DGN3108 - Design for social impact - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

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


Art, Design and Architecture

Organisational Unit

Department of Design

Chief examiner(s)

Associate Professor Gene Bawden


Ms Kate McEntee

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2019 (On-campus)


48 credit points in any Design degree within the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, or by permission


In this unit students will be introduced to design practice for social impact. The unit will establish the historical foundation for and contemporary proliferation of design engaged in social impact work. A project-based studio, students will collaborate with external partners working in spaces of social impact, such as health, urban safety wellbeing organisations or similar on specified design projects. Using design skills, processes and technologies they will engage in research, including user-centred and ethnographic approaches and prototyping. They will be challenged to make, visualise and present design interventions that aim to have positive impact on society. The unit will problematise ideas of design "solving problems" and highlight the complexity of social impact. Students will understand the value of collaboration and partnership as being vital to design practice. The interdisciplinary topic and praxis approach of this unit includes, but is not limited to, spatial design, digital media design, interaction design, communication design, service and product design.


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

  1. Evaluate and communicate the implications, potential and limitations of design as an agent for social change;
  2. Propose and present ethical and responsible design concepts;
  3. Understand the significance of collaboration as part of interdisciplinary teamwork in co-creating complex design solutions for social enterprise or innovation;
  4. Demonstrate understanding and appropriate application of multi-modal design research methods, including ethnographic approaches, towards a design proposal;
  5. Demonstrate skills for visualising and prototyping complex design solutions in the area of social design;
  6. Critically analyse and evaluate the social impact of design solutions;
  7. Understand and apply the rules of occupational health and safety appropriate to the unit.


100% in-semester assessment

Workload requirements

12 hours per week including 3 contact hours plus 9 hours of independent study.

See also Unit timetable information