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Start date

1 year(s) full-time

Program Code

2021: AUD$ 34,300 per annum (per 1.0 EFTSL)

English Language Requirements
  • IELTS total [6.5]
  • IELTS reading [6.0]
  • IELTS writing [6.0]
Equivalent English qualifications (PDF)

International Admission by Country
See full entry requirements


Degree overview

  • Gain advanced design and research skills, as they relate to visual communications. 
  • Benefit from our networks and relationships with the design industry – locally, nationally and internationally.
  • Work on real-life projects, gaining valuable practical experience.
  • Learn from teachers who are established designers.
  • Use this qualification as a pathway to further learning, including Masters and PhD studies.
  • UniSA is top 10 in Australia for graduate careers in creative arts1.
  • We are also the only SA university ranked for art and design2.
  • Be taught by world-class leaders in research – UniSA's research in communication design is ranked world-class3.

1ComparED (QILT): Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017-19 – Overall Employment Indicator (Postgraduate). Public founded universities only.
22020 QS Subject Rankings
3Results in Design Practice and Management - 2018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA)



This postgraduate qualification will equip you with a comprehensive understanding of the innovative, changing world of communication design.  

A key focus of this graduate diploma is the development and application of research processes. In conjunction with industry, you will be given the opportunity to work on creative projects, developing skills in writing project proposals and presenting information.

Practical learning also means you will gain the skills and knowledge needed to create stimulating, effective visual communications, as well as the confidence to be creative across a range of communication platforms. 

What you'll learn

What you Learn

To be an effective communication designer you need to be able to identify problems, and to examine and develop strategies and approaches to overcome them. This qualification addresses design issues that you may be faced with in the workplace such as socio-cultural change, economic constraints, and environmental impacts.

This graduate diploma comprises design research studio classes, advanced research skills, introduction to sustainable design, business practice and a choice of electives. You will develop an advanced understanding of communication design principles and graduate with the ability to develop and design effective communications for a range of audiences. You will also acquire the cognitive skills needed to review and analyse research.

Degree structure

Course name Area and cat no. Units Reference  
First Semester (Study Period 1, 2 or 3)
Research Studio 1 GRAP 5005 9
AAD Research Methods VSAR 4003 4.5
Nature, Culture and Sustainability ARCH 6005 4.5
Second Semester (Study Period 4, 5 or 6)
Research Studio 2 GRAP 5006 9
Business Practice for Artists and Designers VSAR 5006 4.5
Elective 4.5 Note(s): 1,2

Study hours

For each course you study, you will need to allocate time for various classes such as lectures, tutorials, workshops, seminars and practicals. Plus you will need additional hours to study in your own time to complete assignments, readings and projects and contribute to online discussion forums (independent study). So as a general rule, if you are studying full-time you would need to allocate 12 – 26 hours of study when at university and 14 – 28 hours of independent study per week.



Your studies will incorporate practical, professionally focused and research-based learning, so assessment types will vary. You can expect them to include:

  • projects
  • research proposals
  • literature/artefact reviews
  • essays and assignments

Global opportunities

Enrich your studies and your life – make overseas study part of your qualification. Australian and international students may have the option to do an exchange, short-term program or study tour overseas. We have links with universities worldwide. You can choose short-term or semester-long study from a range of universities and countries depending on your area of study and cultural interests.

Take a look at the global opportunities available.

Global opportunities

Why Graduate Diploma in Design (Communication Design)

Why this Degree

If you are interested in communication design and want to develop your research skills this graduate diploma is a great choice. The teaching staff are professional designers, so the curriculum is industry-relevant and mostly practical in nature. You will also benefit from working alongside world-class researchers in communication design1.

Our commitment to research with an industry focus is unprecedented in South Australia. In the 2018 Excellence in Research for Australia evaluation, 100 per cent of our assessed research was rated world-class or above. It’s a very good time to choose UniSA for your postgraduate study.

1 2018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA)

Real-world connections

You will benefit from our strong industry links and relationships with the design profession locally, nationally and internationally, with many teaching staff holding professional positions with influential design organisations. This is great news for you, as it means you can build important networks with potential collaborators and employers. Our teaching staff are highly trained industry professionals who bring with them years of experience. 

UniSA offers an extensive range of career-related events and workshops online, on campus and around Adelaide to develop your skills and increase your knowledge.

