Important information and answers to frequently asked questions about Designing Future Realities.

What does DFR stand for?

With Designing Future Realities, the University of Innsbruck and Destination Wattens are creating an open, transdisciplinary laboratory for developing strategies and prototypes to innovate our future.

Digitalization and new technologies are radically changing the design and art world and their creative possibilities. They are also dramatically transforming our everyday lives. At the interface between art, design, science and technology, new hybrid professions and exciting challenges are emerging.

Who is behind Designing Future Realities?

The certified university course Designing Future Realities is a cooperation between the University of Innsbruck and Destination Wattens Regionalentwicklung GmbH.

What is the goal of Designing Future Realities?

With DFR, the University of Innsbruck and Destination Wattens want to foster responsible innovation in the fields of art and design. The program encourages students to intensively deal with the challenges of societal changes and use novel technologies to develop new, innovative solutions.


What is meant by a certified university course?

Certified university courses are part-time, subject-related formats for professionals from the field. They last up to one year and usually end with a certificate – in the case of DFR with a certificate from the University of Innsbruck.

DFR is a university course with 30 ECTS, which concludes with a Certificate of Advanced Studies and can be credited towards a Master’s degree.

Who is Designing Future Realities intended for?

The interdisciplinary university course Designing Future Realities is aimed at designers, architects and artists as well as students and professionals from various disciplines who want to deal more intensively with the design of our future living environment and expand their careers to include a design perspective.

What does "interdisciplinary approach" mean?

Designing Future Realities is a program that promotes interdisciplinary discourse and boundary-breaking exchange. As a think and experimentation tank for important local and global issues, it fosters responsible environmental design. It promotes collaboration between artistic and scientific disciplines, the university, the business community and the broader public.

This interdisciplinary approach uses synergies to unleash new potentials by developing specific projects that culturally interweave individual disciplines such as architecture, fashion, contemporary and applied arts, technology and new media.

What is the course language?

The entire course will be held in English.

What are the requirements for admission?

A Bachelor’s degree or equivalent at a domestic or foreign post-secondary educational institution is required for application.

Applicants without such a degree may also qualify for the program in certain cases, provided they can demonstrate relevant work experience of approximately 3 years. Sufficient knowledge of English is required, as the entire course is conducted in English. In addition, a project relevant to the topic must be submitted.

Basic knowledge of 2D and 3D digital programs is a plus, an interest to work with such programs is a must.

What skills should applicants have?

  • a sense of and interest in design
  • out-of-the-box thinking
  • motivation to constructively shape society and the environment
  • initiative, openness and eagerness to learn
  • team orientation, willingness to help and cooperate
  • interdisciplinary, systemic way of thinking
  • strong interest in (re)design, new technologies and digitalization

What are the benefits of the DFR university course?

After the course, students will have:

  • a deeper understanding of design (What is design and what can it contribute?)
  • developed a sensitivity to where design is going in relation to society, the environment and technology
  • a deeper knowledge of methods and tools for implementing, making and scaling their artistic ideas and visions
  • a solid overview of the analysis, design, transformation and fabrication of emerging technologies
  • an understanding of the drivers and added value of art and design
  • an awareness of what society and other disciplines can learn from art and design
  • an ability to understand design in a global context

May I complete the admission procedure from abroad?

Yes, you may apply from abroad. The decision on admission will be made after reviewing the submitted documents and projects.

How many students are accepted in each university course?

A maximum of 25 students per year will be accepted.

How is the university course structured?

The DFR university course is divided into semesters, which are conducted in a Vertical Studio format. This is an integrated approach to teaching students of varied academic levels in the same course. The complete course corresponds to 30 ECTS, divided into 2 semesters with 2 VUs (VU = lecture & practical element) of 5 ECTS each. 5 ECTS are awarded for the project and for participation in the two Open Design Studios, respectively.

What does "VU" mean?

A VU is a specific type of university lecture that includes a practical element. Specific topics and questions are dealt with. These are to be answered individually but within the topic setting of the VU.

What does "Vertical Studio" mean?

Students from various classes work together and learn from each other. In this way, group projects and interdisciplinary collaborations can develop among the participants.

What does "part-time" mean in the case of DFR?

A regular semester at the university consists of 15 attendance weeks and budgets a workload for students of 30 ECTS, whereas 1 ECTS is calculated with 25 hours for preparation, attendance and follow-up.

For DFR, 30 ECTS are spread out over one year in order to provide the best possible part-time study while maintaining high quality. The content per semester is compressed into 2×3 weeks plus the Open Design Studio.

Each VU consists of 5 ECTS held over 3 weeks, which corresponds to a total workload per VU of 125 hours (= 5 ECTSx25h), i.e., approximately 3 full-time weeks.

A VU with 5 ECTS is held over 3 weeks, which corresponds to a workload of 125 hours (= 5 ECTSx25h), i.e. approximately 3 full-time weeks.

What are the projects feedback sessions like?

International experts from a wide range of disciplines provide participants with specific suggestions, criticism and support for their projects. The feedback sessions take place within the Open Design Studios.

Is attendance required?

No, attendance is not required.

What are ECTS points?


ECTS stands for European Credit Transfer System, which was introduced as part of the Bologna Process.

The basis of this European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) is the workload that students must complete in order to achieve the course objectives. The European Credit Transfer System makes it possible to compare study programs and estimate the workload involved. The system facilitates mobility and the recognition of credits already earned.

The European Credit Transfer System is based on the agreement that the workload of full-time students during an academic year results in 60 ECTS credits (or 30 ECTS credits per semester). In Austria, one ECTS credit point has been defined as 25 hours of student workload. This workload includes preparation and follow-up of courses, attendance of the course (= contact time or attendance time, expressed in teaching units/UE), exams and exam preparation, independent work and e-learning activities.


How is the grading done?

Grading is necessary so that the ECTS received can be recognized for future scholarships. However, the focus is on the individual development of the participants.


Grading is done according to the applicable guidelines of the University of Innsbruck and often consists of differently weighted contributions and accomplishments by the participants. The respective mode of assessment will be communicated to the participants at the beginning of each VU.

(1) Very good: Excellent performance, (2) Good: Generally good, (3) Satisfactory: Balanced, (4) Sufficient: Performance meets the minimum criteria, (5) Insufficient: Performance does not meet the minimum criteria.

What degree is awarded?

Upon completion of each university course (2 semesters, 30 ECTS), a Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) will be issued. These ECTS can be credited towards the planned Master of Advanced Studies (90 ECTS).

What are the course fees?

The course costs are EUR 7,800 per course (2 semesters).

Will there be a DFR Master's program at some point?

A Master of Advanced Studies (90 ECTS) is in the planning and will be announced in due time. 

Do the lectures take place online in class?

All lectures and practical elements are scheduled as in-class courses. In case of restrictions due to Covid 19, we will switch to online teaching. The Open Design Studios will, if possible, always be held in person.

Where do the classroom sessions take place?

At the University of Innsbruck and at Werkstätte Wattens.

What is the Open Design Studio?

The Open Design Studio enables participants to bring their concepts and artistic projects to life using innovative technologies and methods in design and materialization.

They will get access to the various laboratories of the University of Innsbruck and the workshops in Wattens and reflect their approaches and implementation strategies with international experts. Participants will present and communicate their ideas during individual tutorials, joint feedback sessions and a public exhibition or an installation in public space.

A program by

Destination Wattens Logo
Uni Innsbruck Logo

supported by

Swarovski Logo
Förderkreis Logo

A program by

Destination Wattens Logo
Uni Innsbruck Logo

supported by

Swarovski Logo
Förderkreis Logo
Designing Future Realities