module specification

DN5020 - Exploring Design Practice (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module status DELETED (This module is no longer running)
Module title Exploring Design Practice
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 300
138 hours Guided independent study
162 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 80%   Portfolio (development and final work)
Coursework 20%   Critical Evaluation
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Friday Morning
Year City Tuesday Afternoon
Year City Tuesday Morning

Module summary

This module exposes students to specialist graphic practices in design for print, screen, branding, interaction, animation, illustration or photography. The module asks students to conceptualise, plan and produce design outcomes that challenge and innovates the areas of graphic design, illustration, animation and publishing. 

Design practice for print, screen and environments have a vital historical importance in global culture where they have been adopted; and due to the constantly changing nature of contemporary communication, they retain their validity as ways of imparting and exchanging information. Here, students are encouraged to consider the particular role and possibilities offered by the forms of design methods explored in the module.

Using accumulative knowledge of contemporary graphic design, design for publishing, illustration and animation, students will adopt a questioning approach, to gain in-depth understanding of the commercial and technological context of current design practice, with an emphasis on how to contribute to and advance the field. Encouraging cross-disciplinary practice with other disciplines such as fine art, printmaking, three-dimensional design and architecture, students will experiment with various modes of graphic design and illustration – technical, editorial, experimental, narrative and entrepreneurial.
Photography and lens-based imagery have been crucial in the history of illustration, animation, publishing and graphic design. Relationships between image, text, sound and space are critical to understanding developments within design practice. Within the project, students will employ photography to create and communicate ideas and concepts, in the context of visual communication.

Under guidance within design studios, students will choose from, or devise a project or range of projects, working with established designers and industry professionals. The module will facilitate the realisation of concepts generated in other modules.

This module seeks to enable students to:

• understand the commercial environment, context and potential purposes and applications of design practice;

• consider issues such as the use and reception of language, methods of structuring information, both text/type and image, appropriate tone of voice, hierarchy, sequence and materials and processes, across book, exhibition design, editorial and information design, recognising and debating the theoretical and ethical context;

• conceptualise, plan and produce design outcomes that exploit the whole breadth of graphic communications for a defined purpose, exploring and extending practice, creatively and technically;

• explore, appreciate and apply a range of skills demonstrating commercial awareness and professional techniques for presentation to an identified audience.

Prior learning requirements

Pass & Completion (120 credits) of Prior Level


Through the studio exercises and projects, students will develop experience and increasing understanding of the:

• contexts for contemporary and historical practice in all forms of visual communication;  LO1

• studio and industry technique and technology for print, animation, illustrative and photographic media;  LO2/LO3

• formal properties of visual communication media and how to use these to enhance impact and meaning;  LO3

• development of project proposals for specific clients or audiences;  LO3

• industry conventions for presentation of design, publishing, illustration and animation proposals;  LO4

• commercial and institutional contexts of professional practice.  LO4

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching ensures that independent study is effective and addresses the learning outcomes and assessment tasks. Students are expected to, and have the opportunity to, continue with their studies outside of scheduled classes. There will be a range of learning strategies deployed and individual learning styles will be accommodated. The module’s learning outcomes, its contents and delivery, have been scrutinised and will be regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive approach to pedagogic practice.

The module and course utilise the University’s blended learning platform to support and reinforce learning, to foster peer-to-peer communication and to facilitate tutorial support for students. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment items and interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. Throughout the module, students build a body of work, including reflections on progress and achievement.

The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able, as they progress from year to year, to understand the professional environment of their disciplines, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the module, students will be able to:

Knowledge and Understanding
LO1 analyse the culture and commercial environment of design methods, understanding through case study how different contexts propose differing responses, media and techniques, in order to achieve goals set;

Cognitive Intellectual Skills
LO2 create meaning and impact through creative practice, by manipulating type and image, illustration, editorial and/or advertising copy, with appropriate tone of voice, use of materials and processes;

Transferable Skills
LO3 develop a critically informed personal approach to design methods and processes, exploring conventions and furthering creative, technical knowledge within the discipline;

Subject Specific Practical Skills
LO4 present work professionally according to industry conventions and standards.

Assessment strategy

At regular reviews, students will present summary of work in progress, including reflection upon intellectual and practical development.

Each component of work in development will be assessed formatively and feedback given. Satisfactory completion of relevant technical/ workshop activities and continuing independent practice will also be monitored. All students are required to undertake formal interim presentations with evidence of continuous reflective journals responding to studio critique and tutorial guidance. Work presented will be subject to formal studio feedback from a panel of disciplinary specialists. This will inform final assessment marks and must be considered and acted upon by the student.

A final mark is given at the end of the module, as a measure of the qualities of the completed portfolio in relation to achieving the module’s learning outcomes. Written summative assessment will be provided corresponding to published assessment criteria. Work must be carefully organised and presented to indicate the development of work and the content clearly labelled. Coursework requirements will be stipulated in project briefs and detailed in the module guide. Students are required to attend timetabled studio and workshop sessions.


Core Texts:
Baines, P., and A. Haslam (2006) Type & Typography, Laurence King
Caldwell, C. (2014) Editorial Design: Digital and Print, Laurence King
Eisner, W. (2008) Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative: Principles and Practices from the Legendary Cartoonist: W.W. Norton
Hyland, A. & R. Bell (2003) Hand to Eye: Contemporary Illustration, Laurence King
Kane, J. (2003) A Type Primer, Laurence King
Leslie, J. (2013) The Modern Magazine, Laurence King
Triggs, T. (2010) Fanzines, Thames & Hudson

Other Texts:
Birdsall, D. (2004) Notes on Book Design, Yale University Press
Triggs, T. (2003) The Typographics Experiment: Radical innovation in contemporary type design, Thames & Hudson
Tschichold, J. (1992) A Treasury of Alphabets and Lettering, Lund Humphries
William Purcell, K. (2011), Alexey Brodovitch, Phaidon
Wiliams, S. & Kubel, H. (2015) New Perspectives In Typography, Laurence King

Baseline Magazine
Creative Review
Eye Magazine


Electronic Databases:
E-Flux Journal
The Serving Library

Design Resources:

Additional texts and other reference materials will be identified by studio tutors
annually that support a specific studio theme.