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Unit of study_

DECO2101: Fundamentals of Visual Design

This unit of study introduces students to the principles of visual design, including graphic design, colour theory and typography. Students will develop an understanding of how to successfully combine visual elements to effectively communicate an idea or concept, to describe a product, and to represent visual user interface elements in an interactive product. Using digital image manipulation tools, such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, students will learn how to develop design concepts and how to turn concepts into visual communication materials in the form of digital images.


Academic unit Design Lab
Unit code DECO2101
Unit name Fundamentals of Visual Design
Session, year
Semester 1, 2020
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Clare Cooper,
Demonstrator(s) Opal Wency Liang ,
Tutor(s) Clare Mary Cooper ,
Ella Rebecca Barrowclough Cutler,
Oestre Joy Nyvaken Sarsfield,
Isabella Sachi Sanasi,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Annotated design crits
2x annotated designs, plus references page
20% Week 07
Due date: 05 Apr 2020 at 21:00

Closing date: 26 Apr 2020
2-page PDF, plus references page
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2
Online task Interim assessment for Task 2
Design plan for Task 2
10% Week 08
Due date: 19 Apr 2020 at 21:00
2 mindmaps or graphic narrative sketches
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5
Assignment Time-based graphic narrative
30% Week 11
Due date: 11 May 2020 at 21:00
1 page digital design
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Assignment Designing calls to action
Call to action design campaign supported by written campaign "pitch"
40% Week 13
Due date: 29 May 2020 at 21:00

Closing date: 29 Apr 2020
Design work PDF, max 800 word argument
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

As per unit guide

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


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

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:

As per unit guide

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic honesty, academic dishonesty, 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 dishonesty or plagiarism seriously.

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

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 "Communicating ideas in context: designs as invitations to take action" - Introduction, arc of course, assessments and expectations - visual design elements and principles - documenting your decision-making process - annotating designs as a design research method Seminar (3 hr) LO3 LO5
Week 02 "Designing in response to our times" - Design manifestos - Intro to typography - Composing for context (learning to Identify different physical, digital, political, social, and temporal design contexts) - How to locate precedents, significant examples Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 03 "Design composition & effective tools of visual communication: How we find the best tools in an evolving toolkit" - Navigating Adobe Creative Suite 101 (Importing images, managing text, outputting to PDF) - What is design composition and why does it matter? (Grids, guides, space and spatial poetry) Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3

Attendance and class requirements

The School’s requirement of 90% attendance is waived. Participation in this unit is required via online components.

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

All readings for this unit can be accessed through links available on Canvas and VISCOM2020 Slack channel.

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. develop skills in digital imaging software such as Adobe Illustrator and Indesign
  • LO2. demonstrate proficiency in basic graphic design, including layout and typography
  • LO3. develop an understanding of basic visual design concepts as a form for communicating an idea, project or concept
  • LO4. demonstrate skills in sourcing, developing, and designing a range of digital content through a series of tutorial exercises and design projects
  • LO5. develop an in-depth understanding and practical experience of communicating messages through visual designs

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
We have made some changes to the weekly subject content as a result of the feedback received.

More information can be found on Canvas.

Site visit guidelines

There are no site visit guidelines for this unit.

Work, health and safety

There are no specific WHS requirements for this unit.


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