University of Technology Sydney

86321 Investigations: Research and Conceptualisation

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: Architecture
Credit points: 12 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

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

Recommended studies:

An undergraduate degree in interior and spatial or architectural design studies and active participation in Orientation Week activities are recommended.


This year, the Bachelor of Design (Honours) in Interior Architecture (C09055) explores atmospheric lighting design and dedicates itself to improving the understanding and appreciation of atmospheres through the design of visual elements; space, material and light. Intersecting theory and practice, the degree is framed through the relationship between light and darkness and their inextricable dialogue in creating atmospheres.

People's conscious and subconscious mind can be manipulated and conditioned by what they see. Seeing is the response of the human perceptual system to light's interaction with surfaces and spaces. Therefore, at its very basis, the lighting designer has the tools and the opportunity to recondition the mind, by determining how light interacts with the surrounds and influences the state of the perceptual system.

This studio operates in tandem with the design studio 86322 Directions: Context and Analysing, allowing students to test and interrogate their ideas through a series of research projects. This is a research-based design studio subject that targets students' self-awareness of concepts and methodologies relevant to the atmospheric lighting of contemporary spaces. The studio focuses on developing skills to include: research methods, precedent and typological analysis, production of culturally engaged spatial statements to inform students' thematic programming of space (design statement) leading to a scholarly dissertation.

The subject encourages students to undertake creative investigation of the way emerging materials and systems, form-making and lighting can question the standard approaches to design outcomes.

This studio combines a study of the change of light in nature with an exploration of lighting and its time-dependent dynamics and control. The studio activity is built on the observation and analysis of the interdependencies between lighting patterns and behavioural patterns in the way people occupy and utilise the built environment.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

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

1. Demonstrate a capacity to take autonomous responsibility for actions and decisions
2. Demonstrate a capacity to recognise cultural diversity including indigenous, gender and multicultural perspectives
3. Demonstrate a capacity to work cooperatively as part of a team, initiate partnerships with others, and take a leadership role when required
4. Demonstrate ability to convert investigation processes into well argued research statements that lead to strong design strategies.
5. Demonstrate a capacity to engage in, and constructively contribute to debate, peer learning and critique
6. Demonstrate ability to convert research statements into strong and complex spatial design strategies.
7. Demonstrate understanding of the basic principles of the visual system, optics, perception, colour and visual capabilities.
8. Clearly communicate design intent using 2 and 3 dimensional representation.
9. Demonstrate knowledge of the basic principles of the interaction of light and materials by laboratory research and practical application
10. Demonstrate ability to produce a professional standard Academic Dissertation
11. Recognise and explain the importance of Human Factors in lighting; biological needs of visual information; visual discomfort, health and ageing.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

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

  • Awareness of, and concern for, social and cultural diversity (A.3)
  • Professional attitude to clarity and accuracy of communication (C.1)
  • Capacity to make a positive contribution to a team (C.2)
  • Ability to present work appropriately to context (C.3)
  • Ability to re-imagine human practices through design (I.3)
  • Ability to independently develop new skills and areas of knowledge (P.1)
  • Developing craft skill (P.3)
  • Ability to develop a well-supported argument (R.1)
  • Ability to analyse complex ideas (R.2)
  • Ability to critically reflect on work by self and others (R.3)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

The term CAPRi is used for the five Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building graduate attributes.

The course content, design strategies, earning outcomes and assessment structures are explicitly designed with these core attributes in mind.

A = atrributes and values
C = communicaton, individual and shared information based groupwork
P = practical and professional
R = research and critique
I = innovation and creativity

Teaching and learning strategies

This subject includes active, interactive and collaborative learning experiences addressed throughout interactive lecture sessions and design studios. Weekly interactive lectures and weekly practitioner and expert presentations allow for a highly engaged learning experience. Ongoing expert feedback and peer-feedback are provided at every session. The subject includes the inquiry-based learning strategy that involves students researching and developing their own/group understanding of the specific learning objectives.

Content (topics)

Spatial theory

Written theoretical positions

Research methods

Basic principles of the visual system; optics, perception, colour and visual capabilities.

Human Factors; biological needs of visual information, visual discomfort, the circadian system, health and ageing.

Daylight characteristics and natural lighting phenomena.

The History of Lighting Design


Assessment task 1: Process Journal and studio experiments


Task A: Keep an electronic Process Journal, recording and reflecting on all lectures and assessment tasks

Task B: Carry out Studio experiments in Light and Perception


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

1, 3, 4 and 7

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, P.1, P.3 and R.3

Type: Journal
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 29%

Assessment task 2: Lighting application exercises


Research particular interior activities and spaces and design appropriate lighting


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

2, 6, 8 and 9

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.3, I.3 and P.1

Type: Exercises
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 26%

Assessment task 3: Dissertation


Research an agreed topic and write a 6,000 word Dissertation


This task addresses the following subject learning objectives:

10, 11, 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.1, C.3, R.1 and R.2

Type: Thesis
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 45%

Minimum requirements

1. The Faculty of DAB expects students to attend 80% of all classes for all enrolled subjects. Achievement of the subject’s aims is difficult if classes are not attended.

2. Pursuant to UTS rule 2.5.1 student’s who do not satisfy attendance requirements may be refused permission by the Responsible Academic Officer to be considered for assessment for this subject.

3. The use of mobile phones or other electronic devices for private use during campus engagement is not permitted.

It is imperative that students attend all con-campus engagements. Attendance means active participation and overall engagement. Records of attendance, participation and overall engagement will be kept.

Readings, iterative design work including model making, lecture and guest lecture are an interconnected system where if one part suffers the whole suffers as a result.