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Monash University

FIT2080 Information architecture - Semester 1, 2012

This unit provides a broad introduction to the rapidly-expanding field of information architecture (IA). IA is a major area of concern for any organisation which has a business need to store and manage large and varied collections of data. The unit explains the nature and purpose of IA as a field of study and examines typical IA needs of large organisations. It examines a variety of approaches to the task of IA development and the techniques commonly associated with them. Particular emphasis is given to developing practical skills in techniques for developing architectures and to applying a range of popular IA tools and techniques commonly used in IA projects.

Mode of Delivery

Caulfield (Day)

Contact Hours

2 hrs lectures/wk, 2 hrs studios/wk


You are expected to spend 12 hours per week on various activities including reading, communication with other students and unit lecturers, and preparation for learning tasks and formal assessments. 

Unit Relationships




FIT1037 and either FIT1036 or FIT1003

Chief Examiner

Frada Burstein

Campus Lecturer


Frada Burstein

Consultation hours: weekly Monday after the lecture and 4-7pm, or via email: frada.burstein@monash.edu

Tom Denison

Consultation hours: weekly Monday after the tutorial, or via email



Frada Burstein

Tom Denison

Academic Overview


At the completion of this unit students will:
  • know the basic aims and purposes of information architecture and understand its importance to the management and use of information in an organisation;
  • know a variety of approaches commonly used for the development of information architectures, and understand the key principles behind them;
  • be able to conduct a business requirements analysis, and a user needs analysis, for the purposes of developing an information architecture;
  • be able to critically evaluate an information architecture and assess its suitability for a given range of user needs;
  • know the phases and processes involved in planning and implementing an information architecture (IA) project or program;
  • recognise the contribution which the varying perspectives of different disciplines and professional groups can make to the development of an information architecture;
  • be able to use a range of IA tools and techniques (eg blueprints, wireframes, card sorting, affinity diagrams, content maps, personas), and IA software in the process of developing an information architecture.

Graduate Attributes

Monash prepares its graduates to be:
  1. responsible and effective global citizens who:
    1. engage in an internationalised world
    2. exhibit cross-cultural competence
    3. demonstrate ethical values
  2. critical and creative scholars who:
    1. produce innovative solutions to problems
    2. apply research skills to a range of challenges
    3. communicate perceptively and effectively

Assessment Summary

Examination (3 hours): 50%; In-semester assessment: 50%

Assessment Task Value Due Date
On-line quiz 10% Sunday, April 29, 2012, 6pm
Practical assignment and presentation 30% (20% report, 10% presentation) Report due: Friday, May 11, 2012, 6pm
Participation 10% by week 11
Examination 1 50% To be advised

Teaching Approach

Lecture and tutorials or problem classes
This teaching and learning approach helps students to initially encounter information at lectures, discuss and explore the information during tutorials, and practice in a hands-on lab environment.

Hands-on exercises will be explored in the tutorials to facilitate practical skills development.


Our feedback to You

Types of feedback you can expect to receive in this unit are:
  • Informal feedback on progress in labs/tutes
  • Graded assignments with comments
  • Quiz results
  • Other: Feedback on the end of semester presentations

Your feedback to Us

Monash is committed to excellence in education and regularly seeks feedback from students, employers and staff. One of the key formal ways students have to provide feedback is through SETU, Student Evaluation of Teacher and Unit. The University's student evaluation policy requires that every unit is evaluated each year. Students are strongly encouraged to complete the surveys. The feedback is anonymous and provides the Faculty with evidence of aspects that students are satisfied and areas for improvement.

For more information on Monash's educational strategy, and on student evaluations, see:

Previous Student Evaluations of this unit

This is the first time this unit will be offered. Your feedback is very valuable for us to make it more interesting and useful for your benefits as well as your fellow future students.

If you wish to view how previous students rated this unit, please go to

Recommended text(s)

Christina Wodtke and Austin Govella . (2009). Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web. (2nd) New Riders (ISBN: -10: 0321600800).

Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld. (2007). Information architecture for the World Wide Web. (3rd ed. ) Sebastopol, CA : O'Reilly,.

