M.Des. (Communication Design)

Objective of the program | Outcome of the Programme | Curriculum | Pedagogical Principles | Course Abstracts | Teaching Methodology | Admission Process

Objective of the program

The Master of Design (Communication Design) is a two-year post-graduate program (4 semesters). The program offers the students opportunity to specialize in Visual Communication Design and Interaction Design. Its distinctive pedagogic format encourages learning of basic design skills, the use of digital technologies and an understanding of the cultural and aesthetic aspects of communication practices. The objective of the program is to prepare young professionals for careers in the publishing, creative media and infotainment industries and the academia. Unlike other Design programmes offered in various institutions, the MDes programme in DAIICT blends Design concepts, skills and practices with Liberal Arts inputs from the domains of sociology and anthropology that help the student to understand and engage with diverse real-life contexts within which they have to evolve specific communication strategies.

The overall objective of the programme is to prepare students towards employability in the creative media industry (as a conceptualizer, visualizers, app developers, advertising creatives etc) to develop their own independent studios and start-ups and also pursue further studies in Design Research and Teaching.

  • To create a uniquely creative individual who would be capable of using digital technology, (among others) to integrate various channels, forms and media of communication in a culturally sensitive manner that is crucial for meeting the challenges of the modern world.
  • To train individuals who are thoughtful, creative and have an understanding of techno-aesthetic. The aim is to produce individuals capable of carving a unique position for themselves in the world of ICT by equipping them with the knowledge of multi-disciplinary approaches to issues of communication.
  • To situate ICT in a domain of intellectual engagement that arrives at a more effective understanding of the multiple cultures of communication that hold societies together.
  • The training provided at this Institute is aimed not at just providing students with skills required in the market but to make them learn and apply the ever-increasing tools of communication in culturally sensitive ways.

Given the growing and ever-changing demands of the market, the program wishes to direct the creative potential of its students to two major areas of specialization viz. ‘Visual Communication Design’ and ‘Interactive Communication Design’. Both areas of specialization would be built upon a strong foundation that will impart training in basic design sensibility, the uses of digital technologies and the cultural and aesthetic components of communication practices.

Outcome of the Programme

At the end of the two-year programme students would have acquired a range of skills and conceptual tools that would enable them to design communication through the use of various media- including print, film, photography and interactive digital media. They would be able to conceptualize visualize and prototype solutions to various communication problems. Apart from being able to use and apply a range of communication design software, students would be able to design and illustrate books, compose photographs, make films (documentary, feature and animation), design websites and develop apps. In brief, they would have acquired the conceptual, aesthetic, technical and craft skills that make for effective communication design.


The two-year program of study leading to M. Des. degree is divided into four semesters along with a summer semester between the first and second years. Each semester the student will take up four courses offered by the program (see details below). In each semester, a student must register for a minimum of 12 credits.

An M. Des. student must have a minimum CPI of 6.0/10.0 in order to graduate and must maintain a minimum CPI of 5.0/10.0 in order to continue in the program. The student must earn a minimum of 60 credits in order to obtain the degree.

Semester I: Foundation
1. Approaches to Culture and Communication PC721
2. Fundamentals of Design – I PC722
3. Information Design PC746
4. Image Text Sound PC749
5. Introduction to the History of Design PC748
Semester II: Extension of Foundations
1. Research Methodologies – Ethnography and its Applications PC731
2. Introduction to Narratology PC725
3. Fundamentals of Design – II PC732
4. Photography PC750
5. Video PC751
6. Principles of Interaction Design PC752
Semester III: Joining Concepts and Applications
1. Animation PC741
2. Web Design:  Applications, Inter-connectibility PC724
3. Thematic Seminar/Workshop OR RR (Reading/Research) course if no thematic Seminar/Workshop is offered PC743
4. Research Application: Constructing Narratives PC745
5. Research Proposal Seminar: Rationale, Process, Outcome PC740
Semester IV
Individual design Project

Pedagogical Principles

  • The first semester foundation modules are meant introduce students to the fundamentals of design principles, design skills and design thinking.
  • All modules will be structured around specific thematic projects.
  • Integration of theory and practice will be stressed throughout the program.
  • The teaching approach for each module would comprise a combination of lectures, seminar, studio, and practical sessions. Lectures would focus on basic ideas and concepts that would be substantiated and discussed through seminars, and applied in projects.
  • Lecture sequences in a module may be conducted by multiple faculty wherever required.
  • While group work will be encouraged in the early semesters, modules in the third semester (second year) will focus more on individualized work.
  • The final student project must be completed in the fourth semester.

Module Abstracts

Semester I

This module will introduce students to a series of lectures and discussions on the role of technology and culture in communication. It aims to explore the ways in technology mediates and transforms cultural meanings in practices of social communication. The primary focus of this module would be on identifying specific fields of social communication, and understanding the kinds of design problems and solutions these can generate. It will introduce students to a range of analytical frameworks derived from studies of both aesthetics and semiotics. These frameworks would apply to understanding communication practices in Indian as well as in cross-cultural contexts. The module, which will be organized through readings, lectures, and seminar presentations aims to help students to intellectually integrate the domains of design and technology with society and culture. It will provide the essential foundations for them to undertake their individual projects in the third semester when they would be oriented to develop projects around either Visual Communication Design or Interaction Design.

Design is an interdisciplinary activity – characterized by the constant preoccupation of co-relating disciplines, dealing with and trying to understand the complex and interesting worlds of the physical, biological, imaginary, and human all of which are multivariate in character. The Fundamentals of Design module is an attempt to sensitize students to this complex, dynamic and multidimensional scenario. The main objective of this module is to acquaint students of Communication Design to the means and methods of approaching, investigating and solving problems creatively by providing them with appropriate design and conceptual skill sets. The module would emphasize the latitude and value of individual thinking and the students’ ability to observe and see which would enable them to apply themselves creatively in solving problems. The areas that would be covered would be drawing – a process of observation, recording and representation which would include various kinds of representation for 2D. Objective of this module is in providing the student with a foundation in the grammar for design for communication based on ideas and concepts like color, composition, typography and layouts/space, illustration for specific needs. The module would culminate in a project that student would integrate skills and aptitude acquired in the module.

Information design covers the promoting and enhancing of making the complex simple. It facilitates and transforms complex, unorganized, or unstructured data into useful, usable information both with efficiency and effectiveness. The attempt would be to discover and articulate the meaning in data, and create the map that allows others to use the information easily, through meaningful reductions and interpretations of complex data by using writing and analytical skills to transform unstructured ideas into concrete, meaningful information. The module would cover the defining, planning, and shaping of the contents of a message. Particular focus will be on designing solutions based on the understanding of a specific environment and with the intention of achieving specific objectives with reference to the needs of users and creating navigation and hierarchy that makes information intuitively and easily accessible. The module encourages exploring how information can be structured and visualized to create effective communications and to stimulate viewer attention and engagement through design. Building sensitivity, via case studies, Information Collection, Conceptual Data Analysis, Information Mapping and Visualization along with User Studies are introduced as means towards developing concise, clear and visually sophisticated communication material. The module provides students with an introduction to structuring and presenting information with an emphasis on meaning, clear communication and visual aesthetics that in turn enhance how people read, understand and use information.

This module aims to introduce to elements of composition in Communication Design. It will encourage students to explore how words, images and sounds are put together for a range of communication events and forms. Students would be expected to observe, research, document and compose presentations deploying multi-media. They will be encouraged to read and explore ideas from design aesthetics and semiotics to understand compositional styles and aesthetic choices in traditional as well as contemporary forms of communication media in which visual, verbal and aural elements are combined to make effective communication events. Students would be able to appreciate diverse technologies of communication in rural or urban, India or in local or global media platforms and explore how image, text and sounds are combined to generate a context specific meanings in specific contexts. This could be exemplified in case of advertisements, mounting of event such as theatrical, exhibition, and installation or ritual performances. By the end of the semester students are expected to acquire the skills and the theoretical insights that are needed to understand the relationships between composition and context in multimedia formats.

This module will introduce students to a brief history of modern Design practice and pedagogy as it evolved in the context of the Industrial Revolution and the onset of the age of mass production in the late 19th and early 20th century. The objective of this module is to enrich students’ understanding of Design not merely as practice but as a vast intellectual field spanning several disciplines. Students will be introduced to the economic, political, cultural and technological contexts and debates within which Design Schools, Design movements and Design Styles took shape in Britain, Europe, the United States and India. By the end of the module students would be expected to make connections between what they learn in class and the larger economic, social and cultural context in which they would work.

Semester II

Contemporary information technologies are often said to be immersive, creating distinctive and highly detailed virtual experiences. Thus the discipline of ethnography, which teaches researchers to understand social activity through immersive exposure is particularly appropriate to the study of communication design Ethnographic analysis provides powerful tools to understand how communication systems deeply affect individuals and societies. The module introduces the foundations and basic methods of ethnography derived from the fields of visual anthropology and cognitive anthropology. It will look at several applications of these disciplines to current communication practices. Students would be expected to undertake fieldwork assignments and related applied activities such as collection of empirical data, qualitative data, contextual inquiry and usability testing that provides the foundations for user-centered interaction and visual design. The objective of the module is to provide the student the intellectual tools to develop research capacity for the final design projects they would have to undertake.

This module will introduce students to the critical place of narratives or story-telling in communication practices. The theoretical starting point of this module will be an understanding that narratives are found and communicated through a range of media such as verbal and written language, gestures, music, visual art and film. Narratives have also acquired new and complex forms and uses in contemporary digital media environments. By the end of the module students will be expected to develop a deep understanding of both the thematic and modal aspects of story –telling. In other words, they will be engaging with both the structure of narratives and the manner of its telling across different media and in a diverse range of social and cultural contexts.

This module deals with the advanced aspects of color, composition, virtual 3D spaces, Typography as image, Illustration for information design, and Digital Photography as means of explore, visualize and communicate complex ideas with high levels of data density. This module would present an entry point to moving image and sound analysis, structure, methodology, concepts and experimentation for communicating specific ideas as well as to explore the possibilities/potential of each medium. Consideration of ‘mediums’ would focus on moving image scenarios that would include cinema, animation, multimedia and Sound Design and for 2D and virtual 3D environments. Students should acquire from the field of ‘Design History’ the understanding of visual language that is applied for range of visualization essential for practice of sketching, photography, film and animation.

This module on Photography will build on previously learnt skill sets of students to help them frame an image using the camera – through observation, content, context, composition, colour, and light. Students will learn to train their eyes to develop compositions through the viewfinder and learn to effectively capture expressive moments with accuracy and aesthetics to develop the skills and sensibilities of storytelling through still images. The module aims to generate an understanding of the symbiotic relationship between the photographic image and other design skills and develop an understanding of digital practice, which includes the technical aspects of image –making such resolution, colour, contrast and light and the manipulation of these in accordance with the needs of specific Communication Design solutions.

The aim of the module is to introduce students to the elements of documentary filmmaking through a practical approach; to establish an understanding of the complexities of this medium through critical analysis and study of acclaimed documentaries and documentary filmmakers. With this as a base students will be introduced to the basic narrative tools/devices used to tell a story – interviews, montages, inserts, intercuts, color family, mood boards, voice over and sound The aim is to critically examine how each tool and device makes an impact on the overall narrative. By the end of the module students are meant to understand how narrative structures differ and how essentially these are driven by the imperative of what is to be communicated and to whom. In other words how important it is to understand audiences in the shaping of films and how geography, history, culture, language affect the reception of a film. Finally the module would also sensitize students to understand the relationship between the subject and a filmmaker and questions of ethics and integrity that inform filmmaking.

This module on Interaction design will introduce students to design problems and practices from the fields of human factors; human computer interaction, collaborative work and learning, digital design, cognitive ergonomics, informatics, information systems, and interface design. The module will cover the underlying principles of a wide range of issues, and include empirical studies with design problems based on both lab and field based exercises. The module is designed to cover the breadth of the field and to enable the students to be adept and competent in grasping and dealing effectively with design issues involving interaction with a range of devices, services and users. This module requires students to investigate a specific area or a context in depth and develop understandings and design implications in order to deliver an innovative proposal and prototype.

Semester III

The aim in this module is to sensitize students to the structure, nature, systems, and communication potential of the medium of animation. This module would be an introduction to the fundamentals (principles and dynamics) of motion and movement in animation – both theory and practice. The module would equip students with the basic concepts, methods/means and language to conceptualize and visualize simple ideas through animated sequences/films. Storytelling, Storyboarding, Animatics, setting a stage, and kinetics would be the main areas to explore the limits of the medium. The module is set to exploring ways to communicate complex ideas and hidden worlds effectively using the language of animation, from entertainment -films and gaming to Instructional material. The module would also introduce students to the art of developing and visualizing characters for animated films. Exploration and experimentation with lip synchronization, aesthetics of sound, track lying, and creating animated sequences with/to sound.

Through discussing various examples students would be introduced to Web Concepts and Design. What are the basic technical requirements and production processes needed for a basic web site development and construction. Topics include site design, image processing, visual web editors, html and layout, interface design and basic behaviors. Along with this aspects of connecting to a network would be provided as hands on experience. As a class project, students would start setting up a site that would become a context to apply things they learn and present the work for others. Through this process the student will learn to combine various software that are available and that must be utilized to create a multimedia content. As each multimedia approach requires a different combination of software the students need to understand the potential advantage and disadvantages of specific software, their compatibility amongst each other, cross-platform applications and the optimum manner in which they can be used with minimum generation-loss of end product. The rationale behind this module is that hardware- software compatibility for the optimum communication is essential and it is best understood by a hands-on, lab-based exploration of multimedia fundamentals. Emphasis will on end product design, concept development and collaborative techniques as used in professional multimedia prototyping. Additionally, students will learn about a variety of hardware and software options including, but not limited to, image editing, digital video and input/output concerns. This module will consider the concepts, technical requirements and production processes needed for web site development and construction. Topics covered will include interface design, web animation and interactivity, video and audio for the web and interactive end products. Primary objective is to present and explore concepts and tools for interactivity in multimedia.

Faculty involved with the M.Des. program and or visiting faculty would conduct a seminar or a workshop for the students to either learn or explore some new areas of multimedia techniques and applications. If and when required an open elective offered in the Institute may be considered as a substitute for the seminar module. In case a seminar or workshop is not offered the student could take up a reading and research (RR) module with any faculty member after providing the formal plan of arrangement between the student and the faculty concerned to the M.Des. committee. Please note that the focus of this module has been not fixed in order to take advantage of students’ changing interests, faculty’s own research interest and the particular area of expertise that a visiting faculty brings from outside including the design industry.

This module is meant to encourage students to apply the theoretical insights drawn from the earlier module on narratives and develop their own narrative form around a particular idea or message they wish to communicate. They will encourage translating narratives from one medium to another and analyzing the differing demands of each. This module will involve a group project wherein students will be tested on their capacities to work together and develop a product that reflects coordinated team work. For example, they can work together to develop a public interest message through paper, voice and screen and develop a keen sense of the narrative as it takes shape through each medium.

This seminar’s main focus will be help students to formulate their final project proposals. Students will be expected to engage in informed discussions about their design problems with the faculty. They will be required to provide a clear rationale for the selection of a project and explain how they intend to implement the skills and aptitudes gained from the modules offered in the program. It is essential that students in this seminar are intellectually capable of integrating the technical component of their design project with questions derived from their understanding of the social and cultural contexts of communication. They are expected apply the research methodologies learnt in the previous module and write up a concrete proposal in accordance with a set of given guidelines. The primary objective of this seminar is to enable students to make informed decisions about the nature of the project they wish to undertake and the range of intellectual skills they need to work on it. Once they have decided on a proposal, they will in the next and final semester work in consultation with an assigned team of faculty. This module will equip student with the necessary tools to determine appropriate methodology for specific design research needs and teach them how to find supporting resources, and the ability to critically evaluate existing research. This module should help the student to initiate and plan the individual research project in the IV semester.

Semester IV

The last and final semester is dedicated to developing and completing the research proposal developed in the previous semester (See Semester III). This semester will give a chance for each individual to now undertake and execute the final project for which they have been provided both general foundations as well as specialized training in the various modules offered in the three semesters. Each student would be required to work in close individual collaboration with either one or two faculty members (at least one of them must be a regular faculty of the institute) to complete the final design project. The faculty would evaluate the work done and accordingly submit it for final processing by a jury of examiners.

It is expected that the individual student will work independently under the guidance from the research committee. Consultation with the committee members is essential to avoid poor quality work- leading to failure in the last module; in final analysis nobody but the student alone is responsible for hi/her project.

  • The last module will culminate into the seminar presentation where the students committee has to be present.
  • This seminar MUST be scheduled and held before the last week of the term.
  • It will be student’s responsibility to organize the final seminar date.
  • Each student will have to organize individual presentation for the study committee and be engaged in a discussion after the individual presentation is made.
  • This session would be open to the whole institution and subject to evaluation.
  • The committee members will evaluate the final product and it’s presentation and asks for the two copies of CD as well as a document on the project itself. Committee members may invite individuals or individual specially to assist in the evaluation of the student work from within the institute or out- side of the institute.
  • Document must be made available to committee members prior to the seminar.
  • If the final assessment requires that student makes some alterations to the final project, the committee would set up the dead line by which the revisions must be made by the student.
  • This would be required for the student to earn the final degree.

Suggested outline for what the presentation should include:

  • Identification of the communication event or the need of communication.
  • How multimedia is utilized
  • Aspects of designed communication
  • Technology as combined to create the desired communication
  • Presentation of the final product in form of a CD

Key: L = Lecture, T = Tutorial, P = Practical, C = Credit

Teaching Methodology

In this program, each course is not a stand-alone learning experience but it is expected that in the course of study the connections, both vertically and horizontally are made by the student that culminates in their project in the final semester.

The teaching approach for each course comprises a combination of lectures, seminars, studio, and practical sessions. The lectures would mainly focus on basic ideas and concepts, which would be substantiated and discussed through seminars, engaging students in active participation in project work. Lecture sequences in a course may be conducted by multiple faculties, and the seminars would be designed to provide a bridge between the lectures and the studio and practical sessions. Emphasis would be that students learn how to learn, what is needed, and when it is needed; in an environment of ever-changing needs and technologies. For each course, the emphasis would be on research and project work that utilizes the methods and ideas learned from other courses.

Courses in the third semester (second year) are focused more on individual work rather than classroom sessions in order to apply the theory and practice in preparation for the final student project. The final student project worth 15 credits must be completed in the fourth semester.

Opportunities after M.Des

The Media industry, Entertainment industry, Gov and non-Gov organizations who need to communicate in one or the other way, Academic and research institutions, Information publication and production houses, corporate consultancy sector, publicity outfits. Students trained in this program would be in a unique position to also contribute to the growing future of e-education and info-entertainment within India as well as Asia. We have looked enough at the west for the potential market but the growing consumer culture of Asia shares the uniqueness of cultural diversity that is also an intrinsic aspect of India. Keeping in mind the growing Asian market and its cultural diversity students trained at DA-IICT has a good potential in the job market.

Admission Process

Details on the application process, admission criteria, fee structure and financial assistance can be found here