Career outcomes

Your career

Creativity, patience, motivation, commitment - and of course excellent communication skills - are all qualities of a successful communication designer. This industry is expecting strong growth in employment prospects1. Careers to consider:

  • animation and motion designer: use graphic software to create animated images
  • art director: responsible for the visual aspects of a publication, campaign or other published material; a chief liaison between the client and designers
  • graphic designer: create visual concepts to inspire, inform and captivate an audience
  • communications designer: specialised graphic designer that uses software applications to create visual design elements for publishers, web developers and multimedia companies
  • illustrator: produce still drawings for use in advertisements, magazines, on packaging, greeting cards and in newspapers
  • typographer: create the typeface that graphically reflects a client’s brief
  • web designer: create and maintain websites, this may include the design, layout and coding

1Australian Government, Job Outlook, 2020

Industry facts


Employment for graphic and web designers, and illustrators in Australia is projected to increase by 6,800 (14.5 per cent) by November 20201.

1Australian Government Department of Employment, Occupational Employment Projections 2015


The number of graphic and web designers, and illustrators in Australia expected to reach 53,300 by 20201.

1ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Employment trend data to November 2015 and Department of Employment projections to 2020.

How to apply

How to apply for international students will give you helpful information about the application process at the University of South Australia. When you are ready, apply through our International Application System. If you would like to talk to someone near you about studying at the University of South Australia, we have agents all over the world who can assist you. Find an Education Agent in your country.


Every year, over 2,500 UniSA students are supported in their studies through scholarships and grants worth millions of dollars. Check out the scholarships below. One of them may be perfect for you. Visit our scholarships page for more.

More scholarships

Your study experience and support

As a student at the University of South Australia you will have unique access to work placement opportunities, overseas study tours and exchanges, networking events, internships, guest speakers and more.

Our campuses are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities including modern lecture theatres, libraries, workshops, laboratories, and areas that simulate real work environments. These are all supported by the latest technologies and a 24/7 online learning platform. We have health services on campus, gymnasiums, technology zones and great student lounges. You will also have access to a range of community clinics, which provide professional and cost effective services in areas of health, law and psychology. There are campus sport activities to keep you active, and if you are keen to explore the social side of university life, there are movies, cooking demonstrations, parties and lots more.

Adelaide has a variety of accommodation options to suit different requirements and budgets. Options include dedicated student accommodation or private rentals. See our long-term accommodation pages for plenty of options. If you need somewhere to live, our new student accommodation by urbanest is on Bank Street in Adelaide’s lively cultural precinct, a perfect location for students. It is within easy reach of UniSA’s city and metropolitan campuses, Rundle Mall shopping, the Central Market, Chinatown, and the West End’s vibrant nightlife. It is also across the road from the Adelaide train station, and on bus and tram routes.

Student services

Student services

International Student Services will make your life at university easier. We want you to be successful, and if you need help we will be there to assist. Support services include:

  • careers advice
  • help with student visas and health cover
  • personal counselling
  • academic counselling
  • fees and finance help
  • common rooms
  • prayer rooms
  • security officers
  • services offered through our student association, USASA
  • accommodation services 

We also offer study support from our Learning Advisers. You can work with them face-to-face or online. They are here to help you develop academically and professionally during your studies. They also offer help with the English language. When you become a UniSA student you can contact Campus Central for help with anything related to your degree. They will help you with your enrolment, ID cards, fees, timetables and any other questions you might have.

24/7 digital environment

Our learnonline facilities include a personal learning environment with virtual classrooms, lecture recordings, emails, learning support, administration, library access and results. The environment is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so you can tailor your learning to your life. We are continually investing in innovative digital technologies for a high-quality student learning experience.

Student services

Your campus

We have six campuses in metropolitan and regional areas, each with advanced facilities including modern lecture theatres, libraries, laboratories, and areas that simulate real work environments.

Location This degree is delivered at the following campus.

Your study spaces

As a design student, you will have access to:

  • dedicated custom-built design studios and workshops
  • the University library’s collection of art, craft and design resource materials, which is the largest in the state
Your study spaces

Your program director

I’m passionate about increasing awareness of Indigenous knowledges and providing expansive opportunities for students to engage in the educational process.

Mr Peter Walker

Program Director

Portrait image for Mr Peter Walker
Portrait image for Mr Peter Walker

Mr Peter Walker

Program Director


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