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Unit of study_

DECO2016: Design Thinking

Semester 1, 2024 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit of study provides an introduction to design thinking and its application in a human-centred design process. Students carry out a semester-long project that follows the typical phases of an iterative design process; consisting of user-centred research, ideation, prototyping and evaluation. Hands-on tutorial exercises develop their experience in appropriately applying design thinking methods, against the theoretical background offered by lectures. Students will learn to build empathy with users, identify the problem space, develop design concepts driven by user needs, and persuasively communicate design proposals using visual storytelling.

Unit details and rules

Unit code DECO2016
Academic unit Design Lab
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Lian Loke,
Lecturer(s) Lian Loke,
Ricardo Sosa Medina,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Assessment 3: Visual Report
Due date: 03 Jun 2024 at 23:59
10 pages, 2,000 words max
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Assignment Assessment 0: Early Feedback Task
0% Week 03
Due date: 06 Mar 2024 at 23:59
1 image, 1 paragraph
Outcomes assessed: LO3
Assignment Assessment 1: Video
20% Week 05
Due date: 22 Mar 2024 at 23:59
Video 60 to 90 seconds
Outcomes assessed: LO1
Assignment Assessment 2: Poster
40% Week 09
Due date: 26 Apr 2024 at 23:59
Poster (template)
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO4

Assessment summary

Assessment 0 - Early Feedback Task (formative): The Higher Education Support Amendment Bill 2023 has mandated the development of a Support for Students policy at all Australian universities, requiring among other things a pre-census task with feedback to be introduced in all first-year units of study. The aim of this assessment is to show imagination and competence in design ideation. Have fun and develop an intuitive understanding of design responding to the design provocation/invitation: “A radically new way to celebrate a birthday”. 

Assessment 1- Video (20%): The aim of this assessment is to demonstrate how you appreciate the principles and methodology of design. Select one of the activities you completed in Stage 1 (weeks 3 to 5) in tutorials, lectures, or homework. Document your learning in that activity in a one-minute video. Video is free format, include the script/transcript of your video.

Assessment 2 - Poster (40%): The aims of this assessment are to demonstrate how you engage in inquiry to identify the need for a design and how you communicate information visually. Throughout Stage 2 (weeks 6 to 9) you conduct a discovery project in response to a brief. Your research should lead to one or two key design insights to formulate a problem statement. Individually prepare a poster presenting your discovery process, findings, and your personal insights resulting from your Stage 2 work. You must work with one of the templates provided.

Assessment 3 - Visual Report (40%): The aims of this assessment are to demonstrate imagination and competence in design ideation, communicate information, ideas and proposals visually, your capacity to evaluate design ideas and proposals from the user perspective, and to reflect upon and critique design proposals from ethical principles. Throughout Stage 3 (weeks 10 to 14) you generate a creative response to the brief using your imagination, prototyping and evaluation skills. These activities are usually done in collaboration with other people, here you present your individual work in a Visual Report documenting and reflecting on your ideation, prototyping, evaluation and iteration process done in Stage 3. Follow the guidelines provided and check the rubric to ensure you meet the expectations for this deliverable. 

IMPORTANT: Students must submit ALL assessment items to be considered for a Pass grade in the unit. Otherwise an Absent Fail (AF) grade will be awarded.

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

Work that does not demonstrate satisfactory achievement of one or more of the learning outcomes assessed.

For more information see

These grade ranges have been translated into detailed rubrics for every assessment, which can be accessed by clicking on the assessment in canvas.

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:

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.

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.

Support for students

The Support for Students Policy 2023 reflects the University’s commitment to supporting students in their academic journey and making the University safe for students. It is important that you read and understand this policy so that you are familiar with the range of support services available to you and understand how to engage with them.

The University uses email as its primary source of communication with students who need support under the Support for Students Policy 2023. Make sure you check your University email regularly and respond to any communications received from the University.

Learning resources and detailed information about weekly assessment and learning activities can be accessed via Canvas. It is essential that you visit your unit of study Canvas site to ensure you are up to date with all of your tasks.

If you are having difficulties completing your studies, or are feeling unsure about your progress, we are here to help. You can access the support services offered by the University at any time:

Support and Services (including health and wellbeing services, financial support and learning support)
Course planning and administration
Meet with an Academic Adviser

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction to Design; Introducing Early Feedback Task Lecture (1 hr) LO1
“Intersectional Me”; “My Design Heroes” Tutorial (2 hr) LO6
Week 02 Design ethics; SCANA diagnostic Lecture (1 hr) LO6
“Good and Bad Designs”; Early Feedback Task check-in Tutorial (2 hr) LO5 LO6
Week 03 Design dispositions Lecture (1 hr) LO1
“Identifying Design Dispositions”; “Adopting Design Dispositions” Tutorial (2 hr) LO1
Week 04 Design processes & tools; Introducing Assessment 1: Video Lecture (1 hr) LO1
“A mini-Design Thinking exercise”; “Tame and Wicked Problem Framings” Tutorial (2 hr) LO1
Week 05 Visual thinking; SCANA workshop 1 Lecture (1 hr) LO4
“Abstraction”; “Idea sketching”; “Contextual observation” Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 06 Design problems & methods; Introducing Assessment 2: Poster Lecture (1 hr) LO1
“Quantitative methods in action”; “Qualitative methods in action”; “Artistic methods in action” Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 07 Discovery Lecture (1 hr) LO2
“Is this an insight?”; “Design Crit” Tutorial (2 hr) LO2
Week 08 Findings & insights Lecture (1 hr) LO2
“What’s a ritual?”; “Design Crit”; Assessment 2 check-in Tutorial (2 hr) LO5
Week 09 Problem statements Lecture (1 hr) LO2
“Design Crit of draft A2 Poster” Tutorial (2 hr) LO5
Week 10 Ideation; SCANA workshop 2; Introducing Assessment 3: Visual Report Lecture (1 hr) LO3
“Peer review of A2 Poster”; “Design Ideation” Tutorial (2 hr) LO3
Week 11 Prototyping Lecture (1 hr) LO4
“Paper prototyping”; “Experience prototyping” Tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 12 Iteration & Evaluation Lecture (1 hr) LO5
“User Testing”; Assessment 3 check-in Tutorial (2 hr) LO5
Week 13 Design ethics 2 Lecture (1 hr) LO6
“Ethical Design Critique”; USS and feedback; Positive concluding reflection; Assessment 3 check-in Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO6

Attendance and class requirements

Students are expected to attend 90% of timetabled activities, as per the school resolutions, unless granted exemption by the Head of School and Dean, Associate Dean Education or relevant Unit Coordinator.

The Head of School and Dean, Associate Dean Education or relevant Unit Coordinator may determine that a student fails because of inadequate attendance.


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.

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. appreciate the principles and methodology of human-centred design
  • LO2. engage in research and inquiry to identify the need for a design
  • LO3. show imagination and competence in design ideation
  • LO4. communicate information, ideas and concepts visually
  • LO5. evaluate design ideas and proposals from stakeholder perspectives
  • LO6. reflect upon and critique design proposals from ethical principles

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.

The unit has been redeveloped to improve the student learning experience across the varied cohorts.


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

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.