Credit points


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TECH503 Product Design

Unit rationale, description and aim

The product design sector holds in high regard designers who can critically evaluate an existing commercial product and then creatively redesign and safely manufacture a prototype for an alternative product that addresses flaws in the original design. This unit also contributes to an accredited sequence of Technologies units and aligns with the Australian Curriculum: Design and Technologies.

In this unit students will consider the need for user-centred redesign through product design factor analysis and demonstrate the appropriate safe use of design, manufacturing and testing technologies in design environments. This unit also develops students’ knowledge of creativity and advanced theories of ‘design thinking’ theories which fosters innovation in design education contexts. Metacognitive awareness in creative and critical thinking for design practices in education contexts is explored through speculative thinking and design for preferred futures. Students will design and manufacture advanced prototypes or designed products using a range of techniques and materials.. They will need to demonstrate the use of tools, equipment, and techniques to a high level in the production of working solutions to design challenges.

The aim of this unit is to enable students to demonstrate design knowledge and skills in project management for advanced design and manufacturing process in their area of technologies specialisation.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Synthesise broad and deep theoretical and technical knowledge to discuss attributes of designed products (GA2, GA3, GA5; APST 2.1)

LO2 - Devise creative thinking strategies for iterative design contexts aligned with the curriculum and informed by learning and teaching theories (GA5, GA8; APST 1.2, 2.2, 3.2, 3.3)

LO3 - Develop a user-centred brief for product redesign using high quality communication techniques (GA4, GA6, GA8; APST 2.1)

LO4 - Demonstrate autonomy, well-developed judgement and responsibility in the design, illustration, safe manufacture and evaluation of a prototype that has been developed using iterative design processes (GA5, GA10; APST 2.1)

Graduate attributes

GA2 - Recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA3 - Apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - Think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - Demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - Solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - Locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA10 - Utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

1.2 - Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.

2.1 - Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, substance and structure of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area.

2.2 - Organise content into an effective learning and teaching sequence.

3.2 - Plan lesson sequences using knowledge of student learning, content and effective teaching strategies.

3.3 - Include a range of teaching strategies.


Topics will include:

Design thinking theories - Learning and Teaching theories in creative and critical thinking

  • Design terminology
  • Design thinking
  • Critical and creative thinking in design education
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Creative thinking strategies
  • creativity theory
  • futures thinking
  • value-driven design

Product design analysis

  • Incremental versus radical design development

Product design factors

  • Purpose, function and context
  • User-centered design
  • Innovation and creativity
  • Visual, tactile and aesthetic (design principles and elements)
  • Sustainability design strategies
  • Economics – time and cost
  • labour issues
  • Legal responsibilities
  • intellectual property
  • ISO standards, regulations and legislation
  • Workplace Health and Safety / Occupational Health and Safety
  • Materials – characteristics and properties
  • including emerging material technologies
  • Technologies – tools, processes and manufacturing methods
  • Including emerging manufacturing technologies

Life cycle thinking

  • Emotional attachment
  • Carbon footprints
  • Embodied energy and water use
  • Distribution
  • Use of renewable energy
  • Use of resources
  • Cradle to grave versus cradle-to-cradle design methodologies

User-centered design

  • Cultural considerations
  • Emotional and sensory appeal
  • Universal design
  • Social and physical needs
  • Fashion and trends
  • Safety
  • Accessibility
  • Comfort
  • Ergonomics

Sustainable design strategies

  • LCA: Life Cycle Analysis
  • C2C: Cradle to Cradle
  • DFD: Design for Disassembly
  • EPR: Extended Producer Responsibility and Product Stewardship
  • Influence of sustainability strategies on
  • design
  • manufacturing
  • distribution
  • marketing

Innovative case studies and design contexts

  • Local and international examples
  • including textile futures, food futures, industrial design and manufacturing futures
  • Design-driven innovation
  • Innovative design examples
  • materials research
  • innovative application of materials
  • innovative application of techniques
  • innovative application of technologies

Conducting Workplace Health and Safety Risk Assessments

  • Workplace
  • Product
  • Use

Technologies Workshop Safety

  • Management practices for technology teachers including safety and risk management, budgeting, selecting, storing, maintaining and replacing materials, equipment and other resources
  • Safe Operating Procedures, Safety and Risk Management and basic workshop management practices including tool maintenance and materials preparation in a Technologies workshop environment

