Speculative Systems

Subject ABPL90147 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 29-Feb-2016 to 29-May-2016
Assessment Period End 24-Jun-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 11-Mar-2016
Census Date 31-Mar-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 06-May-2016

Quota: 20

This subject has limited places. To apply, students should enrol via the Student Portal and by sending the personal statement to the coordinator.

Selection criteria:

1. Academic Merit based on the weighted average.

2. Personal Statement: (i) research idea, 200 words; (ii) brief CV, one page; and (iii) one favourite project, one page.

EDSC Quota Subjects webpage: http://edsc.unimelb.edu.au/quota-subjects

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 3 hours per week
Total Time Commitment:

170 Hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:

Conceptual, design and artistic skills; ability to conduct independent research. Students with established personal activities in design, creative writing, art, political or environmental activism are especially welcome. Technical and digital skills are a bonus.

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 Stanislav Roudavski


The Eastern Precinct (building 138)
(between Doug McDonell building and Eastern Resource Centre)

Current Student: http://ask.unimelb.edu.au/
Web: http://msd.unimelb.edu.au/

Subject Overview:

This seminar explores technology in relationship to nature, culture and design. Its core goal is to critically consider future design practice and values, knowledge, skills, communities, learning behaviours and forms of resistance that are of relevance to future practitioners.

The seminar engages with creative, speculative, imaginative, critical and aesthetic aspects of technology. It does so by analysing a broad range of computational and other practices including generative design, textual or visual programming, electronics and mechatronics, robotics, digital fabrication, game design, interactive and new media art, dynamic modelling, simulation and visualisation, interactive and distributed systems, forms of autonomy and artificial intelligence, self-organisation and self-assembly, material computing, cyborgs, singularities and even extra-terrestrial creativity.

The teaching method combines reading and class discussions with individually tailored speculative research methods where students are encouraged to develop and investigate future-oriented projects motivated by their own long-term personal goals.

As an opportunity for an in-depth exploration, the seminar can be used to develop themes for the subsequent Design Thesis or topics for the Master and PhD programs. Beyond this, the outcome of this course can be used to inform design/art projects, support research within professional practices or lay foundations for innovative career paths and business models.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of the subject students should have developed:

  • Familiarity with the current conceptual thinking in regard to natural, technical and cultural systems.
  • Critical understanding of the creative opportunities emerging from science, technology and computation.
  • Critical awareness of the role design plays in complex, hybrid ecologies.
  • Understanding of collaboration with non-human creative agencies (algorithms, machines, materials and living entities).
  • Ability to define research and implement innovative, future-oriented projects.
  • Ability to plan personal development in the light of current trends and possible futures.
  • Evidence of individual reading and research, active participation in class discussions, acting as a leader of at least two in-class discussions; ongoing throughout semester (15%)
  • Draft of the final essay of up to 2000 words, demonstrating familiarity with key concepts (addressing learning outcome 1), creative opportunities (LO 2) and the role of design (LO 3); due Week 4 (20%)
  • Final essay of up to 5000 words, developed from the 2000-word draft, demonstrating LOs 1-3 as well as an understanding of collaborative creativity (LO 4), description of an innovative project (LO 5) and plan of further work (LO 6); due end of semester (65%)
Prescribed Texts: None
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:

  • critical thinking and analytical skills
  • skills in information gathering and critical synthesis
  • skills in developing comprehension of complex concepts and the ability to express them orally and in writing
Related Course(s): Master of Architecture
Master of Architecture
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 200 point Master of Architecture
300 point Master of Architecture
Melbourne School of Design multidisciplinary elective subjects

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