Course Title: Research visual communication history and theory

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2013

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


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


1. Select focus for research

Performance Criteria:

1.1 Select a focus for visual communication research based on specific needs and perspectives
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


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:
•Peer teaching and class presentations
•Group discussion
•Online research
•Library research
•Independent project based work
•Teacher directed group activities/projects
•Class exercises to review discussions/lectures
•‘Workshopping’ of student projects
•Analysis/critique of relevant reading material

Out of class activities will include:
•Independent research activity

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 descriptionCUVGRD501ABSBDS402A

Introduction - What is Graphic Design?

Difference between Graphic Design and fine art.

Role of designer in relation to client and target audience.

Lecture: Late 19th century Graphic Design infuences.

Colour-blocking: Due week 6, March 18th. Incorporates exercises 1-5
Plus one 250 word rationale explaining historical focus


 1-4 1

Lecture: Early nineteenth century Graphic Design influences. Vienna Secession, Plakatstil, Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism

Exercise 1. Mindmapping, brainstorming, conceptualizing, record and collect data

Exercise 2. Presenting ideas and concepts

Exercise 3. Colour, contrast, harmony


 1-4 1,2

Lecture: Early nineteenth century Graphic Design influences - 1920s, Dada Constructivism

Exercise 4. Form, space, line, balance/symmetry or asymmetry, rhythm

Exercise 5. Framing, cropping, hierarchy

Exercise 6. Create a collage/montage based Dada/Constructivism lecture

 1-4 1,2

Lecture: Modernism - The square format

Continued... collage/montage based Dada/Constructivism lecture

1-4 1,2

Colour-blocking exercise due this week, March 18th.

Lecture: The Book

Project 1. Briefing for Giant of Design Book. Due week 11, 29th April

An homage to either a pivotal historical or contemporary influence or pioneer/giant of contemporary Graphic Design based on your own research

Teacher demonstration: constructing a concertina booklet

 1-4 1,2

Lecture: Josef Mueller-Brockman

Exercise 7. The Grid

Designer timeline for Project 1.

 1,4 1-5

Lecture: Otto Neurath, symbols/pictograms

Studio - presentation of rough ideas for Project 1.

 1-4 1-5

Lecture: Modernism - International typographic style

Studio - mock up 3d presentation for Project 1.

 1-4 1-5
10 Project 1: Finalise, feedback, refining 1-41-5

Lecture: The Poster, The Manifesto

Project 1 Due this week, April 29th

Project 2 briefing. Design a social poster for a cause. Utilize the historical designers and movements we have covered to inform your own design process.
Due week 16, June 3rd


Lecture: Surrealism and conceptual art

Presentation of ideas to teacher for feedback

Exercise 8. Manifesto - create your own written Manifesto for social cause based previous lecture


Lecture: Pop Art, Psychadelia

Presentation to class of roughs 

 1-4 1-5

Lecture: Postmodernism

Studio - poster feedback

Exercise 8, Manifesto Due, May 13th.

 1-4 1-5
15Lecture: Punk 1-4 1-5

Project 2 Due this week June, 3rd

Finalise poster

 1-4 1-5

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

RIT Graphic Design Archive - timeline

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

Assesment tasks in this course are either formative or summative.
Formative tasks provide the basis for ongoing feedback and can be considered essential building blocks for the more substantial summative tasks.
Summative assessment tasks in this unit are graded. To demonstrate competency in this course you need to complete each one of the following pieces of assessment and have a satisfactory outcome in the summative assessments.

Formative assessment

Colour-blocking exercise: Students will design a mini-poster based on the concept of colour-blocking and research relevant designers who have used this technique.
Within this task are a series of six theoretical and practical exercises related to idea generation, presentation and composition.

Montage/collage: students complete a practical exercise based on a lecture explaining these methods of communication and artists/movements that pioneered it.

Grids: Students learn the function of a grid

Manifesto: Students create their own written Manifesto related to a social poster allocated to the Formative assessment tasks.

Summative assessment

Project 1: Giant of Design Booklet: Students will research a historical or contemporary designer and create a booklet as homage to their career and work. Due, Week 11, April 29th

Project 2: Create a Social Issue Poster: Students will design a poster aimed at lifting the profile of a social issue. Due Week 16, June 3rd.

Grades which apply to courses delivered in accordance with competency-based assessment, but which also use graded assessment:
HDCompetent 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