Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Visual Design and Graphic Communications

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Media and Communications

DESCRIPTION This unit is intended to give a theoretical and practical hands-on instruction about graphic communications and visual design. Graphic design theories will be discussed, as well as the lessons to be learnt from the history of visual design. Theories that will be delved into include the colour theory, the rule of thirds, the golden ratio, etc. This will be applied to the different dvisions of design (editorial, advertising, packaging and corporate design) and the implications of graphic comminication on each division and their function within present day society analysed.

The roles of illustration and sequential narrative as means of graphic communications are also discussed, with analysed examples of each giving the students an overview of each of the genres’ functional techniques and stylistic elements.

A component of the unit will be actual graphic design practice, with students being instructed on the use of the main graphic design programs (Adobe Photoshop, Indesign and Illustrator), leading to students creating projects around the divisions of design.

Researched practice is at the core of a final visual design project to be attempted by each student.

Study-Unit Aims:

• To acclimatise Masters in Media and Communications students with the theory and practice of visual design and graphic communications for print and internet promulgation;
• To give the students the possibility of learning how to use programs that are industry standards in the creation of graphic design;
• To put graphic communications in the context of modern day society and analyse its cyclical role within it.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
• critically assess the history of graphic design and how it has impacted on the products that infuse society today;
• differentiate among the four main divisions of graphic design;
• be capable of distinguishing among the different theories that infuse graphic design;
• analyse style and technique of illustration as used within graphic communications;
• recognize the basic techniques of sequential narrative.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
• use the main programs at the core of the graphic design industry;
• design and create editorial productions;
• select and place illustrative material according to the demands of the message to be imparted;
• work with images and text to create instances of sequential narrative.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

• Samara, T. (2007). Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual. Beverly, MA: Rockport Publishers. Siebert, L., & Ballard, L. (1992). Making a Good Layout. Cincinnati: North Light Books.

Supplementary Readings:

• Arntson, A. E. (1998). Graphic Design Basics (3rd ed.). Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.
• Aynsley, J. (2001). A Century of Graphic Design: Graphic Design Pioneers of the 20th Century. London, UK: Mitchell Beazley.
• Caputo, T. C. (2002). Visual Storytelling: The Art and Technique. New York, NY: Watson-Guptill Publications.
• Duncan, R., and Smith, M. J. (2009). The Power of Comics: History, Form and Culture. New York, NY: Continuum.
• Heller, S., and Chwast, S. (2008). Illustration: A Visual History. New York, NY: Abrams.
• Landa, R. (2011). Graphic Design Solutions (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth.
• Lidwell, W., Holden, K., and Butler, J. (2003). Universal Principles of Design. Glucester, MA: Rockport.
• Male, Alan (2007). Illustration: A Theoretical and Contextual Perspective. New York, NY: Watson-Guptill Publications.
• McCloud, S. (1994). Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. New York: Harper.
• Zeegan, L. (2012). The Fundamentals of Illustration (2nd ed.). Lausanne, SW: AVA.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 50%
Project SEM1 Yes 50%

LECTURER/S Gorg Mallia

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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.