Transportation and Car Design

University Master's course - 29 TH EDITION

Length of the course 15 months

Start October 2018

academic training + thesis in collaboration with Volkswagen Design Group - Scholarships available

The work of the car designer blends creative design and automotive styling skills with elements of engineering, ergonomics and marketing. At SPD designers are able to face complex projects using a multidisciplinary approach. They are called on to envision progressive transportation concepts that fit a future scenario where cars are no more the unrivaled player.


The Master programme embraces the entire design development process by researching into new experiential concepts, redefining architectural solutions and moving forward with new criteria for comfort and efficiency. Today’s design paradigm must be brought into question in order to better interpret new aesthetic and social trends. The studio projects, organized in collaboration with major car companies, represent a proving ground to test the students’ ideas. In particular SPD has signed a long term educational partnership with Volkswagen Group Design involving the participation of designers from the various brands – from Audi to Lamborghini – into the teaching activites. After the initial exploration, students move forward into design concepts and their refinement up to both physical and digital modelling. It’s a long process that demands a high level of personal committment and flexibility, organizational and time management skills as well as a strong attitude to teamwork. Projects are subject to group critiques and critiques with outsider reviewers. Transportation designers thus acquire a constant spur to innovation both in form language and function, allied with the understanding of engineering and production processes.



Upon selection the Master admits graduates in Transportation or Car Design, Industrial Design, Vehicle Engineering or their equivalents, and candidates who have gained significant professional experience in the field. The program has a limited number of places available. Applicants will be admitted upon selection based on the student’s CV, portfolio and on an interview. Applications must be sent to the SPD Academic Office. More information on the admission process here.


The Master lasts 15 months (from October to December of the following year, with a summer break in August). Attendance is compulsory and full time. The total workload of the course corresponds to 1500 hours/student encompassing lessons, class exercises, final thesis/research project and individual study.

THESIS/Research project

At the end of lessons, students finalize their research project in collaboration with the academic sponsor.


Post-Master’s internship opportunities are available for high potential profiles at the end of the programme.


The Master’s course is held in English.


After passing the final exam, eligible students will obtain a Master’s Degree from IULM and SPD. The Master corresponds to 60 ECTS credits.



Programmes and teaching staff to be updated



  • Academic Partners
  • Academic Partners
  • Scuola Politecnica di Design SPD - Seat
  • Scuola Politecnica di Design SPD - Volkswagen
  • Scuola Politecnica di Design SPD -Academy partners
  • Scuola Politecnica di Design SPD - Bentley
  • Scuola Politecnica di Design SPD - Skoda
  • Transportation and Car Design Master


  • Transportation and Car Design laboratories 

    This area identifies a series of project-oriented courses that run over the entire year. Intensive workshops are intended to stimulate creative thinking while extensive laboratories round off sounder professional skills. Participants are tasked with complex themes, related to both car and transportation design at large. Activities cover all the phases in the design process, from concept research and ideation to design refinement, modelling and presentation. The integration among man, transport, urban infrastructure and digital technologies is deeply investigated as this new scenario is marking a dramatic evolution in the profession. Students work in an international and multi-cultural environment and meet with the tutors and the colleagues to discuss, revise, constantly develop their work. Projects are subject to group critiques and critiques with tutors and outside reviewers, thanks to the close collaboration with leading industrial partners. Working both in small design teams and individually, students have the chance to enhance their relational skills and team work attitude, a crucial ability in the profession due to the complex and highly structured organization of the business.

  • Sketching and 2D visualisation techniques

    The didactic area is comprised of an advanced training on different tools and techniques with the purpose to refine the students’ graphic abilities.  A correct visualisation of the concept, carried out by hand even before becoming a three-dimensional file, is a daily operation in the designer’s work. This enables the designer to focus on the idea and to quickly explore solutions from different views, before moving on to the CAD phase. The course provides students with the capacity to produce convincing visual supports using digital media in order to achieve a higher photorealistic level of rendering for greater aesthetic impact.

  • Digital modelling 

    The main goal is to enable the students to gain a technical understanding of three-dimensional modelling and get familiar with its construction methodology. Today, digital modelling skills are a fundamental design tool in the automotive field. Alias and other applications allow the designer to quickly transform orthographics (2D visualisation of the vehicle) into a 3D object. Sections, surfaces and design details can be improved beyond any possible interpretation that is still needed in front of a sketch, no matter how precise it is. During the academic pathway, advanced modelling skills are transferred through practical, hands-on experience and assist the students in the design development up to the construction of the physical model.

  • History and culture of automotive design

    The goal of the course is to provide students with a wide and deep knowledge of car design evolution, considering the facts and the reasons that moved and influenced the automotive industry. The program analyses the technical, aerodynamic, practical and cultural issues that gave the automobile the actual shape, relating this to different design approaches. An overview of trends in different countries is given to the students. The second part of the course focuses attention on the analysis of the current evolutions – with particular regards to brand DNAs, to the marketing strategies and to the technological innovation – that will deeply transform the mobility of the future and influence the designers’ work.

  • Colour and Trim 

    This area involves a wide range of research tools, technical information and procedures to complete the designer’ skillset. A practical methodology is applied to colours, materials and finishing. The course covers the study of trends and the creation of new sensorial palettes that are able to influence the consumer demand relying not only on functional qualities but also on a strong emotional identity. This approach supports both the research and the execution phase. The main project assignments are completed with a detailed colour and trim study that is applicated to the exterior and to the interior of the vehicle.

  • Modelling workshop 

    Physical modelling is a key phase to verify and refine the first ideas in a three-dimensional way by checking volumes, proportions and connections among parts and details of a vehicle. The aim of this process is to guarantee that there is no qualitative gap between the original concept and the product. During the work, students are presented a variety of modelling tips through a learn-by-doing process. They thus acquire practical skills to explore different design solutions during the modelling phase and work independently.