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Unit of study_

DECO2101: Fundamentals of Visual Design

Semester 1, 2022 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit of study introduces students to the principles of visual design, including graphic design, composition, colour theory and typography. Students will develop an understanding of how to communicate ideas in context and to successfully combine visual elements to create a visual argument and to communicate transition over time. Using digital image manipulation tools, such as Adobe Illustrator and InDesign, students will learn how to develop design concepts and how to turn concepts into an effective call-to-action.

Unit details and rules

Unit code DECO2101
Academic unit Design Lab
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Clare Cooper,
Tutor(s) Clare Cooper,
Ella Cutler,
Estee Sarsfield,
Kristelle-Maree De Freitas,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Task 1 Annotated design crits
A4 PDF of annotated design and word doc with text and references (APA 6th)
20% Week 05 A4 PDF of annotated design and word doc
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3
Online task Task 2A (Interim in-class assessment)
Design plan for Task 2
10% Week 07 Mindmap or graphic narrative sketch
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO5 LO4
Assignment Task 2B Timescape
A3 PDF finished timescape design, and word doc with text and references
30% Week 11 A3 PDF digital design
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Assignment Task 3 Call-to-action Campaign
4 Instagram tiles and campaign presentation video
40% Week 13 4 Instagram tiles and 1min video
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4

Assessment summary

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

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:

As per unit guide

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 What drives your visual communication? Tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO5
Week 02 Visual communication in context & introduction to designing with colour Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 03 Critiquing existing visual communication & Introduction to typography Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Week 04 Understanding your audience & composition basics Tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO5
Week 05 Composing for context & composition review Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO4 LO5
Week 06 Graphic narratives – communicating time and consequence Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Week 07 Illustrator review Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 08 Design visioning Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 09 Crafting a context-responsive campaign Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 10 Visual Communication in our hands: Printed matter and mixing analogue with digital Tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 11 InDesign review Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 12 Inclusive visual communication & peer review Tutorial (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 13 Exhibition: Invitations to act Tutorial (3 hr) LO3 LO5

Attendance and class requirements

Please refer to the Resolutions of the University School:

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.

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

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

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.


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.