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FLF3014 Bridging Science and Societal Needs through Design Thinking 4.5 credits

This is a PhD course that is driven by Openlab - a cooperation between KTH, KI, Södertörn, and SU.

Read more about the course on Openlabs homepage

About course offering

For course offering

Spring 2024 Start 16 Jan 2024 programme students

Target group

PhD students

Part of programme

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P3 (1.0 hp), P4 (3.5 hp)


16 Jan 2024
3 Jun 2024

Pace of study


Form of study

Distance Daytime

Language of instruction


Course location

KTH Campus

Number of places

Min: 1

Planned modular schedule


For course offering

Spring 2024 Start 16 Jan 2024 programme students

Application code



For course offering

Spring 2024 Start 16 Jan 2024 programme students


Jens Hemphälä,


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Course coordinator

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Headings with content from the Course syllabus FLF3014 (Autumn 2019–) are denoted with an asterisk ( )

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

The course considers how Design thinking can be used to induce change and innovation in the scientific environment and in the surrounding society.

The course contains the following parts:
Item 1 - Introduction to Design thinking (0.5 credits): An introduction in Design thinking theory and process methodology including critical perspectives on Design thinking.
Item 2 - Practical application of Design thinking as support for inducing change (0.5 credits): Experience-based learning in groups where the students work with a number of generic societal challenges through application of the Design thinking process and related tools.
Item 3 - Design thinking and innovation in research (3.5 credits): Design thinking in relation to the student's PhD project. The student identifies how Design thinking can be used to raise the quality and the societal relevance in her/his research projects and explores how the research could be turned into real societal impact after completed PhD studies.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of the course, the student should be able to:

  1. demonstrate specialised insight into the possibilities and limitations of research, its role in society and the responsibility of the individual for how it is used. (item 1)
  2. identify relevant issues in a problem complex and use tools to communicate her/his skills and interact with others in multidisciplinary contexts (item 2)
  3. show understanding of which societal challenges the own PhD project addresses or can be related to and how the research can contribute to societal development. (item 3)
  4. demonstrate the ability to identify own needs for additional knowledge (item 3)
  5. demonstrate capacity to contribute to societal development both through research and education and in other qualified professional contexts (item 3)

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites

Ongoing doctoral education

Recommended prerequisites

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Dorst, K. (2011) The core of ´design thinking´ and its application. Design studies 32 (6), 521-532.

Lindberg, T., Meinel, C. & Wagner, R. (2011) Design thinking: A fruitful concept for it development? New York: Springer Publishers

Plattner, H., Meinel, C & Leifer, L. (2012) Design thinking Research.  (p. 10)  Design thinking methodology at work: Semi-automated interactive recovery. New York: Springer Publishers

Stanford University. Bootcamp Bootleg. Stanford C-School

Welsh, M.A. & Dehler, G.E. (2013) Combining critical reflection and design thinking to develop integrative learners. Journal of Management Education. Sage Publications.

The literature will be supplemented with various research articles.

Examination and completion

If the course is discontinued, students may request to be examined during the following two academic years.

Grading scale

P, F


  • INL1 - Hand-in assignment, 4.5 credits, grading scale: P, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

Other requirements for final grade

Active participation in item 1 and 2.
Individual written examination in item 3.

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

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Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

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Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Further information

Course room in Canvas

Registered students find further information about the implementation of the course in the course room in Canvas. A link to the course room can be found under the tab Studies in the Personal menu at the start of the course.

Offered by

Main field of study

This course does not belong to any Main field of study.

Education cycle

Third cycle

Add-on studies

No information inserted


Jens Hemphälä,

Postgraduate course

Postgraduate courses at ITM/Learning in Engineering Sciences