Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts

The Interaction Design and Electronic Arts program enables you to design for the future, using the emergent technologies of today.

We aim to infuse technological innovation with human‑centred design thinking. The result is an understanding of ways to design interactive products and systems that will have lasting cultural and commercial importance.

Learn to design across multiple platforms and scales – from wearable computing and mobile applications to interactive architecture, responsive environments, social media and urban informatics. Your ideas may become the basis of prototype products, patents or even start-up services.

Through a series of collaborative design studios and technical workshops, you will acquire the essential knowledge and skills for envisioning, creating and evaluating innovative solutions to a range of design challenges.

You can adapt this program to suit your interests by taking electives from other faculties. You will also build a compelling portfolio showcasing not only your design skills, but also your understanding of how best to convey the user experience of new products and services.

The course culminates in a capstone research project, industry internship or graduation design project.

Course Details

Course name Credit points Duration
Master of Interaction Design
and Electronic Arts (specialisation)
96 2 years
You can add a specialisation in Audio and Acoustics or Illumination Design. This will further differentiate your skill set and enable you to work in the emerging area of interactive sound and lighting in entertainment, buildings and public spaces.
Master of Interaction Design
and Electronic Arts
72 1.5 years
The Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts culminates in a capstone research project, industry internship or graduate design project. This is where you can dive deep into a topic of your interest, gain industry experience or collaborate on a design research project with one of our Design Lab researchers.
Graduate Diploma in
Interaction Design and Electronic Arts
48 1 year
In the Graduate Diploma, you will engage in design studio projects to further extend the foundational skills, both conceptually and technically. We offer a studio-based teaching environment in which you work individually or in teams to creatively solve complex design challenges. You will learn to design across multiple platforms and scales—from natural, tangible and wearable user interfaces to interactive architecture, creative robotics and urban informatics. Your ideas may even become the basis of prototype products, patents or start-up services.
Graduate Certificate in
Interaction Design and Electronic Arts
24 0.5 year
In the Graduate Certificate, you will develop the essential industry knowledge and skills for working as an interaction or user experience designer, at ease with web and mobile applications. Once you have these core skills in human-centred design thinking, web/mobile interface design and software programming, you are trained to analyse and evaluate their application in a range of design contexts. This evaluative approach is what enables IDEA students to create meaningful interactive experiences that will become ubiquitous parts of our everyday life.

Why choose this course?

This degree is aimed at talented individuals who use technology creatively – for artistic, personal or commercial purposes.

What will you achieve?

Students become proficient in the design of interactive experiences and the creative use of new technologies that they can then use in a wide range of professional and artistic settings.

Indicative Course

    First Year

    Semester One

  • This unit of study provides an overview of a human (or user) centred approach to the design of interactive technologies. It introduces students to design thinking and how it can be productively applied to different design situations.

    The theoretical concepts, methods and tools for the key stages of interaction design are covered including user research, ideation, prototyping and user evaluation.

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  • This unit aims to teach students an understanding of the stages involved in the development of software for design; skills in the design and implementation of software for design tasks and in the development of software as design tools.

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  • This unit introduces students to the fundamentals of user interface design. Interface design is an important element of a human-centred design approach to the development of interactive computational systems. grammar, its own conceptual shorthand, its own languages, and a multiplicity of genre, structures and forms that it sources and references albeit often tacitly or transparently.

    Students will learn about industry standard user interface design and usability principles and guidelines, based in visual design theory and visual perception.

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  • Media audiences are experiencing knowledge, art and entertainment in novel ways as cultural industries increasingly take up emerging technologies.

    New Media Audiences investigates the range of contemporary practices of production, distribution and consumption associated with digital tools. We examine the sites where audiences experience digital media: art galleries, cinemas, theatres, homes, mobile devices, public spaces, workplaces and online

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    First Year

    Semester Two

  • The aim of the studio is to explore new interaction possibilities offered by emerging digital technologies through a design-led approach. Each studio is based around one or more design projects, which address a specialised area of study, supported by lectures and seminars to introduce the relevant theory, knowledge and design precedents.

    The specialized areas of study will vary from semester to semester, ranging for example from small-scale wearable devices to large-scale environments, and will reflect contemporary issues in interaction, art, design, culture and technology.

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  • The aim of this unit of study is the learning of key technical skills for prototyping and building interactive digital media within a creative design framework.

    The unit provides an introduction to the fundamentals of various software and hardware construction tools, and the technological platforms available for building sensor-based interfaces.

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    Second Year

    Semester One

  • This is the culminating studio of the Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts that provides students with a capstone experience.

    The aim of this studio is to draw together and synthesise the learning that has taken place during the whole degree. The student will develop a graduation design project based on an industry-focused brief.

