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Start Date

1 year(s) full-time

Program Code

4GD102 (Internal)

Study as
Full-time or part-time

Degree overview

  • UniSA is No.1 in SA and top 10 in Australia for Art and Design1 and graduate careers in Creative Arts2.
  • Be taught by world-class leaders in research – UniSA's research in design is ranked world class3.
  • Gain advanced design and research skills, as they relate to emerging materials, new technologies and sustainability.
  • Learn in our state-of-the-art on-campus workshops.
  • Benefit from our networks and relationships with industry, government and community – locally, nationally and internationally.  
  • Learn from teachers who are practicing professionals with strong links to industry.
  • Work on real-life projects, gaining valuable practical experience. 

1Ranked equal 10th, 2019 QS Subject Rankings
2ComparED (QILT): Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017-19 – Overall Employment Indicator (Postgraduate). Public founded universities only.
3Results in Design Practice and Management - 2018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA)



This practical postgraduate qualification will equip you with a comprehensive understanding of sustainable design thinking as it relates to the changing world of design. This qualification balances sustainable design theory with practical design application, ensuring you build on your previously acquired knowledge and skill set.

Guided by your undergraduate training, you will have opportunities to explore emerging materials and new technologies, learn about Indigenous Knowledges and refine craft and design skills. In addition to these fundamental practical skills, a key part of your learning will relate to advanced research skills and you will graduate with the cognitive skills needed to review and analyse research. 

What you'll learn

What you Learn

Sustainability, emerging materials, new technologies and research are focal points of this graduate diploma. You will also study sustainable design theory and practice; social, cultural, economic and technological advancements and their impact on sustainable design; and research methodologies.

This graduate diploma comprises design research studio classes, sustainable design theory classes, research methods classes, and a selection 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
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
Principles of Sustainable Design ARCH 6006 4.5

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. 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:

  • research proposals
  • projects
  • literature/artefact reviews
  • seminar papers
  • essays and assignments
  • examinations
  • portfolios
  • exhibitions

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 (Sustainable Design)

Why this Degree

This industry-relevant postgraduate qualification equips you with sustainable design knowledge – it’s also a pathway to a Master of Design. As a design student you will practice your skills in our state-of-the-art, world-class design studios and workshops that boast digital fabrication equipment such as:

  • laser cutters
  • CNC routers
  • 3D printers
  • industry-standard motion-capture and virtual reality systems  

In addition to this practical experience, you will also benefit from our strong industry links and our world-class teaching staff.  Our commitment to research with an industry focus is unprecedented in South Australia. 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 design1 so you can be assured that by studying this graduate diploma at UniSA you will take away industry-relevant skills and knowledge. We are also fast becoming a renowned centre of innovation and enterprise in the sectors that will drive Australia's future, including smart manufacturing.

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

Real-world connections

Our teaching staff are highly trained industry professionals who bring with them years of experience. They have strong industry links and many hold professional positions with national and international organisations. For students this means links to industry and the opportunity to build important networks.

We also host regular University-wide employee master classes and employment expos, and alumni events in Australia and overseas.

Career outcomes

Your career

Job prospects in this field are looking good, with strong growth in employment expected in Australia through to November 20201. This graduate diploma allows you to augment your existing qualifications and career paths to include a sustainable design perspective and understanding. You could find work in construction; planning and development; renewable industries; government; merchandising; or design research and management. Careers to consider:  

  • sustainable design consultant: advise clients to ensure their products, services and buildings improve environmental performance and reduce environmental impact
  • project manager: responsible for delivering a project on time and within budget

To increase employability in this competitive industry it is recommended that students complete the additional year of study required at attain a Master of Design.   

1 Australian Government Department of Employment, Occupational Employment Projections

Industry facts


Employment for architects, designers, planners and surveyors in Australia is projected to increase by 17,500 (14.7 per cent) by November 20201.

1Australian Government Department of Employment, Occupational Employment Projections 2015


Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) has surpassed 700 certifications and registrations under the Green Star – Performance rating tool1.

1Green Building Council Australia 2017


Green Star rated buildings use 66 per cent less electricity than average buildings; produce 62 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions; use 51 per cent less potable water and recycle 96 per cent of their waste1.


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


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 areas 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 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

Our student support services can make your life at university easier. We provide a full range of support services including academic and personal counselling. You can also access a range of services through our students association, USASA. 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:

  • state-of-the-art on-campus 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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