What is the Certificate IV in Design?

You know you want to take the steps toward a creative career. Our new online learning platform makes it even easier to fit study around your busy lifestyle.

Just like our on-campus studies, you will first study the Certificate IV in Design (CUA40715) to explore your natural style and learn the fundamental elements and principles of design.  The Certificate is a nationally recognised course providing the essential foundation studies for a career in the design industry.

Upon completing the Certificate IV in Design you can then specialise in your Industry Diploma of choice. Immerse yourself in a world of patterns with Surface Design, Colour Psychology and application with Colour Design, or create perfect scenes with the Diploma of Styling.


Special Autumn Sale! Save $1,000 on May and June intakes. Hurry limited places.

Online Study Details

  • Simple interface with lots of visuals and videos.
  • Great online community with lively, inspiring, discussion boards with educators + peers
  • Academic calendar + simple assessment submission keeps all your information in one place to easily track your progress.
  • Quick turnaround on assessment marking + regular contact with your educator.
  • Pop up campuses throughout the year for you to connect to our community. Meet peers, educators + have one-on-one sessions.
  • 12 hours / week and up to 12 months to complete (but you can go faster)

“Certificate IV has been a great foundation course – I have thoroughly enjoyed experimenting, painting learning in a nurturing environment and getting my hands dirty. I look forward to undertaking the Surface Design Diploma and am very excited about continuing my creative development and discovering my own style.” Rachel Grimes – Carmichael.

Course Overview

Our Certificate IV in Design is the prerequisite course to iscd’s specialised Design Diplomas in Surface Design, Colour Design or Styling.

Upon completion you will have a holistic understanding of the design industry and a skill set that can be applied to all areas of design.

What you’ll learn:

  • Explore colour theory in detail and apply colour principles
  • How to develop your illustration/drawing techniques to represent concepts across all design disciplines
  • How to interpret and respond to industry design briefs
  • Examine 2 and 3 dimensional design
  • Learn the process to generate conceptual ideas
  • Identify design movements and historical influences
  • Learn core presentation skills

Career Outcomes

Certificate IV in Design is the foundation studies for many design careers. You can go on to specialise in

  • Styling
  • Surface Design
  • Colour Design

You can keep up to date with current jobs that are available now in the design industry on our job board

  • How to apply colour principles and theory in response to a design brief
  • How to produce drawings to represent and communicate concepts
  • How to interpret and respond to a design brief
  • How to effectively apply the design process to 2D and 3D work
  • The ability to source and apply design industry knowledge
  • How to create concepts and conduct critical discussions
  • How to research and apply techniques for graphic design
  • How to professionally present a major project in spatial design and product design
  • How to document the design work process and manage your own work
  • How to apply skills and knowledge to sample projects from our four Diplomas
  • Introduction to colour theory
  • Introduction to the elements and principles of design
  • Conceptualisation and the design process
  • Composition and basic order of design
  • Developing monochromatic colour schemes
  • Abstract and semi abstract design
  • Development of colour schemes
  • Drawing inspiration from the natural environment
  • Exploring texture
  • Chroma reduction
  • Tertiary colour applied to a design
  • 2D and 3D design
  • Colour inversion
  • Colour effects, colour psychology and symbolism
  • Introduction to graphic design
  • Typography
  • CUAPRP401 Realise a creative project
  • BSBDES305 Source and apply information on the history and theory of design
  • BSBDES402 Interpret and respond to a design brief
  • BSBWHS201 Contribute to health and safety of self and others
  • BSBCRT301 Develop and extend critical and creative thinking skills
  • BSBDES401 Generate design solutions
  • CUAACD401 Integrate colour theory and design processes
  • BSBDES301 Explore the use of colour
  • BSBDES302 Explore and apply the creative design process to 2D forms
  • BSBDES303 Explore and apply the creative design process to 3D forms
  • BSBDES304 Source and apply design industry knowledge
  • BSBDES403 Develop and extend design skills and practice
  • CUAGRD302 Use typography techniques
  • CUAGRD401 Research and apply graphic design techniques
  • CUADES402 Research and apply techniques in product design
  • Assessment 1a: Colour Wheel Tool
  • Assessment 1b: Grey Scale Tool
  • Assessment 2: Conceptualisation and Mind Mapping
  • Assessment 3a: Abstract and Semi-Abstract Design: Linear Design Teachniques; 3 x abstract; 3 x semi-abstract
  • Assessment 3b: Abstract and Semi-Abstract Design: Applying Related & Contrasting Colour Schemes
  • Assessment 4: Design History Research
  • Assessment 5a: Illustration: Research 3 x tradtional and 3 x contemporary illustrators
  • Assessment 5b: Create a contemporary illustration
  • Assessment 5c: Mix 2 ranges of intermixed complementary colour (one range to include 1 row tints)
  • Assessment 5d: Paint the illustration in one range of intermixed complementary colours
  • Assessment 6: 3D Lighting and Spatial Design
  • Assessment 7a: Industry Reference File: Resource Design Specialisations
  • Assessment 7b: WH&S and Copyright
  • Assessment 8a: Tertiary Colour: Research motifs from 3 historical design styles
  • Assessment 8b: Tertiary Colour: Creative 3 ranges of tertiary colour chips
  • Assessment 8c: Tertiary Colour: Paint a cushion design ased on an historical style in range tertiary colour
  • Assessment 9:  Colour Inversion: Apply colour inversion to a design
  • Assessment 10: Little Paper Lane Christmas Card
  • Assessment 11: Designer Rugs 
  • Assessment 12: Colour Style Book

There are no entry requirements for the CUA40715 Certificate IV in Design, just an open mind, love for design and the motivation to learn new skills in design


    Designer Rugs, Papier D’Amour, Hardie Grant Publishers, Eckersleys Art & craft, The Heartful Travellers

Industry Partners

  • Designer Rugs
  • Little Paper Lane
  • Hardie Grant Publishers
  • Eckersleys Art & craft
  • The Heartful Travellers

Industry Awards

  • Rug Design: Develop and design a rug for leading rug brand Designer Rugs. The winning designs are produced for retail sale and the top 3 designs are featured in Inside Out Magazine.
  • Christmas Card Design: Develop and design a card design for Papier D’Amour. The winning card design will go into production as part of Papier D’Amour card collection
  • The Heartful Travellers: Through presentation of student board, Prue Royal; our founder will select a graduate to mentor and guide on their design journey


Contact us on 02 8355 3838 or 03 8372 0000 to chat with a specialist course advisor about your study options, or let us know a little bit about you and we can call you back.

Request a call Back

Campus Tours & Open Days

Join us at an up coming Open Day or book a Campus Tour with one of our student advisors and see how you can turn your passion for design into a career opportunity.

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