SDSI focuses on developing service design strategies and leading service innovation

Service design is the activity of planning and organising people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service to improve its quality and the interaction between service providers and customers. The purpose of service design methodologies is to design according to the needs of customers and participants so that the service is user friendly, competitive and relevant.


Combining knowledge, insights, methods and tools from different disciplines


Following a process based on learning cycles, enabling creation, testing and improvement in quick and cost-effective ways based on user research


Considering the experience of the service in the entire user journey


Involving all stakeholders in the design process

User Centered

Designing services from the perspective of users based on their needs, led by research-based user design decisions.

Service Design

Services impact our daily lives as consumers, customers and citizens. We live and work in an Experience Economy in which our jobs, prosperity, and quality of life are affected by the way in which services are designed and managed. Over the past few decades, the service sector has become the largest component of the economy in the EU, currently accounting for 70% of GDP and generating 90% of jobs in the region.

Read more on Service Design


Service Design Strategies and Innovations (SDSI) focuses on interdisciplinary studies and cross-specialisation in design, management, business and social sciences. We will help you become a versatile service innovator who can enable change in public and private organisations through strategic design, management and creative leadership.

Around 30 students will be admitted to the programme annually, enabling individual and personalised approaches to the study process and providing close networking among students and teaching personnel. 

Graduates will be awarded with master's multiple degrees: Master of Arts (Art and Design) by the University of Lapland, Master of Design by the Art Academy of Latvia, Master of Arts by the Estonian Academy of Arts, as well as a joint diploma supplement. SDSI has strong connections to industry, ensuring research, design and testing opportunities with real industry partners on study topics and projects in Latvia, Estonia and Finland.

SDSI graduates are eligible to continue pathways towards pursuing a PhD and entering the job market. 

Semester 1

Use novel service design methods, thinking and tools with emphasis on communication and collaboration.

Mobility to Kuldīga, Latvia

Leadership I 2 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Understand and outline leadership against managerial roles, deferent leadership styles, and their situational appropriateness.
  2. Understand and outline appropriate leadership practices (e.g. communication, motivation, decision-making, negotiation, emotional intelligence).
  3. Understand and outline the roles of leaders in processes of change management and the factors that need to be considered.
  4. Identify and outline and how various design approaches can be applied when leading transformative processes.
  5. Assess opportunities, challenges, and limitations of external and internal environments in service design initiatives.
  6. Understand, outline, and develop leadership practices (individually and in teams), such as facilitate, setting-up, initiate, and lead service design projects.

Lecturer: Jonathan Howard (UK)

Service Design Basics 6 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Understand the specific characteristics of services.
  2. Understand the principles and processes of the human-centred service design approach, basic concepts and terminology.
  3. Understand service design concepts and terminology.
  4. Be familiar with the history and theory of the field of service design as well as trends and criticisms.
  5. Apply service design theories, methods, and tools, including design research and prototyping methods.
  6. Identify and empathise with key target groups and gather evidence to understand their needs, preferences, behaviours, and guiding values.
  7. Map, define, and articulate complex problems based on a well-justified synthesis of the available information and research evidence.
  8. Develop and communicate proposals for solutions and innovation.
  9. Understand and navigate the designer’s role in meeting customer needs with business objectives.
  10. Define research-based design principles and a design brief to guide idea and concept development processes and justify and rationalise design decisions.
  11. Develop a thinking-by-doing mindset.
  12. Apply design methods and tools in a team environment and gain experience with working in multicultural and interdisciplinary teams.

Lecturers: Sigrid Ohrling & Kristaps Banga

Social Research 6 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Being familiar with the main empirical social science methods, types of data, and techniques for collecting social science data.
  2. Apply social science methods to the generation and analysis of data to inform policy, business, and service delivery decisions.
  3. Knowledge of the specifics of social research and knowledge of various approaches to research and analysis as well as their application possibilities in the assessment of situations and decision-making processes.
  4. Select and underpin research approaches for a particular situation.
  5. Elaborate an appropriate research design in order to obtain the necessary empirical information.
  6. Anticipate potential difficulties related to the study of the particular social issues.
  7. Knowledge about the principles of elaboration and application in relation to social indicators as well as how these principles are informed by the content of main social indicators and how they critically evaluate validity of these indicators.
  8. Knowledge about the main elements of social forecasting and skills to make use of appropriate methodological approaches.
  9. Understand the application of different approaches, settings, and patterns that could be used as practical tools for identifying different challenges and evaluating possible solutions.

