Course specification and structure
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PRPROJAD - MA by Project

Course Specification

Validation status Validated
Highest award Master of Arts by Project Level Masters
Possible interim awards Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
Total credits for course 180
Awarding institution London Metropolitan University
Teaching institutions London Metropolitan University
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Subject Area Art
Attendance options
Option Minimum duration Maximum duration
Full-time 1 YEARS  
Part-time 2 YEARS  
Course leader  

About the course and its strategy towards teaching and learning and towards blended learning/e-learning

MA by Project provides students with the opportunity to explore in depth a self-initiated research proposal or ‘live’ project. The course supports creative practice as research within the School’s Subject areas of Art, Architecture and Design and is therefore structured to offer a variety of specialist opportunities for study in a multi- and interdisciplinary context.

The course is designed to provide a framework at postgraduate research level to support students to work in-depth on a self-directed programme of research through creative practice. The course is appropriate for the delivery of advanced professional practice project outputs and provides students with the necessary research skills as preparation for further study at PhD level, or to go on to professional practice or related employment.

The MA places an emphasis on research methods developed from creative practice and introduces students to current debates on the nature of research and knowledge in relation to that creative practice. Students are supported to develop advanced skills in writing proposals, reflective reports, and essays and to develop modes of writing as exploratory and communicative modes for practice.

Consideration has been given to the following: the Master’s Degree Characteristics Statement, the Subject Benchmark Statement (Art and Design, 2017), the HE Qualification Framework, the University’s Strategic Plan and Student Charter, the University’s Undergraduate Regulations, the views and feedback of students, external examiners and employers/ clients, developments within the subject area, and the changing needs of the cultural/ commercial sectors and professions. Due consideration has also been given to inclusivity in course and assessment design.

Embedded in the Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design, the course draws on the strengths of teaching staff from across the School and the wide circle of academic and cultural contacts and collaborators attached to the School and University.

The course seeks to provide and foster:

• learning through direct experience, connecting academic and creative studies;
• student choice in subject and style of learning;
• a culture of independent and critical thought, encouraging the challenging of received ideas and practice;
• employability attributes, through live projects engaging with external partners, institutions and companies that create a realistic environment of professional expectations for students, preparing students for graduate-level employment;
• engagement across the School and University, providing opportunities for collaborative project work during study;
• individualised learning and study support opportunities, that cater for different learning styles;
• awareness of the duty of all to understand the impact of their decisions and actions as practitioner researchers and to strive to act responsibly.

The course actively encourages experimentation at all levels, both in terms of exploring the relationship of history and theory to practice, and in terms of formal and technical explorations. Students are encouraged to understand that in research process may be more important than specific outcomes and that the negative hypothesis also has a value. Students are expected to demonstrate through their project work an enhanced ability to explore intellectual issues concerning art, architecture and design in a constructively critical and analytical manner.

In order to support students’ project work, module options and supervision are available from subject experts from across the School. The Research Methods module supports students in the production of their project proposal and provides research training on the nature and practice of creative practice research in and across art, architecture and design. Students propose and direct their research topic (culminating in a named award).

Teaching methods include: lectures, seminars, tutorials, external visits, group critiques, workshops and opportunities for studio practice. Teaching and learning adopts a student-centred approach that identifies individual learning styles and accommodates them.

Lectures provide and encourage a critically informed view of a topic, contextualising the subject and illustrating applied approaches. Lectures provide students with a managed introduction to a theme, enabling them to continue with suggested or directed self-study.

Seminars enable students to debate and explore subjects, questions and assignments with peers and tutors, encouraging an open and collaborative approach to shared learning.

Tutorials support individual learning, allowing for individual approaches to study, and catering for individual interests. Tutorials can be diagnostic or can support specific assignment or project-related questions, and support differing student paths to achievement of learning outcomes.

External visits offer opportunities for vital direct experience with objects and sites of study, and to communicate with and learn from experts and specialists.

