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Associate Degree of Design and Visual Communication


The path to your dream job is laid out right here.

If you're drawn to the idea of a profession where your imagination is your only limitation, then chances are design and visual communication will be your type of career.

Our course is about much more than visual aesthetics, providing you with a detailed understanding and hands-on experience of the role of design in the contemporary world. You’ll explore branding and identity design, online and print design, digital image-making and user-centred design. You’ll create targeted designs with a particular audience in mind, and develop the skills to come up with creative solutions to complex problems in almost any context.

At SAE you won’t find yourself in a lecture with 300 people or even in a traditional lecture at all. You’ll be in a studio environment with the latest Adobe Creative Suite.

Your growth and development will be assessed holistically based on your engagement with and completion of industry style projects and you’ll learn to apply a strategic, entrepreneurial eye to your clients’ needs. You will build up a diverse portfolio of work to share with potential employers and clients.

In preparation for an industry that demands agility and adaptability, you’ll cut your creative teeth on projects in partnership with your course peers. As your skills develop you will work on more future-focussed and collaborative projects, applying your capabilities to cross-disciplinary projects. By the end of your course, you could be working with fellow students across SAE’s global network.

Ultimately, this is all about a qualification that will allow you to flourish in a rapidly changing world, giving you the skills to apply design-led solutions to a wide range of communication challenges. With a design qualification, you could work in large corporations, small agencies, as a freelancer or as part of entrepreneurial project teams in any industry. Work placement will provide practical experience and help to build your network. You’ll be equipped with employability skills, giving you professional strategies in communication and self-promotion and the confidence to claim your place in the workforce.

For those wanting to go the extra, and thousands of miles, you can complete up to two trimesters of your course at selected SAE campuses across the planet. Real-world experience just went worldwide.

All of this is to ensure one very important thing – that you finish as a visual and creative professional ready to make an impact on the world in your own unique way.

Upon completion, you will be eligible for up to 80 credit points towards the Bachelor of Design and Visual Communication.

*SAE has a range of approaches to learning and teaching that can be activated to provide flexibility in the face of changing circumstances as required, to support student progression regardless of external factors.

Find out more about studying Design at SAE

Enquire Now


Graduate Roles may include

  • Creative director
  • User interface designer
  • Digital designer
  • Motion graphic designer
  • Content manager
  • Art director


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Design Industry

Industry in Focus
Over the five years to November 2019, the number of job openings for Graphic and Web Designers, and Illustrators is expected to be above average (between 25,000-50,000).*

ISBA Environment Scan 2015

Industry Associations & Partners

ArtsHub logoAustralian Experimental Art FoundationAdobe

Good Design Australia logo

DX6D4 - Associate Degree of Design and Visual Communication


  • Brisbane
  • Byron Bay
  • Melbourne
  • Perth
  • Sydney


Your learning experience

  • Start design studio work in trimester 2.
  • Work with a range of talented students and staff, build professional networks, and collaborate on real-world projects.
  • Experience a course designed in collaboration with industry partners, develop the skills the creative industries want.
  • Develop advanced skills in industry-standard software packages, including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Adobe XD and After Effects.
  • Build high-level visual thinking and design knowledge.
  • Learn how to produce advanced design solutions for campaigns, and in print and online work.
  • Learn marketing skills relevant to the current industry such as the development of social media and communication campaigns.
  • Become part of an exceptionally creative, multi-disciplinary team: be encouraged to take creative risks, work collaboratively, and develop artistic independence.

Associate Degree of Design and Visual Communication

The Design Associate Degree program is broken up into discrete stages, each designed to promote different skills.

Stages of Design Degree

Stage I – Foundational Skills Development

In Stage I, students will undertake a number of foundational modules which provide the essential technical skills and knowledge for the design discipline. Students will take part in critique sessions, journaling and feedback activities that will allow them to identify the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required for purposeful creative media practice.

Design Studio 1

In this introduction to the studio environment students work on a series of more complex projects, in response to briefs and in creative collaboration with peers. Students conceptualise, plan and execute design projects, developing a collection of work that will contribute towards a portfolio. In this module, the facilitator acts as project manager, executive producer, mentor, and colleague. Emphasis will be placed on advancing student skills in the areas of project and production management.


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Stage II – Interdisciplinary Projects, Media and Cultural Studies

In Stage II we show students how their work contributes to and interacts with broader cultural and media practices through common and studio modules. This knowledge will enable students to work with a variety of other disciplines, expanding their potential on the global stage. Within Stage II, students develop a more sophisticated, deliberate and reflective practice. Student projects within Stage II are reflective of real-world scenarios; containing legitimate dilemmas, authentic audiences and the typical constraints that would exist in professional practice.