Lecturer: Iveta Cīrule (LV)

Facilitation & Co-creation 3 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Being familiar with theories on group functioning, small group dynamics, and facilitation.
  2. Understand collaborative team relationships and the role of the facilitator.
  3. Practise a range of facilitation styles and techniques.
  4. Plan appropriate processes in order to facilitate creative collaboration within teams and with stakeholders.
  5. Understand self-presentation and personal communication and facilitation styles.

Lecturer: Ilze Kundziņa (LV), Līga Lētiņa (LV)

Information Design 2 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Understand various information structures and their implications on design.
  2. Organise and categorise content effectively to analyse various contexts and user needs.
  3. Develop a heightened sensitivity to dynamic situations and their impact on information representation.
  4. Establish clear hierarchies in information to aid user comprehension and navigation.
  5. Utilise graphic tools and techniques to make complex information more accessible and user-friendly.
  6. Recognise and incorporate the impact of time in the presentation and consumption of information.
  7. Meet the "Hippocampus" standard in information design, ensuring that your designs resonate with human cognition and memory processes.

Lecturers: Martin Foessleitner

Service Design & Technology 6 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Understand the role and potential of new technologies in the services sector and the application of new technologies in the development of new services or transformation of existing services.
  2. Understand the principles of sociotechnical systems, align these principles with prior skills, and design sociotechnical systems.
  3. Prototyping skills for digital services and products in order to test ideas with customers and communicate with development teams.
  4. Basic knowledge in hardware development (Arduino).
  5. Being familiar with extended reality, including current devices, their limitations and potential applications for education, healthcare, entertainment, and marketing.
  6. Experience with creating an extended reality application.
  7. Basic knowledge in machine learning and neural networks.
  8. Experience with creating an application that uses machine learning algorithms.

Lecturer: Krišjānis Určs (LV), Raitis Linde (LV)

Communication & Presentation 7 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Deal with fears and self-doubts when it comes to emotions of interacting with other people as well as manage your audience at the same time.
  2. Look at the big picture and apply "common sense" thinking when it comes to overlooking complex communication issues.
  3. Set communication campaign goals and KPIs as well as identify decision makers in the audience, build content, do creative writing and material gathering.
  4. Apply the latest trends in visual communication, advertising, social media posts and visual thinking into one's camapign.
  5. Practically produce audiovisual material (shoot, edit, act, etc.) on simple devices.
  6. Surprise your audience with the next-level PowerPoint presentation.
  7. Deliver a high-stakes public speech.

Lecturer: Kristaps Pētersons (LV)

Semester 2

Gain cross-sector knowledge thorough research methods, a strategic and entrepreneurial mindset, and tools for organisational and financial management of services.

Mobility to Kuldīga, Latvia

Design Management 3 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Share the vision of design as a horizontal discipline that can connect othercompetences.
  2. Understand the lead competences in an organization, what a leadership team is andby whom this group is formed, what does it mean being a design leader
  3. Understand and outline business strategy basics, how design influences strategy,acquire some key strategic frameworks
  4. Identify the key elements of a market approach, how a strategic marketing plan isdesigned and in which activities design can be most effective
  5. Know the history of design thinking, where it has born, how it was developed, fromwhat culture it was produced and how design frameworks can influence the practiceof designers.
  6. Learn what is a value proposition and why it is designed, what represents, why designresearch is so important to produce successful businesses

Lecturer: Tommaso Cora (IT)

Futures' Design 2 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Being familiar with techniques for identifying, researching, and critiquing signals of change as potential trend indicators.
  2. Practised capabilities in sensing and making sense of trends, signals and driving forces.
  3. Apply design futures methods and approaches to concrete topics.
  4. Experience using methods and frameworks for forecasting hypothetical conditions.
  5. Lead scenario-planning exercises for community and companies, an opportunity to develop futures scenarios that can shape your project or company’s path forward

Lecturer: Liene Kupča (LV)

Innovation Trends 1 ECTS

Learning outcomes:

  1. Understand latest innovation technology and business trends and deepen understanding of its applications to industries.

Lecturer: Kristaps Banga (LV)

Innovation Lab 8 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Develop an entrepreneurial mindset and gain experience in entrepreneurial activity (as a career alternative to being employed).
  2. Understand key concepts an apply techniques of the Lean Start-up methodology.
  3. Design and validate a business model.
  4. Gain experience in developing and launching a new service as a start-up.
  5. Apply start-up practices to other working environments (thus learning how to fail less painfully).
  6. Gain practical experience in project collaboration and teamwork.
  7. Gain experience in competence-based peer-to-peer learning through teamwork.

Lecturer: Viesturs Sosārs (LV)

Technologies for Management 2 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Understand the basic principles of technology adoption cycles.
  2. Identify and critically analyse new technology drivers and potential impact to business.
  3. Understand and apply basic principles of the Lean–Agile mindset.
  4. Translate customer needs into business benefit hypothesis for technology solutions.
  5. Understand how to deconstruct sizeable technology solutions into actionable roadmaps.

Lecturer: Kristaps Banga (LV)

Accounting for Managerial Purposes 2 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Discuss the basic accounting vocabulary, accounting principles, and concepts.
  2. Prepare an income statement and balance sheet of a company.
  3. Discuss the interactions between the financial statements and the way they are used by the stakeholders.
  4. Analyse the financial statements of a company.
  5. Discuss the financial performance of a company by applying financial ratios.
  6. Read the annual report of a company.
  7. Apply the costing for a product or service.
  8. Prepare a budget for a company.

Lecturer: Natalja Točelovska (LV)

Strategy 2 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Identify core strategic choices of an organisation.
  2. Understand the main external drivers affecting an organisation.
  3. Identify how strategic choices position an organisation in its industry/environment and create competitive advantage.
  4. Apply the aforementioned when developing and implementing service design activities in particular organisation to facilitate more effective service design impact on reaching organisational goals.

Lecturer: Justinas Sukys (LT)

Managing Innovative Organisations 2 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Explain key metaphors for thinking about organisations.
  2. Demonstrate holistic understanding of the structure of organisational design and processes.
  3. Demonstrate historically informed understanding of organisational structures.
  4. Analyse complex/open cases and offer recommendations for organisational improvement.

Lecturer: Dmitrijs Kravčenko (LV)

People management 2 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Identify and understand HR processes and how they are linked to other business processes.
  2. Propose theory-based and best practice-based solutions of how HR processes and approaches can be used, improved, and developed to create and implement service design initiatives (i.e. communication, team development, motivation, performance management).

Lecturer: Inga Gleizdāne (LV)

Customer Insights 2 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Apply insights from behavioural sciences to better understand the customer and better apply the insights within the organisation.
  2. Apply behavioural insights in everyday work challenges, including critically assessing the processes currently in place as well as designing better, behaviourally informed interventions for behaviour change.

Lecturer: Heidi Reinson (EE)

Leadership II 2 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Apply self-presentation and communication skills, that focuses on identification and communication of messages, values and concerns, crucial to personal and/ or professional development.
  2. Knowledge how to open up non-verbal language to improvise and communicate on all communication levels - verbal, physical, auditory, emotional, and energetic.

Lecturer: Jens Roth

Civil and Environment Protection, First Aid 2 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Knowledge of civil protection (in accordance with the Government of Latvia Regulation No. 716 of 5 December 2017).

Lecturer: Ivars Vanadziņš (LV)

Semester 3

Apply previously acquired knowledge for designing innovative real-life services in collaboration with industry.

