Interaction Design

Programme - second cycle - 120 credits

Syllabus for students admitted autumn 2008

Programme Code:
TAIND revision 2
Date of establishment:
10 December 2006
Date of ratification:
08 February 2007
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Culture and Society
Enforcement date:
01 September 2008

Entry requirements

Academic degree at bachelor level or equivalent in subjects relevant for interaction design; and approved work samples + the equivalent of English course B in Swedish secondary school. Examples of relevant subjects include, but are not limited to: computer science, informatics, information systems, human-computer interaction, new media arts, fine arts, design (industrial, product, graphic), media studies and cognitive science.


Year 1
The objective of the first year in the programme is to provide a broad base covering current research themes in the field as well as the professional practice of interaction design. The following course modules are covered. All modules are part-time and run throughout the first year.

-Use Qualities (15 credits): Assessment of different aspects of use qualities in interactive systems.
-Tools for interaction design (15 credits):
The course develops basic skills for practical design work. Examples of areas covered include: design methods, field study methods, techniques for expressing and communicating design concepts and ideas, prototyping techniques, exhibition design, project management.

Research themes (30 credits):
A studio course with design projects from relevant research areas.

Year 2
The second year is dominated by a thesis project, an individual specialization planned and carried out by the student under tutoring covering both practical design work and theoretical reflections on design. The following course modules are offered:

-Philosophy of science (7,5 credits):
Introductory course in the philosophy of science from the perspective of interaction design.

-Design as knowledge development (7,5 credits):
Introduction to the epistemology of design.

-Critique (7,5 credits):
The course further develops the epistemology of design with a particular focus on a dialogical perspective.

Communicating Design Knowledge (7,5 credits):
The purpose of the course is to develop the student´s ability to articulate and communicate knowledge constructed through design work.

-Thesis project (30 credits):
An individual specialization planned and carried out by the student under tutoring covering both practical design work and theoretical reflections on design. This course also includes a reading module.

Design is fundamentally a creative process leading to a product (or an idea for a product) with good functional, aesthetical and ethical qualities. Interaction design is design with digital materials. The purpose of this program is to develop the student’s ability to develop digital artefacts and media with a particular focus on their use qualities. The use of information technology (digital artefacts and media) during the last decade has broadened to include a broad spectrum from traditional work-oriented use, entertainment, media consumption and media production, to essentially aesthetic use experiences, e.g. in interactive digital art. In parallel with this extended range of use, a fast and continuous development of information technology as design material is taking place. Today, the field of interaction design is established internationally and satisfies a knowledge need within the design of digtial artifacts and media in a wide range of application areas. The program prepares the student for PhD-studies as well as for a professional role as interaction designer, on national as well as international level.

In the first year of the program, the student develops a broad view of the subject exploring current research themes, for example spatial aspects of interaction design, massmedia and interactive media, gaming and digital art. In each research theme addressed, current research is combined with current problem issues in IT and media industry. Creative ideation and concept development is combined with methods for evaluating use qualities of developed concepts. In the second year thesis project the student’s ability to reflect on the design process and its results is developed, thereby reaching the frontier within a selected research area in interaction design through individual learning. The second year also contains courses reflecting on the epistemology of design.

The progression from a focus on performative learning activities and skill development to a combination of performative and reflective learning is developed gradually over the first year. At the beginning of year one, the focus is on establishing the design process, while assessment of design projects later in the year increasingly puts more emphasis on reflection. Abilities to reflect are required in three main areas: (1) a critical stance towards relevant theories and examples within the specific area addressed in the design project, as presented in the introductory briefing; (2) the ability to reflect on and articulate the use qualities of the designed product and their relation to relevant theories and examples on a conceptual level; and (3) the ability to reflect on ones individual design process. The second year is dominated by a thesis project where the student is expected to maintain a good balance between practical design work and reflection throughout the project.

