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Start Date

2 year(s) full-time

Program Code

Study as
Full-time or part-time

Degree overview

  • Gain advanced design and research skills.
  • Learn in our custom-built campus workshops and studios.
  • Work on real-life projects, gaining valuable practical experience.
  • Study at the No.1 university in South Australia for graduate skills in Architecture1
  • Benefit from our networks and relationships with industry – locally, nationally and internationally.
  • Learn from teachers who are established designers.
  • Use this qualification as a pathway to further study.
  • Be taught by world-class leaders in research – UniSA's research in communication design is ranked world-class2.
  • UniSA is an unstoppable university for unstoppable people. As one of the World’s Top Young Universities3, we’ll ensure you get the experience your future profession demands so it’ll feel like you’re studying one minute and in a career the next.

1ComparED (QILT) Student Experience Survey 2021-22, Architecture and Built Environment – Skills Development Indicator (Undergraduate and Postgraduate). SA public universities.
Results in Design Practice and Management - 2018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA)
3UNSTOPPABLE® is a Kellogg Company trade mark used under licence. Ranked #52, 2023 THE Young University Rankings.



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

With a strong focus on adaptability and the importance of responding to changing design issues, you will gain advanced skills in areas such as web and print design, as well as emerging technologies and research processes.

In conjunction with industry, you will also be given the opportunity to work on creative projects, developing skills in writing project proposals and presenting information.

In addition to the necessary practical skills, a key part of your learning will relate to advanced research and you will graduate with the cognitive skills needed to review and analyse information.

You may also complete an industry placement as part of an elective.

Advanced Standing

Applicants who have completed a Bachelor (Honours) degree in the same specific discipline may be eligible to enter the program with 1.0 EFTSL Advanced Standing and complete the program in 1 year of full time study or equivalent part time study. Applicants must submit a portfolio of work, curriculum vitae and a written statement of intent.

2 years- SATAC CODE 4CM131

1 year- SATAC CODE 4CM208

What you'll learn

What you Learn

To be an effective communication designer, you need to be able to identify problems and 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
  • environmental impacts

You will also develop an advanced understanding of communication design principles and graduate with the ability to develop and design effective communications for a range of audiences. Cognitive skills needed to review and analyse research will also be developed.

This master degree comprises design research studio classes, academic research skills, introduction to sustainable design, business practice and a choice of electives.

Degree structure

Course name Area and cat no. Units Reference  
First Semester (Study Period 1, 2 or 3)
Research Studio 1 GRAP 5005 9 Rule(s): 1
Research Methods (Creative) CREA 4004 4.5 Rule(s): 1
Nature, Culture and Sustainability ARCH 6005 4.5 Rule(s): 1
Second Semester (Study Period 4, 5 or 6)
Research Studio 2 GRAP 5006 9 Rule(s): 1
Business Practice for Artists and Designers VSAR 5006 4.5
Elective 4.5 Note(s): 1,2 Rule(s): 1
First Semester (Study Period 1, 2 or 3)
Masters Project 1 GRAP 6001 9
Masters Project Report 1 ARCH 5036 4.5
Elective 4.5
Second Semester (Study Period 4, 5 or 6)
Masters Project 2 GRAP 6002 9
Masters Project Report 2 ARCH 5037 4.5
Elective 4.5 Note(s): 1,2 Rule(s): 1

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, as well as to contribute to online discussion forums. 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:

  • design studio project work
  • project analysis, documentation and management
  • placement reports
  • research proposals
  • literature/artefact reports

There may also be essays, assignments and examinations.

Global opportunities

Enrich your studies and your life – make overseas study part of your qualification. You may have the option to undertake an exchange, short-term program or study tour overseas while you study. We have links with universities worldwide, as well as a range of travel grants available to make going overseas much more accessible.

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 Master of Design (Communication Design)

Why this Degree

This unique qualification will extend your knowledge and skills in graphics and communication design. It will also provide you with advanced research skills.

The Master of Design (Communication Design) builds on your existing knowledge and skills and will extend your learning in preparation for a rewarding career across a range of creative employment sectors, including:

  • advertising
  • branding
  • merchandising
  • communication
  • publication design.

UniSA boasts purpose-built studio spaces and five floors of impressive workshops that feature state-of-the-art digital equipment.

You will also benefit from:

  • our strong industry links when you embark on industry placements
  • our world-class teaching staff
  • industry master classes hosted by national and international industry professionals

Our teaching staff are professional designers, so the curriculum is industry-relevant and mostly practical in nature. You will also work alongside world-class researchers in communication design1.

It’s a very good time to choose UniSA for your postgraduate study.

1Results in Design Practice and Management - 2018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA)

Real-world connections

Our teaching staff are highly trained industry professionals with years of experience. They have strong industry links, and many hold professional positions with national and international organisations. For you, this means links to industry and the opportunity to build important networks with future collaborators and employers.  

UniSA also has well over 2,500 national and international industry partnerships – providing further opportunities for you to build meaningful industry relationships.

As part of your studies, you may also take part in an industry placement or attend master classes hosted by industry professionals.

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

This industry is expecting strong growth in long-term employment prospects Australia-wide1.

Graduates from this degree enjoy careers in a variety of roles, such as:

  • 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 and communications designer: create visual concepts to inspire, inform or captivate an audience; use software applications to create visual design elements for publishers, web developers and multimedia companies
  • web designer: create and maintain websites; this may include including the design, layout and coding.

Creativity, patience, motivation, commitment and, of course, excellent communication skills, are all qualities of a successful communication designer. 

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

Applying to study with us:

  • go to the top of this page and make note of the SATAC code, then click Apply
  • you will be redirected through to the SATAC website to continue your application

Alternative Pathways

There are other pathways you can follow to study this degree, including: 

This degree is part of a nested suite of degrees, which means you may be able to exit early and graduate with a Graduate Diploma in Design. 


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

Our campuses have fantastic facilities including modern lecture theatres, libraries, workshops, laboratories, tech zones, and spaces that simulate real work environments. You’ll also find student gyms and campus sport activities to keep you active. We also offer flexible study options, with online resources available for accessing lecture recordings, virtual classrooms, library resources and learning support. 

Adelaide also has a variety of accommodation options to suit different requirements and budgets. Options include dedicated student accommodation and private rentals. See our long-term accommodation pages, or explore our student accommodation by Scape on Bank Street in Adelaide’s lively cultural precinct, an ideal 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

Our student services provide you with all the support you need at university. You can access a full range of support services including academic and personal counselling, career advice, social support services, as well as those through our student association, USASA. When you become a UniSA student, you can also contact Campus Central for help with anything related to your degree. They will help you with your enrolment, ID cards, fees, timetables and more.

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 modern facilities including lecture theatres, libraries and laboratories, as well as spaces 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:

  • custom-built on-campus design studios and workshops
  • the South Australian School of Art Gallery
  • 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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