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Political Economy of Design (ABPL90411)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5Not available in 2019

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Year of offerNot available in 2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeABPL90411
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Political Economy of Design seeks to position and discuss architecture in relation to the world of production, economic interests and community benefits, at a local and global scale. By integrating yet moving beyond the stylistic, technological or sociological aspects of the discipline, the discussion reviews the industrial elements that are likely to affect programmatic objectives, formal directions and technical outcomes of building projects. Such discussion has a strong comparative bent, and is coloured by the notion of innovation - what it means from a social, technical and cultural point of view, and how it enters and affects different building markets. Attention is directed at understanding the distinction between innovation on one side and invention and technological change on the other. In this context, architecture's connection with planning and building disciplines is examined and criticised in the attempt to formulate a strategic framework for its use as an environmental policy instrument.

The subject has a lecture component and a research component. The lecture component provides a general theoretical framework largely borrowed from political economy, industrial theory, innovation theory and labour studies literature, but adapted to the analysis of the design and building sector. The research component seeks to apply the elements of this framework to a specific situation providing opportunities for applied research.

Intended learning outcomes

  • Identify and engage with the various types of environmental conditions that have an impact upon the role of the design professions, the configuration of the building industry and the nature of its products in any given region;
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the relationship between design practice, cultural values, spatial needs and industrial landscapes

Generic skills

  • On completion of this subject students should have developed the following: • Ability to peruse project archives; • Ability to undertake ideal-type analysis; • Understanding of the type of industrial data required in socio-technical studies; • Ability to identify and use building industry's databases; • Ability to derive theoretical positions from empirical work; • Ability to prepare and conduct technical interviews with industry representatives; • Ability to combine data from primary and secondary sources for the development of a scholarly argument; • Ability to translate these data into a cohesive piece of original research.

Eligibility and requirements





Non-allowed subjects


Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home


Additional details

  • Class participation and presentation reflecting knowledge and understanding of the reading materials provided, equivalent to 1000 words, during the teaching period 20%
  • A research project due at the end of the semester and equivalent to 4000 words, due 3 weeks after the class class (25/10/2019), 80%.

Dates & times

Not available in 2019

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    General references provided by the instructor in the course of the semester

  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 5 September 2019