Germany (July - August)

This course is worth one full-year credit and is contingent on adequate enrolment. Students are not permitted to register for more than one course.

Classes take place Monday to Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Mandatory field trips are an integral part of each course and may occur outside of class time on afternoons or Fridays.


CSC396Y0 Designing Systems for Real World Problems

CSC396Y0 Designing Systems for Real World Problems

Human Centred Design results in robust solutions that successfully address real human problems. Summer Abroad provides students with an opportunity to explore new environments, be inspired with new design ideas, and improve their ability to see their own world with increased awareness. In this course, students will identify a real-world problem and work in groups on projects addressing this problem. Students will explore their problem space and the people within that space, identify needs, constraints and requirements, and ultimately design solutions. Their designs will be iterated with their target users by gathering feedback and usability testing their low-fidelity paper prototypes. The projects will culminate with the development and testing of an interactive hi-fidelity prototype of the technological solution that addresses their identified problem. Final project presentations will take place at the end of the course.

Unlike most CS courses this course counts as a full credit for Arts & Science, including a half credit towards Computer Science degree requirements. 

Prerequisite: Any Computer Science half course.
Breadth Requirement = The Physical and Mathematical Universes (category 5)
2024 Course Outline

Field Trips

Students will travel to Wolfsburg Germany, where they will visit the Volkswagen Factory at Autostadt and the world renowned Phaeno Science Museum. There will also be a day trip to the Human Computer Interaction Laboratory in the Hasso Plattner Institute at Potsdam University. Local visits to design exhibits and museums around Berlin, including German Museum of Technology and Musical Instruments Museum. 

The cost of these trips is CAD $385, paid to UofT for return train transportation, accommodation in Wofsburg, guides, and most entrance fees.


Ilona Posner is a User Experience (UX) Consultant and educator. Starting in the field when it was called Human Computer Interaction (CHI) more than 25 years ago, she has seen it evolve into Usability and later to User Experience. She is constantly striving to improve experiences with technology by focusing on human needs and business goals, while accommodating technological constraints. Crossing industry boundaries, she has consulted in large corporations and startups, in different verticals including finance, telecom, healthcare, transportation, and education. More recently, she has been focusing on UX Research and helping telecom and finance companies better understand their users’ needs and abilities.

An experienced educator Ilona Posner has been teaching User Experience since 2000, through project based design courses, at University of Toronto, OCAD University, and the Media Lab at the Canadian Film Centre, to hundreds of students, in both the graduate and the undergraduate programs, while also developing and delivering custom UX training courses for industry. Ilona Posner has been volunteering with TorCHI the Toronto Chapter of the CHI professional interest group for over a decade and running international Student Design Competitions at both CHI and UPA (Usability Professionals Association) Conferences. Ilona holds a Masters Degree in Computer Science from the University of Toronto.

She enjoys taking breaks from consulting in order to travel and teach this course, which will run for the third time in 2022.

What Students Said about the course:

“I learned many skills that are very likely to be useful in my future career. My presentation skills have improved a lot.”

“It is a very intersecting course that I think everyone should take.”

 “Berlin is a great place to see and this course taught an important way to look at creating projects.”

“I'll say that if the students want to enjoy their study in Berlin, I'll highly recommended this course. But if the students want to only have fun and experience an easy course, then I'll not recommended.”

 “This course is very beneficial but for those who want to get this credit easily, I don't recommend it. However, for people who want to learn about user experience, this course is super helpful.”

