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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

DESN3725 Information Design

20 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Dr Catherine Stones

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is not approved as a discovery module


This module examines how graphic design and images are used to communicate specific types of information: from scientific diagrams and maps to instruction manuals and pictograms. It will equip students with detailed knowledge about how graphics are used to communicate and the essential and subtle differences between using text-based and pictorial information in a variety of environments. The module will provide students with historical, theoretical and practical perspectives regarding information design. It provides opportunities to test out and apply theories and principles while designing their own set of information graphics. It will also introduce students to key methodologies used in the design industry and academia for evaluating information design.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students will be able to:
- understand and demonstrate knowledge of theories and principles of information design;
- select appropriate evaluation methods for analysing information design;
- critically evaluate an artefact that uses graphics to inform or instruct;
- plan, design and produce a set of information graphics in response to a communication problem.


Students will learn information design principles developed over several centuries. Students will study a wide range of work including John Snow's Cholera map of 1854, Henry Beck's London Underground Map, Otto Neurath's Isotype system, and the work of Margaret Calvert and Jock Kinneir and their UK road signage systems. Historical examples will be shown alongside contemporary solutions to communication problems and audience and ethical issues will be discussed. The role that new technologies play in the development of information graphics will also be examined.

Indicative Lecture Programme:
Map Design: A brief history of the 'flat land' and its future.
Pictograms: Is a picture worth a thousand words?
Open Here: What instructional graphics get right and wrong.
Wayfinding: Getting from A to B without words?
Case Study 1: The Role of Graphics in Health Communication.
Case Study 2: The Role of Information Graphics in Business Motivation.
Information Visualisation: Visualising large quantities of data for decision making.
Evaluation Methods 1: Establishing what you are trying to measure.
Evaluation Methods 2: Establishing how you can measure it.
Animation and Interactivity: New challenges for information graphics.

Lectures will take place in Semester 1 with tutorials taking places in Semester 2.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Directed reading: 20 hours
Independent research: 70 hours
Project production and evaluation: 90 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

During semester 1 students will keep a blog outlining a summary of their research and plans. They will receive written formative feedback from the tutor during semester 1. At the end of semester one students will submit their creative log and a design proposal which includes a literature review of the intended theme. Student progress will be monitored within the timetabled tutorial sessions - students will discuss their work in progress and verbal feedback will be provided every week in Semester 2.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Report1,500 word evaluative report20.00
Report2,000 word plan and literature review30.00
Reflective logCreative log10.00
ProjectDesign project40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

The assessment will consist of four parts. The creative log will evidence the research, creative and development process. The plan and literature review will demonstrate ability to apply theory to practise and to present a coherent plan for production. The design project will consist of designing a substantial set of information graphics to a specified brief. The evaluative report will include a methodology for testing the graphics, as well as results of the testing and a discussion, reflecting on strengths and weaknesses of the design.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 13/11/2018 09:25:35


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