Course Description

Want to be a graphic designer, but have no experience? Open Colleges Graphic Design Pathway is the answer! Combining the entry-level Graphic Design Essentials with the Diploma of Graphic Design, the Pathway covers everything you need to step straight into the professional design industry when you graduate:

  • You’ll cover all the design basics including: typography, image, colour and tools, before moving on to master client briefs, advanced digital design, technical skills and creative practice.
  • Responding to the demands of the industry, the Pathway has units which explore the highly prized skills of user experience, digital design, and company branding and identity.
  • During your studies you will build a portfolio of work that will demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the design process to potential employers and clients.
  • Designed to get you ready to launch into the industry, the Pathway also includes the module ‘Your own practice’. During this module you will learn to master your own work, compete in a digital world and effectively market yourself and your work.
  • When you enrol in the Diploma you will receive a free membership to the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA). Membership will open up the doors to job opportunities, industry events, information, industry updates and networking opportunities.

This course is offered by Open Colleges on behalf of TAFE NSW North Region.

Potential career outcomes

  • Assistant Web/Digital Designer
  • Graphic Operator
  • Junior Graphic Designer
  • Junior Mac operator
  • Package Designer
Course number D0117
Qualification name Graphic Design Pathway Program
Course duration 27 months
Delivery Method Online
Recognition Nationally Recognised Nationally Recognised Training
Assessments Demonstrations, Multiple choice questions, Portfolio of evidence, Presentations, Projects, Scenario-based questions, Short-answer questions, Visual diary, Written reports
Awarded by
  • TAFE NSW North Region (Provider number: 90010)


You will need to have completed year 10, or equivalent. Equivalency can be demonstrated by one of the following:

  • A qualification at Certificate II level or higher OR
  • 2 years of industry experience in a role that requires the use of written documentation and communication.

Minimum age

You will need to be at least 18 years old.


This course involves reading and undertaking a range of written assessments, as well as engaging in online forums and discussions. Furthermore, the delivery mode relies on the extensive use of written communication. As such, entry to the course requires the successful completion of English to Year 10 level.

If you haven't successfully completed English at Year 10 level, you can demonstrate equivalency through one of the following:

  • Successful completion of a Nationally Recognised Training qualification at Certificate II level or higher; or
  • 2 years relevant industry experience in a role that requires the use of written documentation and communication

Open Colleges recognises that not all people are able to read, write and perform calculations to the same standard. See the Language, Literacy and Numeracy Considerations section for more information on tools, resources and support services provided to by Open Colleges.


All users:

  • Microsoft Office 2013 or above
  • Broadband Internet connection. Please note, ADSL2+ minimum, is recommended due to the volume of downloading and uploading large files required by the course
  • 8GB of RAM minumum, 16GB recommended
  • 1280 x 800 display (1280 x 1024 recommended) with 16 – bit colour and 512 MB of V RAM
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Access to a printer and associated software
  • Scanner and associated software
  • File compression software
  • Hard disc storage 1T. or above.
  • Back-up: External Hard drive 1T or above

Mac OS users:

  • Mac OSX El Capitan v 10.11.4

Windows users:

  • Microsoft Windows 8.1 or higher (Windows 10 recommended)
  • 1 .3GHZ minimum or faster processor (2GHz recommended

You will also require a digital camera or mobile phone with camera and related software for taking photos for design tasks and projects and documenting design processes.


To successfully complete this course, learners will require the following basic computing skills on enrolment. This includes:

  • Basic skills in Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign
  • Creating, saving and editing Microsoft Office documents
  • Accessing and searching the internet
  • Downloading and saving documents from websites
  • Uploading documents through websites/Cloud computing
  • Understanding of participating in online discussions
  • Attach and use peripheral devices such as scanners, digital cameras, media storage (e.g., flash drive for design storage).
  • Saving a compressed file (.zip)
  • Saving a PDF File and multipage PDF’s
  • Connecting digital cameras and downloading and storing images
  • Connecting digital video devices and downloading and storing videos
  • Compressing image audio and video files

It is also highly desirable that entrants have:

  • Familiarity with Internet searches
  • Experience with social media platforms
  • Basic experience with Adobe Creative Cloud software


You will need access to a digital camera or mobile phone with camera and related software for taking photos for design tasks and projects and documenting design processes.


