Master of Science Program

Design research in cooperation with the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences and the Cluster of Excellence “Matters of Activity. Image Space Material” at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin.


More than any other institution, the Bauhaus Dessau expressed a modern understanding of design that took a sceptical view of antiquated design traditions and substituted these with direct research into materials and the innovative potentials of technology and science. Since then, design has been perceived as a cooperative discipline that synthesises diverse aspects of knowledge. Since Autumn 2014 the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and Anhalt University of Applied Sciences in cooperation with the transdisciplinary Cluster of Excellence „Matters of Activity. Image Space Material“ at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin offer a Masters Programme, which engages with the Bauhaus’s legacy in design research.

Study at Gropius´ Bauhaus Dessau!

The one-year MSc. program is conducted by Anhalt University of Applied Sciences and Bauhaus Dessau Foundation in cooperation with Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. It is conceived as a preparatory step towards a doctoral study. It strives to integrate design and research, which are often perceived as separate disciplines. The practical experience of design gained by participants in previous study semesters and in professional practice provides the basis for an approach to design now primarily based on research and analysis.

The core of the MSc. Programme, communicated using different teaching methods with the participation of the three aforementioned partner institutions, relies on three thematic building blocks: Design as research – analysis of the synthesising practices; design as projection – anticipation and intervention strategies; design in the world – impact and application. The participants gain sound scientific knowledge and competencies on the basis of tasks that are both practice-orientated and forward-looking. The successfully completed MSc. programme includes entitlement to study for a doctorate. Moreover, the programme fosters personal growth and as such paves the way for a meaningful level of social engagement. The MSc. programme COOP Design Research opens up professional perspectives in the fields of research and teaching, design and cultural studies and curatorial practice.

The programme is conducted at Gropius´ Bauhaus in Dessau. Some lectures take place at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. See the video on COOP Design Research MSc. program here

Students apply with a letter of intent, referring thereby to one of the three thematic building blocks. The modules combine theory and practice and research-orientated and projective studies: The teaching formats combine and give equal weight to the formulation of analysis and experimentation, text and image, material and object.

connection Design as research Design as education Design as projection
Design as research

Is design a research-based activity? And how does a designer research? What knowledge does an architect muster in order to design a building? What skills are needed in order to arrive at a well-designed product?


The historic Bauhaus called on its students to engage in research-based design. This meant expeditions into the wide field of knowledge, to which they had access at the time: From diverse kinds of materials and production processes to statistics – almost everything was of interest. The synthesis of this acquired knowledge yielded outstanding designs.

The module takes up this tradition of design research: It focuses on the unique aspects of the designer’s research, including:

  • The study of the spaces in which design takes place – e.g., the studio or the workshop
  • The study of the types of knowledge which designers have addressed and integrated in their praxis – e.g., in the twentieth century: cybernetics, ethnology, sociology
  • The study of the processes which design research utilises as experimentation, historicisation or visualisation
Design as Education

How does one learn design? How much skill does a designer need? Does design educate society? Which types of knowledge does design produce?


The historic Bauhaus-school school was seen as a place of creative dilettantism. The criticism of the existing education institutions gave rise to a school with a hugely flexible and open education agenda – instruction at the Bauhaus was relatively informal. At the same time, everything was a learning process: Life in the collective, the relationship to one’s own body, one’s existence in spaces informed by technological rationality.

In this respect the Bauhaus is a fitting point of departure for the investigation of the interaction between education and design.

This module will, e.g.,

  • Investigate the progressive education institutions which provided decisive stimuli for the reconceptualisation of design education
  • Include expeditions to buildings which present “space as a third-party educator”, which have played a significant role in educating society
  • Study the tools of education, communication and design which significantly changed the ways and means of teaching design, from plotting or drafting tools to computer programmes.
Design as Projection

How is something genuinely new created? How can a design concept transcend the norm? How much materiality does design need in order to have an impact on society?


The historic Bauhaus was orientated to the future: The programmes and manifestos document the protagonists’ conviction that designers  –architects and artists – are called upon to initiate radical social change. Their products – from teapot to modern housing estate – were to play a part in transforming the social reality of the Weimar Republic.

To this day the Bauhaus is perceived as an institution that not only anticipated the future, but also substantiated these utopias. It is marks one of the most important turning points in the way of thinking about design in the twentieth century.

This module will, among other things:

  • Investigate the contexts of such driving forces for innovation in design
  • Explore the diverse scales of projections, from the everyday object to world design
  • Reflect on the formats and mediums which crucially helped enforce the social implementation and effectiveness of ideas and projects.

Introductory phase / Preliminary laboratory

3 Weeks [ECTS Part of 02 Labratory]

The preliminary laboratory (3 weeks) provides access to the program. This involves a general introduction to the various positions in design research and the working practices and methods of scientific work. Selected examples of design research will be analysed and reflected on in seminars.


