This is the site for the CityLab! Aberdeen programme at the University of Aberdeen, Robert Gordon University and Aberdeen City Council. The project brings students together from across the universities to work with staff at Aberdeen City Council and its partner organisations for a term in order to build sustainable projects for the city.

The Projects

The projects will be envisioned and developed by you based on ideas from brainstorming sessions in a range of areas identified by the city council. Each student team will have a mentor from the city council alongside another mentor from a participating voluntary organisation, who will hopefully take over the project when you’re done. The goal is to create a path for students to gain live client experience in the working world while helping to create sustainable projects to develop a better city and community.

Each project will be developed by the fast prototyping of ideas, which can be trialled and improved upon in an iterative process with the council and voluntary organisation mentors so that teams know they are heading in the right direction with a useful project. We expect there to be a range of different types of projects ranging from social and housing issues to environmental and cultural issues. We also imagine that some will have an IT aspect, but at this point it is unknown what these projects will look like. All we know is that the projects need to be something deliverable within an academic term. We will also be providing a support system from the academic side so that students gain the soft skills for dealing with clients and prototyping ideas needed to complete the projects. We expect that students will do about 10-15 hours of work a week on the project, and that given the diversity of the possible projects there will be minimal coursework and no exam. The main purpose of the course is to deliver an innovative sustainable project, so too much coursework will get in the way of that. A likely approach is to submit a portfolio of pieces worked on over the term along with an essay about the experience.

Students from the University of Aberdeen, who are in their third, or fourth year can sign up for either PD3002 or PD3502 in order to have this count as part of their degree instead of taking a Sixth Century, or other course during their third or fourth year. Students in their fourth year should take this in the first-half session.

Students from Robert Gordon University should either sign up for independent study to take part, or check with their advisor about other course options, and speak to Jon Pengelly for more information. His details are further below.

The students

Students on the course will benefit from gaining

Knowledge and understanding of:

  • How to use the different stages of the co-creative design process
  • Enhanced Team working skills
  • Presentation and reporting skills
  • Soft skills such as listening, dialogue and collaboration

An awareness of one’s own personal development needs

In particular, the students will learn the co-creative service design and human centred design processes of discovery, design, development and deployment and how this collaborative, incremental and iterative process with appropriate stakeholders can be used in order to develop useful and satisfying service experiences. A variety of schools will provide content and mentoring appropriate for the service design and human centred design approaches appropriate to the projects being developed by the teams each term.

The team

Bruce Scharlau, University of Aberdeen @scharlau

Jon Pengelly, Robert Gordon University

Zoe Evans, Aberdeen City Council


Create a CityLab to Enhance Citizenship
Horizons in STEM Higher Education Conference: Making Connections, Innovating and Sharing Pedagogy, June 2017

Aberdeen CityLab! Where the City is the Classroom, QAA Enhancement Theme Conference, June 2016.

Create a CityLab! to Build a Better City Through Your Students, QAA Enhancement Theme Conference, June 2016.

Create a CityLab to Build a Better City Through Your Students discussion, Gearing Up at the University of Edinburgh, March 2017

Aberdeen CityLab! Where the City is the Classroom, Moving On, Moving Up, Annual Academic Development Symposium, University of Aberdeen, April 2017.

CityLab Student Visions with Interdisciplinary & Inter-institutional Cooperation, 3rd International Enhancement in Higher Education Conference, June 2017

Associated Work

Following a presentation at the University of Edinburgh’s ‘Gearing Up‘ event in March 2017, we were asked to help their MasterCard Foundation Scholars Programme develop the introduction to their summer school sessions, which would follow a similar format as CityLab. This will run from 30-31 May, 2017 and include a number of the students from different cohorts helping deliver the materials.

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