This course requires the use of design industry software. You will need access to the Adobe Creative Suite, which can be purchased on subscription through the Adobe Creative Cloud (ACC). The ACC subscription is not included in the course fee. Student subscriptions are available at a reduced price. Refer to the Adobe website

Language, Literacy and Numeracy

Our free online assessment tool can help give you an idea of the language, literacy and numeracy skills needed to study a VET course. This tool can also help you determine your learning level and help you plan your future studies. You can access the Language, Literacy and Numeracy tool here.

You will complete the Graphic Design Essentials first and then progress to the Diploma of Graphic Design.

Once you are enrolled in this course, you will receive access to the first Module, which contains the first set of units for the course. When you have successfully completed those units, you'll be given access to the next Module. Modules 1 to 8 have been released and are available. The remaining Modules for this course will be available for release on the following dates:

  • Module 9: September 2017
  • Module 10: November 2017


Open Colleges may make changes to the course from time to time to reflect changes introduced to the relevant Training Package or other regulatory requirements. Please download the course guide for current information about the course and its status.

Note: Courses offered by Open Colleges on behalf of TAFE NSW North Region may include Units of Competency that are graded by TAFE NSW.

Graphic Design Essentials

  • Elements and principles of design
  • Colour theory
  • Typography
  • The design process
  • The design brief
  • Digital Design - Adobe Creative Cloud: Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign


  • Research type as visual communication
  • Analyse design needs
  • Develop ideas for typographic solutions
  • Manipulate and integrate type
  • Integrate type within the overall design
  • Evaluate typographic design solutions

Create and manipulate graphics

  • Analyse design needs
  • Develop and refine ideas for graphics
  • Manipulate graphic objects
  • Finalise technical aspects of graphics work
  • Evaluate graphics work


  • Research information on colour theory and design processes
  • Communicate ideas through the application of colour and design theory
  • Evaluate design work

Research and visual communication

  • Select focus for research
  • Conduct critical analysis
  • Present ideas about visual communication history and theory
  • Develop own practice from research

Drawing and illustration

  • Evaluate the role of drawing in professional practice
  • Support practice through experimentation with drawing and visual representation
  • Develop individual approach to use of drawing
  • Interpret briefs for illustrative work
  • Organise resources
  • Test design approaches for illustrative work
  • Produce finished illustrative work

Branding and identity

  • Interpret creative briefs
  • Evaluate potential approaches to branding and identity
  • Generate and assess ideas
  • Develop designs to support branding and identity
  • Finalise designs
  • Evaluate design work and process
  • Analyse design needsAnalyse design needs
  • Develop and refine layout ideas
  • Create and manipulate layouts
  • Evaluate design work
  • Finalise technical aspects

Print and packaging

  •  Interpret briefs for 2-D and 3-D work
  • Collaborate and liaise with others
  • Develop and present ideas for 2-D and 3-D work
  • Plan and organise the production of work
  • Realise 2-D and 3-D designs
  • Finalise artwork
  • Evaluate own work
  • Consult with pre-press bureau about formatting requirements
  • Prepare files for pre-press processing
  • Wrap up and review print preparation

Design briefs

  • Establish design requirements
  • Develop and refine design brief
  • Negotiate terms and conditions
  • Interpret creative brief
  • Create mass print media advertisement
  • Explore the potential of photomedia in own work
  • Experiment with photomedia
  • Create and present finished photomedia work
  • Evaluate work

Digital design and User Experience (UX)

