Communication Design major - Bachelor of Design

Anna Massey

Surf culture explored with a sharpie

Communication Design grad Anna Massey made sure her final year was going to be fun. Her publication Never Eat Soggy Weetbix is an exploration and celebration into New Zealand surf culture and the specific characteristics that make it unique. Using a combination of photography, illustration and typography, Never Eat Soggy Weetbix aims to take the viewer on a fun and carefree journey through New Zealand’s surf culture that will leave them wanting more.

This project was a part of AD16, AUT's end of year art and design festival.  

Communication design is a creative process of visually communicating ideas and messages. This includes the analysis, organisation and presentation of visual solutions for clients’ communication problems – a process that requires wide-ranging intellectual, technical and creative input.

The focus of the Communication Design major in the Bachelor of Design (BDes) is the exploration of visual forms of communication through design research and creative practice. You examine historical and contemporary concepts of visual design through creative projects in a number of industry-relevant areas. You work closely with lecturers and professional designers, and may even work on real-world projects.

Key features

  • This is the most sought-after major within the Bachelor of Design
  • It covers a range of tools and materials for print and digital media
  • Choose from 6 pathways: Advertising & Branding, User Experience/User Interface (UX/UI), Illustration, Graphic Design and Photography (City Campus only); Visual Communications (South Campus only)
  • At the end of your final year, you will have the opportunity to present your work to media and industry through the AUT School of Art and Design festival
  • This major can serve as a pathway into further study. Many communication design graduates continue into postgraduate study to specialise further in an aspect of communication design

More information about the Bachelor of Design


Career opportunities 


  • Advertising creative
  • Book designer
  • Communication designer
  • Graphic designer
  • Magazine art director
  • Multimedia designer
  • Packaging designer
  • Photographer
  • User experience/User interface designer
  • Web designer
  • Postgraduate study

Explore our Communication Design career guide and learn more about trends, roles and salary guides.


Entry requirements

  • University Entrance
  • Portfolio of art work
  • An interview may be required
  • Applicants for whom English or Māori is not their first language must provide proof of their English proficiency. IELTS (academic), completed within the last two years is the preferred test for entry. Minimum IELTS (academic) requirements are as follows: 6.5 overall with all bands 6 or higher


The pathways listed below are offered at the City Campus only:

  • Advertising & Branding
  • UX/UI (User Experience/User Interface)
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration
  • Photography (not offered in 2018)

The pathway listed below is offered at the South Campus only:

  • Visual Communications

More information about the pathways


All papers are delivered over one semester and are worth 15, 30 or 45 points. You will need to complete 120 points each year and 360 points for the entire degree. In each year you will study and complete core compulsory papers within your major and selected minor. All teaching will be delivered at your respective campus and you will not be required to travel between campuses to undertake your core studies.

See list of minors

Year 1 papers

Level 5:
GRAD501 Communication Design Studio I (30 points)
GRAD502 Communication Design Studio II (30 points)
GRAD503 Materials and Media  I (15 points)
GRAD504 Materials and Media II (15 points)
GRAD505 Design Research I (15 points)
In addition you will study one paper at level 5 from the minor that you have selected.

Year 2 papers

Level 6:
GRAD601 Communication Design Studio III (30 points)
GRAD602 Communication Design Studio IV (30 points)
GRAD603 Materials and Media III (15 points)
GRAD604 Design Research II (15 points)
In addition you will study two papers at level 6 from the minor that you have selected.

Year 3 papers
Level 7:
GRAD701 Communication Design Studio V (30 points)
GRAD702 Communication Design Studio VI (45 points)
GRAD703 Design Research III (15 points)
GRAD704 Design Research IV (15 points)
In addition you will study one paper at level 7 from the minor that you have selected.

Click here for more information about papers.

Additional course information can also be found here. 

Enrolment in papers is subject to meeting all prerequisite requirements and availability of enrolment space in each paper.

Please email for programme information.

Last updated: 03-Jan-2018 8.26am

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.