Mobility to Rovaniemi, Finland

Master Project Studio 5 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Understand the phases of research, the construction of a research plan, methodological choices and the utilization of literary sources.
  2. Understand the construction of a theoretical basis, the possibilities to combine the theoretical part and service design production/project, and the production of research results and conclusions.
  3. Be familiar to deal with questions related to research reporting.

Lecturer: Krista Korpikoski

Service Design Advanced I -
Digital Service Design 10 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Identify the potential of digitalisation and its role in the development of services
  2. Identify factors affecting the functionality and usability of digital services
  3. Outline the principles of artificial intelligence solutions in digital services
  4. Design digital services in a human-centred way using service design methods
  5. Outline areas of expertise related to the development of digital services

Lecturer: Krista Korpikoski Kiwoong Nam

Service Design Advanced II -
Strategic Service Design 10 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Integrate service design into the strategic planning of an organisation and wider societal and cultural contexts
  2. Manage an organisation’s service ecosystem
  3. Identify the possibilities of service design in strategic planning
  4. Evaluate services from a critical perspective
  5. Analyse personal activities from the perspective of sustainable development and ethics

Lecturer: Krista Korpikoski

Electives 5 ECTS

Elective courses can be selected among the courses available at the University of Lapland website. Elective courses take place on weekdays (Mon-Fri). Teaching language, qualifications and among of seats may limit the access to the courses. Representatives of the Ulapland will help with the selection of the elective studies on request.

Some examples of the elective studies:

  • Survival Finnish (CEFR A1.2) 2 ETCS
  • Finnish 1 (CEFR A1.2) 3 ETCS
  • Finnish Culture 3 ETCS
  • Introduction to Arctic Cultures 5 ETCS
  • Arts-Based and Community-Based Participatory Research Approaches 3 ECTS
  • Basic Course on Qualitative Research Methods 3-5 ECTS
  • Quantitative Methods 5 ECTS
  • Guide to IPR 5 ECTS

Semester 3

Apply previously acquired knowledge for designing innovative real-life services in collaboration with industry.

Mobility to Tallin, Estonia

Master Project Studio 5 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Define a design brief, including the context, challenge, goals, constraints, deliverables, performance criteria, and resource requirements.
  2. Apply cross-disciplinary theory and human-centred, evidence-based design research methods.
  3. Deliver theory and research analysis in written and oral presentations.
  4. Understand contexts and systems and identify the simplest service design challenge out of a variety of approaches.
  5. Make and justify decisions characterised by context, impact, stakeholders, and complexity
  6. Gain practical experience in project collaboration and teamwork.
  7. Gain experience in competence-based peer-to-peer learning through teamwork.

Lecturer: TBA

Service Design Advanced -
Designing Sustainable Transitions 10 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Apply, generate and plan appropriate design research methods in order to identify opportunities based on a brief from an industry partner.
  2. Critically evaluate, synthesize and integrate information from across the service design disciplines, future forecasts and sustainability strategies.
  3. Communicate effectively and sensitively within complex and dynamic environments to support the development of co-creative cultures.
  4. Develop the personal and intellectual aptitudes to become a facilitative leader in an organizational transition process.
  5. Integrate service design into the operational and strategic planning of an organization and wider societal and cultural contexts.
  6. Analyze personal activities from the perspective of sustainable development and ethics.

Lecturer: Jörn Frenzel

Electives 15 ECTS

Based on your development goals and professional interests, you will have to choose at least 15 ECTP worth of elective courses and join the students of the Interaction Design, Design & Technology Futures, Circular Design or Social Design master’s program in their studio-based projects. This will give you unique opportunities to embed and practice your newly acquired Service Design skills in a new context and amplify your professional network and knowledge with new fields of design.

