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Students Wanted: Swinburne Design Anthropology FAQ

Swinburne Design is actively recruiting students who seek to engage in a design praxis based on the understanding the various human value systems and focused on designing tangible conditions for better ways of being with communities, companies, and the environment. Courses begin in late February 2011. Please feel free to contact me via email but also fill out a Enquiry form. But here are a few FAQs that I thought I would address:

What kinds of Design Anthropology programs does Swinburne Faculty of Design offer?

In its Design Anthropology programs, Swinburne offers (1) an onsite Masters of Design in Design Anthropology CRICOS: 073083K, (2) an online Graduate Diploma of Design in Design Anthropology through Swinburne and Open Universities Australia CRICOS: 072750K, and (3) the ability to take individual courses through OUA as well. You can apply for a PhD with an emphasis on Design Anthropology through the Indigenous Knowledge and Design Anthropology research group.

What are the programs' structures?

The Masters program consists of a three unit Core, five Discipline units, and selective four unit Specializations in Indigenous Knowledge, Cross-Cultural Brand Identity Design, and Sustainable Design. The structure recognizes that a grounding in Design Anthropology can lead to many different career paths among the non-proft sector, the governmental sector, or the industry/business sectors.  Visit the Swinburne MDes Design Anthropology page for more information on individual units. 

The online Graduate Diploma program consists of a three unit Core, three Discipline units, and selective two unit Specializations in Indigenous Knowledge, Cross-Cultural Brand Identity Design, and Sustainable Design. Visit the Swinburne or OUA GradDip pages for more information on individual units.


What is the philosophy behind Swinburne's Design Anthropology programs?

The programs are based on the idea that "Design translates values into tangible experiences." Whether in a community, company, or for your own professional practice, one should understand the value systems of the people with whom one engages directly or indirectly. Anthropology has always been a discipline seeking to understand people's value systems and continues to develop a wide range of theories and methods to accomplish those goals. Yet value systems are not experienced in the abstract, but are rather through the interaction with the things, messages, environments, and processes created in the world. Today, these things, messages, environments, and processes have become the knowledge domain of design. Thus, the Swinburne Design Anthropology program focuses on hybrid "designerly" and anthropological knowledge and practices that while has had their origins in industry, are being expanded in academia in order to create new practices for both fields. In the Swinburne Design Anthropology equal focus on developing skills in both thinking and making within every course, with an understanding that both create the conditions for better ways of being.

What are the career opportunities in Design Anthropology?

Employment may be found in areas such as marketing, user experience designers and researchers, branding and consumer insight specialists, government, and social and product innovation consultant. But this is a program designed to help you create new career opportunities.

Why should I enroll in Swinburne's Design Anthropology MDes Program, online GradDip, or take individual courses?

Over the last 10 years, Design Anthropology has become highly professionalized. Even the most entry level positions are asking for credentials and experience in the field. All the programs provide the credentials to demonstrate your knowledge of the field and ability to communicate the value of that knowledge to employers.

Of course, I encourage everyone to come to lovely Melbourne, Australia to gain the full experience of all the units the MDes program and share in building a strong cohort of diverse practitioners. The first cohort will have a special role to play in shaping the future of the Design Anthropology programs. But I do understand that some may have family or work obligations that prevent a 1.5 year move to Australia.

For those, I recommend that you engage in the online Graduate Diploma in Design Anthropology. Offered through OUA for those anywhere in the world (except international students onshore in Australia on student visas), you can complete the courses day or night and at your own pace.

Not ready for a full degree and just wanting to top up your skills? Open Universities Australia OUA offers the option of taking individual units in the Design Anthropology graduate diploma. These include courses on:
HDG530z  Research Methods for Design
HDG531z  Fundamental Design Studio
HDA650z  Introduction to Design Anthropology
HDA651z  History and Theory in Design Anthropology
HDA653z  Designing for Cultural Groups: Kin, Tribes and Communities
HDIK670z Indigenous Knowledge in Global Contexts
HDIK671z Indigenous Approaches of Designing for Cultural Wellness
HDCC670z Introduction to Cross Cultural Brand Identity Strategy
HDCC671z Design Strategy for a Global Context
HDSD670z Principles and Theories of Sustainable Design
HDSD672z Building Sustainable Design Practices

What are the requirements and how do I apply?

Successful completion of a bachelor degree program with the equivalent of an Australian system 60% grade average (or better) from a university recognised for social science or design education is required. Candidates with other tertiary qualifications and relevant industry experience will also be considered. An entrance essay and design/design strategy portfolio is required for all applicants to the program. A design strategy portfolio consists of a series of 1-2 page project case studies that demonstrate the applicant’s holistic approach to formulating and solving social challenges through anthropological and design thinking.

The normal requirement for admission to the Master of Design (Design Anthropology) program and the Graduate Diploma of Design (Design Anthropology) program is a bachelor degree with the equivalent of an Australian system 60% grade average (or better) in a design, social science (especially anthropology), humanities, information science or human-computer interaction discipline.

The Master of Design (Design Anthropology) and the Graduate Diploma of Design (Design Anthroplogy) also provide an entry point for applicants who do not hold a degree but have at least eight years relevant industry experience demonstrating potential to undertake work at this level.

Candidates for the MDes can apply via Swinburne. GradDip candidates can apply via Swinburne or OUA.

What are the costs for 2011?

The per unit indicative course tuition fee for 2011 is $2100 Australian Dollars. The indicative course tuition fee is $16800 Australian Dollars for 2011, based on one year full time load (or 1 EFTSL). The total tuition fee is dependent upon the combination of units of study selected by the student. Fees are reviewed each year and may increase.

Why should I apply now?

Honestly, the viability of the Design Anthropology programs at Swinburne depends on having a strong cohort of students engaged in it. This is important to the University, who has taken a risk in establishing the program. It is important to our industry partners who want to hire our future students. It is important to those of you who want to grow the praxis of design anthropology.


Dori