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Unit of study_

DECO3100: Information Visualisation Design Studio

The field of information visualisation focuses on how data can be effectively represented and meaningfully communicated to people, in interactive and automated ways. The unit of study introduces the principles of information visualisation design, with special attention to aesthetic communication of data, data analytics, and user engagement. Key concepts covered in this unit include: abstract data visualisation; data acquisition; and parsing and processing of data. Using a combination of vector graphics software tools and programming languages for processing data, students will develop information visualisations of real-world datasets that are both communicative and engaging. The unit will equip students with the skills to produce static as well as web-ready interactive data visualisations.


Academic unit Design Lab
Unit code DECO3100
Unit name Information Visualisation Design Studio
Session, year
Semester 1, 2020
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 12

Enrolment rules

DECO1016 and DECO2014
Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Somwrita Sarkar,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Participation Tutorials and class participation
10% Ongoing n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Assignment Static information visualisation
Students submit a pdf document online.
20% Week -03 2 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO3 LO2
Assignment group assignment Exploratory Data Analysis
Students submit a pdf document online
30% Week 07 2-5 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Interactive Information Visualisation
Students submit programming code for an online interactive visualisation
40% Week 13 1 Webpage
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment 1: Static Visualisation Design

Assessment description

Choose a small data set, and design a static visualisation. Write a one page summary (no more than 2-3 paragraphs) rigorously justifying your design choices. Use Excel and Adobe Illustrator to design the visualization. The visualization should be submitted as an A4 sized pdf, followed by the justification paragraphs.

Assessment 2: Exploratory Data Analysis

Assessment description

A primary aim of data visualisation is to answer questions from the data, and to negate or confirm any hypotheses from the data. Exploratory data analysis helps in visual, non-statistical, non-computational, non-mathematical ways to enable this aim. In this assessment, you will choose a data set and you will pose a particular question, analyse the data using the exploratory analysis methods covered in the tutorials and studios. You will then generate a final visualization, that brings out the affirmation or the negation of your hypothesis, based on your data analysis. 

Assessment 3: Interactive visualisation Design

Assessment description

In this assessment, you will use web techniques taught in class to design an interactive visualisation. What interactions, transitions or animations have you designed that allow you to address specific design intentions: for example, (a) encode layers of data, (b) draw attention to proper places, or the principle of overview, zoom, filter, details on demand. Have a solid rationale and reasoning for incorporating specific interactions.

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


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.

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 Context, why, how of information visualisation Lecture (1 hr)  
Tutorial 1 Tutorial (2 hr)  
Studio 1 Studio (3 hr)  
Week 02 Effective visual communication and storytelling 1 Lecture (1 hr)  
Tutorial 2 Tutorial (2 hr)  
Studio 2 Studio (3 hr)  
Week 03 Effective visual communication and storytelling 2 Lecture (1 hr)  
Tutorial 3 Tutorial (2 hr)  
Studio 3 Studio (3 hr)  
Week 04 Data and visual encoding principles Lecture (1 hr)  
Tutorial 4 Tutorial (2 hr)  
Studio 4 Studio (3 hr)  
Week 05 Exploratory data analysis Lecture (1 hr)  
Tutorial 5 Tutorial (2 hr)  
Studio 5 Studio (3 hr)  
Week 06 The big list of 20 big no-nos in Info Vis Lecture (1 hr)  
Tutorial 6 Tutorial (2 hr)  
Studio 6 Studio (3 hr)  
Week 07 Principles of interaction Lecture (1 hr)  
Tutorial 7 Tutorial (2 hr)  
Studio 7 Studio (3 hr)  
Week 08 Principles of animation Lecture (1 hr)  
Tutorial 8 Tutorial (2 hr)  
Studio 8 Studio (3 hr)  
Week 09 More complex info vis: multidimensional data, networks and geographic visualisation Lecture (1 hr)  
Tutorial 9 Tutorial (2 hr)  
Studio 9 Studio (3 hr)  
Week 10 Guest lecture 1 Lecture (1 hr)  
Tutorial 10 Tutorial (2 hr)  
Studio 10 Studio (3 hr)  
Week 11 Guest lecture 2 Lecture (1 hr)  
Tutorial 11 Tutorial (2 hr)  
Studio 11 Studio (3 hr)  
Week 12 Guest lecture 3 Lecture (1 hr)  
Tutorial 12 Tutorial (2 hr)  
Studio 12 Studio (3 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

  • The School’s requirement of 90% in person  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 12 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 240-300 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

All readings for this unit can be accessed on the Library eReserve link available on Canvas.

  • Knaflic, C.N. (2015). Storytelling with Data, Wiley.
  • Murray, S. (2017) Interactive Data Visualisation for the Web, 2nd Edition, O’Reilly.

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. design and format all parts of a visualisation
  • LO2. develop an information visualisation prototype using real-world datasets, using existing visual graph/chart types, and the ability to develop new visual representations based on data
  • LO3. provide justification and design rationale for all aspects of a visualisation
  • LO4. demonstrate analytical skills on basic statistical and mathematical concepts for exploratory and explanatory data analysis and visualisation
  • LO5. demonstrate programming skills, technical skills on tools and programming languages required to successfully produce final publication standard infovis.

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
The technical parts of the unit that the students found challenging have been made more detailed and development occurs at a pace suitable to the learning rate of design students.

Site visit guidelines

If you are undertaking professional experience/field education placement as part of your enrolment in this unit of study, please assess your specific needs and requirements for the safe and successful completion of an external placement within a host organisation. You will be given the opportunity to disclose any health issues that have a work health and safety significance before arranging a placement so that your safety, and the safety of others, can be properly assessed. The Professional Experience Coordinator/Field Education Manager will work to ensure that the workplace assignment to you is appropriate for your needs and requirements. If you are experiencing disability, and require reasonable adjustments to be arranged, please contact Disability Services as early as possible prior to commencing the internship. Please note, in all cases, and for the purpose of organising reasonable adjustments, only the impact and not the nature, of your disability will be disclosed to the host organisation.


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