Tallinn University of Technology

Course information

We would like to welcome participation PhD candidates from exploration geology, mining engineering and manufacturing, on the one hand, material sciences on the other hand and economists to trained together in the interdisciplinary course.

Based on a need for raw material solutions for the European sustainable industry, this course will train PhD students, as future experts in manufacturing and material science with regards to a circular economy. Through the course, PhD students will develop a circular perspective, innovation competence and entrepreneurial mindset focussing on the recyclability of raw materials.

CircPro combines theoretical studies with digital industry visits and practical problem solving, as well as training on entrepreneurship and innovation. The course is based on innovative elements including blended learning and constructivist methods. In course, PhD students will be given the opportunity to reflect and adjust their research to contribute to the transformation to a more resource efficient and circular utilization of primary and secondary raw materials. Further, via clear integration of entrepreneurial mindset, there is an opportunity for the contribution of the attendees of green growth in Europe.

Sustainable production among several other aspects should rely on raw material efficiency, the circularity of materials, components and products, clean technologies and cost benefits. In order to achieve positive environmental gains, these aspects have to be considered in a holistic view. In practice, this means that the use of raw materials in production downstream has to be managed carefully and relevant knowledge about raw materials need to be spread. The course provides both theoretical and practical competence of raw materials and circularity. CircPro first run was in 2019.

Course structure

Workload of the programme: 8 ECTS credits for the PhD students including

  • 3.0 credits for theory
  • 1.5 credits for a local field trip (due COVID-19 digitalized company interactions)
  • 3.5 credits for a case study (including preparation, report writing and presentation at the final digital workshop)
  • Study period: 10 weeks are required to put in 6 hrs/week by student

A digital field trip is taken for a week, that students visit several company interactions are taken for a week, that students can listen to extended presentations, have live discussions and Q&A sessions with several different company representatives from Raw Materials sector. Next, within three weeks, students in groups work on their case projects. Eventually, the final virtual workshop will be digitally held by Tallinn University of Technology; this workshop will be finalized with the online presentation of the cases projects by students. 

The teaching format includes theory (video lectures), practical application (videos from laboratories and industry) and web-meetings for discussions (once per week). The duration for video lectures is up to 20 min/video and for the virtual classroom for discussions between 60-90 mins). Underneath table represents the content and schedule of this course.

Time plan (2021)



Communication mode

Course kick-off

August 18th,2021

(week 33)


Introduction meeting and kick-off to course. Guiding students through information about the course goals, theoretical studies, online platform (OPAL), virtual classrooms, field trips (alternatively digitalized company interactions), case projects, workshop and final presentations, credits, groups etc.

Web meeting, Online video on OPAL

Theoretical Part

August 23  – September 26, 2021

(weeks 34 – 38)

Q&A session September 20 – September 26, 2021 (weeks 32 – 34)

Online video on OPAL (pre-recorded),

Virtual classroom

August 23rd – August 29, 2021

(week 34)

1 week

(6 hrs)

  • Circular economy
  • Sustainability
  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
  • Materials Efficiency (ME)
  • Product design

Online video on OPAL (pre-recorded),

Virtual classroom

August 30rd – September 5th , 2021

(week 35)

1 week

(6 hrs)

  • Part I Ferrous Materials
  • Raw materials production
  • Part II Non-Ferrous
  • Raw materials production
  • Manufacturing aspects
  • Processability
  • Machinability
  • Quality aspects

Online video on OPAL (pre-recorded),

Virtual classroom

September 6th – September 12, 2021

(week 36)

1 week

(6 hrs)

  • Critical raw materials Availability
  • Industry 4.0
  • Compliance, social responsibility and legal aspects

Online video on OPAL (pre-recorded),

Virtual classroom

Field trips

(digitalized company interactions)

13-17, 2021

 (week 37)

1 week

(5 full days)

Digitalized company interactions


Live online communication using Microsoft Teams

Theoretical continues

September 20  - September 26, 2021

(week 38)

1 week

(6 hrs)

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Business model canvas

Online video on OPAL (pre-recorded)

Q&A session

September 20 – September 26, 2021

(weeks 38)

  • Contacting via email and online channels with topic responsible researchers
  • Preparation of the case studies

Online materials at OPAL (pre-recorded)

Group work on case projects

Sep 27 – October 17,


(weeks 39 - 41)

3 weeks

Working and collaboration on case projects together in your international and interdisciplinary team of 5 PhD students, writing report and prepare the final presentation

Online discussion (Virtual classroom via OPAL)

Group work review

October 18 – October 31, 2021

(week 42-43)

2 weeks

Case study responsible make the review of the submitted reports.

