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Graphic Design Programme Content

First Semester

PROCESS Silk-screen Printing, Colour
Students learn the analogue and digital processes of silk-screen printing (scanning, types of halftoning). They create print templates and develop a creative approach to silk-screen printing and risography. They use colour as a crucial design tool and create multicolouredness by means of halftone and overprinting. Exploiting the possibilities of image, image details, text, colour, halftone and printing, they make initial artistic statements which they then gradually rework and refine. They prepare a template for printing. The resulting product is a short run edition of a two-colour, silk-screen printed card. Students learn specialist pre-press and silk-screen printing terminology, present their work to an audience and showcase their work processes on Instagram. Digital documentation is part of the module and facilitates dialogue.

IMAGE Photography
Students create designs using the medium of photography (detail, perspective, focus/soft focus, light quality). Through visual research of their own and other photographer’s work, they discover a specific topic and create variations of a short photo series. In presentations, they reflect on their work process and the resulting product. Students familiarise themselves with the work of eminent contemporary photographers and learn to differentiate between different practices and genres within photography.

Students acquire the basic theoretical, historical, design and technical skills of font design and receive an introduction to the related programmes (InDesign, Glyphs). They learn classification and measurement systems for fonts as well as the specialist terminology of typography and type-related terms. Using the Glyphs software, they develop their own fonts and apply them in the framework of an independent artistic project (InDesign).

IMAGE Images and Types
Using (hand and digital) drawing as a means of expression, students reduce complex content to its essentials, making it comprehensible for others. They reduce and abstract images into types and realise them as a series of images in the context of an assigned design task. They learn the fundamentals of the creation and realisation of types and acquire basic knowlege in the design and development of signs, e.g., pictograms. Through a range of drawing techniques, they create versions of meaning and discuss their effect. Other topics include differences in size, the representation of materiality as well as the consistency of an image series in terms of expression and style. Over the course of this module, students consolidate their knowledge of the Illustrator software.

PROCESS Drawing and Printing
Students explore and test the drawing of designs using various techniques. They learn about the specific characteristics of offset printing. They test ways to reproduce their drawings using offset printing. They learn the associated techniques, procedures and processes: creating a print-ready template, digital printing; sheet imposition, exposing an offset plate; mixing colour according to the Pantone system; proofing of the template on an offset press (short run); cutting, folding and assembling a sheet into a print product; students learn specialist offset printing vocabulary and practice putting their decisions into words and to critically reflect on their own work.

PROCESS Bookbinding
Students learn the basics of paper and print processing. They familiarise themselves with paper as a material, they practice different bookbinding techniques and create their own maquettes.

LANGUAGE Presentation
Students learn to counter stage fright and improve their presentation skills. They reflect on their own posture and use of voice and learn how others perceive them based on the feedback of their lecturer and peers. In addition to doing practical exercises, they acquire theoretical knowledge on how to write and structure a presentation. The students then present their assessed assignments of the previous semester in groups and in front of a panel (end-of-semester presentation).

Introduction to Theory and Context GD
Orientation week: Students gain an overview of the courses offered by the School and across the university, they visit workshop introductions, develop small-scale projects and receive an introduction to the HSLU’s IT system.

Fundamentals of Visual Culture
This submodule provides an introduction to the world of image production and the significance of images through different methods of image perception. They learn about exemplary creative and aesthetic stances and gain the ability to verbally describe and analyse a work with the appropriate language, reasoning and terminology. They learn that image production and reception is contingent on historical-societal and media-related factors.

Specialist Theory 1 GD
Research and excursions give students the chance to catch a glimpse of adjacent fields of practice in the design process. They include the pre- and post-editing of research and course content, the documentation of the material as well as coordination between, and collaboration with, other work groups. Reflecting on one’s own career options and areas of interest is also part of the project week.

Second Semester

TYPOGRAPHY Typesetting INTERACTION Typeonscreen
Both in theory and practice, students learn the typographic fundamentals of types and typesetting for print and screen media. They learn the parameters of micro-typography in body text, which they apply using InDesign for print products and HTML5 and CSS3 for web content. Based on a set text, they study the intersections of print designs and programming in web-based interactive media and learn the relevant specialist vocabulary. Students design and document an interactive website which is then programmed by a fellow student. To this end, they adjust the necessary settings in InDesign and use CSS3 and HTML5 to a professional standard.

Students receive an introduction to the technique of lead typesetting and to relief/letterpress printing. They use lead typesetting to create simple typographic designs, which they print in letterpress. They practice reducing their ideas to the essentials within the narrow technical confines of the medium. They test the interplay of types and materiality, of colour/ink flow and analogous printing and learn the theory of monotype fonts, typesetting criteria and the composition of the types. Students receive an introduction of the 500-year history of traditional typesetting and acquire the related specialist vocabulary.

Specialist Theory 2 GD / ILL: Media and Their Uses
This course conveys a condensed history of media from the ancient cylinder seal to the scriptoriums of the Middle Ages and from woodcut/letterpress printing to the internet. Students learn about traditional image/text creation techniques and about their significance over time and today.

Specialist Theory 3 GD / Introduction to Academic Writing
In Specialist Theory 3, students use scientific methods of image and text analysis in the field of fine arts and design. The course also focuses on research and on the students’  representation of their findings.
Introduction to academic writing: Students learn the basics of academic writing, including selection of topic, development of research question and lines of argument, collection and incorporation of references, and text composition.

Third Semester

Students consolidate their foundational knowledge in the areas of type area, column and screen design. They learn about the design and structure of type areas, columns, screens and superimpositions of screen formulas (composition, margins) and apply the skills and knowledge acquired by creating a simple type area/column design. Moreover, they study the micro-typographic criteria in the body text. They use the content mentioned above in a design assignment in InDesign. What is more, they expand their specialist vocabulary around types, typography and body text.

