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Free University of Bozen-Bolzano

Master in

Eco-Social Design

The 2-year practice-oriented and transdisciplinary study course is an educational framework for designers that aims to contribute to more sustainable, resilient and fair futures — both locally and trans-locally.

Course description

Illustration from the project "Pioniere" by Giulia Bencini & Insa Keilbach
From the project "Pioniere" by Giulia Bencini & Insa Keilbach

Eco-Social Design is not only about more eco-efficient products and services, but is striving for future-viable modes of production, consumption and life – for sustainable economies and cultures. Based on these general aims and values the design of products, spaces, processes, interactive applications and of cross-media communication is understood as an integrated task. Design is a catalyst of change.

With your projects you try to approach today's issues effectively and/or co-design concrete practices and visions for tomorrow. You are encouraged to experiment with alternative practices of collaboration and co-creation. The overarching goal: Good life for all! –  empowered and facilitated by excellent design.

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Holistic thinking as a basis for effective design

From the project "Malszeit" by Johanna Perret & Lena Rieger
From the project "Malszeit" by Johanna Perret & Lena Rieger

You will learn how to use instruments of diverse design practices and research, besides incorporating into your creative work also perspectives and competences borrowed from social sciences and economics, and from sectors such as: business, activism, technology and the crafts. This equips you to develop your ways to approach complex issues with reflection, creativity and pragmatism.

You have possibility to set your personal focus, by choosing what to deepen within the rich set of design disciplines and sciences offered in the study program.


From the project "Hemphasis" by Stefania Zanetti & Andreas Sebastianelli
From the project "Hemphasis" by Stefania Zanetti & Andreas Sebastianelli

At a glance

Degree class: LM-12
ECTS credits: 120
Duration of the course: 2 years
Courses will be taught in: English
Places available: 30 EU + 4 non-EU
Campus: Bozen-Bolzano
Tuition fees: €1.347,50 per year

Structure: Your project is everything

Il progetto è tutto!

During the first semester you do small projects, introductions and excursions – to create a shared basis for more complex projects, to stimulate inspiration, and to facilitate your landing in unibz, the environment and the network of students, teacher and external partners.

In the second semester you develop an autonomous project, in teams or individually. You will select courses from the areas 'Sciences and Discourse' (in black) and 'Skills and Technologies' (in red). The former provide you with theoretical foundations, critical thinking and methods from the social and economic sciences. Through the latter, you will learn how to use the most important tools and techniques for your creative work as a designer. Experienced designers, with various specializations, will support you with the development your project along two lines: object-space-services and communication-interaction-services. All courses you choose contribute to the development of your project. If you want to customise your study plan further, you can choose courses from other faculties, too.

Das dritte Semester


In the third semester you will  carry out research and experimentation about a topic of your choice that will turn into your thesis. The integrated course in Design Research will be particularly helpful in this semester. This development process is accompanied by the 'Master Colloquia', during which you discuss your work-in-progress with experts from outside the university.

In the fourth and last semester, you will focus on you thesis project and the written thesis that goes along with it.

Laura Heym

Freelance designer, researcher and blogger, Vienna/Berlin

“Studying at unibz in the Master Eco-Social Design with its rich facilities did not only help me finding my personal way of working as a non-conventional designer but also gave me two great years. I enjoyed spending time in the marvellous mountains around Bozen-Bolzano with my co-students and friends and loved the intimate atmosphere in this small university and city. I really appreciated the diversity of languages and the wide range of learning opportunities in and out of university. After completing my master studies in Eco-Social Design I moved to Vienna where I now work as a freelancer for several projects in the field of eco-social design, among them neuland21, a Berlin-based association for which I remotely work as graphic designer, researcher and blogger. I enjoy my work there since through design I can help finding new ways to enhance quality of life and societal participation in the countryside. At the same time I am putting forth an effort to develop a little business out of my master thesis project "Zukunft Hinterland", a participatory and interactive audio-guide that promotes future-oriented initiatives in rural areas and therefore a positive image of the countryside.”

Facilities and study environment

Master Atelier Federica 18062016 SS22234

The spacious and sunny ateliers are open spaces for creative development and collaboration. Here you work in teams on your projects, in constant exchange with other students and the teachers. Supervision and constant consultation with experts and stakeholders is a crucial part of this study programme.

the labs


Our superbly equipped workshops offer a wide range of technologies for your design work, such as workshops for wood, metal, plastic, materials, digital modelling, plaster and mold making, surface treatment, printing (screen, tampon and high pressure), paper and bookbinding, photography, video, Tangible User Interface & Physical Computing).

Exchange & networking

Katherina Longariva & Alastair Fuad-Luke

Supervision and constant consultation with experts and stakeholders is a crucial part of this study programme.


Conference By Design or by Disaster

You can get an impression of our topics and the atmosphere by visiting our blog and the web site of our conference By Design or by Disaster 2019

Ecosocial Design Kris Krois unibz


Degree course director: Prof. Kris Krois (photo)
Student Representative in the Course Council: Henning Schoch

Team of Teachers: Adelheid Biesecker, Lisa Borgenheimer, Andrea De Chirico, Sabina Frei, Alastair Fuad-Luke, Günther Innerebner (, Kris Krois, Kuno Prey, Matteo Moretti,  Alvise Mattozzi, Karl Emilio Pircher (walking chair), Andreas Metzner-Szigeth, Elisabeth Tauber

Career opportunities

The variety of jobs in the traditional field of design is already very broad and ranges from working in design studios to communication agencies and from in-house communication offices in companies to freelance activity. Eco-social design also offers the possibility to collaborate with partners who are committed to environmental, social and political change, like NGOs, foundations, local councils and other public institutions, cooperatives, citizen groups, not-for-profit enterprises and other social organisations. Also the expanding market of organic, eco-friendly and ethical products and services, the sharing economy as well as other forms of alternative economies, they all offer opportunities to our graduates. There is a lot of creative scope for designers who want to invent their own role.

This Master degree also enables you to continue further with your studies towards a practice-oriented doctoral degree.


studying at unibz

Studying at unibz

Living in South Tyrol, Housing, Scholarships, Single Subject Courses and more

International applicants 3

International Applicants (non-EU)

Application procedure, Visa, Residence permit and more


In order be admitted to the course, you will be required to prove that you have a B2 in English.
If you don't have an official language certification, you can take a language exam at our university.

Selection Criteria
Portfolio, outline of a project proposal* and an interview.

Online Application
Early Bird - for EU and non-EU citizens: 1 March - 26 April 2019, noon
Late Application - for EU citizens only: 20 May - 11 July 2019, noon

Publication Ranking Lists
Early Bird: by 17 May 2019
Late Application: by 30 July 2019

In order to get admission you need a degree in design, architecture, landscape architecture, urbanism or a degree of an academy of arts. Candidates with other degrees need at least to have acquired 10 ECTS credits in the following fields: Design, Architecture and Spatial Planning, Landscape architecture or Interior Design.

More details can be found in the Study Manifesto.

Contact us by phone at +390471012100 or fill in the request form.

* outline of a project proposal (pdf), on which you would want to work for a semester. In max. two A4 pages, the main points must be explained concisely, clearly and appealingly. You can freely choose the style and the way of presenting this outline (text, images, graphics, etc.)

Ranking list

Study Manifesto

Regulations (only in Italian and German)

Apply here



Photography: Stefania Zanetti, Andrea Dieck | Illustration: Insa Keilbach, Giulia Bencini | Infographics: Kris Krois

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