Digital Design Major - Bachelor of Design

Study digital design at AUT and prepare yourself for the challenges of a career in animation, visual effects or game design.

You learn in a future-focused and studio-based teaching and learning environment, and have access to world-class facilities including our cutting-edge green screen, motion capture and virtual reality studios and high-end computer labs equipped with industry standard software.

Our staff have a wide range of creative, academic and industry experience – from Weta Digital to running indie game companies. We also have strong and long-established links with industry, and you’ll have opportunities to gain professional experience while studying.

View a showcase of student work (Vimeo website)

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This is part of the Bachelor of Design.

Start date: 2022

This major offers a lot of flexibility across the animation, visual effects and game design pathways.

As well as gaining expertise in a range of digital production tools, you learn to create, communicate and analyse stories, moving image narratives and user experiences in compelling and engaging ways. Alongside your Studio courses you take Theory and Context courses that develop your critical thinking and approaches to design methodology.

If you're a full-time student, you normally complete 120 points each year (360 points for the entire degree). In each year you study core compulsory courses within your major and selected minor.

List of minors

Year 1

Year 1 courses provide a comprehensive grounding in all aspects of digital design.

You study the following courses

You also study one course from your chosen minor.

Year 2

In Year 2 you choose your pathway specialisation.

You study the following courses

You also study two courses from your chosen minor.

Year 3

For Year 3, you focus on a major creative project and also have the opportunity to gain industry experience in the Professional Practice course.

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

The Digital Design major focuses on the following pathways. These pathways can overlap and combine flexibly, and encompass other key areas like motion capture, cinematic production, motion graphics, and virtual and augmented reality.

Animation pathway

While this pathway focuses primarily on 3D character animation, it also offers opportunities for stop-motion, 2D animation, motion graphics, motion capture, character/creature design, and stylistic applications ranging from photorealism to illustrative design.

You’ll explore animation from idea generation to iterative designing, performance creation, and creating an industry-standard animated short.

Our graduates now work in a variety of areas, including character animation for local and international animation studios like Weta Digital, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Framestore, Moving Picture Company (MPC), Soul Machines, Animal Logic, Luma Pictures and Sony Pictures Imageworks.

Visual effects pathway

The visual effects (VFX) pathway covers live action and green screen filming, compositing, tracking, and dynamic simulation effects using a range of industry software like Nuke and Houdini. We’re a certified Houdini partner, providing industry level education for using Houdini in advanced procedural dynamic simulations.

You’ll learn everything from seamlessly combining live action and digital elements to generating the spectacular simulation effects that blockbuster movies are known for – including alien creatures, explosions, pyrotechnic effects, weather systems, forests, stormy oceans, clothing and fur-clad gorillas.

Our graduates are now employed by local and international VFX companies like Weta Digital, The Mill, Animal Logic and Industrial Light and Magic.

Game design pathway

Through the game design pathway you’ll develop a foundational understanding of game design and game technology.

You explore game mechanics, asset creation and basic scripting in both Unity3D and Unreal Engine. You also become familiar with the fundamentals of virtual, augmented and mixed reality, and apply them in your projects. The final-year project enables you tailor your skills towards your future career goals. Some students take a game art heavy approach, whereas others tend to focus on development or play and interactivity design.

Our graduates work as designers, artists, producers and developers for local and overseas game companies, including high profile studios like Grinding Gear Games (Path of Exile) and Ninja Kiwi (Bloonz).

  • 3D animator
  • Games designer
  • Virtual reality artist
  • Interactive designer
  • Motion capture artist
  • Motion designer
digital-design-cover.jpg

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

Digital Design Careers

Key features
  • Access to state-of-the-art facilities
  • Strong ties to key industry organisations, including Weta
  • Growing demand for digital design skills, in the entertainment industry and beyond
  • 60 hours of work experience in the digital design industry
See yourself as
  • A story-teller
  • Technologically savvy
  • Visually creative
  • A problem-solver
  • Innovative
Lily Martin-Babin
Reuben Terehu Shortland
Marco Andrew Staines

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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