Unit Schedule

Week Activities Assessment
0 No formal activities are undertaken in week 0 No formal assessment or activities are undertaken in week 0
1 Introduction - the need for Information Architecture (IA) 27 Feb, Semester starts, no tutorials in week 1, Unit Forum is open for comments/questions
2 First principles + major stages for IA development tutorial work start
3 Guest lecture 1 - Helen Smith, Information architect and content specialist at ui3 Assignment specifications become available
4 Stage 1 of IA development- Research paper presentations and discussion
5 Stage 2 of IA development- Strategy paper presentations and discussion
6 Guest lecture 2 - TBC  
7 Stage 3a of IA development- Design Quiz becomes available
8 Stage 3a of IA development- User centered and User sensitive design Complete and submit on-line quiz
9 Guest lecture 3 -TBC  
10 Stage 4 and 5 - Implementation and administration Assignment is due the end of this week
11 Architecting social spaces Assignment presentations
12 Review and conclusions  
  SWOT VAC No formal assessment is undertaken SWOT VAC
  Examination period LINK to Assessment Policy: http://policy.monash.edu.au/policy-bank/

*Unit Schedule details will be maintained and communicated to you via your MUSO (Blackboard or Moodle) learning system.

Assessment Requirements

Assessment Policy

Faculty Policy - Unit Assessment Hurdles (http://www.infotech.monash.edu.au/resources/staff/edgov/policies/assessment-examinations/unit-assessment-hurdles.html)

Assessment Tasks


Tutorial participation will be assessed at 10% of the total mark.
This will require leading the discussion on one paper during the semester (can be performed in a group of 2 for longer papers). In addition, your can improve your mark by contributing to the discussion of other papers.

  • Assessment task 1
    On-line quiz
    A set of questions will be made available through Moodle on-line quiz, which will help you review the material studied over the first half of the semester. Two attempts will be allowed before the final submission.
    Criteria for assessment:

    Sample of correct answers will be provided after the submission due date

    Due date:
    Sunday, April 29, 2012, 6pm
  • Assessment task 2
    Practical assignment and presentation
    Creating and describing information architecture for a collection of on-line materials (YouTube will be recommended as a source). Implementation will require mastering Drupal content management systems functionality. This system will be studied as part of the practical labs.
    30% (20% report, 10% presentation)
    Criteria for assessment:

    The level of understanding of the concept of information architecture and its role for improving user's experiences with online system will be the major criteria for assessing this assignment.
    If work is performed in a group (two people maximum), then students will have to provide a statement of contribution of each individual student to the project and assess each others performance on a set of criteria, which will be supplied by the tutor.

    Due date:
    Report due: Friday, May 11, 2012, 6pm
    Presentation material can be submitted after the presentation at the tutorials.
    The report and other assignment material should be uploaded onto unit's Moodle site by the due date

  • Assessment task 3
    Active participation in tutorials and leading discussion on one recommended paper per semester (see above details)
    Criteria for assessment:

    A set of criteria for assessment will be provided. This will also include students assessing each other's performance and contribution

    Due date:
    by week 11


  • Examination 1
    3 hours
    Type (open/closed book):
    Closed book
    Electronic devices allowed in the exam:

Assignment submission

It is a University requirement (http://www.policy.monash.edu/policy-bank/academic/education/conduct/plagiarism-procedures.html) for students to submit an assignment coversheet for each assessment item. Faculty Assignment coversheets can be found at http://www.infotech.monash.edu.au/resources/student/forms/. Please check with your Lecturer on the submission method for your assignment coversheet (e.g. attach a file to the online assignment submission, hand-in a hard copy, or use an online quiz).

Online submission

If Electronic Submission has been approved for your unit, please submit your work via the VLE site for this unit, which you can access via links in the my.monash portal.

Extensions and penalties

Returning assignments

Other Information


Student services

The University provides many different kinds of support services for you. Contact your tutor if you need advice and see the range of services available at www.monash.edu.au/students. For Sunway see http://www.monash.edu.my/Student-services, and for South Africa see http://www.monash.ac.za/current/

The Monash University Library provides a range of services and resources that enable you to save time and be more effective in your learning and research. Go to http://www.lib.monash.edu.au or the library tab in my.monash portal for more information. At Sunway, visit the Library and Learning Commons at http://www.lib.monash.edu.my/. At South Africa visit http://www.lib.monash.ac.za/.

Academic support services may be available for students who have a disability or medical condition. Registration with the Disability Liaison Unit is required. Further information is available as follows:

  • Website: http://monash.edu/equity-diversity/disability/index.html;
  • Email: dlu@monash.edu
  • Drop In: Equity and Diversity Centre, Level 1 Gallery Building (Building 55), Monash University, Clayton Campus, or Student Community Services Department, Level 2, Building 2, Monash University, Sunway Campus
  • Telephone: 03 9905 5704, or contact the Student Advisor, Student Commuity Services at 03 55146018 at Sunway

Reading list

A list of papers will be made available on Moodle site, and these can be accessed electronically.


Useful resources for learning this unit can be found at:

  • Information Architecture 101: A crash course for the enterprise architect
    Almost everything you ever wanted to know about information architecture

  • A List Apart Magazine
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