University of Technology Sydney

85602 Interdisciplinary Design Lab: Undergraduate

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 2020 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.


This intensive design lab subject introduces the practice of design for crime prevention in urban environments. Students work in multidisciplinary groups to develop and articulate concept designs in response to complex live briefs. The subject introduces the basic concepts behind current research in design for crime prevention. It aims to challenge and develop student design skills through a design process that incorporates real-world constraints, including: complex problem history, diverse stakeholder communities, quick response timeframes, physical site constraints and other complexities. Students learn professionalism, project management skills and how to negotiate the challenges of multidisciplinary teamwork.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

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

1. have a practical understanding of an emerging area of practice
2. have a practical understanding of alternative interdisciplinary design strategies
3. be able to design and conduct observations that will successfully elicit valid data about a design context
4. have an ability to use a variety of methods for eliciting valid data about a design context
5. have furthered their ability to develop arguments and rationales
6. have furthered their experience and skills in negotiating interdisciplinary design situations.

Teaching and learning strategies

Face-to-face classes will incorporate a range of learning experiences including lectures, tutorial discussion, studio activities, client presentations and site visits. These are complemented by independent student reading, participation in online discussion, reflection on studio work, and group and individual project work.

Content (topics)

Lectures, readings, research (ethnographic, qualitative, quantitative; and research using design methods) relating to criminology, sociology and design for crime prevention and social impact.


Assessment task 1: Mood Board (summary of research findings)


This assessment is due in class on Friday 19th June (end of Week 1).
Students are to create an A2 mood board summarising initial research findings, and to present it via an informal 5-minute discussion with their tutorial group. The mood board should consist primarily of images, but can also include text (to explain themes, metaphors etc). Students should draw on findings from a range of research methods and are encouraged to use photographs, drawings &c collected or made at the site visit, although images from elsewhere can also be used. This is an individual submission (1 board per student) although site research and observations will have been undertaken as part of a group. Please refer to the detailed Assessment Guide for this subject, available at UTS Online.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

3, 4 and 5

Type: Design/drawing/plan/sketch
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 15%
  • Depth of engagement with the research topic and issues, and quality of analysis
  • Clarity of oral presentation of content
  • Quality of production and presentation

Assessment task 2: Interim Presentation (30%) and Final Presentation (35%)


Assessment 2a: Interim Presentation of design project. (30%) – Tuesday 30 June

The interim presentation is an opportunity for preliminary exchange of creative direction and ideas between student groups and the client (and other stakeholders). Presentations should include slides (e.g. PowerPoint) and commentary and should clearly articulate each group’s view of how the issues they have identified, how they are addressing the problem, and the direction of the design exploration.

Assessment 2b: Final Presentation of design project (35%) – Friday 10 July

The final presentation will be in the same format as the Interim, and will be given to an audience of tutors, DOC staff, clients and other stakeholders. Students will present highly developed design concepts in a presentation that is polished, persuasive and well-rehearsed.

Presentations will be done in groups; however, group and individual contributions will be assessed. Presentations should evidence effective teamwork and contributions from each group member.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 5 and 6

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 65%
  • Planning and management of group process
  • Depth of engagement with research topic and analysis of issues
  • Quality and creativity of design ideas
  • Clarity of presentation
  • Quality of production

Assessment task 3: Process Diary


Process Diary - 20% (Individual)
Students are required to submit a process diary on the last day of class (July 10). There is a template available for this assessment. The process diary should detail the development of research and a rationale for design concepts. It should reflect on research sources and methods used to elicit information. Marks will be awarded for strength of rationale and narrative, and depth of reflection.


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

Type: Reflection
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%
  • Insightfulness of reflections
  • Ability to research and respond critically to literature
  • Clarity and professionalism of writing, including attention to structure and coherence of narrative

Required texts

Readings and resources will be made available at UTS Online. See also the project brief for a list of readings and resources.

