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Unit rationale, description and aim

When used effectively, graphic design can develop innovative publications, providing information through visual communication and creating greater impact with audiences.

In this unit you will be introduced to current graphic design conventions for publication, both print and digital, through critical analysis of contemporary and historical graphic design practice. You will be encouraged to work collaboratively in planning and preparing publications while developing technical skills using industry design software in publication layout, use of images and typography.

The aim of this unit is to gain an understanding of current graphic design thinking and design trends, develop technical capability with a variety of industry design software options to produce designs for print and digital publications.

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.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Demonstrate competency in technical skills applicable to graphic design publicationsGC1
LO2Articulate the use of design thinking strategies and design solutions in a collaborative contextGC1, GC4
LO3Demonstrate ability for critical analysis using visual, verbal and written means in planning and preparing publicationsGC1, GC2, GC11, GC12
LO4Interpret, communicate and respond to cultural, ethical, political and environmental contexts using effective graphic designGC1, GC2, GC8


Topics will include:

  • Graphic design historical and contemporary contexts for publications
  • Collaborative design methodologies
  • Publication style guide application
  • Document layout using images and text
  • Multi page publication design outcomes

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit uses an experiential learning approach. Students will learn about designing for print and digital publications through the learning activities, group critiques and assessments. This will provide them with the foundation to apply design principles to the creation of their own graphic design projects.

Students undertake this unit in workshop classes that consist of a) an explication of the requirements and practices associated with graphic design projects, b) discussion and reflection on the standards of projects in the Australian creative industries and c) work designed to further the needs of students’ own projects.

The learning and teaching strategy and rationale for this unit is to create experiences through the assessment items that enable engagement with the graduate attributes addressing written and oral analysis and visual communication and presentation. Participation in class critique and discussion allows students to test and express values, knowledge and skills to think critically and reflectively and develop design thinking strategies.

Assessment strategy and rationale

This unit allows students to develop their expertise in the graphic design discipline. It provides opportunities to demonstrate skills and knowledge of the practices, materials, technologies and techniques in design practice. Students will be expected to work independently and will have the opportunity to show creativity throughout the process of developing a project brief.

The assessment strategy used allows students to progressively develop their knowledge and skills to the level of sophistication where they are able to produce their own designs for print and digital media. In order to develop this level of design capability, students first understand the design process through design briefs that further develop their understanding of graphic design concepts, techniques and software. The assessments are designed to address the learning outcomes relevant to graphic design in addition to instructional exercises in class to acquire technical design skills. This approach is designed to appeal to students with a preference for learning within a physical social environment and allows for essential skill development with expert support.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Publication design proposal: to allow students to understand the design process in establishing a design concept in response to the design brief for a publication.


LO1, LO2, LO3

Publication template presentation: to allow students to develop a design solution with reference to design industry publication protocols.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Publication outcome and reflective process: to allow students to demonstrate design skills by producing a completed project including evaluation of their design process and outcome.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Representative texts and references

Apfelbaum, S., & Cezzar, J. (2014). Designing the editorial experience: a primer for print, Web, and mobile. Rockport Publishers.

Evans, P., Sherin, A., & Lee, I. (2013). The graphic design reference & specification book: everything graphic designers need to know every day. Rockport Publishers.

Frost, C. (2012). Designing for newspapers and magazines (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Gomez-Palacio, B., & Vit, A. (2009). Graphic design, referenced a visual guide to the language, applications, and history of graphic design (1st ed.). Rockport Publishers.

Heller, S., & Vienne, V. (2015). 100 ideas that changed graphic design (Enhanced Credo ed). Laurence King.

Johnson, S., & Prijatel, P. (2013). The magazine from cover to cover (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press.

Lupton, E., & Maryland Institute, College of Art. (2008). Indie publishing how to design and produce your own book. Princeton Architectural Press.

Magee, R. G. (2013). Can a print publication be equally effective online? Testing the effect of medium type on marketing communications. Marketing Letters, 24(1), 85–95.

Meggs, P., & Purvis, A. W. (2016). Meggs’ history of graphic design (6th ed.). Wiley.

Méndez Llopis, C. (2012). Assembling magazines: Conceptualization of periodical publications. Arte, Individuo y Sociedad, 24(2), 195–209.

Reiter, D. P. (2020). Your ebook survival kit (4th ed.). Interactive Publications.

Rubin, M. (2014). Interactive InDesign CC: bridging the gap between print and digital publishing. Focal Press.

Society of Publication Designers. (2016). SPD publication design annual. Fifty, 50. (2016). Rockport Publishers.

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