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Academic Profile: Sustainable Product Development

The profile Sustainable Product Development more specifically qualifies graduates to:

  • Understand many of the most evident current problems with regards to sustainability
  • Formulate problems with regards to sustainability in a scientific manner
  • Deploy current methods in sustainability assessment
  • Have a thorough knowledge about environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) and the ability to deploy the methodology within product development
  • Understand the most prominent development methods with regards to sustainable product development and show the ability to use them
  • Construct a corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy and instruments to measure the performance of the organization using the policy.

Structure of the programme

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For PDI Bachelor undergraduates - enrolment autumn

For non-PDI Bachelor undergraduates - enrolment autumn

For non-PDI Bachelor undergraduates - enrolment spring

First semester

The key theme is Sustainability and product development

The 1st semester introduces the students to key concepts with regards to sustainable product development. The key courses focus on:

  • The immense effects humans have on the global ecosystems, what the effects are and what are the potential underlying causes.
  • Limits to growth, the IPAT equation, relationship between economic growth and environmental impact
  • How product development can lead to innovative solutions which address some of the imminent sustainability issues.
  • Provide a solid background of product development methodologies that focus in particular on sustainability.
  • The practical deployment of methodologies to develop products, systems or services that address known sustainability issues.

The main courses students attend in the first semester provide a solid ground of knowledge with regards to sustainability. This involves sustainability on a global scale but also with regards to product development in particular.

Tools are provided to visualise and describe fundamental issues with regards to sustainability. Students learn relevant terminology and are introduced to various aspects of scientific fields concerning sustainability. This is of high importance in modern society as interdisciplinary work is often commissioned and knowing how a subject can transfer between disciplines, and how the topic is handled within that area is of high value. Limits to growth is discussed and eventually how such factors need to be taken into the global production chain.

During this semester, the students further develop skills useful to sustainable product development. Current relevant topics such as Cradle to Cradle, Biomimicry and Natural Capitalism are introduced and students are provided with tools to implement such philosophies into product development. Students will have competencies in developing solutions from the ground up, based on fulfilling the needs of the three pillars of sustainability but also redesigning products with such objectives in mind.

This semester focuses on three objectives that all correlate, a) providing comprehensive knowledge about sustainability issues, 2) Methods and concepts to develop solutions addressing such issues, and finally 3) the practical know-how to conduct such developments.

Students are exposed to a wide different areas of subjects within the realm of sustainability, most of which are applicable to be addressed in future research projects. This even allows the students to address given topics within projects to be conducted during the first semester.

Second semester

The semester theme for semester two is formulation and modelling.
The 2nd semester allows the students to further develop skills for visualising environmental problems. The key courses focus on:

  • Construct dynamic mathematical models for environmental applications.
  • Analysis of environmental mathematical models.
  • Research activities based on the students interests within the sustainability area.
  • Legal issues with regards to product development.
  • Definition of intra, inter and interactional properties of organisations.
  • Theories in technology innovation management

During this semester, students are exposed in some detail, to mathematical methods used to analyse environmental problems. Such skills are useful in a variety of fields relating to sustainability, environmental applications in particular. Project 1 allows students to conduct research within their area of interests, further deepening their knowledge within that particular field. The project 1 is supervised by a professor within the faculty with a substantial background within the given field, exposing the student to the most current methods and materials in relation to the topic chosen.

The student will become knowledgeable about the establishment of enterprises, the rules of such establishment and various potential business models. How to analyse business opportunities, define business models and locate financing opportunities is also taught on this semester.

Electives for this semester allow the student to go in more detail into a subject of interest. The electives are designed in a way for the student to get a technical hold of a given subject. In a practical manner the knowledge will assists the student in developing successful, sustainable solutions. The elective Material Flow Analysis (MFA) gives the student an understanding of the systematic assessment of flows and stocks of resources within a system. MFA serves as a solid background for life cycle assessments.
Other electives allow the students to gain further insights into important aspects of sustainable product development, such as the effects of supply chain management and the effects of management of waste. All the factors introduced to the students, such as supply chain management, material flows and waste management can be influenced by the initial design of products, systems or services. This knowledge further deepens the understanding on how product designs have an impact on different phases within the product lifecycle.

After semester 2, the student has further gained comprehensive knowledge about the formulation of problems in mathematical terms, the process of realising product solutions within a business context and the ability to visualise the flow of materials throughout the value chain.

Semester three

The theme for the third semester is Environmental impacts and assessments.

The 3rd semester allows the students to develop skills to systematically analyse environmental implications of products, systems or services. The key courses focus on:

  • Construction of life cycle scenarios of products, systems or services
  • Assessment of environmental impacts from product designs
  • Base decisions on life cycle assessments
  • International businesses and markets
  • Theories behind open innovation
  • Gaining practical working experience or extended research project

During semester 3, students are exposed to life cycle assessment (LCA). LCA is a much used methodology used to analyse environmental effects of products, systems or services. Having a good hold of LCA provides the student with the ability to perform complex analysis on how products behave during their lifecycle in environmental terms. Students furthermore gain the skills to provide recommendations based on the findings from the LCA.

During this period, the students are furthermore exposed to current theories with regards to globalization and market identification.
The knowledge accumulated by the student throughout the study period will also be put to use within an industrial setting if the student decides to conduct an In-company period. During this period, the student conducts a project within a company and gains a meaningful experience from the industry. The student can however also choose to conduct a 10 ECTS research project within the university. This may be used to deepen the students understanding of a certain topic. If the student decides to do the Project 2 research, he is obligated to do an elective course. This course can be used to compliment the research being undertaken by the student.

As semester 3 is completed, the student has gained a sought after specialization where a solid foundation has been gained to develop solutions in a sustainable manner, often addressing sustainability issues. The student is ready take take on the thesis project where the wide range of skills acquired during the first three semesters can be put to use.

Fourth semester

Semester theme: Masters thesis
The Master's thesis concludes the Master's program.
The thesis project is based on a working process including three main aspects: technological/engineering aspect, business/marketing aspect and research aspect. The project activities and final report document the student's competencies attained during his/her work on a program profile-relevant and interdisciplinary subject.

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