University of Technology Sydney

85500 Design Futures: Creative Technologies

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 2021 is available in the Archives.

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

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks

Requisite(s): 85502 Researching Design Histories AND 85503 Thinking Through Design


In this subject, students enhance the creativity of their designing in the context of increasingly technology-dependent futures. Students experiment with a range of creative problem-solving techniques and learn to take more risks with lateral ways of generating design options. Through various philosophies of technology and case studies of the development, take-up and consequences of a number of technological innovations, students also gain an understanding of how technology creates, and is created by, changing cultural habits, perceptions and values. By bringing together information on creativity strategies and human-technology relations, students are able to develop alternative futures through experiments with design-orienting scenarios.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

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

1. demonstrate an introductory understanding of the fields of philosophy of technology, and sociology of technology
2. demonstrate a practical understanding of the two-way nature of human-technology relations
3. be able to develop personas and scenarios that will further understanding of design contexts and of potential user-engagements with proposed designs
4. have furthered their ability to develop arguments and rationales
5. have furthered their experience and skills in negotiating interdisciplinary design situations
6. have furthered their ability to engage creatively and critically with emerging technologies.

Teaching and learning strategies

 8 x 1 hour Lectures, 24.5 hours studio workshop.

Face-to-face classes incorporate a range of teaching and learning strategies including lectures, discussions, studio activities and student presentations. These are complemented by independent student reading, participation in online forums, reflection on studio work, and group and individual project work.

Content (topics)

Lectures, readings and research on topics such as:

  • sociology and philosophy of technology
  • human-technology relations
  • techniques for visualising/describing human-technology relations


Assessment task 1: Literature Review

Weight: 30%

2000 words (maximum)

Assessment task 2: Futuring and Scenario based assignment

Weight: 40%

Assessment task 3: Project – Design proposal for innovative extension of human-technology relations

Weight: 30%

Required texts

Please ensure you read the UTS Coursework Assessment Policy and Procedures Manual in conjunction with this subject outline. Articles and selected book chapters are available through UTS Online as e-resources, all films are available from UTS Library.

You need to read and have taken notes on the following readings prior to each week's tutorial. These readings will be discussed in tutorial and are to be used as primary references for Assignments 1, 2 and 3.

Week 2: McGreggor, Neil (2010) 'Introduction: Signals from the Past' p. xv - xxvi; '2 Olduvai Stone Chopping Tool' and '3: Olduvai Handaxe' p. 11 —17; '10: Jomon Pot' p. 55-60; '91: Ship's Chronometer from HMS Beagle' p. 595-599; '99: Credit Card' p. 647-651, in A History of the World in 100 Object, Allen Lane, London.

Week 3: Ihde, Don (1993) 'Technology' p.47-64 in Philosophy of Technology, Paragon House, New York.

Week 4: Hables Grey, Chris, et al. (1995) 'Cyborgology: Constructing the Knowledge of Cybernetic Organisms' p. 1-17 in The Cyborg Handbook, Routledge, New York and London.

Week 5: Fry, T (2009) 'Methods of Change 2 — Designing in Time' in Design Futuring, UNSW Press, Sydney

Week 7: Doctorow, Cory (2001) 'Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom', Project Gutenburg (e-book available online through the UTS Library).

Week 8: Dunne, Anthony & Raby, Fiona (2001) Design noir: the secret life of electronic objects, August, London; Birkhåuser, Basel … Dunne, Anthony & Raby, Fiona (2012) 'United Micro Kingdoms: A Design Fiction' (website with examples, links, and essays)

Week 10: Verganti, R. (2009) 'Design Driven Innovation: An Introduction' in Design-driven innovation: changing the rules of competition by radically innovating what things mean, Harvard Business Press, Boston, Mass.

Recommended texts

Borgmann, Albert, 1984, Technology and the character of contemporary life: a philosophical inquiry, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Dunne, Anthony, 2006, Hertzian tales: electronic products, aesthetic experience, and critical design, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Feendberg, A. & A. Hannay, eds., 1995, Technology and The Politics of Knowledge, University Press, Bloomington: Indiana.

Ihde, Don, 2001, Bodies in Technology, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

Jameson, Fredric (2005), Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions, Verso, London, New York.

Kubrick, S. 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey (Feature Film)

Lang, F. 1927, Metropolis, Universum Film (UFA) (Feature Film)

Murphie, Andrew & John Potts, 2003, Culture and technology, Palgrave, New York.

Mumford, Lewis (1895), Technics and Civilization, New York : Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, c1963
Norman, Donald A., c.1993, Things that make us smart : defending human attributes in the age of the machine, Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., Reading, Mass.

Oudshoorn, Nelly & Trevor Pinch, 2003, How users matter: the co-construction of users and technologies, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Shove, Elizabeth, 2004, Comfort, Convenience and Cleanliness, Berg Publishers, Oxford

Verbeek, Peter-Paul, 2005, What things do: philosophical reflections on technology, agency, and design, Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, Pa.

Other resources

A variety of multimedia and web resources are provided on UTS Online along with course information documents and a student/staff discussion forum.