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

A student-focused, problem-based learning approach is used in this unit. Students encounter concepts and principles of design and design theory through interactive lectures, concepts are discussed and broadened through analysis of specific case studies and further informed by independent research during development of design projects. In practical workshops students design, illustrate and evaluate items. Design thinking skills are introduced through a practice-oriented learning method. This method involves the parallel development of procedural and conceptual skills required for design, development, communication and documentation of designed products in technologies. Students develop advanced solutions to user-centred design problems using a design thinking methodology and a user-centred design approach. They develop conceptual knowledge in alongside procedural knowledge of communications technologies through practical design projects. Students design, manufacture, communicate about and evaluate items using principles of user-centred design. These methods enable the development of conceptual, procedural and professional knowledge and skill which allows students to practice design thinking and problem solving in design technologies contexts.

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video etc.

ACU Online 

In ACU Online mode, this unit is delivered asynchronously, fully online using an active, guided learning approach. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding, application and engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The problem-based learning strategy employed in this unit is supported by the integration of progressive authentic assessment tasks completed at critical points in the students’ learning. Theoretical conceptual and knowledge and practical skills-based knowledge are developed in parallel so that acquisition and assimilation of knowledge develops during the completion of design practices. Initially students acquire knowledge through research based critical design analysis. Advanced design thinking theories and methodologies are introduced in the lectures and students develop advanced skills in design and communication in practical workshop classes. Practical workshops provide opportunities for experimentation, testing and formative assessment which supports assimilation of knowledge. Summative assessment aims to assess students’ application of knowledge and skills (conceptual, procedural and professional) and competencies holistically using an integrated approach common in design education which focusses on the assessment of an entire design activity rather than specific elements in isolation. In this unit the method aims to assess students’ achievement of a synthesis between design theories and practices, and their ability to reflectively revise and summarise a complex iterative design process. Therefore, the main assessment method used is design projects which include two components, namely a design documentation folio and a designed and manufactured product or products. Folios document students' design processes and include evidence of identifying and defining a need, project definition, research, ideation, prototyping, iteration, critical evaluation and risk assessment.

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit objectives consistent with University assessment requirements. Such procedures may include online safety modules, reports, student presentations, tutorial exercises, and practical design project with a folio. Assessment tasks will address all learning outcomes as well as relevant graduate attributes.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Hurdle Task

a. OnGuard WHS online safety training and testing modules (or equivalent) Requires student to demonstrate knowledge of safe operating procedures in design and technologies workshop environments

b. Technology Workspace Supervision Agreement Requires student to arrange for access to and supervision in a school-based design and technologies workshop (or equivalent) with an appropriately qualified mentor and approval from the head teacher in design and technologies and their principal.



GA5, GA10

Design Analysis Task

Requires students to demonstrate their ability to critically analyse a designed product.



GA2, GA3, GA5

Reflective Report

Requires students to demonstrate their ability to develop creative thinking strategies in design education contexts. Reflect upon a unit of work that you have designed. Design a creativity intervention task that is informed by learning and teaching theories on how to foster creativity in design education contexts. 



GA5, GA8

Product Redesign and Folio

Requires students to demonstrate their ability to re-design, manufacture, communicate and evaluate products


LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA10

Representative texts and references

Darbellay, F., Moody, Z., & Lubart, T. (2017). Creativity, design thinking and interdisciplinarity. Singapore: Springer Singapore.

de Vries, M. J. (2018). Handbook of technology education. Springer International Publishing.

Fry, T. (2009). Design futuring: Sustainability, ethics, and new practice. Oxford: Berg.

Peters, S. (2014). Material revolution 2: New sustainable and multi-purpose materials for design and architecture. Basel, Switzerland: Birkhäuser.

Runco, M.A. (2014). Creativity: Theories and themes: research, development, and practice (2nd ed.). London, England: Academic Press.

Stables, K., & Steve, K. (2015). Environment, ethics and cultures: Design and technology education’s contribution to sustainable global futures. SensePublishers.

Thompson, R., & Thompson, M. (2013). Sustainable materials, processes and production. London: Thames & Hudson.

Verganti, R. (2016). Overcrowded: Designing meaningful products in a world awash with ideas. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Williams, P. J., & Barlex, D. (2020). Pedagogy for technology education in secondary schools: Research Informed perspectives for classroom teachers. Springer International Publishing.

Williams, P. J., & Stables, K. (2017). Critique in Design and Technology Education. Singapore: Springer Singapore.

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