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  • This unit allows students to collaborate with a private partner on a project with a strong design research character. Such project would typically not be connected to the direct commercial goals, require a certain degree of risk, and necessitates a level of technical and design expertise that is not available by the private partner.

    The program coordinator can choose to offer pre-approved client briefs from known external partners to interested students.

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Student Profiles

    Susana Alarcon Licona

    Master of Interaction Design

    “After getting an Industrial Design bachelor's degree and working on interior and product design. my interest in using technologies as a medium and as an aim of my projects started to grow.

    The IDEA program was the ideal opportunity to obtain the knowledge, technical skills and inspiration to explore different approaches to design. The events, talks and exhibitions that take place in the Faculty allowed me to make great contacts that translated into opportunities for work and invitations to exhibit my projects at the Powerhouse Museum.

    The IDEA program was the ideal opportunity to obtain the knowledge, technical skills and inspiration to explore different approaches to design. The events, talks and exhibitions that take place in the Faculty allowed me to make great contacts that translated into opportunities for work and invitations to exhibit my projects at the Powerhouse Museum.

    The exposure to different disciplines and the freedom within the program gives you the chance to explore things more creatively and take more ownership of your work. For me, it meant I was able to find my passion in wearable and disability-inspired technologies, a research area that I will pursue in a PhD program at Design Lab."

    Silje Johansen

    Master of Interaction Design

    “I have a degree in information technology and I’ve been working for some years in the software industry as both a programmer and technical resource for sales.

    I wanted to find a degree where I could use my technical background at the same time as developing design skills and be creatively challenged. I’ve always had an artistic side to me and this degree seemed to be perfect.

    I’ve really enjoyed playing and experimenting with such a wide variety of technologies. I’ve especially enjoyed working with sensor based interfaces – making things talk using electronics combined with software.

    For anyone considering this degree I’d say no matter whether you come from a technical or a more creative background, as long as you have a passion for design, and like working with ideas and cutting edge technologies, this degree would be a good choice."

    Luke Hespanhol

    Master of Interaction Design

    "After getting a Bachelor Degree in Computer Science, working for more than a decade as a corporate IT consultant and then doing a Masters at the College of Fine Arts, I joined the University of Sydney's IDEA program in 2011.

    By exposing me to 'real life' briefs and user-centred design approaches, the degree was essential in reshaping my practice around people and their experiences. It equipped me with the technical and design skills to expand my portfolio and trained me in research methodologies, allowing me to better structure my work, report its progress and present its outcomes in international peer-reviewed conferences.

    It threw me into a lively network of like-minded creative professionals, through which opportunities for practical work often emerged. As a result, I left IDEA as a much more mature professional designer and artist.

    I am now a PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, developing research in responsive environments for social interaction, as well as a casual lecturer for IDEA and a freelance creative technologist.

    I have grown a career as a media artist, exhibiting in various galleries and public festivals, including Vivid Sydney (2012, 2013, 2014), Harvest Festival (2011, 2012) and Sydney Fringe (2012). Such projects are often done in collaboration with lecturers and students from Design Lab, feeding back into our broader research process."

    David Montero

    Master of Interaction Design

    When I was a kid I was fascinated by sci-fi and technology, and wanted to be an inventor. After I graduated in Computer Engineering I realised that technology could feel intimidating and somehow non-human—my goal was to democratise it and make technology accessible to everyone.

    I did two years postgraduate research in HCI and empathic agents but wasn’t yet able to combine my goal with my professional career

    The IDEA program brought the user into the picture; it finally showed me the way to make technology humane and friendly. As a side effect it brought back my creativity—buried from years of engineering school—and I finally became an inventor!

    Thanks to the IDEA program I managed to steer my career into a creative and fulfilling path. I also rediscovered my artistic side in which I’m still working with passion, and even exhibiting some interactive pieces.

    There is a lot that remains to be discovered. In helicopters and cars, noisiness (or quietness) of the cabin is becoming a major point of investigation for manufacturers. This means the outputs from research and development are always increasing.

    Lavie Sak

    Master of Interaction Design

    I left my management consulting career and the States with the intention of only learning about new UX principles and design processes through the IDEA program—but in reality,

    I learned something far more applicable and important. I learned that design is so much more than what most people think: it means thinking about problems in new and unique ways, realising there are a multitude of solutions, and thinking about thinking itself.

    With the help of the teaching staff and their broad range of expertise (art, technology, filmography, user experience, curation etc.), I was able to explore and develop my own ideas. The program’s flexibility allowed me to excel.

    Since graduating, I founded Shot Stats, which was accepted into the leading hardware based accelerator HAXLR8R, in Shenzhen, China. Shot Stats provides valuable metrics using an on-racket device with accelerometers and gyroscopes. The M.IDEA program is a great place for creative solutions like Shot Stats to originate and flourish!"

    Lichen Huang

    Master of Interaction Design

    My first exposure to Interaction Design was through a photo-sensor system at Shanghai World Expo in 2010, which showed me that there was a strong link between the physical andvirtual environments.

    After that I wanted to achieve a new understanding of the interaction between computers and people and discovered the MIDEA program at Sydney University.

    The MIDEA program helped me expand my interests in the fields of information visualisation and pervasive interaction. Much of my Design Lab experience and team activity in the studio was extremely rewarding, allowing me to understand people’s needs, design cycles, interface evaluation and to use design thinking to explore usability prior to programming.

    For example, my individual research project intended to demonstrate advanced connectivity between systems, for which I constructed a gestural interaction wall that visually represented Twitter interactions.

    After graduation I was offered the position of User Researcher in Interaction Design at LKK Design, which is the leading industrial design company in China where I have worked on projects for Audi, Dell, Samsung and more, making use of many skills in design thinking—such as product definition, brainstorming, planning and business modelling—that I honed in the MIDEA course.

    Claudia Núñez-Pacheco

    Master of Interaction Design

    "I came to Australia with the help of a Becas Chile scholarship which enabled me to study IDEA and now continue on to gain my PhD. It’s been a very rewarding experience, especially at an intellectual level:

    within the Design Lab (IDEA’s home) is a very active and prolific research community, where I feel completely free to explore different areas of knowledge, including those that seems to be underrepresented in the field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI). This opportunity opens the door for the exploration of different approaches and disciplines, without being necessarily limited by current paradigms or predominant schools of thought.

    My current research question asks ‘How do technology-enhanced garments assist in the amplification of bodily awareness and, by extension, self-discovery?’ I am now working on the elaboration of physical wearable prototypes to be tested and evaluated by various users, most of them practitioners of body-centred disciplines, such as Focusing. In order to do so, it is fundamental to understand the user's needs as well as the nature of the human body in context with technology.

    The Faculty of Architecture, Design & Planning provides a vibrant and creative environment for designing ideas and objects, with its supportive community and excellent fabrication facilities for prototyping my designs—but perhaps what I enjoy the most is the fact that it feels like home.""

    Michael Ford

    Master of Interaction Design

    "The start of my career coincided with the emergence of the early days of the internet in Australia—basically on the back of an undergraduate degree spent punching green code onto black terminal screens.

    After 12 years outside uni I realised how different the technology landscape had become, so I used the IDEA program to reboot and reorient myself.

    Early in the course I had my ‘Eureka’ moment when we watched Volkswagen’s Fun theory campaign. The piano stairs are the perfect example of how creative technology can entertain, engage and ultimately change behaviour. I’ve always had a love for technology and an interest in how it reshapes human interactions and culture; as technological capabilities change, the role of technology must be constantly reimagined, giving more opportunity to be part of the story rather than just spectators.

    The IDEA program was instrumental in exploring these themes, giving a thorough grounding in human-centred design principles (UX, HCI), while using prototyping to put that theory into practice. Ultimately it gave me the language and tools to express ideas and unleash a creative side to myself I had previously dismissed.


Study one unit of study as professional development

The Faculty of Architecture, Design & Planning runs Continuing Professional Development short courses which provide a valuable opportunity for professionals and students to be updated on career-related skills and any recent changes in their professions.

Admission Information

Available places will be offered to qualified applicants based on merit, according to the following admissions criteria.

Admission to the Graduate Certificate in Interaction Design and Electronic Arts requires a bachelor's degree from the University of Sydney or an equivalent qualification.

Admission to the Graduate Diploma in Interaction Design and Electronic Arts requires:
- a bachelor's degree from the University of Sydney or an equivalent qualification; or
- completion of the requirements of the embedded graduate certificate with a WAM of at least 70.

Admission to the Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts requires:
- a bachelor's degree from the University of Sydney or an equivalent qualification with a credit average mark across all units; or completion of the requirements of the embedded graduate diploma; or completion of the requirements of the embedded graduate certificate with a weighted average mark of at least 70.

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate studies can now be completed easily online.

Visit Courses Online to get started.

Applications must be accompanied by original transcripts of study (or copies issued and certified by the issuing institution), together with certified copies of your Identification. (Birth Certificate or Passport).

Where students are applying for a certificate level based on industry experience, please attach a CV and any other supporting documentation which may assist in the assessment of your application.

Meet Our
Program Director


Dr Lian Loke

Research Interests

Interactive art
Performance, body and technology
Interaction design (specializing in movement and user experience)

Her research is interdisciplinary and spans human-computer interaction, design and artistic practice, with the body as a central focus.

Her research interests lie in understanding the lived experience of people interacting with emerging technologies and exploring how to design future products and systems from such understandings. Design methods and tools for speculative, user-centred and participatory design form a large part of her research programme.

See Lian's Profile

Apply Now
Interaction Design
and Electronic Arts