Course Title: Research visual communication history and theory

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2014

Course Code: COMM7313C

Course Title: Research visual communication history and theory

School: 320T Architecture & Design

Campus: Brunswick Campus

Program: C5316 - Diploma of Graphic Design

Course Contact : Leigh Milward

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 9426

Course Contact

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Nominal Hours: 55

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites

There are no prerequisites for this unit, however this unit is delivered alongside BSBDES402A Interpret and respond to a design brief in a studio cluster called Design 1.

Course Description

While undertaking this unit you will research visual communication history and theory and to apply that research to own professional practice. Visual communication professionals inform and enrich their practice through their understanding of history and theory. It provides context, inspiration and reference for contemporary design solutions. History and theory may relate to a particular period of time, a particular aspect of visual communication, or be broader in nature. At this level, research is an independent activity, with some guidance and mentoring as required.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

CUVGRD501A Research visual communication history and theory


1. Select focus for research

Performance Criteria:

1.1 Select a focus for visual communication research based on specific needs and
1.2 Challenge own assumptions and preconceptions about the research process and
potential information sources
1.3 Select relevant historical and contemporary sources for investigation


2. Conduct critical analysis

Performance Criteria:

2.1 Identify and investigate issues and ideas in the development of visual communication
2.2 Evaluate ways in which meanings, messages and information are communicated in both
a historical and contemporary content
2.3 Seek out and compare the critical views of others in chosen area of inquiry
2.4 Allow the process of analysis to take exploration of issues in new and potentially
unintended directions


3. Present ideas about visual communication history and theory

Performance Criteria:

3.1 Develop substantiated opinions and ideas about visual communication history and theory
3.2 Make informed contributions to professional discussions of visual communication practice as a result of research
3.3 Present ideas in writing with clarity and accuracy


4. Develop own practice from research

Performance Criteria:

4.1 Determine potential for integration of research findings into own work
4.2 Relate visual communication history and theory to business practice considerations
4.3 Recognise connections and associations between history, theory and contemporary practice
4.4 Develop relevant ideas about how research impacts on own professional practice and its future direction

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, you will have developed and applied the skills and knowledge required to demonstrate your competency in the above elements.

Details of Learning Activities

Learning activities will take place in a studio and computer laboratory using industry standard tools and resources. You will complete exercises and industry style projects. You will also be required to undertake independent study.In class activities will include:

class exercises
practical demonstrations
group discussion
review and revision
peer learning
peer teaching and class presentations
teacher directed group activities/projects
workshopping of student projects including peer/lecturer feedback


Out of class activities may include:
independent research
independent project based work
studio practice
online tutorials and activities
review and revision

Teaching Schedule

 Please note: While your teacher will cover all the material in this schedule, the weekly order is subject to change depending on class needs and availability of speakers and resources.  
WeekSession descriptionCUVGRD501ABSBDES402A
1Intro - icebreakers and design games. Introduction to Graphic Design Show and tell sketchbooks - how to make a
good sketchbook. Late 19th century Graphic Design influences
 1-4 1
2Lecture: Difference between graphic design and fine art. Role of designer in relation to client and target audience.
Exercise 1. Mindmapping, brainstorming, conceptualizing, record and collect data
Exercise 2. Presenting ideas and concepts
 1-4 1,2
3Formative task presentation and feedback- What’s inside a brief? Examine the components of a brief, discussion
on how it can be answered. Go backwards - find a logo or brochure and write the brief for it.
Lecture: Early nineteenth century Graphic Design influences 1920s, Dada/Constructivism, Composition
Exercise 3: Colour Blocking
Exercise 4. Form, space, line, balance/symmetry or asymmetry, rhythm
Exercise 5. Framing, cropping, hierarchy
 1-4 1,2
4Assessment Task1
Brief 1 - Write a brief/respond to a brief - Introduction. Write a brief. Give the brief to another student. Respond to
the brief. Marked on written, sketched ideas. Must have meetings with the ‘client’. Self evaluation/reflection and
peer evaluation.
Demonstration - roughs. Exercise 6. Create a collage/montage based Dada/Constructivism lecture from last week
1-4 1,2
5Lecture: The Poster, The Manifesto
Exercise 7. Manifesto create your own written Manifesto for social cause based on lecture.
Brief 1 - write a brief/respond to a brief continued.
 1-4 1,2
6Brief 1 - write a brief/respond to a brief. Feedback and evaluation/progress report. Formative task: Students to
take notes to improve their work.
Lecture: Modernism The square format.
Exercise 8: elements of design: Colour, contrast, harmony
 1,4 1-5
7Look Upstairs Conference - In class exercises/ research for those not attending. 1-4 1-5
8Brief 1 DUE start of class
Lecture: Otto Neurath, symbols/pictograms
Exercise 9: Create symbols/pictograms
 1-4 1-5
9 Lecture: Pop Art, Psychedelia.
Exercise 10: Create a pop art style poster. Use the design process from roughs to finished sketch.

Assessmnent Task 2
Brief 2 Quote poster Introduction - research a graphic designer - make a poster with a quote and design the
poster in the style of the designer. Utilise the historical designers and movements we have covered to inform your own design process.

