Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2014 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

print version

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Art, Design and Architecture
Organisational UnitDepartment of Design
OfferedCaulfield First semester 2014 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Ms Anna Daly


This unit covers a range of sociological and critical theories that inform the analysis and interpretation of designed objects and images. Various perspectives of production, consumption and exchange are considered, including theories of the commodity and the gift. The bodies of thought surveyed include Marxist and structuralist perspectives, and subsequent discourses, as well as parallel streams of critique, and attendant linguistic and semiotic theories. Students will develop an enhanced understanding of the systems of objects and images to which designers contribute.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. understand and discuss key sociological and critical theories of objects and images;
  2. critically discuss the systems of production, consumption and exchange that impact upon design;
  3. understand and articulate the ways in which different theories of production, consumption and exchange reflect the historical and political contexts from which they emerge;
  4. analyse works of design from a particular theoretical perspective, using the correct terminology and appropriate analytic emphasis; and
  5. present critical arguments in an informed and articulate manner, whether spoken or written.


Written assignment (2000 words): 30%
Essay (3000 words) including class presentation: 70%

Chief examiner(s)

Workload requirements

One 1-hour lecture and one 2-hour tutorial plus 9 independent study hours per week