University of Technology Sydney

84610 Inside Design

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 2024 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Design, Architecture and Building: Design
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


Designed products play an important role in everyday activities. Products facilitate ways of doing things and make these activities pleasurable through form and function. In this way, they encourage users to incorporate habits and practices into our lives and shape our identity, our possibilities, and our preferences. Product design both serves and shapes everyday patterns of life that have consequences for our ongoing sense of fulfilment, our health, and our impact on wider societal and environmental systems. Designers need to develop not only expertise in their craft, techniques and methods but also an insight into the ways that designed products shape human experience through the applied design thinking process.

The subject introduces students to the current directions, methods and techniques used in product design practice through a series of bi-weekly, theory-oriented lectures with lead industry experts. This is followed by weekly studio/workshop sessions that allow students hands-on application of the knowledge gained during the lectures. In this subject, students learn about the different approaches to design that is central to their product design journey. Students learn to critically examine and evaluate the design of everyday objects and develop an understanding of what good design encompasses and how to apply this to an everyday object. The subject shapes the student’s design philosophy while placing an emphasis on functionality as well as aesthetics to create emotionally engaging products, elevating their understanding of what goes on inside design.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

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

1. Apply design thinking principles and engage in personal reflection to identify and analyse a problem.
2. Design and conduct independent and group research to analyse and synthesize information and apply it to create effective design solutions.
3. Demonstrate critical thinking skills by reflecting on multiple sources of information to develop personal and professional growth.
4. Acquire design skills to effectively communicate intended product through an understanding of design principles and elements.
5. Demonstrate communication skills through written, verbal and image-based delivery
6. Formulate knowledge and an understanding of ethical and cultural perspectives.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes to the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Demonstrated engagement with ideas and learning (A.1)
  • Value for alternative points of view (A.3)
  • Effective written and oral communication skills (C.1)
  • Effective visual communication skills (C.2)
  • Demonstrated ability for problem setting and problem solving (I.1)
  • Demonstration of versatility, curiosity and imagination (I.2)
  • Ability to propose, develop and rethink ideas (I.4)
  • Accuracy, rigour and care (P.2)
  • Acquire a comprehensive knowledge of cultural, historic and contemporary contexts that influence the lives of Indigenous Australians (P.5)
  • Identify and execute research methods appropriate to the project (R.1)
  • Reflective critical analysis (R.4)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

The term CAPRI is used for the five Design, Architecture adn Building faculty graduate attribute categories where:

C = communication and groupwork

A = attitudes and values

P = practical and professional

R = research and critique

I = innovation and creativity.

Inside Design encourages student learning directed to develop these graduate attributes. The course content, learning strategies and assessment structure is explicitly designed with these attributes in mind.

Teaching and learning strategies

Before each class, you will review and familiarise yourself with different written and multimedia material as directed by the weekly subject program below. These materials will inform in-class group discussions, collaboration, and work. It's important to engage with these materials before class to fully participate and learn. Additionally, you will complete research tasks and develop design proposals between classes, which you will bring to the next class for individual or group work.

Throughout the term you will participate in a mix of activities. Every other week you will attend a 2-hour theory-oriented interactive lecture and every week you will attend a 2-hour design studio. The ideas discussed in the interactive lecture will inform and help develop your work in the design studios. In the interactive lecture and design studios, you will work in both groups and individually to discuss ideas, collaborate, and develop design proposals. Tutors will give feedback and help you reflect on your own and others' work. Your contribution to group work in the workshop will be assessed using the Self and Peer Assessment Resource Kit (SPARK). A comprehensive description of SPARK is available in Canvas.

Content (topics)

This subject uses an inquiry-based learning strategy that involves students researching and developing their own solutions to design challenges. The design process and strategies taught in this subject are relevant to current professional practice in a global context. Students work in collaborative teams to develop research-based understandings of product user contexts and experiences, drawing on material developed within and between classes. Individual design propositions that reference these research-based understandings are iteratively developed by students over the course of the semester. Studio leaders offer ongoing, in-class support and guidance for the development of these integrated product design propositions. It is therefore imperative that students attend all classes.


Assessment task 1: Reflect on It!


To provide an opportunity for students to gain knowledge and insight into the field of product design and to educate students on the impact of ethical and cultural perspectives on product design through a series of bi-weekly interactive lectures hosting industry experts. ?


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 3, 5 and 6

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

A.1, C.1, P.5 and R.4

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 30%
Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Critical reflective analysis evident in the lecture reflections through informed conclusions. 35 3 R.4
Knowledge, insights, and perspective of lectures show personal and professional growth and understanding of product design and makes connection to future application. 35 1 A.1
Reflections are well-organized and easy to read, with a clear structure and logical flow of ideas. 15 5 C.1
Demonstrate an understanding of ethical and cultural perspectives 15 6 P.5
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 2: Conceptualise It!


The assessment is to have students design an everyday hand tool through the initial stages of the design thinking process.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

2, 3, 4 and 5

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

A.3, C.2, I.2 and R.1

Type: Project
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 30%
Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Effectively identify and execute research both independently and as a group and applying it to the creation of design solutions (individual moderation of group mark based on SPARK outcomes). 30 2 R.1
Analyze and synthesize information from multiple sources demonstrating critical thinking skills and personal and professional growth. 20 3 A.3
Effectively convey ideas and information through written, verbal and image-based delivery, demonstrating clear and concise communication skills, as well as effective visual communication skills. 20 5 C.2
Apply design principles and elements to effectively communicate intended product, combined with demonstration of versatility, curiosity and imagination in the creation process. 30 4 I.2
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 3: Refine It!


The intent of this assessment is for students to use the latter stages of the design thinking process and apply anthropometric and ergonomic principles to develop, test, and refine their everyday hand tools.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 4 and 5

This task also addresses the following course intended learning outcomes that are linked with a code to indicate one of the five CAPRI graduate attribute categories (e.g. C.1, A.3, P.4, etc.):

C.2, I.1, I.4 and P.2

Type: Project
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 40%
Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Ability to design and conduct effective research and to demonstrate competence in problem setting and problem solving. 25 2 I.1
Demonstrates an understanding of user needs and applies these principles in proposing, developing, and refining form and function. 25 1 I.4
Ability to effectively design and visually communicate ideas through the demonstration of strong design skills and effective use of visual communication techniques. 25 4 C.2
Effectively and accurately communicate information using a combination of written, verbal and image-based methods, demonstrating attention to detail, rigor and care in the delivery. 25 5 P.2
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Minimum requirements

The DAB attendance policy requires students to attend no less than 80% of formal teaching sessions (lectures and tutorials) for each class they are enrolled in to remain eligible for assessment.

Recommended texts

Recommended readings will be available via the Canvas Resources module as eReadings from UTS Library or direct downloads, and include the following texts:

  • Eissen, J. J., & Steur, G. N. R. E. (2008). Sketching, drawing techniques for product designers. Ye-Eun Publishing Co.
  • Baskinger, M. and Bardel, W. (2013). Drawing ideas: a hand-drawn approach for better design, Watson-Guptill Publications: New York.
  • Rohde, M. (2013). The Sketchnote Handbook: The illustrated guide to visual note taking, Peachpit Press: United States of America
  • Haslegrave, & Pheasant, S. (2018). Bodyspace: Anthropometry, Ergonomics and the Design of Work, Third Edition. CRC Press.
  • Boundy. (2012). Engineering drawing (8th ed.). McGraw-Hill Publishers.
  • Schey. (1987). Introduction to manufacturing processes (3rd ed.). McGraw-Hill.
  • Hallgrimsson. (2012). Prototyping and modelmaking for product design (1st edition). Laurence King Publishing.


  • Lidwell, W. and Manacsa, G. (2009). Deconstructing product design: exploring the form, function, usability, sustainability, and commercial success of 100 amazing products, Rockport Publishers: Beverly, MA.
  • Ulrich, & Eppinger, S. D. (2012). Product design and development (5th ed.). McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
  • Jordan, P.W. (2000). Designing pleasurable products: an introduction to the new human factors, Taylor & Francis: London
  • Norman. (2013). The design of everyday things (Revised and expanded edition.). Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group.
  • Norman, D.A. (2004), Emotional design: why we love (or hate) everyday things, Basic Books: New York.
  • Rams, Ueki-Polet, K., & Klemp, K. (2011). Less and more : the design ethos of Dieter Rams. Gestalten.
  • Lewrick, Link, P., & Leifer, L. J. (2020). The design thinking toolbox : a guide to mastering the most popular and valuable innovation methods. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Other resources

See the Subject Resources page in Canvas module Other Resources for a list of highly recommended links and videos to complement your learning in this subject.