Considering the multidisciplinary and constructive nature of the subject, the same learning materials and design briefs can support learning for students with different educational backgrounds, e.g. for a student with a degree in informatics as well as for a student with a degree in product design. This may appear to be a paradox, but its resolution lies in the pedagogical approaches to learning applied in design. The two students may for example come to work together in an interaction design project bringing their respective competencies into play to create an idea about a new digital product with good use qualities. In this case the teacher’s role, as in every studiobased learning situation, is to provide the students with the intellectual and expressional means needed to explore the design space, to express their ideas and to evaluate them. Through their cooperative design work, the students will induce learning allowing them to progress beyond their respective current knowledge level. At the same time they also learn about each other’s special skills preparing them for multidisciplinary cooperation in professional work situations.



For programme with start Autumn 2008:
Autumn 2008 - Semester 1
Spring 2009 - Semester 2
Autumn 2009 - Semester 3
Spring 2010 - Semester 4
Autumn 2010 - Semester 5
  • -
Spring 2011 - Semester 6
  • -

Learning outcomes

After completing the program, the student should be able to:

-demonstrate a good understanding of the field: its perspective, history and development
-demonstrate substantial knowledge in current research themes within interaction design
-demonstrate knowledge of different genres within interaction design, including knowledge of a broad repertoire of design examples from these genres, their use situations and use qualities
-demonstrate broad knowledge of information technology as design material, its properties, limits and possibilities
-demonstrate substantial knowledge in the research area chosen for the second year thesis project
-demonstrate substantial knowledge of design methods, in particular regarding large projects

After completing the program, the student should be able to:
-demonstrate abilities to contribute in multidisciplinary interaction design work
-be able to formulate fruitful design problems and questions in complex design situations with limited information
-demonstrate ability to, creatively and critically, frame design problems to reach beyond the assignment as originally stated, and explore a range of possibilities leading to a growing insight as to what problems the limited design resources should be used to address
-demonstrate ability to select and use relevant methods, techniques and tools in the design work, including a broad repertoir of techniques for representing interaction designs, regarding software as well as hardware
-demonstrate ability to evaluate design concepts, prototypes and finished systems with regard to functional, aesthetic and etchical aspects of quality, with a particular emphasis on methods and theories focusing on the use situation
-demonstrate ability to reflect upon the design process and its results, and in connection therewith articulate knowledge contributions and promote a conceptual development that contributes on research level to developing the field of interaction design
-demonstrate ability to account for and discuss knowledge contributions developed through design work including the arguments for these contributions, verbally as well as in writing, in dialogue with different stakeholders in national as well as international contexts

After completing the program, the student should be able to:

-demonstrate ability to, within interaction design as an area of knowledge development, exercise judgement accounting for relevant societal and ethical aspects. In particular, the ability to judge design qualities associated with gender, migration and ethnicity, and environmental issues should have been developed.
-demonstrate insight regarding the role of information technology in society, and the responsibility of the interaction designer to develop technology in the meeting with a humanistic tradition, making technology meaningful to people and enriching the societies and cultures it is deployed in
-demonstrate abilities to reflect over one’s own design process, using experiences rendered and identifying new knowledge needs, and thereby taking responsibility of one’s own continous learning

Today, the use of information technology proliferates society on all levels and it is becoming a growing part of the average citizen’s life. Design of information technology includes ethical, aesthetical as well as functional aspects, in work oriented applications as well as media- and culture production. Promoting research and knowledge development within the interaction design field, Malmö University has an important role as a critical voice in the debate on how we relate to information technology use in different areas, in particular regarding the core perspectives of Malmö University: gender, migration and ethnicity, and environmental issues. The courses “Design critique” and “Thesis project” can be pointed out as examples of how this is supported in the program. The “Design critique”-course aims to explore the possible role for critique within the field of interaction design. All three core perspectives are used as starting points for potential critical stances towards interaction design and the students design work. In the “Thesis project” students are invited to use the three core perspectives as starting points for design work and reflection, and supervision is provided to promote the students’ work with aspects of gender, migration and ethnicity, and environmental issues, within the frame of the thesis project.


Master's Degree (120 credits).