11Design theory - Lecture: Environmental concerns in design - use of materials.
Exercise 11: Project using found objects: Re-using and recycling.
12Brief 2 Quote poster - Formative task: sketch presentation - consultation and feedback, student to take notes on
the feedback and use in their folio
 1-4 1-5
13Brief 2 - student presentations. Each student is to present their work to the others, outlineing their process and
the designer that they have chosen. A 10 minute presnetation with visual elements (could be Powerpoint, or other
 1-4 1-5
14Lecture: Punk 1-4 1-5
15Brief 2 Quote poster due at start of class.
Lecture: Punk
Exercise 12: Create a photocopied flyer.
 1-4 1-5

Assessment Task 3
Folio Submission and Feedback


Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

None required


Lupton, 2008, Phillips Graphic Design: The New Basics
Dabner, Calvert, Casey, 2010, Graphic Design School
Timothy Samara, 2007, Design Elements: A graphic design style manual
Ellen Lupton, 2009, Graphic Design Theory: Readings from the field
You are advised to look at the course myRMIT site for ongoing updated information.

Heller, Steven and Vienne, Veronique, 2012, 100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design, Laurence King Publishing.
Aynsley Jeremy, 2004, Pioneers of Modern Graphic Design: A Complete History, Octopus Publishing Group.
Hollis, Richard. 2004. Graphic Design; A Concise History, Thames and Hudson.
Meggs, Philip B. 1992: A History of Graphic Design, Second Edition, Van Nostrand Reinhold   

You are advised to look at the course myRMIT site for ongoing updated information.

Other Resources


RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems and access to specialised facilities and relevant software. You will also have access of the library resources. The University Library has extensive resources for Graphic Design students. The Library has produced a subject guide that includes quality online and print resources for your studies

The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help via your Liaison Librarian Mary Mavroudis

Overview of Assessment

Assessment is on-going throughout the course. Assessment tasks will require you demonstrate the application of knowledge and skills through practical projects and/or written tasks. Assessment tasks in this course are:

  • Design Project 1 (50% of final grade)
  • Design Project 2 (50% of final grade) 

Assessment Tasks

Tasks in this course are either formative or summative. Feedback throughout the course may be written, verbal or a combination of both.
Formative tasks provide the basis for ongoing feedback and can be considered essential building blocks for the more substantial summative assessment tasks and you should engage in all formative tasks.
This course has 3 Summative Tasks, all of which must be completed/submitted. Each task has an allocated percentage of the total grade. You are required to demonstrate all learning outcomes to a satisfactory standard.
Formative assessment
Design principles and elements exercises which will be delivered throughout the semester and explore the following:
• components of a brief
• image creation
• intellectual property and copyright
• environmental concerns
• class discussions and presentations
• feedback
Summative Assessment Tasks
Assessment Task 1: Write and Respnd to a Brief. 35%
Write a brief/respond to a brief. Write a brief. Give the brief to another student. Respond to the brief with written and sketched ideas, and verbal/visual communication. Must have meetings with the ‘client’. Self evaluation and peer evaluation
DUE week 9

Assessment Task 2: Quote Poster. 45%
Research a graphic designer - make a poster with a quote and design the poster in the style of the designer.
DUE: Week 15

Assessment Task 3: Folio of class work (collection of all formative tasks and any notes or sketches made during class or own research). 20%
Folio of formative tasks. This should be in the form of a sketchbook which includes formative in-class tasks and any sketches, reference images, and annotations completed during the semester.
DUE: Week 16

At the completion of the course, grading will be offered in addition to, and after, competency based assessment.

Grades which apply to courses delivered in accordance with competency-based assessment, but which also use gradedassessment are:
CHDCompetent with High Distinction
CDI Competent with Distinction
CC Competent with Credit
CAG Competency Achieved - Graded
NYCNot Yet Competent
DNS Did Not Submit for Assessment

Assessment Matrix

The assessment matrix demonstrates alignment of assessment tasks with the relevant Unit of Competency. These are available from the course contact person (stated above).

Other Information

The major learning experience involves studio based exercises, demonstration and production. It is strongly advised that you attend all sessions in order to engage in the required learning activities, ensuring the maximum opportunity to gain the competency.

Feedback - You will receive verbal and written feedback by teacher on your work. This feedback also includes suggestions on how you can proceed to the next stage of developing your projects.
Student feedback at RMIT

Student Progress
Monitoring academic progress is an important enabling and proactive strategy to assist you to achieve your learning potential. Student progress policy

Special consideration Policy (Late Submission)
All assessment tasks are required to be completed to a satisfactory level. If you are unable to complete any piece of assessment by the due date, you will need to apply for an extension. Special consideration, appeals and discipline (unresolved)

Cover Sheet for Submissions
You must complete a submission cover sheet for every piece of submitted work. This signed sheet acknowledges that you are aware of the plagiarism implications.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism - RMIT University has a strict policy on plagiarism and academic integrity. Please refer to the website for more information on this policy go to Academic Integrity

Course Overview: Access Course Overview