Course Title: Methods in Design Research and Practice

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Methods in Design Research and Practice

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


315H Architecture & Design


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


City Campus


320H Architecture & Urban Design


Sem 2 2014,
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,
Sem 1 2020

Course Coordinator: Liam Fennessy

Course Coordinator Phone: Please email

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Please email

Course Coordinator Availability: Please email

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

Methods in Design Research and Practice is a formative course that is aimed at engendering you with a range of design methods and research and practice frameworks to structure your continuing studies in design. The course comprises of lectures, tutorials and the critical development of specialist interests in industrial design. You will have opportunities to examine and question the many ways in which practice and research in the design disciplines takes place.

You will develop a critical appreciation of the role and process of primary and secondary research, reflective practice within research, methods of data acquisition, validation, and triangulation, and how creative disciplines approach a research concern in rigorous and ethical ways. You will further develop analytical and research skills, including: the ordering and interpretation of information and an ability to translate information into cohesive arguments from scholarly approaches to literature and case studies; and, to conceive of, articulate and plan design research proposals.

Please note that if you take this course for a Bachelor Honours program, your overall mark in this course will be one of the course marks that will be used to calculate the weighted average mark (WAM) that will determine your award level. (This applies to students who commence enrolment in a bachelor honours program from 1 January 2016 onwards. See the WAM information web page for more information.)

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course provides critical insights into how research is planned and enacted, why it is important and how it can done in ways that challenge present discourses and constructs in design and research, be applied to the envisioning of futures, and new ways of understanding the past.

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

  • Independently map, research, analyse, synthesise and communicate research, theories, projects and their interrelationships confidently and independently through written, design, oral and multimedia presentations.
  • Accurately evidence propositions and ideas in response to specific methods of research and academic conventions and conduct own learning and research practices in an ethical and responsible manner.
  • Initiate peer to peer learning and critique processes, collaborate and share ideas and insights with others, and be critical and reflective of own work.
  • Assemble and compose formal and informal knowledge in ways that creatively challenge and champion design.
  • Locate key ideas in design theory with reference to their historical and contextual origins and manage the complexity of the design research process.
  • To position, articulate and apply individually constructed knowledge and practices of design in view of future desires for design and intellectual activity.

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.
  • Articulate complex design ideas to diverse audiences through an advanced and adaptable repertoire of communication strategies and technologies.
  • 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

You will be introduced to a range of research methodologies, practices, theories, design discourses and other research frameworks. This will occur through case studies, tutorial activities, readings, lectures and active field work. You will be actively engaged in learning that involves a range of face to face and online activities such as lectures, tutorials, group and class discussion, group activities and individual research.

Additionally, you will undertake reading, in field observations, watching films and documentaries, field trips, presentations, academic writing, diagramming, peer review and associated design activities. You are encouraged and expected to contribute (in an ongoing manner) to tutorial discussions and to present their work and ideas in an open way for appraisal by peers.

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.
  • 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.

Assessment tasks, 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 and research.

RMIT Swanston Library has extensive resources for Industrial Design Students.

Overview of Assessment


 Assessment will cover both theoretical and practical aspects of your learning. 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 essays, research proposals and reports, visualisations, and presentations. Assessment tasks may be undertaken either individually or in teams.

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 Service

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: