Light and Vision (DESC9167)


In lighting design, the primary function of light is to facilitate visual perception of the illuminated scene. User-centred lighting design requires a thorough understanding of the biological link between light and vision. In this unit, students learn the fundamentals of the human visual system and the physical properties of light that impact perception. Specific topics includes an overview of visual anatomy, the behaviour of the photoreceptors, and post-receptoral processing that leads to colour perception. The spectral, spatial, and temporal characteristics of visual processing are also covered. Important visual phenomena, such as chromatic adaptation and contrast sensitivity, are discussed. The link between fundamental knowledge of the human visual system and the practical application of lighting design is emphasized.

Further unit of study information


Five day intensive (9am-5pm)


Two assignments (2 x 50%)

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules



Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.