Recommended texts

  • Arvanitakis, J. (2013) It’s a war zone. In: L. Asquith and L. Kaldor (eds.) Design
  • + Crime Conference. Abstracts and Select Proceedings; 12–13 December, University of Technology Sydney,, accessed 13 May 2013.
  • Björklund, T.A. (2013) Initial mental representations of design problems: Differences between experts and novices. Design Studies 34(2): 135 –160.
  • Brown, T. (2008) Design thinking. Harvard Business Review 86(6): 84–92.
  • Cornish, D.B. and Clarke, R.V. (2003) Opportunities, precipitators and criminal decisions: A reply to Wortley’s critique of situational crime prevention. Crime Prevention Studies 16: 41–96.
  • Cross, N. (2011) Design Thinking: Understanding How Designers Think and Work. Oxford, UK: Berg Publishers.
  • Dorst, K. (2008) Design research: A revolution-waiting-to-happen. Design Studies 29(1):4–11.
  • Dorst, K. (2013) Up the down escalator. In: L. Asquith and L. Kaldor (eds.) Design+Crime Conference. Abstracts and Select Proceedings; 12–13 December, University of Technology Sydney, .pdf, accessed 13 May 2013.
  • Dorst, K. and Tomkin, D. (2011) Themes as bridges between problem and solution. In: N.F.M. Roozenburg, L.L. Chen and P.J. Stappers (eds.) Proceedings of IASDR2011 the 4th World Conference on Design Research; 31 October–4 November, Delft, the Netherlands.
  • Ekblom, P. (2011) Crime Prevention, Security and Community Safety Using the 5Is Framework . Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Gibson, J.J. (1977) The theory of affordances. In: R. Shaw and J. Bransford (eds.) Perceiving, Acting and Knowing: Toward an Ecological Psychology. Hillsdale, NJ:Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Lawson, B. and Dorst, K. (2009) Design Expertise. Oxford, UK: Architectural Press (Elsevier).
  • Lulham, R., Camacho-Duarte, O., Dorst, K. and Kaldor, L. (2012) Designing a counter-terrorism trash bin. In: P. Ekblom (ed.) Design Against Crime: Crime Proofing Everyday Products. Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner, pp. 131–146.
  • Matthews, B. and Heinemann, T. (2012) Analysing conversation: Studying design as social action. Design Studies 33(6): 649–672.
  • Nelson, A. (1999) Security shutters: A double-edged sword? International Journal of Risk, Security and Crime Prevention 3(1): 11–19.
  • Newman, O. (1972) Defensible Space: People and Design in the Violent City. New York: Macmillan.
  • Norman, D.A. (1988) The Design of Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books.
  • Nussbaum, B.(2007) Design vs. design thinking. Business Week 9 October,
  • Ozkan, O. and Dogan, F. (2013) Cognitive strategies of analogical reasoning in design:Differences between expert and novice designers.
  • Design Studies 34(2): 161–192.
  • Paton, B. and Dorst, K. (2011) Briefing and reframing: A situated practice. Design Studies 32(6): 573–587.
  • Schon, D.A. (1984) Problems, frames and perspectives on designing. Design Studies 5(3):132–136.
  • Schuler, D. and Namioka, A. (1993) Participatory Design: Principles and Practices.Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Scott, M. and Kirby, S. (2012) Implementing POP: Leading, structuring, and managing a problem-oriented police agency. Center for Problem-Oriented Policing ., accessed 24 May 2013.
  • Scott, M. and Dedel, K. (2009) Assaults in and around bars. US Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.,%202nd%20Edition_0.pdf, accessed 24 May 2012.
  • Thaler, R. and Sunstein, C.R. (2008) Nudge. London: Penguin.
  • Thorpe, A. and Gamman, L. (2011) Design with society: Why socially responsive design is good enough. CoDesign 7(3–4): 217–230.
  • Thorpe, A., Gamman, L., Ekblom, P., Willcocks, M., Sidebottom, A. and Johnson, S.D. (2010) Bike Off 2–Catalysing anti-theft bike, bike parking and information design for the 21st century: An open research approach. In: T. Inns (ed.) Designing for the 21st
  • Century. Volume 2: Interdisciplinary Methods and Findings. Farnham, UK: Gower,pp. 238–258.
  • Wooton, A.B. and Davey, C.L. (2012) Embedding crime prevention within design. In: P. Ekblom (ed.) Design against Crime: Crime Proofing Everyday Products. Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner.