Course Outline

DES200 Design Futures

Course Coordinator:Leah Barclay ( School:School of Business and Creative Industries

2023Semester 1

UniSC Sunshine Coast

UniSC Moreton Bay

Blended learning Most of your course is on campus but you may be able to do some components of this course online.


Online You can do this course without coming onto campus.

Please go to for up to date information on the
teaching sessions and campuses where this course is usually offered.

What is this course about?


Designers must be able to think critically and apply or develop problem solving strategies to address the diversity of real world challenges. However, in an ever changing physical and technological environment, it is increasingly difficult to predict just what those encounters might be. This course is intended to engage you with many current themes and processes informing contemporary design practice and to open up discussions about our rapidly changing world. You will collaborate to develop design solutions that respond to social, cultural and ecological challenges.

How will this course be delivered?

Activity Hours Beginning Week Frequency
Blended learning
Learning materials – Interactive online learning activities. 1hr Week 1 13 times
Tutorial/Workshop 1 – Scheduled face to face workshops. 2hrs Week 1 12 times
Seminar – Scheduled face to face seminars. 1hr Week 5 2 times
Learning materials – Interactive online learning activities. 1hr Week 1 13 times
Tutorial/Workshop 1 – Scheduled online workshops (Recorded). 2hrs Week 1 12 times
Seminar – Scheduled online seminars (Recorded). 1hr Week 5 2 times

Course Topics

Design futures - how did we get here? 
Sustainability and changing climates 
Planetary perspectives 
Big data and artificial intelligence  
Urban design 
Food futures and agtech 
Inclusive design 
Speculative design and digital fabication 
Virtual and augmented worlds 
Preparing for an unpredictable future 

What level is this course?

200 Level (Developing)

Building on and expanding the scope of introductory knowledge and skills, developing breadth or depth and applying knowledge and skills in a new context. May require pre-requisites where discipline specific introductory knowledge or skills is necessary. Normally, undertaken in the second or third full-time year of an undergraduate programs.

What is the unit value of this course?

12 units

How does this course contribute to my learning?

Course Learning Outcomes On successful completion of this course, you should be able to... Graduate Qualities Completing these tasks successfully will contribute to you becoming...
1 Critically evaluate and use problem-solving strategies to address complex real-world problems. Creative and critical thinker
2 Apply design thinking to respond to identified social and practical challenges. Empowered
3 Collaborate to develop design solutions that meet the needs of a target audience. Empowered
4 Communicate about design and future trends and your decision-making processes through visual and written modes. Engaged
5 Interpret design theory and social trends to make predictions about design futures. Knowledgeable
6 Interpret and reflect on design ethics and inclusive design practices to produce socially engaged, agile, relevant and impactful design outcomes Empowered
7 Develop culturally sensitive design skills that respond to place, embrace sustainability, and acknowledge Indigenous protocols and perspectives. Ethical
8 Apply design methods and creative thinking that respond to the SGDs including SGD 3 (health and well-being), SGD 4 (Education), SGD 11 (Sustainable cities and communities) and SGD 13 (Climate Action) Ethical

Am I eligible to enrol in this course?

Refer to the UniSC Glossary of terms for definitions of “pre-requisites, co-requisites and anti-requisites”.


Not applicable


Not applicable


Not applicable

Specific assumed prior knowledge and skills (where applicable)

Not applicable

How am I going to be assessed?

Grading Scale

Standard Grading (GRD)

High Distinction (HD), Distinction (DN), Credit (CR), Pass (PS), Fail (FL).

Details of early feedback on progress

Formative feedback will be provided via group discussion and weekly critiques of practical exercises and assessment work-in-progress during the tutorials.

Assessment tasks

Delivery mode Task No. Assessment Product Individual or Group Weighting % What is the duration / length? When should I submit? Where should I submit it?
All 1 Oral Group 40%
10-minute presentation, slide deck and research documentation (500 words)
Week 6 In Class
All 2 Written Piece Individual 20%
800-1000 words
Week 11 Online Assignment Submission with plagiarism check
All 3 Artefact - Creative, and Written Piece Individual 40%
Documentation of creative artefact (PDF or audio-visual material, 2000 words equivalent), supporting research (A3 poster), 250 word critical reflection
Exam Period Online Submission
All - Assessment Task 1:Wicked Problems Design Challenge
The goal of this task is for you to develop problem solving, design thinking, teamwork and project management skills as you collaborate with a group to develop a design solution in response to a wicked problem.
Product: Oral
Working in a team of 3-5 students, you will develop a design solution in response to an identified 'wicked problem' - a current social, cultural or ecological challenge that is difficult to solve. 

Each group will design and deliver a 10-minute presentation with slides addressing the wicked problem, the background research and the proposed solution with an original concept or prototype. Your proposed solution must draw on the design methods and approaches introduced in this course. The oral presentation will be followed by a 5-minute Q&A and supported by the submission of the groups slide deck and research documentation.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Application of design thinking and emerging design methods to respond to identified social challenges and wicked problems.
Ability to critically evaluate and use problem-solving strategies to address complex real-world problems.
Demonstrated ability to collaborate and work effectively as a team
Application and reflection on design ethics and inclusive design practices to produce culturally sensitive and socially engaged design outcomes.
6 7
Communication and professional presentation in visual, written and oral modes.
Application of SGDs
All - Assessment Task 2:Design Futures Book Review
You will select a book that aligns with your personal interests in design futures and write a critical review that analyses and reflects on the key insights, innovations, weaknesses and propositions.
Product: Written Piece
The purpose of a book review is to provide a clear and engaging summary of the text, a critical reflection on the content and connect prospective readers with the key insights and success or failures of the publication. Your task is to choose a book from the design futures reading list and analyse its content, role, and position/proposition in relation to the future. You will need to set your review of the book specifically within design futures thinking and apply relevant design theory.

