Master in Architectural Lighting Design


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

There is an increasing understanding of the importance of good lighting design in urban areas, buildings, and interiors. Light is fundamental to architecture and essential for human well-being. Its quality affects human behaviour, comfort, health, efficiency, safety, and security. The programme is based on a new approach to light and light planning – a combination of visual, physical, and biological-based experience and knowledge applied to design, technology, and health.


Architectural Lighting Design at KTH

The programme provides an in-depth understanding of the field of architectural lighting design through scientific-based knowledge and practical experience in the area of artificial light and daylight. The programme gives the students the ability to apply advanced knowledge in this area, in both practical and academic situations.

The programme uses innovative teaching and learning methods such as structured lectures and peer-review methods. Interactive sessions create a constructive learning environment in which understanding of the subject is built through the interaction of students and teachers via presentations and open discussions, tutoring, and workshops. The education mixes theory and practice and, for this reason, we perform full-scale studies, via prototypes and mock-ups, in order to trigger the first-hand experience of light within architecture. Furthermore, laboratory sessions allow an in-depth understanding of physical and visual phenomena. A series of motivational lectures are offered throughout the programme, where acclaimed international and national lighting designers, architects, and researchers share their knowledge and expertise.

The students’ assessment is performed via a combination of individual and group work assignments.

The Lighting Laboratory organizes a series of events to interface the academy with companies and research institutions on specific topics, for instance, the seminar series Lighting Vision and the Digital Lighting. In 2018 KTH, held the Light Symposium, a two-day international event focused on light and health.

The Lighting Laboratory carries out several research projects together with companies and other institutions where students are involved. Students from the master's programme in Architectural Lighting Design have been granted consistent national and international research funding and scholarships for the development of their thesis.

Four courses are given (Light and Humans, Light and Space – outdoor, Light and Space – indoor, and Light and Science) and a degree project is conducted during the one-year programme.

This is a one year programme (60 ECTS credits) given in English. Graduates are awarded the degree of Master of Science. The programme is given mainly at KTH Campus in Stockholm by the School of Architecture and Built Environment (at KTH).

Light and Humans

The module aims to study the relationship between light and humans, which is mediated by the physical space. Knowledge related to light qualities, cultural and human aspects, light sources, and materials is combined with the experience of the design process. The outcome should be the ability to develop a complete solution for a lighting design object.

Light and Space – outdoor

The importance of dealing with daylight as well as artificial lighting in indoor spaces is addressed through activities related to sources and technology, space theory, visual ergonomics, and performance. The design process, planning, and presentation techniques will be handled in activities and tasks.

Light and Space – indoor

The importance of dealing with daylight as well as artificial lighting in indoor spaces is addressed through activities related to sources and technology, space theory, visual ergonomics, and performance. The design process, planning, and presentation techniques will be handled in activities and tasks.

Light and Science

Theoretical knowledge about light and its relationship to space and humans is further developed through discussions between students and researchers in the field. Lectures combine with experimental sessions and study visits. The ability to analyse lighting conditions through the understanding of the visual and physical concepts of light will be developed in a case study and presented as an academic paper.

Degree project

The programme is concluded with a degree project, the focus of which may be chosen from a wide variety of topics within the field of architectural lighting design. Theoretical papers about light and health, light and time, urban lighting, perception, and information, as well as practical projects with a theoretical frame in rural lighting and interactive lighting design, are a few examples of previous degree projects.

Topics covered

Lighting design, architecture, well-being, sustainability, perception, psychophysical studies, quantitative and qualitative approach, lighting laboratory and user-oriented approach.


Lighting is an expanding field of knowledge. In recent years there has been a growing demand for the lighting design expertise, as lighting designers understand the role of light and lighting in architecture, interior spaces, and urban environment. They can add important value to a project by enhancing visual performance, energy efficiency, sustainability, safety, well-being, and health. There are plentiful job opportunities for architects, designers, and engineers with lighting design competence.

Graduates primarily work in lighting design or architectural studios or as self-employed consultants. Employers might also be construction companies, lighting manufacturers, and public or private operators. Students graduating from the master's programme in Architectural Lighting Design have also pursued doctoral studies (PhD studies) at KTH or in other national or international universities.

After graduation

Independent lighting designer, lighting designer working for companies or studios, architect and urban planner with knowledge of lighting design, lighting, and day-lighting expert, researcher, decision-maker working in private or public institutions.

"KTH had both a great university reputation and an exciting and challenging study programme for ALD." 

Agne from Lithuania

Sustainable development

Graduates from KTH have the knowledge and tools for moving society in a more sustainable direction, as sustainable development is an integral part of all programmes. Architectural Lighting Design has an impact on each one of the aspects of the holistic concept of sustainability. It affects productivity, sociability, safety, orientation, and health, while also being one of the major sources of energy consumption. Evidence from research and practice indicates that design concepts based on an in‑depth knowledge of the context, the users, and the technology provide solutions that are economically viable and healthy. The challenge for the future development of societies is addressed by sustainable lighting, in other words, lighting that meets visual and biological needs while having only a very low environmental impact. This challenge relates both to indoor and outdoor solutions and very often involves off-grid solutions, which stimulate new thinking in terms of production, conservation, and use of energy.