Critiques allow students to benefit from feedback on their own and others’ work, to contribute to that feedback, and are a valuable part of the peer-to-peer learning that is a core expectation and reason for University study.

Workshops offer students opportunities to engage in creative practice. Opportunities will be available to students to undertake workshop and studio practice relevant to their assignments or collaborative projects. The objective is to apply knowledge and/or acquire technical competence, to think critically and creatively, to master technique and develop the capacity to work independently and within teams.

Blended learning utilises the University’s VLE platform to support and reinforce reflective learning, to monitor progress through assignments, to foster peer-to-peer communication and collaborative research activity, and to facilitate tutorial support for students and flexible approaches to learning.

Digital Literacy is embedded in the curriculum through the use of the VLE and in curriculum delivery and expectations of digital capabilities as appropriate to task set and the level of study. Students make use of digital platforms alongside traditional approaches to research, develop and communicate their projects.

Course aims

The overall aims of the course are to:

support students to develop a structured approach to the independent and self-originated study of an approved programme of work in the areas of art, architecture or design and any appropriate combination of the above;

provide a framework that supports students to develop their confidence and capabilities in using appropriate techniques and research methodologies to pursue their chosen project;

promote a lively, creative and collaborative learning environment, where dialogue and exchange are supported and students from a broad range of backgrounds are encouraged to engage in experimentation and heuristic learning;

facilitate engagement with relevant external agencies, clients and/or research platforms to enable students to deliver ‘live’ projects appropriate to external drivers (where appropriate);

foster a critical, analytical and reflective approach in relation to practice within social, cultural, philosophical and ethical dimensions, that enables students to determine their research ambitions and identify and test appropriate methods to achieve them;

enable students to develop and present a substantial body of practical and theoretical work, demonstrating an appropriate level of professional and intellectual attainment that supports further study or professional practice.

Course learning outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding
Upon completion of the course, the student will be able to:

1. initiate, manage and deliver a sustained, structured and systematic approach to the independent study of an approved programme of work;
2. engage effectively with the context of the project using appropriate critical language; providing evidence of awareness of critical debates and issues which relate to the project;

Cognitive/Intellectual Skills

3. employ advanced capabilities in articulation, analysis, reflection, project management, and judgement;
4. report and communicate the progress of research and present findings in a manner that is appropriate to the nature of the proposal and agreed criteria;

Practical Skills

5. present project work demonstrating an appropriate use of practitioner skills in relation to practical, technical and theoretical understanding in a manner that reflects the proposal and agreed criteria;
6. utilise enhanced research and strategic skills of organisation, experimentation, reflection and analysis;

Transferable Skills

7. identify and manage the implications of ethical dilemmas and work proactively with others as appropriate to formulate solutions;
8. engage confidently in academic and professional communication with others, reporting on action clearly, autonomously, and competently;
9. employ effective independent learning strategies required for continuing professional study and/or research at a higher level.

Course learning outcomes / Module cross reference

Module Title Module Code

Research Methods in Art, Architecture and Design FA7025
Experimentation and Practice FA7049
Theoretical Studies for Art, Architecture and Design FA7027
Project Development FA7047
Research Project in Art, Architecture & Design FA7P30

Learning Outcomes LO 1 - LO 9

Principle QAA benchmark statements

Subject Benchmark Statement; Art and Design 2017

Assessment strategy

Assessment is based on individual project/ portfolio development, written submissions, individual and group presentations and a culminating project/ thesis. Students are required to submit a portfolio of their relevant practical work together with all supporting material. Assessment includes a combination of diagnostic, formative and summative methods.

Students are expected to participate reflectively in assessment. Self-evaluation involves students in reflection on their own progress, in relation to the learning outcomes and mirrors the assessment process conducted by the course team, providing the basis for discussion at assessment feedback sessions after formal coursework assessment has taken place.

