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Unit of study_

DAAE2011: Intro to Visual Communication Design

Semester 1, 2021 [Online] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This online unit of study introduces students to the principles and practices of visual communication design for non-designers. Visual communication is an essential skill in today's complex world, for effectively communicating ideas, information, perspectives and proposals to diverse audiences in a variety of contexts. Students will learn about the theories of visual perception and psychology underlying visual design principles, and strategies for the composition of visual elements to produce effective and compelling visual presentations. On the successful completion of this unit of study, students will have demonstrated knowledge and skills in the understanding and application of visual design to produce and evaluate effective visual communication materials for a range of audiences.

Unit details and rules

Unit code DAAE2011
Academic unit Design Lab
Credit points 6
DAAE2009 or DECO1015 or DECO2101
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Koji Ryui,
Tutor(s) Andrew Hurle,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment ASSIGNMENT 1: Analyse and Redesign
40% Week 07
Due date: 23 Apr 2021 at 23:59
report with 2 x 400 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Tutorial quiz Module quizzes
Online quiz
15% Week 13
Due date: 06 Jun 2021 at 23:59
10 questions each
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO2 LO1 LO4
Assignment ASSIGNMENT 2: Slide Presentation
Presentation slides, report
45% Week 13
Due date: 04 Jun 2021 at 23:59
8 slides + 400 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO4

Assessment summary


  • ASSIGNMENT 1: Analyse and Redesign

    This assignment aims to develop your skill in critiquing visual imagery based on theories of visual perception and to apply those skills in creating a graphic design.
    The assignment task consists of two parts: the first is to produce a written analysis of an existing graphic design that you have chosen. This may be an advertisement, a promotional poster or a book/magazine cover.
    The second task is to create an alternative design, based on the observations and conclusions of your critique. The re-design might be to correct shortcomings you've identified in the original or it may be to change the message to suit a new audience. The table below should give you an idea of some possibilities within the assignment brief. If you have an idea that doesn't fit here, then feel free to discuss it with your tutor.

The written component includes a 400 word analysis of the original and a 400 word report on the redesign. Both your analysis and report should be made from the perspective of the design theories and principles that have been learned up to this point (i.e typography, colour perception, composition and gestalt) as well as any other visual communication methodologies and theories you have researched, beyond the learning material available on Canvas.

  • ASSIGNMENT 2: Slide Presentation

    This assignment aims to develop your skill in crafting a sequential slide presentation to a specific audience. 
    For this assignment you will design a slide visual presentation that takes the form of either a promotion or a story. Your task is to introduce a thing (a concept, an object, a plan) or a person (yourself or another) to an audience who has no prior knowledge of what you are describing.
    The difference between a story and a promotion is that a story doesn't have to have any other objective than to describe something, whereas a promotion has the aim of convincing somebody. Sometimes these can blend - for example your own resume might tell a story about your skills and ambitions but still aim to persuade a potential employer. In either case, the presentation needs to demonstrate an effective use of visual communication strategies.
    In addition to the slide presentation, you will need to write a short report of 400 words, that outlines your design decisions and reasoning behind the design of the overall presentation, identifying your target audience and making reference to graphic design choices, visual communication strategies and techniques that have been covered in this unit of study.  You are also encouraged to research other visual communication methodologies and theories as a basis for your design rationale, beyond the material available on Canvas.

    Your report should also include a single-page story board in the form of a simple table, showing (with or without using thumbnail images) the basic structure of the slide sequence.

  • Module quizzes: The objective is to test your knowledge and understanding of topics presented in the learning modules. A series of short online quizzes will be available on Canvas. It is advisable to attempt each quiz soon after you have worked through the related module. You only get one attempt at each quiz. There are 8 quizzes for a total of 15% of the final mark (each quiz is worth the same). Each quiz comprises of 10 questions.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Work of outstanding quality, demonstrating mastery of the learning outcomes assessed. The work shows significant innovation, experimentation, critical analysis, synthesis, insight, creativity, and/or exceptional skill.


75 - 84

Work of excellent quality, demonstrating a sound grasp of the learning outcomes assessed. The work shows innovation, experimentation, critical analysis, synthesis, insight, creativity, and/or superior skill.


65 - 74

Work of good quality, demonstrating more than satisfactory achievement of the learning outcomes assessed, or work of excellent quality for a majority of the learning outcomes assessed.


50 - 64

Work demonstrating satisfactory achievement of the learning outcomes assessed.


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

5% a day

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Module 1: Introduction to Design + quizzes Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Begin assignment 1 Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 02 Module 2: Colour perception + quizzes Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Tutorial 1: Library iResearch module Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 03 Module 3: Typography Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Work on assignment 1/ Padlet: submit found material Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 04 Module 4: Composition and Layout + quizzes Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Work on assignment 1 Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 05 Work on assignment 1 Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 06 Module 5: gestalt principles + quizzes Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Tutorial 2: Microsoft PowerPoint Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Module 6: Colour theory + quizzes Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Begin assignment 2 Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 08 Module 7: Slide Presentation Layout + quizzes Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Tutorial 3: Keynote Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 09 Tutorial 3: Prezi / work on assignment 2 Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 10 Work on assignment 2 / Padlet: open discussion Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 11 Module 8: Visual communication strategies + quizzes Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Work on assignment 2 Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 12 Work on assignment 2 Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 13 Work on assignment 2 Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

Attendance and class requirements

Referencing guidelines: Please ensure you are using the correct format for citing and referencing of your sources - APA style
is required for assignments.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Please refer to Canvas

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. explain the basic concepts of visual perception and gestalt psychology underpinning visual design principles
  • LO2. analyse and evaluate the communicative power of visual material
  • LO3. design visual materials following visual design principles
  • LO4. apply visual communication strategies for effective presentation to specific audiences.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Revision in progress

The unit may be adjusted for each session. Please refer to information and materials provided on Canvas for any changes and updates. 


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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