Interaction Design WikiStudent Handbook

Curriculum Structure and Credits

The BA at IAD is structured over 6 semesters of studies, in blocks of successive or overlapping modules, except for the last final semester dedicated to the BA thesis.
Students are encouraged to take an additional year to study abroad for 6 months (exchange semester, preferably in the 4th semester) and/or to do an internship. 

Department of Design (DDE) regulations

Studies at the Department of Design are organised on a modular basis. Students take modules in their core programme, as well as a department-wide module and a university-wide module. Students are awarded ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) for successfully completed modules. ECTS represent the number of hours required for course completion (i.e. quantitative workload). ECTS are awarded to students who contribute actively to classes, who achieve the learning objectives stated in the course announcement, and who are awarded at least a grade E for the respective module.

ECTS are awarded only for completed modules, never for individual courses.

Students earn ECTS at their home university or during exchange semesters at other universities. Courses are organised to enable students to obtain 30 ECTS per semester. Credits can be earned for individual assignments or for group assignments undertaken in courses or modules. Credits are awarded for:

Studies are calculated as follows in ECTS:  

Bachelor 180 ECTS

1 Semester = 30 ECTS

1 Semester = 900 hours of work (50 hours x 18 weeks)

1 ECTS 30 hours of work 18 contact hours (lessons) + 12 hours of self-study.

Students seeking admission to the 6th and final semester of their BA degree studies must have earned a total of 144 ECTS, of which 26 points in Theory modules

Campus Points

In the BSO (Besondere Studienordnung für den Studiengang Bachelor of Arts in Design der Zürcher Hochschule der Künste) § 17.1,2 it is stated:, study services from other modules or Campus Points can be counted instead of one or more compulsory or elective modules, if they are comparable in content and learning objectives and have been approved by the course management. A maximum of 6 ECTS points can be counted.

§ 17. Studienleistungen aus anderen Modulen oder CampusPunkte können anstelle eines oder mehrerer Pflicht- oder WahlpflichtModule angerechnet werden, wenn sie in Inhalt und Lernzielen vergleichbar sind und von der Studiengangsleitung anerkannt wurden.

§ 17.2 Es können insgesamt höchstens 6 ECTS-Punkte angerechnet werden.

Specialisation Modules

Specialisation modules are organised according to a fixed timetable. In justified cases, students may be granted access to other specialisation modules, especially in their 3rd to 5th semesters. Students complete each module with a graded presentation. Grades must be sufficient for students to pass the module. Regular teaching times are 9am to 5pm. 

Departmental Modules (Theory)

While specialisation modules develop specialised knowledge and skills in subject-specific design projects, departmental modules focus on the wider context of the design profession (theory, practice, interdisciplinary assignments). Department-wide theory classes are taught on Mondays every semester. Subject-specific theory is taught from the 1st semester. Students spend these classes writing semester papers (1st to 5th semesters) and a thesis (6th semester). Compulsory lectures convey contextual and broader knowledge. As many texts discussed in classes are often available only in English, students are expected to have a good working knowledge of English.

University-wide Z-Modules

University-wide modules (so-called Z-Modules) complement design courses and enable students to familiarise themselves with other fields of study and knowledge. Z-Modules are offered in accordance with the university’s efforts to promote transdisciplinary approaches and skills in its Bachelor’s programmes. Z-Modules are compulsory electives, where teaching staff and students experiment with various methods, procedures, and practices, critically reflect on their work, and cultivate overarching transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. Z-Modules may have a theoretical or a practical orientation.

Z-Modules are held before the beginning of semester in calendar weeks 7 and 37. Students are required to attend one Z-Module every academic year. Students are recommended to attend Z-Modules in their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th semesters (so that it doesn't conflict in particular with the thesis year) . For course offerings, see the online course directory:

Using the Workshops

Successfully completing Z-Courses (induction classes) enables ZHdK students to use the various crafts workshops around campus. Some workshop inductions are an integral part of the curriculum (metal-working, plastic, wood-working, low-level, i.e., modelling skills). Students may attend additional courses depending on their personal interests and specialisation. Z-Tech Courses introduce students to specialised infrastructures, build fundamental technical skills, and draw attention to the health and safety regulations for operating workshop tools and equipment at no risk to oneself or others. The courses offered at the teaching workshops last 1.5 to 2.5 days. On completion, participants (students and other members of ZHdK) are granted authorised access to the respective workshop during the official opening hours. For notices, regulations, and a basic introduction, see here.

Open Z-Tech Courses

ZHdK students may attend Z-Tech Courses free of charge. Courses are offered on a regular basis in-between semesters (weeks 5 and 35). Open courses at low-level workshop are offered on a regular basis during the semester.

Open courses are announced via ClickEnroll.

Physical Computing Lab (IAD)

The Physical Computing Lab  is open Tuesdays to Fridays, 13.00–14.00. To make an appointment, please e-mail Luke Franzke (


From the 2nd semester, students receive an e-mail request to register for modules. Registration instructions are sent out via e-mail. Module registration (ClickEnroll) is via For questions concerning Theory Mondays, departmental modules, and design symposia, please contact the Department Office: Caroline Oertle, +41 43 446 32 06,