The IDEA program enables you to design for the future, using the emergent technologies of today.

Technology is becoming closely interwoven into everyday life, mediating our social interactions, the work we do, the systems that govern us, and our personal and cultural life. How we design the quality of these interactions with technology can play an important role in the successful adoption in, and positive impact on, people’s lives.

This understanding forms the core of the IDEA program’s design philosophy: technology that is designed to delight its users. This cutting-edge program infuses the latest technological innovation with a human-centred design thinking. The result is an understanding of how to design interactive products and systems that will have lasting cultural and commercial importance.

The IDEA program offers a creative and critical approach to developing and applying technical skills and digital technologies, within the framework of research-driven interaction design and user experience methodologies. A studio-based teaching environment is at the centre of the program. In studio, you work individually or in teams to design and build meaningful interactive experiences. Flexible design briefs enable you to design across multiple platforms and scales - from the design of wearable computing and mobile applications, through interactive architecture and responsive environments, to social media and urban informatics. These studio projects give form to your expression and may act as the basis of prototype products, patents or even start-up services.

You can view previous student work produced in the studios at

Studio content changes each semester, to keep pace with the latest advances in design, research and technology. In Semester 1 2015 the studio will be led by Dr Rob Saunders on Creative Robotics.

You will acquire core technical competencies in programming, electronics and physical computing in a series of intensive workshops. Once you have these core skills, you are trained to analyse and evaluate their application in a range of design challenges. This evaluative approach is what enables IDEA students to recognise the emergent technologies that will become ubiquitous parts of our everyday life.

The program is flexible to adapt to your interests and passions. Your best works will reflect your design ethos while exceeding users’ expectations for functionality. Throughout the course you will be refining your design thinking skills – principles that can powerfully translate across disciplines, whilst building a compelling design portfolio showcasing your interaction design skills and understanding of how best to communicate the user experience of innovative products and services.

Electives can be taken across faculties for specialisation in a range of disciplines. The course culminates in a capstone experience of an individual research project, industry internship or graduation design project. You can view previous student capstone projects. The Faculty draws on industry and alumni contacts to enable opportunities to build your professional network. These factors combine to position you as a well-connected creative industry specialist with expertise across the strategic, creative and technical domains.

Career Prospects

IDEA graduates are primed to take leading positions in innovative commercial enterprises. The unique blend of design thinking and technical application fostered by the program, positions graduates to provide a range of implementation and consultation skills to business. IDEA skills are applicable to the creative industries, design and interaction consultancy and new product development.

Possible job titles include Interaction Designer; User Experience (UX) Designer; Design (Thinking) Strategist; Producer (Advertising/Marketing); Creative Director; Art Director; Creative Industries Consultant; Creative Technologist; Research and Development.

Professional Advisory Board

John Allsop, Web Directions
Oscar Nicholson, Razorfish
Deborah Turnbull, Powerhouse Museum
Tom Uglow, Google Creative Labs
Bronwyn van der Merwe, Massive Interactive


Susana Alarcon-Licona

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.

I found the MIDEA program as 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.

Lavie Sak

I left my management consulting career and the States with the intent on only learning about new UX principles and design processes through the M.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, realizing there are a multitude of solutions, and thinking about thinking.

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!

Michael Ford

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 realized how different the technology landscape had become, so I used the M.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. And, as technological capabilities change, it allows the role of technology to be constantly re-imagined. Giving more opportunity to be part of the story rather than just spectators.

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

I’ve been fortunate to be hired as a Creative Technologist by DT where I play a daily role in the development of technology-focused creative ideas. And each day I am still applying the design principles I learnt during the M.IDEA program.

Luke Hespanhol

After getting a Bachelor's 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 M.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 M.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 M.IDEA and a freelance creative technologist. Finally, 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.

Claudia Núñez-Pacheco

I came to Australia with the help of a Becas Chile scholarship which enabled me to study M.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 (M.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 FADP has provided 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.

Lichen Huang

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.


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.

David Montero

When I was a kid I wanted to be an inventor, I was fascinated by Sci-Fi and technology. After I graduated in Computer Engineering I realized technology could feel intimidating and somehow non-human, my goal then became making people’s life easy, democratizing technology and making it accessible to everyone. I did two years postgraduate research in HCI and empathic agents but didn’t manage to combine my goal with my professional career.

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

Thanks to the M.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.


Qualification Core Option Elective Total
Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts 48 00 24 72
Graduate Diploma 36 06 06 48
Graduate Certificate 18 00 06 24
IDEA Studio 1 12 IDEA Studio 2 12
IDEA9106 Design Thinking 6 DECO1012 Design Programming 6
DECO1012 Design Programming 6 Interface Design 6
Interface Design 6
SEMESTER 3 - Capstone
IDEA9301 IDEA Graduation Studio 12
IDEA9302 IDEA Research Project
Potential research projects
IDEA9303 IDEA Dissertation 12
IDEA9311 IDEA Research Internship 12
Suggested electives
DESC9153 Graduate Internship  
MARC6102 3D Computer Design Modelling Architecture
DESC9117 Sound Design for New Media DESC9134 Audio and Acoustics
DESC9161 Entertainment Lighting
DESC9164 Lighting Technologies
Illumination Design
DESA9003 Postgraduate Photography
DESA9008 Postgraduate Object Design
DESA9009 Postgraduate Public Art
Art Workshops
COMP5047 Pervasive Computing
COMP5114 Digital Media Fundamentals
COMP5211 Algorithm
COMP5214 Software Development in Java
COMP5247 Usability Engineering
COMP5415 Multimedia Authoring and Production
Software electives
(School of IT, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology)
ARIN6902 Internet Cultures and Governance (S1)
ARIN6904 Mobile Media and Games (S2)
ARIN6905 New Media Audiences (S1)
Digital Cultures electives
(Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)
MFDI9313 Digital Editing for Film and Video
MMDE6001 History And Theory Of New Media 1 (Note: As of 2015, it will be renamed History and Theory of Screen)
MMDE6101 Animation for Interactive Media & Video
Visual Arts electives
(Sydney College of the Arts)


Applicants for the Master and Graduate Diploma programs must hold a Bachelor degree. Applicants for the Graduate Certificate must demonstrate the knowledge and aptitude required to undertake the course.

The program can be taken as a Graduate Certificate (six months full time), Graduate Diploma (one year full time) or Master degree (one and a half years full time). Part time study is available for Australian citizens and permanent residents, and must be completed within the maximum limits of 6 years for Masters, 4 years for Diploma and 3 years for Graduate Certificates.

Students may apply to upgrade at the completion of their program from the Graduate Certificate, through to the Diploma and then to the Masters by maintaining a 70 weighted average mark over the course of study. Masters and Diploma students may also opt to graduate with a lower level of certification once the required units are complete.

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.

Just want to study one unit of study as professional development?

Visit the CPD page for more information on Professional Development courses.

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Domestic Students

If you're a domestic student and you still need more information, you can Ask a Question through the Sydney Student Form.

International Students

International Students are able to make enquiries through the International Office.