Course Title: Design Studio: Design in the Research Context

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Design Studio: Design in the Research Context

Credit Points: 24.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


315H Architecture & Design


Sem 1 2006,
Sem 2 2006,
Sem 1 2007,
Sem 2 2007,
Sem 1 2008,
Sem 2 2008,
Sem 1 2009,
Sem 2 2009,
Sem 1 2010,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 2 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 2 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 2 2013


City Campus


320H Architecture & Urban Design


Sem 1 2014,
Sem 2 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 2 2015,
Sem 1 2016,
Sem 2 2016,
Sem 1 2017,
Sem 2 2017


City Campus


370H Design


Sem 1 2018,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 1 2019,
Sem 2 2019

Course Coordinator: Simon Curlis

Course Coordinator Phone: 9925 5346

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 100.08.02

Course Coordinator Availability: Contact via email for appointment.

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

GRAP 1031 User Centered Design Studio

GRAP 1032 Design for Sustainability Studio

Course Description

Design Studio: Design in the Research Context is one of four courses in the Upper Pool Design Studio stream.

The Upper Pool Design Studio set of courses provide you an opportunity to develop understanding of design activity, its outcomes, impacts and influences from a variety of different perspectives and in a variety of different contexts. The Design Studio courses are based on developing projects that bring together a wide range of knowledge and skills that you have learnt in other courses. In the Upper Pool Studios you will be applying and expanding your project-based body of knowledge and skills through the development of design projects and research propositions. At Upper Pool level you must choose via ballot from a suite of different Studio tutorials offered within the specific course you are enrolled in.

The specific Design Studio tutorials offered within the each course are unique in each and every semester and are intended to expose you to diverse ways of engaging with, and responding to, contemporary issues and possibilities for design practice. Each Upper Pool Design Studio tutorial is organised around a topic, theme, set of concerns or mode of enquiry. You will work alongside and in collaboration with fellow students in a setting that encourages peer-to-peer and reflective learning through shared experience.

Design in the Research Context provides you with a set of choices of design studio projects that are located within the area of work of current design research projects. These projects may be in collaboration with industry and community stakeholders and partners, research groups within universities and the research and development teams in the design, strategy, sustainability, and technical innovation domains of the services and manufacturing sectors in Australia and abroad. You will learn various methods of undertaking design research and converting that research into testable and robust design propositions. You will learn about and apply specialised methods of design development, iteration, presentation and prototyping.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Identify and respond through design practice and research complex design issues and opportunities.
  • Develop and propose innovative concepts and alternatives in response to research led design investigations.
  • Articulate your design ideas to a professional standard through a range of mediums including drawings, prototypes, presentations and reports within a particular domain of design research practice.
  • Critically analyse the roles of design in the research context and reflect on the efficacy and rigour of your own practice.
  • Demonstrate critical, creative and strategic design thinking through a rapid acquisition and application of specialist knowledge and skills and the management of design studio projects in collaboration with peers and other stakeholders.
  • Initiate and conduct design research around a set of clearly framed questions and methods in a particular context of application.

You will be assessed on your development of the following program learning outcomes:

  • Apply analytical, critical, creative and strategic thinking to industrial design problems and research within complex and unfamiliar contexts and concerns.
  • Collaborate with other specialists and key stakeholders on design problems on multi-disciplinary projects in diverse settings.
  • Articulate complex design ideas to diverse audiences through an advanced and adaptable repertoire of communication strategies and technologies.
  • Generate innovative approaches to design problems and solutions, with a criticality and openness to the perspectives and needs of others in a situation.
  • Advocate through design practice the improvement of the conditions and well-being of people, cultural practices and environments.
  • Initiate, plan, manage and execute research and design projects with independence and in an objective and ethical manner.
  • Reflect on own learning and the efficacy of design decisions made, adapting to needs and issues as they arise, and continuously seeking improvement.
  • Demonstrate through practice-based design research an advanced knowledge of the socio-technical, environmental and economic eco-systems of industrial design both locally and globally.

Overview of Learning Activities

Delivered in a design studio format you will be actively engaged in learning that involves a range of face-to-face, self-directed and online activities. This course engages you in learning about design via an immersion into specific aspects of the discipline, its methods and practices through self-directed design projects. These projects involve a range of planned learning experiences including: individual and group problem solving; sketch ideation and the iterative development of design concepts; making and prototyping for the purpose of further refining propositions, and presenting and reflecting on individual and collective learning processes.

Learning activities include studio sessions where ideas are developed and documented through a variety of methods: prototyping ideas into material design artefacts within workshop environments; developing a practice of journaling design ideas; lectures and studio tutorials; peer review processes; and, independent design inquiry and critique.

The design studio format gives you the opportunity to explore and apply social, contextual and theoretical design issues in depth and through a variety of approaches, technical principles, real and simulated situations and practical constraints.

Overview of Learning Resources

To effectively participate in coursework you are advised to procure (as a minimum) the following:

  • Drawing Supplies including visual diaries, pens, pencils, markers and ancillary products and consumables.
  • Prototyping Supplies including protective eye-ware, ear plugs, a dust jacket, closed toe or safety shoes a 150mm steel ruler, a high quality craft knife and ancillary products and consumables.
  • Documentation Equipment including a digital camera and an audio recording device such as a mobile phone.

Additionally it is advisable that you have a personal computer of an appropriate specification.

Design project briefs, lecture notes and other study materials will be available online through the MyRMIT portal. You will also be expected to seek further resources relevant to the focus of your own learning.

You will have access to and will utilise the School of Design workshop facilities and access to computer labs with specialist software and printing facilities.

RMIT Swanston Library has extensive resources for Industrial Design Students.

Overview of Assessment

The Upper Pool Design Studio stream of courses are concerned with engendering practice-based design knowledge and skills made evident through project-based activities shared in group settings. This demands that you develop reflective and open individual and peer appraisal practices. Key to all aspects of design studios is a willingness to take risks with preconceptions and constructed understandings of how the world works, what is possible within it, and how design may provide ways to engage with change.

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes. Assessment may include reports, visualisations, design prototypes, design project documentation and conduct, and presentations. Assessment tasks may be undertaken either individually or in teams.

Assessment will cover both theoretical and practical aspects of your learning. You will be able to develop your work in relation to your own specific areas of interest in your professional practice.

Summative feedback will be given on all assessment tasks and may be delivered in a variety of forms including critique panels, audio or video recordings and written reports. Additionally you will receive ongoing formative feedback as you progress through the course from your lecturer and from your peers in view of continuous improvement and greater degrees of reflectivity on your own learning.

Equitable Learning Services

If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or the Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more.

Assessment Policy

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies and procedures: