Political Economy of Design

Subject 702-446 (2008)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2008.Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.500
Level: Undergraduate
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2008:

Semester 1, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Up to four hours of lectures and seminars per week
Total Time Commitment: Not available

Admission to a post-BPD degree program within the Faculty.

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability


Dr Paolo Tombesi
Subject Overview:

The objective of this subject is to position and discuss architecture in relation to broader industrial ecologies. Rather than concentrating solely on the stylistic 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. The subject has a lecture component and a research component. The lecture component provides a general theoretical framework largely borrowed from political economy, industrial and 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. The research topic changes every year and relies on students' active contribution. Readings and references for the lecture segment are provided by the coordinator, whereas most of the documentation for the research program will be organized and compiled by the students.

On completion of the subject students should be able to:

  • Identify and engage with the various types of enviornmental 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.


Class participation (15%); gathering of research-specific data (30%); essay to the equivalent of not more than 3500 words (55%).

Prescribed Texts: TBC
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of the subject students should have developed the following skills and capabilities:

  • Ability to peruse large 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 the building industry's databases.

  • Ability to derive theoretical positions from empirical work.

Related Course(s): Bachelor of Architecture

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