Faculty electives:

  • 6 ECTS Design Issues 
  • 6 ECTS Design for Sustainability
  • 3 ECTS Assistantship: Research
  • 3 ECTS Assistantship: Teaching
  • 3 ECTS Internship: Studio

Interaction Design:

  • 9 ECTS Practice: Design for Social Innovation
  • 6 ECTS Practice: Design for Emerging Themes
  • 3 ECTS Immersive Experiences 
  • 3 ECTS Speculative Design 
  • 3 ECTS Facilitation 

Design & Technology Futures:

  • 12 ECTS Design Studio 1: Personal

Circular Design:

  • 12 ECTS Studio 1: Prototyping circular changes
  • 6 ECTS Key discussions in circularity 1: Sustainability
  • 12 ECTS Studio 3: Circular products and services in entrepreneurship
  • 6 ECTS Key discussions in circularity 3: Industry

Social Design:

  • 12 ECTS Design Studio 3: Community engagement and design for humility 
  • 6 ECTS Key discussions in social design 1: Why?
  • 3 ECTS Ethics and social responsibility
  • 3 ECTS Social + Design research

General subjects:

  • 3 ECTS History and Theory
  • 3 ECTS Philosophy and Critical Thinking 
  • 3 ECTS Cultural Theory 
  • 3 ECTS History of Ideas
  • 3 ECTS Academic and professional self-expression skills
  • 3 ECTS Academic Writing
  • 3 ECTS Creative Research Methods
  • 3 ECTS Visual Literacy 
  • 3 ECTS Beyond EKA
  • 3 ECTS Creative Industries 
  • 3 ECTS Estonian Culture at the Crossroads 1 (summer school)
  • 3 ECTS Estonian Culture at the Crossroads 2
  • 3 ECTS Teaching and Mediating

Semester 4

Engage in a design project or practical research either individually or in teams of two students, hosted either at the University of Lapland or the Estonian Academy of Arts. The choice of mobility destination hinges on the location of students' 3rd-semester studies. Those who undertook their 3rd semester in Estonia will transition to the University of Lapland in Finland for their final semester, while students from the University of Lapland will conclude their studies in Estonia.

Master Thesis 30 ECTS

After completion of the course, you will:

  1. Create an overview of existing canonical examples, best practices, and academic state of the art in a chosen subfield of service design.
  2. Independently plan, execute, and (re-)frame design activities at an advanced level in a chosen subfield (individually or in teams) within the time and resources available.
  3. Choose techniques suitable for an advanced-level design project and apply them appropriately.
  4. Perform, document, and communicate design activities as part of knowledge production within the framework of service design research.
  5. Communicate, present, and discuss a project verbally, in written form, and through other means appropriate for the chosen subfield and the nature of the project.
  6. Critically reflect upon the design-based research methodology applied, including identification of the needs for further research and learning.
  7. Assess an advanced-level design project.
  8. Assess the professional and academic value of practice and knowledge contributions to service design research.
  9. Become skilled in independent data acquisition, creative problem solving, scientific thinking, and in managing appropriate research methods.
  10. Be familiar with the literature and research methods related to service design through your own research process.

Lecturer: Estonian Academy of Arts / University of Lapland.

Where will this take you?

We will equip you with the knowledge and skills to be prepared for an uncertain future. You will know how to identify and satisfy unmet needs in a wide range of sectors, such as health care, transportation, education, finance and retail. You will execute leadership roles in organisations in the private and public sectors, spearheading change processes, envisioning the future, managing multidisciplinary teams and overcoming innovation roadblocks.

Upon graduation, you will:

  • Become a versatile professional with an agile mindset
  • Transform existing service design concepts by integrating research-based user needs and organisational strategies
  • Apply holistic approaches and user-centred design principles
  • Understand social, economic, and technological contexts in which private and public services function
  • Be an organisational change facilitator
  • Have grown into leadership roles through experience 
Career Opportunities
Map of SDSI locations


The study process includes study periods abroad to Kuldīga in Latvia, Tallin in Estonia and Rovaniemi in Finland. SDSI locations are ‘safe countries’ characterised by societies striving for social and economic development, wellbeing, and culture.