Formative Assessment is built into all modules and is designed to provide students with feedback on progress and development. Students are expected to maintain appropriate records of their work as it develops across their agreed programme of study and to take part in seminar discussion of their own and others' work. Included amongst the type of work considered during formative assessment are: sketch books, log books, lecture/seminar notes, drafts, papers, photographs, samples of materials and mock-ups, test pieces, presentations and papers; and the organisation of extracurricular activities such as visits and collaborative work. Students will be required to produce a range of work when attending tutorials and to present it as supporting material for final assessments.

The course requires students to give formal presentations to their tutors and peers on their research and practice. These sessions support students to develop their critical engagement and self-confidence and enable them to manage their aspirations and ambitions.

Summative assessment involves a formal presentation of work produced and considers the measure of achievement in relation to module learning outcomes. Students will be required to demonstrate the successful completion of each module by means of a final submission of work that satisfies the stated aims, objectives, and criteria by means of the indicated assessment items

In line with postgraduate research and its articulation through individually negotiated learning agreements, the MA By Project is not prescriptive in terms of the precise nature of the work presented for final assessment, however the following guidelines apply:

1. the nature and intention of any work undertaken by a student will be determined in advance through tutorial discussion, agreed between the individual student and appropriate tutors;

2. a written statement, describing the proposed project and/or sub-projects will be approved in advance by appropriate tutors: the student's statement must be available at the time of assessment.

Students will be made aware in briefing documents as well as through tutorials, of the 'process' basis of the course which places the emphasis on exploration and development, rather than necessarily highly resolved final artefacts/outcomes.

The assessment strategy for the course has been designed holistically, to ensure manageable timing, workloads and clarity of expectations for students, and to avoid duplication of assessment of learning outcomes.

The assessment regimes for the modules and tasks are designed together with the briefs, prior to the start of the year, taking into account student, external examiner, professional collaborator and colleague feedback from previous instances. The requirements of briefs and their components, the assessment criteria, grading scheme and descriptors are published and explained to students at the start of the year and are designed to be used as consistently as possible, to avoid unnecessary complication. Assessment is related to the achievement of learning outcomes; qualification frameworks and subject benchmark statements are consulted to ensure clear language that is appropriate to level of study. Students are informed of the procedures for first, second and parity marking, and external examiner scrutiny of the assessment process and marks, to ensure that they understand and have confidence in the probity of the process and security of the final marks.

In every case, there is required formative assessment and feedback prior to summative assessment at set points. This is recorded so that it can be used by both students and staff to track further progress and engage support where it is required. Feedback follows good pedagogic practice in that it is constructed as ‘feed-forward’, with a focus on specific actions and strategies as to how to improve, not only on what requires improvement. Challenge to students is managed, so that students performing well in-year are encouraged to strive for excellence, while those performing less well experience clear, targeted and structured guidance, including notice of where they are doing well or are showing potential.

The course adheres to the University’s requirements for assessment and feedback turnaround times and to academic regulations for marking and second marking sampling. Additionally, the course engages in School parity exercises to ensure that assessment standards are consistent. This is especially important in relation to studio delivery through which students on the same modules will be undertaking differing projects.

Organised work experience, work based learning, sandwich year or year abroad

Work-related learning is embedded in the course through live projects, industry visits, visiting speakers and extracurricular opportunities.

Many tutors and lecturers on the course are practitioners and researchers and share their knowledge and experience with students throughout their course of study. The self-directed nature of the course means that opportunities for work-related learning through collaboration with external companies, agencies, institutions, competitions and professionals can be taken up as they arise, if appropriate to the programme of study

Course specific regulations

In part-time mode, the duration of study for a 180-credit MA degree will be 2 years. The prescribed pattern of study in this instance shall be as follows:

Year 1: (FA7025) Research Methods in Art, Architecture and Design, (FA7049) Experimentation and Practice, and (FA7027) Theoretical Studies for Art, Architecture and Design

Year 2: (FA7047) Project Development and (FA7P30) Research Project in Art, Architecture & Design

Modules required for interim awards

Masters (180 credits):
All modules are core and completion and pass of all is required in order to gain the MA.

Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits):
(FA7025) Research Methods in Art, Architecture and Design or (FA7047) Project Development, plus any 20 credit course module

Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits):
(FA7025) Research Methods in Art, Architecture and Design, (FA7047) Project Development, plus (FA7027) Theoretical Studies for Art, Architecture and Design and (FA7049) Experimentation and Practice

Arrangements for promoting reflective learning and personal development

The School’s studio ethos embeds collaborative and reflective learning and personal development planning throughout the course. The course places emphasis on the ethos of reflective practice as a method of research.

Most summative assessment is at the end of modules, with formative assessment points formally instituted in the course of the module. At these interim formative assessment and feedback points, students reflect on their progress to date with their peers and course staff (with the benefit of feedback from professional partners), seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. The feedback and student reflection is recorded and forms an action plan for the next period of study.

This system is highly individualised, but also benefits from peer engagement in studio critiques. The School’s programme of extra-curricular events and industry-led projects supports students’ personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able, as they progress through the course, to understand the professional environment of their disciplines, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions.

Throughout the modules and the course therefore, in this way, students build bodies of work, including reflections on progress and achievement, and planning for their future achievement of targets.

Career, employability and opportunities for continuing professional development

The MA by Project offers research training in preparation for professional practice and PhD research. The development of the research project can also be utilised to enable a range of career opportunities, fostering particular skills and knowledge relevant to specific fields in creative practice and collaboration and exchange between subject disciplines.
The course can be used for the development of a body of practice in preparation for freelance, consultancy or employment within the creative industries.

Students can also benefit from support and guidance from the Careers and Employability services and the University’s business incubator unit, ‘Accelerator’.

Career opportunities

The MA by Project will help you further your practice, cultivate your professional profile and explore new careers in the creative fields. You'll be encouraged and supported in building your own network of contacts as your progress towards the next stage in your career.

Past students have used the MA to launch new businesses as well as further their careers in a variety of professions. The MA by Project provides the opportunity to progress the theoretical development of your practice to a higher level and is a suitable base for the development of a PhD.

Entry requirements

You will be required to have:

  • an honours degree in the subject of the project

Applications are also considered from those with degrees in related disciplines and those with related professional or BTEC qualifications.

Consideration will be given to those without standard entry qualifications who have gained non-certified experience through prior learning, provided evidence is given that this is commensurate with entry qualifications for a postgraduate course.

All applicants must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants who require a Tier 4 student visa may need to provide a Secure English Language Test (SELT) such as Academic IELTS. For more information about English qualifications please see our English language requirements.

Official use and codes

Approved to run from 2013/14 Specification version 1 Specification status Validated
Original validation date 01 Sep 2013 Last validation date 01 Sep 2013  
JACS codes W640 (Photography): 100%
Route code PROJAD

Course Structure

Stage 1 Level 07 September start Offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
FA7025 Research Methods in Art, Architecture and Design Core 40 CITY AUT+SPR MON AM
FA7027 Theoretical Studies for Art, Architecture and D... Core 20        
FA7047 Project Development Core 40 CITY AUT+SPR THU AM
FA7049 Experimentation and Practice Core 20 CITY AUT MON EV
FA7P30 Research Project in Art, Architecture and Design Core 60        

Stage 1 Level 07 January start Not currently offered

Code Module title Info Type Credits Location Period Day Time
FA7025 Research Methods in Art, Architecture and Design Core 40        
FA7027 Theoretical Studies for Art, Architecture and D... Core 20        
FA7047 Project Development Core 40        
FA7049 Experimentation and Practice Core 20        
FA7P30 Research Project in Art, Architecture and Design Core 60