Communication Design Major - Bachelor of Design

Communication design focuses on developing and visually communicating ideas and messages.

Study communication design at AUT and examine historical and modern concepts of visual language and design. You work on a diverse range of projects that respond to societal, environmental, design industry and commercially relevant issues.

Within this major you can focus on an area of communication design by selecting a specialised studio programme in your second year.


This is part of the Bachelor of Design.

Start date: 2022

If you're a full-time student, you normally complete 120 points each year (360 points for the entire degree). You study core courses each year that cover design solutions, critical thinking, research practices, user experience, creative processes, information management, prototyping, market/cultural/industry case studies.

Throughout the major you’re supported by lecturers and professional designers, as you work independently and collaboratively on speculative and real-life design projects.

All students are offered a choice of a minor in Semester 2.

List of minors

Year 1

You study the following courses

You also study one course from your chosen minor.

Year 2

You study the following courses

You also study two courses from your chosen minor.

Year 3

You study the following courses

You also study one course from your chosen minor.

More details about courses in this programme

Detailed programme structure and course outlines (Blackboard)

Search for a course (Arion)

Email artbox@aut.ac.nz

Enrolment in courses is subject to meeting all requirements and availability of courses.

You can study the following minors when you are enrolled in the Bachelor of Design or the Bachelor of Visual Arts:

Cinematic Arts

Discover the possibilities of filmmaking through analogue and digital cinematography, sound recording and audio design, editing and post-production, storytelling and industry workflow, to make a short narrative, experimental or documentary film.

Courses are delivered over one semester and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Contemporary Pacific

Develop your creative practice drawing on contemporary and traditional Pacific concepts, contexts and material culture. Pacific concepts and stories are explored in relation to pattern, movement, and spatial systems.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Creative Entrepreneurship

Build your creative business confidence and capability by combining your creative strengths with business skills and understandings to transform your ideas and concepts for the future.

Courses are delivered over one semester and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the courses below, including a Level 7 course or both compulsory core courses ARDN502 and ARDN702, in addition to 30 points from DESN600, DESN601, MARS501, ENTR501 of which at least one course or 15 points must be at level 6.

Level 5 courses

*Subject to CUAP approval

Level 6 courses

Level 7 course

Design for Sustainability

Discover how art and design can contribute to a new future where both people and our planet will prosper. Explore ecological and social aspects of design for sustainability.

courses are delivered over one semester and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a mindset and set of creative methods that can be used to interrogate, understand and solve real-life business, social and environmental problems.

Working collaboratively with others, you'll learn to develop an understanding of the needs of the people you're designing for, experiment and explore creative ideas, and create physical and experiential design solutions.

This minor is aimed at students who are interested in developing design thinking expertise to support their major discipline area.

Minor must include

60 points from courses listed below including DESN501 with at least 15 points at level 7

Digital Fabrication

Explores how digital fabrication can facilitate art and design creative practices, through the utilisation and application of a range of current and emergent technologies.

Courses are delivered over one semester and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Enrolment in this minor is subject to approval from the Art & Design Minors, Head of Department.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Experimental Surface Design

Supports the experimental development of surface practice across a range of disciplines and potential applications. Emphasis is placed upon the importance of learning through making and the relationship between the maker, the materials, the process of making and the work. Students develop conceptual and technical surface design knowledge through applied materials practice.

Courses are delivered over one semester and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you'll study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Enrolment in this minor is subject to approval from the Art & Design Minors, Head of Department.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Motion Capture

Explores motion capture (mocap) technology that records human movement as 3D data for use in a range of design and creative disciplines.

Courses are delivered over one semester and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Enrolment in this minor is subject to approval from the Art & Design Minors, Head of Department.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Photographic Practice

Explore visual conventions and develop technical competencies to include DSLR camera fundamentals, exposure and lighting control, composition principles and image making strategies for focused project outcomes.

Courses are delivered over one semester and are worth 15 points each. You'll need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Enrolment in this minor is subject to approval from the Art & Design Minors, Head of Department.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Temporary Practices/Temporary Publics

As artists and designers, we are interested in practising by making – doing projects that have currency and real-world capacity. We work through ideas of site, collaboration and publication in order to create events. Temporary Practices is an experimental, creative field of making. This minor supports the development of work across a range of disciplines and potential applications by using AUT facilities (3D Lab, WetLab, Bindery, Risograph printer).

Courses are delivered over one semester and are worth 15 points each. You will need to complete 60 points for the entire minor. In each year, you will study and complete core compulsory courses alongside studio and specialist courses in the minor that you have selected.

Enrolment in this minor is subject to approval from the Art & Design Minors, Head of Department.

Available as a minor only.

Minor must include

60 points from the following courses:

Additional majors and minors for bachelor’s degrees

Add an additional major or a minor to your bachelor’s degree and study another area that interests you. You can choose from a wide range of additional majors or minors.

Additional majors and minors for bachelor’s degrees

Design and strategy

  • Advertising and brand creative
  • Online and social media manager
  • Creative or account director

Image-making

  • Photographer and videographer
  • Content and narrative illustrator
  • Printmaking

Graphic design and typography

  • Communication or graphic designer
  • Publication design and magazine art director
  • Print and packaging designer
  • Information designer
Communication-design.jpg

Find out more about industry trends, job descriptions and what employers may be looking for.

Communication Design Careers

Other majors in the Bachelor of Design

Other communication design study options

Key features
  • Covers a range of tools, technologies and materials for print, digital and interactive project work and media
  • Choose from a range of design pathways
  • Students entering the first year of the Communication Design and Interaction Design majors share a common first-year programme
See yourself as
  • A visualiser and brand aware
  • Interested in advertising and packaging
  • Having strong drawing skills and story-telling skills
Kiarna Michie
Nina Van Lier
Michelle Young
Tola Thach
Aakifa Chida

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

Website search