Students complete a number of real-world projects with students in their own discipline and in other SAE programs. At the end of each studio module, students showcase and celebrate their work in a public exhibition.

Stage II has two studio modules; 

Design Studio 3
In collaboration with peers, students will work within a simulated studio environment working across multiple projects. Emphasis is placed on advancing student's intermediate-level design productions through conceptualising, planning and executing design projects that will contribute towards a portfolio. Working to multiple deadlines, students will explore a range of skills and workflows in collaborative, cross-disciplinary and individual work.

Stage III

Stage III of the Bachelor’s Program is designed to prepare students for entry-level professional industry roles and to undertake post-graduate studies. Stage III develops a student’s capacity to work with the collaborative and geographically diverse world of creative media practice.

To prepare students for this, SAE project supervisors and facilitators work with Stage III students to develop sophisticated, collaborative creative media projects which meet the professional standards of the industry. These final projects are done in collaboration with all other SAE disciplines, either on campus or remotely, enabling students to pursue their most ambitious and creative portfolio pieces yet.

To support this, students in Stage III learn advanced discipline-specific skills and knowledge, experience remote, collaborative practice with their peers across the SAE campus network, broaden their skills and knowledge through studying elective modules in other disciplines, or in creative media business and entrepreneurship and finally, gain industry feedback on their transferable skills through the finalisation of SAE’s creative industries Work Integrated Learning Program.

Stage III is NOT included in the Associate Degree.

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Vocational outcomes of the Associate Degree of Design and Visual Communication

Students who have completed the Associate Degree of Design and Visual Communication would have opportunities in the professional workplace as:

  • Graphic Designer
  • Print and Digital Designer
  • UX Designer
  • UI Designer
  • Motion Graphics Designer
  • Content Manager
  • Social Media Designer


SAE design graduates have been involved with well-known companies in advertising, marketing and retail, including:

  • The Printing Place
  • Harvey Norman
  • George Patterson Johnson
  • World Wide Printing
  • Flash Graphics
  • New Moon Studios
  • Four Stripes
  • Seven West Media
  • Summit
  • MBE Design


Associate Degree of Design and Visual Communication
Trimester 1 (1st Year)
Scholarly Perspectives on DesignPrinciples of DesignFundamentals of Image MakingDesign for Print Media
Trimester 2
Contemporary Industrial PracticesUser Centred DesignDesign Studio 1
Trimester 3
Media StudiesDesign Studio 2
Trimester 4 (2nd Year)
Cultural PerspectivesDesign Studio 3
  • Creative Industry Unit
  • Discipline Specialisation Unit


Studios are professionally oriented production units modelled on real-world work environments.

Exit point options:

Option to complete your studies with a Diploma of Graphic Design after 80 credit points (the first prescribed 7-8 units).

Trimester 1
Scholarly Perspectives on Design
Principles of Design
Fundamentals of Image Making
Design for Print Media
Trimester 2
Contemporary Industrial Practices
User Centred Design
Design Studio 1
Trimester 3
Media Studies
Design Studio 2
Trimester 4
Cultural Perspectives
Design Studio 3
  • Creative Industry Unit
  • Discipline Specialisation Unit


Studios are professionally oriented production units modelled on real-world work environments.

Exit point options:

Option to complete your studies with a Diploma of Graphic Design after 80 credit points (the first prescribed 7-8 units).

Key Info


    6 Trimesters Full Time

    4 Trimesters Fast Tracked Full Time


    Sep 2021

    Feb 2022

    May 2022


    Enrol By: 08 Oct 2021

    Trimester Start: 20 Sep 2021

    Trimester End: 27 Aug 2021



Entry requirements

Applicants for degree courses must satisfy one of the following minimum entry criteria:

  1. Completion of an Australian Senior Secondary Certificate of Education (SSCE) or equivalent, OR
  2. Completion of a diploma level qualification issued under the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), OR
  3. Experience Based Entry for applicants who do not meet the requirements above. 'Enquire Now' or call 1800 723 338 directly for more information.

Fees and Payments

Fees: view our current Fee Schedule for information on SAE course fees.

Payment options: Fee-Help, or upfront trimester instalments.

Credit and recognition of prior learning

SAE may recognise your prior learning and may grant credit towards satisfying the requirements for a VET or a higher-level program. This is applied where previous learning is considered equivalent to the content and learning outcomes prescribed for modules within the program.

For full details, please refer to SAE's policy on recognition of prior learning and credit transfers.

Find more information on how to apply and the enrolment process here, or call 1800 723 338 to speak with a course advisor.


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