University of Technology Sydney

11521 Digital Theory

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2022 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Design, Architecture and Building: Architecture
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks


The digital has necessitated a rethinking of the terminology central to architecture (e.g. line, plane, surface, structure, system,) and this subject equips students with an understanding of the territory of computational design through its theoretical vocabulary and relevant histories.

The subject consists of an intensive study of architectural theory and specific technical developments that have influenced the realm of digital creation in advanced architectural design since the 1950s. This subject investigates the theoretical and technical histories principally concerned with research in intelligence, information and complexity theory, material philosophy, and networks and how these have been translated into advanced digital systems in architectural practice. Other issues that are addressed through the above theme's include the relationship between models or organisation and architectural space, material systems and the engagement with technologies of production, form generation and issues of form generally as a result of digital processes and conceptualisation, and the relationship between developments in the sciences and their import to architecture.

Students read both weekly readings and a series of books over the course of the session, attend lectures and discuss the readings in seminar mode. Assessment is based on a short written review of a section of the weekly reading material, a short written review of a book and a critical essay.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

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

1. demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the historical antecedents to contemporary digital practice
2. locate theoretical aspects of contemporary digital architecture within the larger context of the history and theory of architecture
3. understand the relations between technical developments in allied sciences and their implication in contemporary architectural practice
4. use theoretical terminology accurately and consistently in a description of design projects
5. develop critical arguments regarding contemporary digital practices
6. establish good research practices and methods.

Teaching and learning strategies

This subject is divided into three components: lectures, seminar discussions and written assignments. It is expected that students will read the core assigned readings each week and be prepared to discuss them in class.

Students will be expected to attend a weekly lecture and or seminar sessions.

Content (topics)

Lectures: Students will be provided with presentations of the key topics as well as an identification of the central contributors to an area of research. Students are also expected to attend the UTS School of Architecture’s public lecture series.

Written Assignments: Students will be required to submit three written assignments throughout the semester. These include two reviews of 1,000 – 2,000 words, and a final critical essay of 2,500 - 3,500 words. The topic for the final essay will be agreed on between the instructor and the student, but will be a critical reflection on one of the sections of reading studied over the semester.

Readings: The readings are a critical part of the Digital Theory course. Whilst doing the readings is not assigned an assessable weighting it is expected that you will read the assigned reading list and be prepared to discuss them in class. The material will form the foundation of your written assignments. In addition to the weekly readings, there will be three books assigned for reading over the course of the semester (see the attached reading list). These will be discussed on class days indicated in the schedule. Where possible, copies of readings will be provided for you as PDFs through UTS Online; otherwise students will be required to borrow or purchase copies of the books.


Assessment task 1: Critical Review: Reading

Weight: 20%

Assessment task 2: Critical Review: Book

Weight: 30%

Assessment task 3: Essay

Weight: 50%