The review should include a clear introduction and summary of the book, the key evidence the author is presenting, critical reflection on the context of the work (including additional academic references) the conclusions the author makes and your personal analysis of the text with closing reflections on design futures. Your review should be suitable for publication using professional communication and academic references.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Application and critical evaluation of strategies to address complex real-world problems.
Interpretation of the text, logic of the book review and critical ability to make prediction about design futures.
Application of design theory and analysis
Communication – syntax, referencing, academic integrity and professional presentation
All - Assessment Task 3:Alternative Futures
This goal of this task is to create an original creative project that illustrates the ways in which the political, ecological, social and/or technological structures of the present might evolve over the next 50 years. The project will propose an alternative future based on your analysis of contemporary trends and theories and will be presented in an exhibition environment.
Product: Artefact - Creative, and Written Piece
The 'Alternative Futures' task allows you to develop and apply key design skills covered in this course through an original creative project. The design medium is flexible (and must be negotiated with your tutor) but may include developing a large-scale illustration, augmented reality experience, 360 video, 3D printed artefact, photography or mixed media. Your projects will be presented in the Design Futures showcase at the end of semester in a small exhibition environment and will be accompanied by an A3 research poster. 

The exhibition will be supported by an online submission with documentation of your creative artefact (PDF or audio-visual material), supporting research poster and a 250 word critical reflection on your project and proposed alternative future.
No. Learning Outcome assessed
Ability to evaluate and apply problem-solving strategies to address a complex problem and propose an original alternative future
Application of design thinking and original creative ideas in developing a design solution for an audience
2 3
Demonstrated skills in interpreting and communicating alternative futures through creative practice and design
4 5
Application of inclusive design practices and socially engaged approaches in the development of design outcomes for audience engagement
6 7
Application of SGDs

Directed study hours

A 12-unit course will have total of 150 learning hours which will include directed study hours (including online if required), self-directed learning and completion of assessable tasks. Student workload is calculated at 12.5 learning hours per one unit.

What resources do I need to undertake this course?

Please note: Course information, including specific information of recommended readings, learning activities, resources, weekly readings, etc. are available on the course Canvas site– Please log in as soon as possible.

Prescribed text(s) or course reader

There are no required/recommended resources for this course.

Specific requirements

Not applicable

How are risks managed in this course?

Risk assessments have been performed for all field activities and low to moderate levels of health and safety risk exists. Moderate risks may include working in an Australian bush setting, working with people, working outside normal office hours for example. It is your responsibility to review course material, search online, discuss with lecturers and peers and understand the health and safety risks associated with your specific course of study and to familiarise yourself with the University’s general health and safety principles by reviewing the online induction training for students, and following the instructions of the University staff.

What administrative information is relevant to this course?

Assessment: Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the ethical standard of university participation.  It ensures that students graduate as a result of proving they are competent in their discipline.  This is integral in maintaining the value of academic qualifications. Each industry has expectations and standards of the skills and knowledge within that discipline and these are reflected in assessment.

Academic integrity means that you do not engage in any activity that is considered to be academic fraud; including plagiarism, collusion or outsourcing any part of any assessment item to any other person.  You are expected to be honest and ethical by completing all work yourself and indicating in your work which ideas and information were developed by you and which were taken from others. You cannot provide your assessment work to others. You are also expected to provide evidence of wide and critical reading, usually by using appropriate academic references.

In order to minimise incidents of academic fraud, this course may require that some of its assessment tasks, when submitted to Canvas, are electronically checked through Turnitin.  This software allows for text comparisons to be made between your submitted assessment item and all other work to which Turnitin has access.

Assessment: Additional Requirements

Your eligibility for supplementary assessment in a course is dependent of the following conditions applying:

The final mark is in the percentage range 47% to 49.4%
The course is graded using the Standard Grading scale
You have not failed an assessment task in the course due to academic misconduct.

Assessment: Submission penalties

Late submission of assessment tasks may be penalised at the following maximum rate: 
- 5% (of the assessment task's identified value) per day for the first two days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- 10% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the third day - 20% (of the assessment task's identified value) for the fourth day and subsequent days up to and including seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. 
- A result of zero is awarded for an assessment task submitted after seven days from the date identified as the due date for the assessment task. Weekdays and weekends are included in the calculation of days late. To request an extension you must contact your course coordinator to negotiate an outcome.


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The SafeUSC Specialist Service is a Student Wellbeing service that provides free and confidential support to students who may have experienced or observed behaviour that could cause fear, offence or trauma. To contact the service call 07 5430 1226 or email

Study help

For help with course-specific advice, for example what information to include in your assessment, you should first contact your tutor, then your course coordinator, if needed.

If you require additional assistance, the Learning Advisers are trained professionals who are ready to help you develop a wide range of academic skills. Visit the Learning Advisers web page for more information, or contact Student Central for further assistance: +61 7 5430 2890 or

Wellbeing Services

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To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 1226.

AccessAbility Services

Ability Advisers ensure equal access to all aspects of university life. If your studies are affected by a disability, learning disorder mental health issue, injury or illness, or you are a primary carer for someone with a disability or who is considered frail and aged, AccessAbility Services can provide access to appropriate reasonable adjustments and practical advice about the support and facilities available to you throughout the University.

To book a confidential appointment go to Student Hub, email or call 07 5430 2890.

Links to relevant University policy and procedures

For more information on Academic Learning & Teaching categories including:

  • Assessment: Courses and Coursework Programs
  • Review of Assessment and Final Grades
  • Supplementary Assessment
  • Administration of Central Examinations
  • Deferred Examinations
  • Student Academic Misconduct
  • Students with a Disability

For more information, visit

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