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Polemic Design in China Japan Korea (ABPL90388)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2018
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeABPL90388
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Fragments of design thinking in East Asia, such as those of Japan and of current China, are well known or at least accessible. Yet there is hardly a concise, critical and comprehensive study on modern and current architecture of China, Japan and Korea together, as a whole and as a challenging case in design thinking on the world stage. This subject aims to provide such a study. The teaching and the debate in this subject focus on ‘polemic’ designs in these countries from the 1950s to the 2010s – designs that are interesting or controversial in formal, urban, cultural, social or political sense. By focusing on these critical cases, a broader history of design thinking dating back to the modern and ancient pasts, and generic currents of design practice in relation to the modern political history of the countries and the region are also studied. This subject aims to explore a gap of knowledge in the current design discourse on modernism and contemporary architecture. It aims to help construct a pluralist and multi-polar knowledge of architecture of the world in which a non-western case provides a critical contribution.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon completing this subject, students should have obtained:

  • A general knowledge of modern and current architecture of east Asia (China, Japan & Korea);
  • A set of focused cases of post-war and current architecture of the three countries;
  • A deeper knowledge and an insight obtained through a self-driven, self-defined mini-thesis on an architect or a design;
  • Skills of deep/close reading;
  • Skills of catalogue/bibliographic research;
  • Basic skills of critical analysis (historical, formal and spatial);
  • Skills of writing;
  • Skills of presentation.

Generic skills

  • Skills of deep/close reading;
  • Skills of catalogue/bibliographic research;
  • Basic skills of critical analysis (historical, formal and spatial);
  • Skills of writing;
  • Skills of presentation.

Eligibility and requirements


Admission into a course at the Melbourne School of Design



Non-allowed subjects


Recommended background knowledge

Modern/Contemporary Architecture (General) or Modern History/Culture of East Asia

Core participation requirements

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry. The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://www.services.unimelb.edu.au/disability



  • Proposal of a mini-thesis topic (200 words), due week 3 (10%);
  • Annotated bibliography for the mini-thesis (700 words), due week 6 (20%);
  • Power Point Presenation presentation of the mini-thesis (10 min), due week 9 (30%);
  • Final submission of the mini-thesis (a 3600 word paper), due week 12 (40%).

Dates & times

  • Semester 2
    Principal coordinatorJianfei Zhu
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours3 hours per week
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period23 July 2018 to 21 October 2018
    Last self-enrol date 3 August 2018
    Census date31 August 2018
    Last date to withdraw without fail21 September 2018
    Assessment period ends16 November 2018

    Semester 2 contact information

Time commitment details

170 hours

Further information


There are no specifically prescribed or recommended texts for this subject.

Related course

Related majors/minors/specialisations

Last updated: 23 October 2017