IMAGE/LETTERS Photo Graphics
Students extensively investigate the topic of image and dramatic image composition (deliberate steering of narratives). They create staged photographs and narrative image series. The analysis of books is the basis for the inception and the design of different multi-page types of layout and the respective properties of these layouts (type area, proportions, hierarchies, possible structures, rhythms, typography, micro-typography and readability).
They develop their own layout grids and dramatic image-text sequences. They design multi-page layouts and publications using their own and other image material. Students learn the specialist vocabulary of staged photography and of editorial design. They analyse and critique products by other designers, write a written concept and can present and document their products and the related development processes coherently.

Students learn to combine image and typography in an effective and formally compelling poster. They learn the rules and requirements of the poster as a medium as well as its 20th and 21st century history. They research and analyse relevant content and incorporate it in a coherent poster design. If possible, students accept a real-life commission in the context of which they create an experimental and innovative design and develop their own artistic stance. With Ralph Schraivogel as their lecturer, they learn to experiment and to design by creating multiple versions, to evaluate their designs and to use them to create a convincing finished (including pre-press). They present the final results to an audience. They reflect on, and document, their work process. Depending on the scope of the commission, a poster is selected and produced.

Specialist Theory 4 / Writing Seminar GD
This sub-module focuses on the introduction and application of semiotic analysis methods in a design context, including a discussion of historic and current examples taken from various fields and topics. By studying a host of examples, students train the use of the related specialist terminology. Knowledge of the function of semiotics in ad campaigns, film/video, architecture, illustration and fine arts facilitates the reflection of the students’ own work and reveals ways to influence its reception by the observer.

Writing Seminar
The writing seminar revolves around the drafting of text ideas and their partial realisation as print versions, the deliberate use of verbal imagery, the improvement of the students’ writing skills through critiquing, discussing and editing their own and other people’s texts, and the raising of awareness for the conflict between writing process, written work and design.

Fourth Semester

Students acquire corporate design skills by working on a set topic or real-life commission. They practice the relevant terminology and learn about the design tools used in the field. In pairs or individually, they develop a cross-media, systematic design concept. They create a corporate design concept for print and screen media. They pay special attention to the basic elements that characterise a strong visual identity: strong impact, recognisability, distinctiveness and competitiveness.

INTERACTION After Effects Type in Motion
Students use the After Effects software to create an animated clip from an existing graphic design element (animated typography) and publish it on Vimeo (duration: about 10 seconds). Examples of films are used to show the relevant design parameters for moving images.

Seminar Paper
Exploring a question of their own devising, students discover the relationship between design/artistic practice and reflection/contextualisation. They use foundational academic literature and other texts and tools of relevance to their question and subject their own writing to a “reality check”.

Fifth Semester

Students create a complex book design for a set topic. They learn to visualise their intention and they significantly develop their way of expressing themselves creatively.  They choose an overall look for the publication (format, jacket, colour, paper, binding), the dramatic composition (chapter structure, image and text narrative, hierarchy of titles, etc.) and develop their design in detail (micro-typography). They technically prepare the end product for printout on a laser printer, and they create a dummy. They practice the specialist vocabulary around books as a medium and give a coherent presentation about their product. They revisit the InDesign software and use it to practice typesetting.
Excursions and specialist presentations round off the module and provide insight into techniques, production processes and materials in the printing industry and in book production.

Starting with an exploration of the history, function and applications of infographics, students develop their own infographics projects on a personal or social topic of their own devising. This task shows them connections and processes as well as quantitative or numeric parameters. The design focuses on the experimental, image-based and interactive visualisation of data that does not compromise the data’s legibility or comprehensibility. The design is programmed and realised as an interactive prototype for a screen medium (interactive PDF, Adobe eXperience file, HTML). Students work independently and practice good time management. They document their results and processes on a social media platform every day, inviting visitors to critique them.

Sixth Semester

Artistic-creative Bachelor’s Thesis
In the final semester, students set themselves a professional graphic design task around a complex topic of their own devising. Two mentors (one each from theory and practice) supervise their efforts. However, they conduct research, define the necessary work steps and develop the graphic products mostly independently. The products are designed for at least two visual media (of which one can be the exhibition itself). Independent time and project management, the presentation in the final exhibition as well as the oral defence of the projects are integral parts of the BA thesis project. The thesis project, which is experimental in its design, shows both the result and the underlying design process. The BA projects are presented to, and judged by, a panel of experts. Passing this thesis project serves as proof of the students’ professional qualification.

Bachelor’s Presentation
Students conclude their bachelor’s project with a convincing presentation of both their artistic-creative and written BA thesis to a panel of experts. They reveal their theoretical and design intentions, reflect on their decision-making processes and elaborate on the development process of their artistic-creative BA project. The professionally produced final product is publicly displayed in the degree show.

Written Bachelor’s Thesis
In their written thesis, students show their skills in precisely formulating an artistic-creative question and in contextualising it both theoretically and historically.


From the start, the programme supports the development of the students’ language skills. They learn to use language to reflect on their work and to make a coherent case when presenting it.

In the Theory Modules, students investigate theoretical and academic questions around design, media, art, culture and philosophy and learn to apply theoretical knowledge in practice and to represent practical findings in a theoretical framework.

In addition to the compulsory Specialist Theory, students can enrol for transdisciplinary required elective modules each semester.
The Lucerne School of Art and Design’s interdisciplinary IDA Modules complete the curriculum.

During self-study, students independently work on the projects of their compulsory modules and prepare documentations and end-of-semester presentations.