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 langage 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: 2021

If you're a full-time student, you normally complete 120 points each year (360 points for the entire degree). You study core papers 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 papers

You also study one paper from your chosen minor.

Year 2

You study the following papers

You also study two papers from your chosen minor.

Year 3

You study the following papers

You also study one paper from your chosen minor.

More details about papers in this programme

Detailed programme structure and paper outlines (Blackboard)

Search for a paper (Arion)

Email artbox@aut.ac.nz

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

In Year 2 you choose a specialised studio pathway - a specific area of communication design you want to focus on. Some studio programmes may have a limited number of places.

There are study options at the City or South Campus.

City Campus studio pathways

In this studio pathway, you’re involved in idea generation, campaign design, strategy, social media marketing, identity and systems design. Our advertising and branding students are known for their fresh creative minds and strong affinity for new media technologies.

Topics covered include

  • Understanding and designing for target markets
  • Creating design systems across a range of brand touchpoints
  • Understanding and integrating typography, copywriting, colour palettes, static and moving elements
  • Selecting appropriate channels to deliver a brand experience
  • Advertising and its role in communicating a brand’s values or benefits

Design projects in this studio pathway

Employing design thinking methodologies and user experience research, you initiate projects and create solutions for diverse markets and audiences.

You’ll work across print and digital media processes to develop individual projects, including commercial contexts, social/environmental concerns and speculative design.

You’ll learn to work alongside your classmates, expand your design thinking and vocabulary, develop and refine your presentation skills to pitch ideas, give and take constructive critique, and refine, test and adjust your work.

In the age of the image, illustration, photography and hand-authored, mechanical and digital media are at the centre of communication arts.

Image making covers

  • Ideation and processes for illustration and digital creation
  • Concept development
  • Content generation
  • Drawing (on paper or stylus on digital tablets)
  • Image making and type relationships to communicate messages and meaning

Design projects in this studio pathway

You’ll work across print and digital media processes to create individual projects guided by research practice. Design projects are driven by a desire to connect with audiences to inform, persuade and entertain, and include commercial contexts, social/ environmental concerns and speculative design.

The work will be included in a context or specific and varied formats, rather than just a standalone image within a single visible rectangle. The projects enable you to develop your individual skills as well as collaborate with your peers.

Projects may include:

  • Information graphics
  • Interfaces
  • Packaging
  • Publications
  • Websites

Decisions around appropriate outputs will depend on the project brief.

In this studio pathway you’ll work with The Draft Studio at AUT and partner with external creative studios, design researchers, individual designers and other industry stakeholders.

There’s an emphasis on conceptual thinking, design processes, materiality, experimental attitudes and new ideas.

Workshops, presentations, live or shadow briefs, masterclasses, strategies, tips and tactics, methods and philosophies are all key parts of this studio pathway.

This studio pathway introduces you to contemporary lens-based image making practices, and professional image management systems used by commercial photographers and in-house designers.

You’ll learn how to translate ideas and advance concepts by producing high-quality photographic images, working with available light on location and strobe lighting in the photographic studio.

Topics include

  • DSLR camera skills: technical, practical and theory
  • Photographic genres: site, object and subject
  • Lighting fundamentals and advanced techniques
  • Digital workflow and professional file management
  • Post-production: processing, selection and retouching
  • Archival ink-jet printing

South Campus studio pathways

This unique inter-disciplinary studio-based programme gives you the opportunity to work across a range of visual communication practices including graphic design, advertising and branding, digital interactivity and moving image.

You’ll work on real-life projects using a variety of media, and collaborate with communities to research and produce communication design solutions.

Design projects include

  • Digital animations
  • E-publishing
  • Information and environmental graphics
  • Music videos
  • Print publications
  • Social campaigns
  • Title sequencing
  • Visual identity and brand development

Technology you can access

You'll work in designated design studio spaces, learning and using the latest technology including

  • Augmented reality/virtual reality
  • Smart phone applications
  • 360-degree photography

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
  • Offered at the City and South Campus
  • 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
Eilish Out-O'Reilly
Anzac Tasker
Tola Thach
Nina Van Lier
Jessica Kate Tweed

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

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