Via email

Group work repair period

November 1 – November 7, 2021

(week 44)

1 week

Repairing the Report

Via email

 Final virtual workshop and case project presentations

November 8 – November 10, 2021 (week 45)

2.5-3 days

  • Working with business canvas on their project
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Academic presentation of the case studies and workshop in Tallinn, Estonia for all students
  • Pitch lecture
  • Second round of presentation: business pitching

Live online communication


Course content

Theoretical part

The course includes 8 main contents:

  • Circular economy
  • Product design
  • Metallurgy – ferrous
  • Metallurgy - nonferrous
  • Recyclability
  • Compliance, Social responsibility, legal aspects
  • Industry 4.0
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Review 

Since PhD students will come from different background (construction, material sciences, engineering, economy, among others), the course will be given modules on different knowledge levels.

Starting from the introduction into the circular economy and product design for circularity, the course will provide a sound understanding of the materials value chain. The course will include reachability aspects and the challenges for future materials as well as a sound understanding of the requirements for the development of circular material use including the newest European roles of the Circular Economy Strategy of the European Union and their effects and impact on future production and material science.

Virtual field trip

A one-week digitalized company interactions with industry is planned. The PhD students are able to listen to presentations from several different companies within different parts of the value chain. The digitalized plan includes digital webinars and discussions with the same five companies/ research institutes.

Final workshop and presentations

The final workshop and presentation of case studies will be taken place live on an online platform, hosted by Tallinn University of Technology between November 8 and November 10, 2021. The agenda includes:

Monday, November 8,  2021

  • Each group will present their case study report
  • Entrepreneurship programs at Estonia and in EIT level
  • STARTERtech Lecture

Duesday, November 9, 2021

  • Inspirational speech at 09:00 by Cleantech Cluster from Tehnopol
  • What to have in Pitch deck
  • How to be good entrepreneur
  • Funding opportunities for your Idea/Solution
  • Video pitch recording

Wedensday, November 10, 2021

  • Final workshop at 09:00 – Pitching the solutions

  • Competition

  • Reflection

  • End at 14.00

Case study

Interdisciplinary groups of 5 PhD students from different universities and countries will be working together on case projects. The groups define their own case projects, which must include background from all 8 course content areas. The case projects be innovations from a challenge or even a business idea (start-up) but must be relevant for needs and challenges defined by companies. Case projects can include the following materials (selection of the materials depends on the interests of the PhD students):

  • New composites
  • Ni
  • Zn
  • Cu
  • Co
  • Li
  • Pb
  • Low and high alloyed steel
  • CRM
  • Precious metals (Au, Ag, Pt, Pd, Rh etc.

In case of start-up case project, it should be directed towards start-ups for EIT - European Institute of Innovation and Technology.

For the case projects, we emphasize on peer to peer learning, which facilitates cooperate and interact between students. This will happen through our online platform (OPAL) where students have the opportunity to discuss ideas, share files and work together. 

Final presentation and entrepreneurial training

PhD students groups hand over their reports a week before the final presentation at TalTech, Estonia. They also present their case projects in powerpoints in front of the industry. The certificate of participation in the course will also be distributed.

Learning outcomes

Course Learning Outcomes


Technical skills and competencies

A sound understanding of the value chain of critical materials including the challenges for future materials safety.
 sound understanding of the requirements for the development of circular material use including newest European roles of the Circular Economy strategy of European Union and their effects and impact for future car production and material science

Making value judgements and sustainability competencies

The ability to identify short- and long-term future consequences of plans and decisions from an integrated scientific, ethical and intergenerational perspective and to merge this into their professional activities, moving towards a sustainable society

Entrepreneurship skills and competencies

The ability to translate innovations into feasible business solutions and to lead and support others in this process

Creativity skills and competencies

The ability to think beyond boundaries and systematically explore and generate new ideas and to inspire and support others in this process and contribute to the further development of those ideas

Innovation skills and competencies

The ability to apply their research experiences combined with the knowledge, ideas, and technology of others to create, test and implement new or significantly improved products, services, processes, policies or new business models by developing a project in group work

Intellectual transforming skills and competencies

The ability to autonomously and systematically transform practical experiences into research problems and challenges and to lead and support others in this process

Leadership skills and competencies

The ability of decision-making and leadership based on a holistic understanding of the contributions of Higher Education, research and business to value creation

Crossdisciplinarity thinking

The ability to think beyond the own disciplinary boundaries and implement perspectives of different scientific fields into the own methodological thinking

Peer Reviewing Getting knowledge of peer reviewing, where "peer review" is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work


  • We would like to welcome participation PhD candidates from exploration geology, mining engineering and manufacturing, on the one hand, and material sciences on the other hand and economists to train together in the interdisciplinary course.
  • After the completion of the course, the students can receive 8 ECTS.
  • In order to apply, please fill the registration form.
    Where you describe your research and explain your motivation to be part of the selected persons who can be part of the course in Summer-Autumn 2021. Next time we run the course in 2022.
  • Application extended deadline is June 30, 2021. The applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and we strongly encourage you to apply early.
  •  Tuition fee is 490 EUR, includes the course materials, digital industry visits, case study, certificate.
  • Once you are accepted, tuition payment is due by 5th August 2021 to secure your spot