AANA18109U The Anthropology of Design

Volume 2018/2019

In recent years “design anthropology” has been considered a feature of anthropology that is “exportable” to the world beyond academia. But while being highly praised it often seems unclear what design anthropology is and what it does—and how it might be used. In this course we explore design anthropology as an approach that persistently seeks to push the boundaries of the discipline into adjacent areas.


Bringing together academic scholarship and applied practice the scope is interdisciplinary, collaborative and interventional. The students will explore the merging of design and anthropology in small projects concerning current societal challenges within new tech and sustainable transition. Moreover, the course will open for grander questions, especially concerning the social consequences of these developments. During the course we approach such questions through discussions of both ethnographic accounts as well as anthropological theories.


The course thereby seeks to open up the “black box” of design anthropology by exploring how it is carried out in different settings, by different people and for different purposes. In an equally critical and exploratory manner the course seeks to identify what an anthropology of design might be.

Learning Outcome

By the end of the course, a student should be able to:



  • Demonstrate a methodological insight from both classic and experimental ethnography with which to pursue the engagement with design from new angles.
  • Demonstrate a critical awareness of key themes/debates within the anthropology of design



  • Conduct intense trans-disciplinary design anthropological projects
  • Use relevant theories for analyzing contemporary societal challenges
  • Collaborate constructively with other disciplines and institutions
  • Disseminate insights from the analysis to non-anthropological audiences



  • Use concepts from the broader anthropological literature including both theory and ethnographic accounts in the analysis of design as a socio-cultural practice.
  • Analytically, critically and practically engage with design as a phenomena and as a concept.

Printed compendia.

The course will be conducted as a combination of lectures, seminar discussions, student presentations and project work in groups.
Guest speakers will be invited.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 25
  • Lectures
  • 20
  • Preparation
  • 70
  • Project work
  • 92
  • Total
  • 207
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Portfolio, .
Portfolio exam
Length: The portfolio exam can be taken individually or in groups of maximum four students. The portfolio exam consists of 3-7 submissions. The number of submissions is set by the lecturer. The total length of all of the submissions must not exceed 30,000 keystrokes for a single student. For groups of two students the maximum is 40,000 keystrokes. For groups of three students the maximum is 45,000 keystrokes and for groups of four students the maximum is 50,000 keystrokes.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

1. re-exam:
A new essay with a revised problem statement must be submitted at the announced date. The students must sign up for the 1. re-exam.

Please note that the re-exam is an essay even for courses, where the ordinary exam is a portfolio exam.

2. re-exam:
A new essay with a revised problem statement must be submitted at the announced date next semester. The students must sign up for the 2. re-exam.

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcomes.