Bachelor of Design Computing


Bachelor of Design Computing

Design Computing teaches you to bring ideas into reality. A whatever-it-takes, design-led approach engages you in creative problem solving. It’s the approach industry leaders Apple and Google use to dream up new products, services and interactive experiences. This degree prepares you to join these leaders of industry or to start your own business.

This program teaches you to recognise the value of your ideas. You will be trained in ideation – the ability to conceptualise, problem solve and judge various design solutions. Your ideation is matched with skills for implementation; using software and devices to make your best ideas.

Design Computing teaches you the approach necessary to invent elegant, commercially viable products and services. You will learn to manage a trusted team of creators, working in a studio-model that firmly puts the focus on your expression and your solution. You will be empowered through a toolbox of skills in user experience, interaction design, graphic design, programming and object design. Most importantly, you will be taught to recognise what tools are needed for specific social and commercial challenges and to use those skills to produce unique, innovative solutions.

When you study with us, you will learn all these skills. But the real advantage is that you will be doing work that is commercially relevant, right from the start of your degree. Our independent study options allow you to use your lecturers’ knowledge while you prototype your own projects, leading to patents or even a startup business. Design Computing is the only course in the Asia-Pacific that gives you this combination of practical skills without limiting your ability to direct your own solutions.

Design Computing Toolkit

Design Computing gives you many diverse skills. They’re all useful to creating new ideas and turning them into products, devices and services. When you study Design Computing, you get access to the Design Computing Toolkit. These skills can take you in many different directions. Click on the professions below to see how your skills are used across different industries.


Film & Animation

User Experience Designer


Web Design

Product Developer

Game Development


What is the relationship between beauty and truth? How do we know what is beautiful? Does perfection have limits? Aesthetics gets you to question the furthest possibilities of design, form and function.

Agile Design

Using rapid prototyping and iterative development, Agile Design teaches you to start working on your solution right away and not get stuck in agonising design decisions.


Learn how to sell your ideas or promote valuable causes. A background in advertising teaches you the basics necessary to survive in a crowded media world.


Give your designs personality, flair and interactivity. Animationmakes all the difference to providing compelling, engaging content.


Use arduino boards to program directly. Embed these boards in everyday devices.

Artificial Intelligences

Understand the potential of artificial intelligence. Leverage the capacity of independent computer agency to free up human concerns. Embed these intelligences into your designs and prototypes.

Art Criticism

Learn how to critique art. Learn various historical, cultural, economic and social aspects to art. Then apply them to your personal design language.

Artistic Expression

Develop your creative skills and learn about material selection in a wide range of art workshops.

Audio Editing

Control multiple inputs; mix multiple tracks. Create the best atmosphere or most engaging soundscapes using filters and effects.

Business Intelligence

Learn the structures of business intelligence. Understand how decision support software influences business activity.

Collaborative – Design Skills

Work alongside others and learn how to synthesise your best ideas into a solution greater than its parts.


tell the world about your inventions. Learn to communicate clearly, effectively and sensitively to listener’s needs.

Concept Development

Turn ideas into concepts that can be tested. Learn how to evaluate ideas for their possibilities and relative strengths.


Learn how to work alongside clients to implement solutions. Apply your skills to help and instruct others in industry best-practice.

Colour Theory

Understand how colours relate and which work well together. Avoidembarrassing design gaffes through an advanced knowledge of colour theory.

Computer Graphics

Understand how colours relate and which work well together. Avoidembarrassing design gaffes through an advanced knowledge of colour theory.

Critical Theory

Understand how the evolution of society and our acceptance of social factors influences design approaches. An understanding of critical theory can help you find justifications for your design decisions as society continues to evolve.

Critical Thinking

Use logic to check assumptions and make sure your ideas are on target. Critical thinking gets you to think more deeply and develop your ideas more fully.

Cultural Critique

reflect on society’s progress to discuss where we are heading. Then design for that future.


Understanding databases is core to software and application development. Learn database theory to create apps that are dynamic and adaptable.

Design Language

Develop a ‘look and feel’ that can unify and simplify complex and varying types of content. Develop identities that are meaningful and impressive.

Design Thinking

Acquire and analyse information in a creative context to understand ill-defined problems. Combine empathy, creativity and rationality to produce contextually appropriate solutions.

Discourse Analysis

Understand how language is used to build social truths.


Stop designing and start building. Engineering skills get you to prototype and consider many challenging practicalities of making your ideas.


Turn your great ideas into profits. Learn how to research markets, identify customers and give them what they need - in exchange for their money, of course!


Assess the success of your design using a variety of metrics. Prove to businesses and employers the value of your solutions through evaluation procedures.

Film Theory

Learn how images and pacing contribute to narrative. Build these assumptions into your own films or other design works.

Game Design

Learn how to program games and understand how fun, interactive experiences can be part of a solution to many social problems.

Game Development

Build games that are fun and engaging, or terrifyingly scary. Use advanced programming and new interfaces to produce novel experiences that make people want to play again and again.

Generative Design

Use iteration to constrain and inform your designs. Leverage the power of algorithms to produce novel solutions to iterative problems.

Graphic Design Skills

Create logos, branding, publications and websites that are visually pleasing and intuitive through intelligent, considered designs.


HTML5 and CSS are essential to understanding web development. Use the newest standards to make modern and elegant websites.


Generate, develop and communicate new ideas. Understand how to produce new ideas and evaluate which ones are worth keeping.

Information Visualisation

Communicate convey complex information in simple ways to media, customers and the public. These skills are in demand by companies with large datasets, including government agencies.


A core programming skill, Java enables you to produce software for a broad range of platforms, including internet apps, interactive installations and Android apps.


The most powerful client scripting language, JavaScript animates your website to create engaging, responsive content.


Use lighting to create images, project displays or convey information. Lighting keeps your ideas bright and is great for developing things used at night.

Low Fidelity Prototyping

Turn an idea from a skeletal concept to a full-bodied prototype. Low fidelity prototyping gets you to embed content into your design concepts.


Develop full campaigns for your ideas. Don’t just advertise; market and commercialise your ideas for personal profit.


What is success and how do you tell if you’ve succeeded? Learn various strategies for assessing your work and proving your accomplishments.

Mind Mapping

Explore relationships between problems, solutions and approaches using mind maps. Understand how elements interrelate and demand unique, considered responses.

Mobile App Development

Define commercial niches and market your solutions for financial gain. Learn how to distribute your apps and generate revenue.

Music Theory

Don’t just use music – make it. Learn the fundamentals of music theory to improve your music selection for your creations.

Object Design

Would an iPad work as a triangle? Take units in object design, build your ideas and find out. Object design helps you turn your ideas into physical prototypes.


Learn to make applications for Apple’s mobile devices. Use our educational access to the Apple iOS Developer Program to develop and test your apps.

Object-oriented Programming

Learn object oriented programming methods such as classes and objects. Leverage this powerful level of programming to produce advanced applications and software.

Pervasive Computing

What happens when computers are everywhere. Learn about how the next step after mobile and embedded computing will influence future designs and demands.


Beautiful photography is a core part of most visual communication. Learn to take images that look great and tell a story.


PHP is a server scripting language that lets you create dynamic, web apps. Connect your design to a database to enable greater user interaction.

Physical Computing

Embed the digital into the physical. Blend the distinction between digital environments and the objects we use everyday.

Postproduction Skills

Craft soundtracks, special effects and animations for your videos and digital content.

Problem Solving

Learn techniques to get you from problem to solution. Understand how brainstorming, lateral thinking, abstraction and analogy give you the tools to address a wide range of design challenges.


Use processing to create tabletop multitouch installations and in-depth information visualisations by leveraging processing’s user-friendly and powerful coding capabilities.

Product Development

Produce digital and physical products and services that you can patent and turn into the core of a potential startup.

Project Management

Get it done on time, on budget and in the best way. Make sure everyone is on the same page using advanced project management and coordination skills.


Build physical and digital candidates for your design. Select from amongst prototypes to learn the strengths and limitations of various design decisions.


Why do some people hate Comic Sans with a passion? Why do others not care? Find out by studying psychology and try to understand your users better.

Public Art

Understand the relationship between art and the public. Skills in public art help you consider how to exhibit your works.

Role Playing

Step into someone else’s shoes to understand the strengths and limitations of your designs. Or consider other’s situations to find new design problems that you could solve. Role playing encourages the empathy necessary for ideation.


Analyse images for signs and symbols. Learn to use this design language in your work and to analyse the works of others for inspiration.


Learn how social measurement techniques can provide valuable metrics on the use and success of your designs. Sociology gets you to look at the structure of society and the capacity for individual action.

Sonification Software

Turn noise into sound. Understand how sound can be used to signify meaning and embed this into feedback systems in your applications, programs and websites.

Sound Design

Use sound to produce immersive environments for film, animations and games. Understand how to manipulate recordings to produce the best experiences for users.


Develop narratives for how users will step through your design solution. Look at how interactive elements will operate. Storyboarding gets your ideas into order.

User Testing

Learn from user feedback to modify your creations. Understand when to listen to users and when to trust in your design despite possible negative initial reactions.

Use Cases

Understand when your solutions will be used. Find out the different contexts that your design will need to address.

User Interface Design

Understand how user interfaces influence user expectations and uses. Produce device and program interfaces that help users, not frustrate them.

User Personas

Focus on who uses your products, not what they do with them. Understanding user personalities and needs makes sure your creations are engaging and suitable.

User Scenarios

Understand why a user would need your services and products. Create scenarios that let you see the need for your designs. Use scenarios to find new design problems in everyday situations.

Video Creation/Editing

Shoot and edit video using industry leading software, Avid and Final Cut Pro.

Video Creation/Editing

Understand how typography, page layouts and image selection are crucial to effectively organizing and communicating content and information.

Website Development

Develop corporate and personal identity on the web. Build your online resume – a personal, online portfolio that showcases your best work – essential to your employment in this field.


Sketch out important design elements and produce the very first versions of your designs. Learn how to produce simple diagrams that contain the core of your ideas.

Course Structure

Design Computing gives you many skills, enough to practically build your own, unique degree. No two students need do exactly the same program. To help you balance your skills, there are a few things to know about getting the best from your Design Computing degree.

Each semester you will study 24 credit points. Most units are worth 6 credit points, so you’ll normally take four units. Some units are intensive, such as studio units. These are worth 12 credit points, so you’d take the studio and two others in that semester. You will need to complete all of the following requirements:

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Design Programming
Understanding Design and Cognition
Digital Design Studio
Designing Social Media
Database Systems 1
Design Computing Electives
Arts, Economics or Science Elective Elective
Information Visualisation Design Studio
Design Computing Electives
Arts, Economics or Science Elective
3D Modelling
Sound Design and Sonification
Design Computing Electives
Technical Elective
Interaction Design Studio
Design Computing Elective
Technical Elective
Human-Computer Experience Design Studio
Design Computing Elective
Technical Elective

You will have 10 electives. You must take three technical electives and three professional electives. At least one elective (6 credit points) from each of the Technical and Professional streams needs to be at second year level. Your remaining four electives can be split across Technical, Professional, Creative Arts or exclusive Design Computing electives. Some sample subject areas from which you choose your electives are suggested below:

Technical StreamProfessional StreamCreative Arts
Computer Science(INFO)Digital Cultures(ARIN)Object Design(AWSS)
Electrical Engineering(ELEC)Marketing and Advertising(MKTG)Graphic Design(AWSS)
Mechatronics and Robotic Experimentation(MTRX)Psychology(PSYC)Photography(AWSS)
Information Technology(INFO)Physics(PHYS)Web Art and Design(AWSS)
Information Systems(ISYS)Nanoscience and Technology
Business Information Systems(ISYS)

Note: These are subject areas and not individual units. Some units from other Faculties may have prerequisite requirements. Check the handbook for more information on individual units. Professional Stream units are listed as Arts Electives in the handbook.

You can extend your Design Computing degree by taking Design Computing exclusive units. These units build on the skills you learn in the rest of your degree and show your commitment to ideation and implementation.

Design Computing Exclusive Units
Independent Study – pursue your own project with supervision from an industry leader. Independent study lets you build the best of your own ideas and work to your own brief. You can take this unit multiple times throughout your degree, building multiple, personal projects.
Advanced Interaction Design – build on the principles of the interaction Design Studio (link) and Interactive Multimedia Design. This elective extends your skills in interaction design to the next level.
Principles of Animation – learn how animation functions and build understand 2d and 3d animation in this unit that specialises your animation skills.
Honours Preparation – pursue a year long research and design project that draws on all of your skills. This unit is necessary to enter into the Design Computing (Honours) program.

Ask a Question

Undergraduate Admissions Procedure

Year 12 Applications (UAC Admission)

Year 12 applicants (and those who completed a gap-year in the year preceding the course commencement) must apply through the University Admissions Centre (UAC).

Applicants are eligible for the Flexible Entry scheme if their ATAR is within 5 points of the ATAR cutoff for the commencement year of the degree. See below for details.

As a guide, the cutoffs for previous years’ commencements are provided below:

  2012 2011 2010
Bachelor of Design Computing  80.15 87.60 90.10

Non-Year 12 Applicants under the age of 21 (UAC Admission)

If you have completed the HSC or equivalent, and/or tertiary study, apply through the University Admissions Centre (UAC).

Your application will be evaluated by combining your ATAR and any applicable tertiary grades.

Applicants are eligible for the Flexible Entry scheme if their ATAR is within 5 points of the ATAR cutoff for the commencement year of the degree. See below for details.

Mature Age Entry Scheme:

If you are over 21 years of age and have not completed the HSC, its equivalent or more than one year of tertiary study, you can complete an approved preparation course through the University Centre for Continuing Education (CCE). Once you have completed this course, you can apply through UAC for entry into the Bachelor of Design Computing (and its combined programs).

You are eligible to apply through the flexible entry scheme. See below for details.

Contact the University Centre for Continuing Education for more information. You can call the Centre on (02) 9351 2907 or visit their website.

International Applicants (Onshore):

If you are an international student completing your HSC or equivalent within Australia or New Zealand, apply through the University Admissions Centre (UAC). You will be considered for a place based on your ATAR score. You are not eligible for the flexible entry scheme.

International Applicants (Offshore):

If you are an international student studying overseas (with the exception of students undertaking the HSC equivalents in New Zealand), you must apply through the University of Sydney’s International Office. You are not eligible for the flexible entry scheme.

International Mature Age Applicants (Onshore and Offshore)

If you are over 21 years of age, are not an Australian or New Zealand citizen and have not completed the HSC, its equivalent or at least one year of tertiary study, you must apply through the University of Sydney’s International Office. You are not eligible for the flexible entry scheme.

Other Applicants

If your high school qualification is not recognized, you can enroll in a foundational course. See the University’s Centre for Continuing Education for more information on which foundational courses provide entry pathways into the Bachelor of Design Computing. You are not eligible for the flexible entry scheme.

Flexible Entry

The flexible entry scheme is available to Bachelor of Design Computing applicants who fall under one of the following categories:

  • Year 12 applicants
  • Non-Year 12 applicants under the age of 21
  • Mature age applicants who are Australian citizens.

Flexible entry is designed to assist the University of Sydney to identify students who may not have achieved the required ATAR, but nonetheless demonstrate an aptitude for studies in Architecture.

More details on flexible entry are available on the Future Students page under Pathways


Scholarship Information is available under current students