Student Video Testimonials

Amanda Leiva, Student in Masters of Applied Science & Engineering, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering. Bachelor of Science, Linguistics & Psychology. Amanda took CSC396 in the summer of 2019. In that class, she enjoyed conducting research & usability testing. She used information from the course to gain internship positions at TD and Lyft. Then later, she was able to apply those same skills in the workplace. Currently, Amanda is working as a UX Researcher and pursuing a Master's of Applied Science and Engineering, in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto. Video Link

Brandon Cormier, Post Graduate Studies: Law School UBC. Bachelor of Science, Computer Science, University of Toronto. Brandon took CSC396 in the summer of 2019, and found it to be a highlight of his undergraduate degree. He found the course to provide hands-on experience in UX not available in any other class at U of T. Brandon worked as a Project Manager in a small software company where he learned to appreciate team leadership and that multidisciplinary teams can be much more than the sum of their parts. During the summer course in Berlin, Brandon was able to enjoy exploring the city and weekend travels in surrounding areas. After completing his Computer Science degree at the University of Toronto, Brandon continued on to study Law at the University of British Columbia. Video Link

Kelley Tai, Senior Consultant, IBM. Bachelor of Science, Computer Science & Linguistics, University of Toronto. Kelley enjoyed CSC396 in Berlin in summer of 2016. She found the course to be one of the best experiences in her whole life. She felt that concepts learned in the course can be broadly applicable to different fields, as well as to Computer Science. She appreciated the new perspectives developed by visiting a new country. Kelley still uses some of the course ideas in her work as a Senior Consultant and Product Owner at IBM. Video Link

Ryan Marten, Siebel Scholar '23, Research Intern @ Allen Institute for AI (AI2), Computer Science MSc @ UIUC
Ryan took Summer abroad course CSC396 in 2019. He learned a lot in the course and enjoyed his time exploring Berlin. Later Ryan continued to explore his interests in Artificial Intellegence through a series of research internship positions. Ryan is pursuing the Masters of Science in Computer Science at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2021-2023. Video Link

POL300Y0 Contested Boundaries: Immigration, Citizenship and Multiculturalism in Germany and Europe

POL300Y0 Contested Boundaries: Immigration, Citizenship and Multiculturalism in Germany and Europe

Migration is one of the most contested political issues in Europe today. Using primarily the German experience as a case study, this seminar in comparative politics examines the historical evolution and current policies and practices of immigration and integration to critically engage with questions of citizenship, belonging, diversity, and multiculturalism in present-day Europe.

Students will learn about the history of migration to Western Europe after World War II; the tension between cultural pluralism and national identity; the evolution of policies and practices of immigrant integration, citizenship, and multiculturalism at the local, national, and supra-national level; the rise of anti-immigrant opulism; and social movements resisting racism and social exclusion.

Prerequisites: 1.0 POL credit or relevant academic preparation 

Breadth Requirement = Society and Its Institutions (category 3)
Draft Course Outline - 2024

Field Trips

Students will visit the German Historical Museum, the House of the Wannsee Conference, the Documentation Centre for Displacement, Expulsion and Reconciliation, and have a guided tour of immigrant district Kreutzberg (all in Berlin). There will also be a three0day overnight trip to Brussels and Antwerp (Belgium) where students will attend talks at the European Commission, meet local NGOs, and travel to Antwerp to visit the city's integration office. The cost of these trips is CAD $885, paid to UofT for return train transportation, hotel accommodation in Brussels, guides, and most entrance fees.


Ahmed Allahwala is Professor (Teaching Stream) in City Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC). Originally from Germany, Dr. Allahwala holds an M.A. from Freie University Berlin, an M.Ed. from the University of Toronto and a PhD in Political Science from York University in Toronto. As an urbanist and critical policy analyst, Dr. Allahwala’s work focuses on urban social policy and planning in North America and Western Europe. He has taught a wide variety of courses in Germany and Canada on topics including welfare state analysis, immigration and settlement, community-based research, and urban planning. His pedagogical innovations in experiential learning and community-university partnerships have been recognized both nationally and internationally. Dr. Allahwala received the Government of Canada Award (International Council for Canadian Studies), the UTSC Teaching Award in the Associate and Full Professor Category, and was a teaching fellow at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies in Berlin. During the 2023/2024 academic year, Dr. Allahwala is a guest researcher at the Center for Metropolitan Studies (CMS) at the Technical University Berlin conducting comparative research on social infrastructure and neighbourhood wellbeing in Toronto and Berlin.