Through their international offices, partner countries offer well-established networks for finding suitable student accommodations and public transport, with airports nearby. Partner countries are internationally known for the beauty of their natural resources, green forests, and the Baltic Sea, and unlimited options exist for hiking, exploring, finding peace of mind and spending quality time on your studies. 

Kuldīga, Latvia

Due to its picturesque and well-preserved medieval cityspace, Kuldīga often serves as a stage for international filmmakers, artists and photographers. Creative ambience is the reason why the fresh, 2021-built SDSI campus building is located here. From Kuldīga, you can access the beach in about 30 minutes, and the widest natural waterfall in Europe on the river Venta is located in the very centre of town. Kuldīga is also known for its potential listing as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the slow-food culture, and a year-round arts and cultural programme. 

Rovaniemi, Finland

The city of Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle of Finnish Lapland is known as the official home of Santa Claus. The lure of magical white winters and romantic aurora borealis tempt visitors to experience the stunning views and captivating, mysterious wilderness beyond the city streets. Visitors to the city may have to discover which of the eight seasons of Lapland they will experience and explore upon their stay.

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn is the capital city of Estonia, located on the Baltic sea. First established in the early medieval era, today’s Tallinn is an exciting mix of old and new. Tallinn is the first point of entry to Estonia for most visitors, and if you’re the kind of person who likes to jump right in, then you’re in luck, as Tallinn city centre is never more than 15-minutes drive away regardless of if you happen to arrive by plane, train, coach or ferry. Tallinn Old Town is one of the best preserved Hanseatic town centres in the world. A stone’s throw away you’ll find the city’s business centre with modern towers and luxurious hotels, trendy neighbourhoods and large shopping centres. Tallinn’s luring coastline dotted with promenades and sandy beaches is especially rewarding during the summer but offers scenic views of the iconic cityscape and breathtaking sunsets throughout the year.


LMA logo

The Art Academy of Latvia was founded in 1919, and its expertise includes various fields of visual art and design. A modernised tradition of academic education, openness to topical art processes and activities, and a hands-on individual approach by the teaching personnel in preparing young artists have ensured and preserved the Academy’s authority.

With 700 students, the Academy is characterised as an example of exceptionally good collaboration between students and their professors. 2021 marks a new era for the Academy by inclusion of service design in its curricula list and the newly built, modern campus in Kuldīga, designed specifically for SDSI students.

LMA logo

Originally established in 1979, the University of Lapland aimed to provide higher education opportunities for those living in the far reaches of northern Finland. Now the university has grown into an international, multidisciplinary university whose areas of expertise include art and design, education, law, social sciences, Northern and Arctic themes, and tourism research.

Our first-class Arctic design labs support cutting-edge research on the interactions between people and the environment in the Arctic. Our interactions with community, businesses, and society are at the core of our research in northern Finland.

LMA logo

Established in 1914, the Estonian Academy of Arts is one of six public universities in Estonia. It combines a unique mix of heritage and cutting-edge art and technology, as its small size allows for agility and constant innovation. As a school of 1000 students and a 1:3 teacher–student ratio, individualised study and personal mentorship are at the core of student development.

The multitude of creative departments, many of which have been operating for close to a century, enable design students to be inspired by textile and fashion designers, blacksmiths, ceramists, sculptors and many others.

LMA logo

The Financial Times-ranked Stockholm School of Economics in Riga (SSE Riga) is the leading business school in the region. SSE Riga is a comparatively small school with 450 students and a dynamic international learning environment – 60% of the core faculty is international, and programmes are designed in close cooperation with its ‘parent school’ in Stockholm.

Through active alumni from the Bachelor’s programme in Economics and Business, professional Executive MBA programme, various non-degree management training, Centre for Media Studies, and public debate and research activities, SSE Riga fulfils its mission to contribute to the economic, social and democratic development of the region. 

For Students

Find different documents related to the SDSI study process for download.

SDSI Ethical Guidelines


SDSI Study agreement, self-funded, non-EU, 2023


SDSI Study agreement, self-funded, 2023


SDSI Study agreement, EMJM scholarship, 2023


SDSI AI guidelines, 2023