Design History and Theory


This module aims to deepen the learners understanding the importance of design history and theory.  It will provide a foundation for learners to independently and critically investigate, analyse, evaluate, discuss and write about works of design.  Learners will acquire skills to further their study in the discipline and ultimately to augment their own development as designers. The module is designed to introduce the learner to a methodological toolkit to analyse diverse examples of design.  In the first semester there will be a global perspective on design and material culture from an eclectic range of significant case studies from pre-history, to classical European antiquity up to the Industrial Revolution incorporating diverse examples from natural found objects to working with materials including ceramics, textiles, woodwork, glass, metalwork, and architecture.

The second semester will focus on theories and artefacts of Modern design from the Industrial revolution to the late twentieth century. The objects and theories of Modernism will be explored in their social, economic, cultural and historic contexts. The module will explore the history of leading design movements and profile the work of designers and theoreticians linked to these movements. Developments in new materials, technologies and techniques and their impact on design will be integral to the lecture series. The processes of innovation and entrepreneurship in key designers' contributions to design history will also be considered, as will the legacy and impact of their work on contemporary design.

The importance and vitality of experiential learning by viewing actual artefacts of design and material culture will be encouraged with guided field trips to a local venue, the Galway City Museum and one of the National Museums of Ireland.

A range of links to GMIT library resources, audio-visual materials, activities and discussion forums will be available to module participants on the GMIT virtual learning environment, Moodle.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Write and present clearly articulated, factually supported critical reflections on a topic from the lecture series employing academic methods of research and citation.

  2. Acquire and use a specialist vocabulary to articulate verbal and written analysis of works of design.

  3. Demonstrate their ability to consider the relationship between aesthetic forms and utilitarian functions in the analysis and of design.

  4. Distinguish between historic movements and styles and identify their key characteristics and consider the ideological contexts of these periods.

  5. Develop core skills in critical analysis through a range of research methods and reflective writing.

  6. Construct a record of engagement with lecture topics in the form of an illustrated record of independent research accompanied by reflective writing supported by references to sources.

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