The three key sustainable development goals addressed by the master's programme in Architectural Lighting Design are:

  • 3 Good Health and Well-Being
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 12 Responsible Consumption and Production

Sustainable development is pursued, through various actions throughout the course, with a focus on Social, Cultural, Economical, and Environmental aspects of Sustainability:

  • The ability to identify and quantify the impact of Architectural Lighting Design projects within the different areas of sustainable development.
  • Showing professional and ethical responsibility in their decisions as students and future Lighting Designers within the scientific and technical aspects of design.
  • Ensuring sustainable development by applying an ethical and responsible approach to the social, ecological, and economical aspects of their scope of work.
  • Theoretical and experience-based understanding of the social impact of urban lighting projects.
  • Planning and working throughout collaborative processes.
  • Light and its influence on health.
  • Analysis of energy consumption and basic control system strategies.
  • Human-centred lighting approach.
  • Economical aspects of a lighting installation

Admission requirements

To be eligible for the programme, you must have been awarded a bachelor's degree, be proficient in English, and meet the programme-specific requirements.

Bachelor's degree

A bachelor's degree, equivalent to a Swedish bachelor's degree, or equivalent academic qualifications from an internationally recognised university, is required. Students who are following longer technical programmes, and have completed courses equivalent to a bachelor's degree, will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Students in their final year of undergraduate studies may apply and, if qualified, will receive a conditional acceptance. These applicants must include a written statement according to the instructions given by University Admissions. Students in the final year of undergraduate studies at a Swedish university do not have to provide a written statement in order, if qualified, to receive a conditional acceptance. They must, however, have completed 150 ECTS credits in the bachelor’s programme by 1 February.

English proficiency

English language proficiency equivalent to (the Swedish upper secondary school) English course B/6 is required. The requirement can be satisfied through a result equal to, or higher than, those stated in the following internationally recognised English tests:

  • TOEFL Paper-based: Score of 4.5 (scale 1-6) in written test, a total score of 575.
  • TOEFL ITP is not accepted.
  • TOEFL iBT internet-based: Score of 20 (scale 0-30) in written test, a total score of 90
  • IELTS Academic/IELTS UKVI: A minimum overall mark of 6.5, with no section lower than 5.5
  • Cambridge ESOL: Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) Certificate in Advanced English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE) (Certificate of Proficiency in English)
  • Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB): Minimum score of 90
  • The University of Michigan, ECPE (Examination for the Certificate of Proficiency in English)
  • Pearson PTE Academic: Score of 62 (writing 61)

The language requirement can also be fulfilled through previous university and upper secondary school studies. More information on recognised English tests, previous studies, and required documents is provided by University Admissions.

Specific requirements for the master's programme in Architectural Lighting Design

A bachelor’s degree, corresponding to at least 180 ECTS credits, in Architecture, Design or Engineering. The Engineering degree must include at least 30 ECTS credits of Architecture and Design subjects. Exceptions can be made on the basis of professional experience.

Application documents

Your application is not complete without the required supporting documentation. The following general and programme-specific documents must therefore be included in the application in the specified order:

General documents

  • Certificates and diplomas from previous university studies
  • Transcript of completed courses and grades included in your degree
  • Proof of English proficiency
  • A copy of your passport including personal data and photograph, or other identification documents

Specific documents for the master's programme in Architectural Lighting Design

  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Short CV
  • Letter of motivation, maximum 1 page, stating:
    • why you want to study Architectural Lighting Design
    • why you want to study Architectural Lighting Design at KTH
    • how your academic and/or professional background contributes to studying this programme
    • what is your professional ambition after completion of the education
  • A portfolio according to the following instructions:
    • Format: PDF
    • Size: maximum size of 10 MB, no more than 7 pages + 1 page cover sheet, single-sided, not a spreadsheet.
    • Minimum 2-3 projects, individual or collective.
    • Filename: ALD-PORTFOLIO_Name_Surname_Year of application.pdf
    • Content: The portfolio should present any type of material that could support the evaluation of your design thinking and approach, in any field. You should gather and expose material which can include sketches, visualisations, pictures, diagrams, data visualisation, etc. The portfolio will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
      • Design Experience (in Architecture, Engineering, Arts, etc.)
      • And/or Lighting Design Experience
      • Type and level of refinement of the project (e.g. sketches or pictures from observation, visionary idea, concept, realised work, temporary or permanent installation, etc.)
      • Understanding of context (e.g. architectural and social context, conditions, location, history)
      • Layout and Style
  • The projects and material included should be correctly titled and you should:  
    • state when or during which year of the studies or professional career the project was done
    • indicate if the work has been produced by the applicant alone or in collaboration; in the latter case please carefully specify your role in the project.

Please make sure to strictly follow the instructions above otherwise your application will be marked as ineligible.

The portfolio is to be uploaded along with the rest of your supporting documents to your University Admissions account.

Last updated Oct 2020

About the School

KTH Royal Institute of Technology has served as one of Europe’s key centres of innovation and intellectual talent for almost two hundred years. Recognized as Sweden’s most prestigious technical univer ... Read More

KTH Royal Institute of Technology has served as one of Europe’s key centres of innovation and intellectual talent for almost two hundred years. Recognized as Sweden’s most prestigious technical university, KTH is also the country’s oldest and largest. With over 12,000 students and an international reputation for excellence, the university continues to nurture the world’s brightest minds, helping to shape the future. Read less