CoDesign – Design, Participation and Democracy

Course - first cycle - 30 credits

Syllabus for students autumn 2020, autumn 2019

Course Code:
KD335D revision 1
Swedish name:
CoDesign – Design, deltagande och demokrati
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
No main fields
Date of ratification:
01 March 2019
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Culture and Society
Enforcement date:
02 September 2019

Entry requirements

General entry requirements + English B + At least 120 university credits

Specialisation and progression relative to the degree regulations

The course can normally be included as a part of a general degree at basic level.


The course aims at educating skillful and reflective co-designers. Students will learn how to design and carry out collaborative and participatory processes to explore complex societal issues by involving stakeholders with different interests. They will also be able to critically reflect on opportunities and challenges of these processes.


The course combines a theoretical stream with a practical one.
In the theoretical stream, students will learn about concepts and practical approaches through lectures and workshops. Here the focus will be both on core topics (e.g. co-design history, mutual learning, materiality and participation) and consolidated approaches (e.g. ethnographic methods, collaborative mapping, workshops); as well as more contemporary topics (f.ex. sustainability, commons, speculations, city making, co-production) and experimental approaches (e.g. collective prototyping, design events, critical/speculative interventions).
In the practical stream, students will carry out a co-design project together with external stakeholders (e.g. NGOs, citizens, public authorities). Through the project, students will learn how to master diverse approaches with the support of experienced teachers. The hands-on experience gained from the project will be used a starting point for further reflection and learning in class.

Learning outcomes

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

  • account for core theories, contemporary perspectives and key examples within the area of co-design/participatory design (PD); especially in relation to design, participation and democracy [1]
  • employ a repertoire of consolidated and experimental co-design approaches [2]
  • select and adapt relevant co-design approaches to plan and stage a series of co-design activities [3]
  • initiate and manage relationships with external stakeholders in a co-design project [4].
  • critically analyze and evaluate their own co-design activities using provided theoretical notions and ethical frameworks [5]
  • critically relate co-design to their own main area of study or practice [6]
  • communicate 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 [7]

Learning activities

The course combines lectures, workshops, a practical co-design project, and seminars.
The lectures relate to learning outcomes 1,2.
The workshops relate to learning outcomes 2, 3.
With the practical co-design project, students will engage in a “real” co-design project together with external stakeholders. It relates to learning outcomes 2,3,4,7.
The seminars relate to learning outcomes 1,2,5,6,7


The course is assessed through three examinations:
1) Co-design process portfolio. It presents the co-design project process, outcomes and learnings. The following learning outcomes are assessed: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 (12 credits)
2) Staging and documenting the final “Design Thing”.The following learning outcomes are assessed: 2, 3, 5, 7 (12 credits)
3) An individual written reflection. The following learning outcomes are assessed: 1, 5, 6, 7 (6 credits)

Grading system

Fail (U) or Pass (G).

Course literature and other teaching materials

  • Agger Eriksen M. (2012) Materials matter in Co-design. PhD dissertation. Malmö University.
  • Commission for a Socially Sustainable Malmö. (2013). Malmo’s Path Towards a Sustainable Future: Health, Welfare and Justice.
  • DiSalvo, B., Yip, J., Bonsignore, E., & DiSalvo, C. (2017). Participatory Design for Learning. Routledge.
  • Lury, C. and Wakeford, N. (Eds.). (2012). Inventive methods: The happening of the social. Routledge.
  • Simonsen, J., & Robertson, T. (Eds.) (2013). International Handbook of Participatory Design. Routledge.
  • Weibel, P., & Latour, B. (2005). Making things public. ZKM.
Additional literature/teaching material is specified in the course guide.

Course evaluation

The University provides all students who are participating in, or have completed, a course to express their experiences and views on the course through a course evaluation which is organized at the end of the course. The university will collate the course evaluations and provide information about their results and any actions prompted by them. The results shall be made available to the students. (HF 1:14).

Interim rules

When a course is no longer given, or the contents have been radically changed, the student has the right to re-take the examination, which will be given twice during a one-year period, according to the syllabus which was valid at the time of registration.

Other Information

This is the English version of a Swedish syllabus.