertation. Malmö University. (selected parts)
Additional literature/teaching material is specified in the Course Guide.

Course evaluation

The University provides students who participate in or who have completed a course with the opportunity to make known their experiences and viewpoints with regards to
the course by completing a course evaluation administered by the University. The University will compile and summarize the results of course evaluations as well as informing participants of the results and any decisions relating to measures initiated in response to the course evaluations. The results will be made available to the students (HF 1:14).

Other Information

Swedish title for the course is CoDesign - design, deltagande, demokrati.


The education is provided by the Faculty of Culture and Society at the School of Arts and Communication.

Further information

Studentservice, K3 - Malmö universitet,