  • Research digital technologies
  • Select digital technologies for in-depth exploration
  • Integrate technologies into own work
  • Manage digital technologies in professional practice
  • Identify project requirements
  • Generate ideas for interactions
  • Draft interaction design specifications
  • Finalise interaction designs

Your design practice

  • Acquire and develop technical skills
  • Develop conceptual skills and ideas
  • Develop own voice
  • Evaluate own work
  • Research work opportunities
  • Develop an industry focus for design practice
  • Address key legal and safety requirements for graphic design practice
  • Research and evaluate graphic design trends
  • Develop skills to meet trends
  • Develop own response to changing trends and technologies
  • Promote self to potential clients
  • Negotiate work arrangements
  • Manage financial and business aspects of service
  • Undertake strategic planning
  • Evaluate and select presentation options
  • Plan presentation of work
  • Create presentation
  • View and update presentation



What are my payment options?

Pay in full

If you pay your course fees up-front in full, you’ll benefit from a discount. When you pay in full, we don’t have to spend extra money on administration for tasks such as payment plan processing. Instead, we get to pass this saving onto you in the form of a discount.

ZipMoney Payment Plan

If you need a little more flexibility in your finances, and want to pay off your course fees over a longer period of time, you can switch to a zipMoney payment plan. Essentially, zipMoney pays your course fees for you, and you pay this loan back over 24, 36 or 48 months. As long as you are eligible, you can switch to a zipMoney plan at any time.

Payment Plan

Pay for you course in weekly or fortnightly instalments. By paying in instalments, you can schedule your payments around your regular outgoings and get ahead without breaking the bank. Open Colleges payment plans are interest-free.

Find out more

Danielle Regent

Danielle has over 20 years experience in the design and teaching industries. She holds a university degree in design and has spent a large portion of her career in both the advertising and music industries.

Danielle has also spent over a decade passing on her design knowledge and experience as a trainer and assessor, and enjoys bringing her passion for all things creative into the role.

Driven to help her students to succeed with confidence, Danielle enjoys watching students grow and nurturing individual creative skills and styles. 

As a mark of her dedication, Danielle was a nominee for the TAFE SWSI teacher of the year, which recognises the excellence of teachers by their students.

Justine Ryan

Justine is a graphic designer and illustrator with 17 years’ experience. She holds a Diploma of Arts (Illustration), as well as a Diploma of Arts (Graphic Art) and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

Passionate about education, Justine enjoys working in the industry and welcomes the opportunity to assist students to find their educational pathways and succeed in their elected vocation.

Susanna Fedele

Susanna holds a Bachelor of Arts (Design) and has a strong love of the creative. With over 18 years of experience, Susanna has worked in publishing, web and studio environments. She has had the good fortune to work with a number of Australian music professionals, developing artwork for their album releases. Her skills and knowledge span corporate and retail design, to packaging, and publications for a range of industries. These include music, movies and entertainment, as well as the corporate and private sectors. In addition to her graphic design qualifications, Susanna holds a Certificate IV in Training & Assessment and looks forward to working with her students to help develop their skills and encourage them on their path to creativity.

Wendy Campbell

Wendy has worked in tertiary education in the VET sector for over 14 years teaching web design, animation and design. In between teaching she works on a freelance basis.

She is currently studying a Masters in Digital Media and has also studied web technologies, e-Learning, psychology and registered nursing.

Wendy enjoys working with people and is passionate about teaching (and learning).


Students of this course will receive a membership to these organisation(s)

The Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA) is the peak professional body for Graphic Design professionals in Australia.

Professional accreditation

From day one of your studies, you become part of the graphic design industry. You’ll receive a student membership with the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA) for the 24 month duration of your enrolment. AGDA is the peak professional body for Graphic Design professionals in Australia.

Open Colleges offers this qualification in association with TAFE NSW North Region (Provider number: 90010). The testamur will be issued by TAFE NSW North Region.

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