12 weeks [10 ECTS]

The laboratory is made up of three thematic building blocks: design as research, design as education and design as projection. In lectures, seminars and exercises these diverse modes of design knowledge production will be systematically analysed both historically and theoretically and argued in presentations based on selected examples.


6 weeks [5 ECTS]

Following up 02 Laboratory, the insights, methods and skills acquired in the first term will be applied in a self-chosen thematic project. The exposé serves as a test phase for an independent, original design research argumentation.

Theory and Methods

weekly [5 ECTS]

The lecture series offers an overview of the history of modern design research and presents discourses, projects and concepts in the field.
The seminar will reflect on different approaches to the development of theories in, e.g., the natural sciences, the humanities and design. The seminar also includes an introduction to the varied methods of scientific work, e.g., literature research, archive study techniques, data analysis, interview techniques, qualitative methods, e.g. participatory observation or material studies, and aims to enable students to take a reflexive approach to these methods.

Elective subject

[5 ECTS]

The elective subject comprises block sessions in which partner universities present their research areas and introduce the participants to the issues arising from these contexts. The elective study broadens the thematic spectrum and enlarges upon the teaching content of the lectures and modules.

Lecture series / Master Talks

[5+5 ECTS]

The Master Talks offer a platform for international exchange on approaches to design research. Guest scientists and designers present their research approaches and hypotheses for discussion. In accompanying or separately organised research colloquia, the program’s participants, in association with the guests, can deepen their understanding of issues arising from the contexts of the respective themes.

Master Thesis and Colloquium

[20+5 ECTS]

The Master Thesis follows up the exposé. Students develop and elaborate their research argumentation to a full thesis under the supervision of their mentors within 20 weeks.
Master Thesis will finally be presented in a public colloquium.

Coop Design Research MSC Program

See the full Program.

Selection of successfully completed Master´s Theses

Here you will find abstracts of successfully completed Master´s Theses as pdf for download.

The program is set out along transdisciplinary lines and draws on the following disciplines: Architecture, design, cultural studies, visual studies, materials science and the history and theory of design and architecture. The new Masters Program unites the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation with its historic collection and its education and communication formats with the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences and the combined outstanding academic expertise of Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, especially of the Cluster of Excellence „Matters of Activity. Image Space Material“. Moreover, engaging with the historic artefacts, materials and buildings found in the Bauhaus City Dessau means that contemporary issues in design may be explored through materials-based research and their currency tested in exhibition and communication formats.

Lecturers: Regina Bittner, Stephan Pinkau, Claus Diessenbacher, Michael Hohl, Wolfgang Schäffner, Joachim Krausse, Gernot Weckherlin, Sabine Hansmann, Friederike Schäfer et al.

Students working together in their study room

This MSc. Program requires a successful completion of a Diploma or a Bachelor / Master degree in the field of Architecture or Design, Cultural Sciences or similar of at least 240 ECTS (four years) and an application via UNI-assyst, including

  • a portfolio of 10 -12 pages including CV, copies of diploma certificates and own work
  • a letter of intent focusing on the COOP Design Research MSc Program consisting of two parts (300 words each): an articulation of  your interest and a description of the personal background (see form “Letter of Intent” below).


Applicants with a Bachelor degree have to proof one year of practical experience in their field of studies. Next application period: December 16th, 2021 – May 15th, 2022 (try to submit as early as possible). The course is held in English, the Master thesis may be optionally written and submitted in German or English. Applicants who have not completed their school education up to university maturity or their university study at a German-speaking institution or at an English-speaking institution shall present evidence that their proficiency in the English language according to TOEFL or a comparable test corresponds to level C1 of the Common European Reference Framework of Reference (CERF).
Fees: 1.250 EUR / Semester, which we will refund 100% in case you will not be able to join. For further questions, please contact info(at)

Thank you for your interest in applying to the COOP DESIGN RESEARCH MSc program. Your application is the window through which we see your accomplishments, hear your ideas, and evaluate your potential. Applicants are admitted for Fall term only; there is no mid-year admission.

Please start your application here. Please use the provided form for your Letter of Intent and contact us for guiding you through the application process!

At UNI-assyst,
1. Please enter course name “Design Reseach” top left of the page.
2. Please follow this step-by-step description.

Apply now for Fall 2022!

Project Team

Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Stephan Pinkau
Prof. Dr. Regina Bittner

COOP Design Research MSc Program

Bauhaus Dessau
Gropiusallee 38
06846 Dessau, Germany

Phone: +49 (0) 340 5197 1554
Fax: +49 (0) 340 5197 1599

Email: info(at)


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