module specification

AR7039 - Research Methods for Design (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Research Methods for Design
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 200
164 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30%   Research Method Exercises
Seminar 10%   Presentation of Thesis Proposal
Coursework 60%   2000 word Illustrated Thesis Abstract
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Thursday Morning

Module summary

Module code: AR7039
Module title: Research Methods for Design
Description: Design Research has broad parameters. This module will present methods of
research relevant to a wide range of design agendas. It will also discuss the
relationship of research to process of designing and will explore the issues and
possibilities inherent in the conception of research as an action which leads to or
becomes propositional. It will explore the tools and methods which will allow the
student to operate effectively as a design researcher within one of the MA
Architecture specialisms. It will examine modes of research, both primary and
secondary, and the methods and techniques by which results can be evaluated
and applied. The student will be asked to become aware of the context of their
particular area of research and its value as a resource within their own work.
Standard methods of referencing will be introduced. Finally the student will
develop an abstract for the Design Thesis, building upon the work in the
corequisite modules, through a series of seminars and individual tutorials.
Semester: Autumn/Spring
Co-requisite: None
Assessment: 30% Series of Research Tasks
10% Presentation of Thesis Proposition
60% 2000 Word Abstract for Thesis

Prior learning requirements


Module aims

· To explore the conception of Design Research and Design as Research, its relevance and
possibilities as a potentially propositional activity.
· To examine relevant modes of research - both primary research, the collection of material from
source, and secondary research, the collation and application of previously collected material.
· To explore appropriate techniques for the evaluation and application of research material.
To explore the relationships between research and development; when relevant to the MA Architecture Specialism.
· To encourage the student to understand their work within the parameters of their particular
specialism and beyond that, within the broader context of architecture, design and creative
· To introduce and gain familiarity with the standard practices of research and its professional and
academic documentation.
· To inculcate the student in the importance of referencing and to introduce standard methods of
undertaking this.
· To introduce issues relating to copyright and interlectual property rights.
· To define and develop a thesis proposition, with reference to the student's own work in
co-requisite modules and the wider context of the proposed area of study.
· To document this proposition through the preparation of a 2000 word Thesis Abstract.


This module underpins the work across all MA Architecture Specialisms. Its primary intention is to establish the means and the methods by which research can inform design and to explore the potential that design might be understood as a mode of research. It will introduce the student to both primary and secondary forms of research, along with the tools which allow for the evaluation of results. A wide range of modes of research will be considered.

The module runs in parallel to its co-modules, Technique and Research and Design Project. Its intention is to support and inform the work undertaken by the students within those modules, offering the student the tools and methods with which to define, evaluate and critique, their mode of operation and their developing concerns. Beyond this, it requires the student to frame in on this work in an intellectually rigourous manner within the standards and accepted practices of professional and academic documentation, including writing.

The module commences with a series of seminars which will introduce the various methods and practices with which the student is asked to engage. These will be further explored and evaluated through the presentation of precedents, which will offer the opportunity to demonstrate the possibilities and potential issues which might arise through their application. The students will also be asked to undertake exercises, individually and in groups, testing a variety of methods at first hand and offering the opportunity for students from within different MA specialisms to interact and exchange information and ideas.

The second part of the module will be more focused around the development of a Thesis Proposition, presented through the production of a 2000 word abstract, supporting, or supported by, appropriate visual material. Through seminars and individual tutorials, the student will be asked to define the focus of their work and to consider how elements from the various
co-requisite modules, can be synthesised into a coherent, holistic and original piece of work. The student will also be asked to consider the appropriate means and medium / media of representation, whether written, visual or three dimensional.

Learning and teaching

The course operates as a 'long thin module'. Introductory seminars will take place in Semester A, supporting the beginning of the Research and Technique module. The principal components of the module will be undertaken in Semester B, initiating the process and the conversations which will lead to the Design Thesis.

The work in the first semester comprises:
Monthly Seminars, examining and evaluating research methodologies and standard practices in referencing and documentation
The work in the second semester comprises:
A series of introductory seminars, aiding students in the definition of a Thesis Proposition
A 20 minute verbal and visual presentation, by the students to their peers, of their Thesis Proposal
Individual and Group Tutorials, leading to the preparation of a 2000 word, illustrated Thesis Abstract.
This module is a shared resource for all MA Specialism and Architecture courses

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be able to:
·Understand how research might inform design and obversely, how the process of designing
might be understood as part of a research process.
·Interpret and apply a variety of research methods commonly used to assess, evaluate and
establish the parameters of design
·Understand the potential relevance of a given method of research in the development of a project
·Effectively and professionally document their research, utilising normative procedures, methods
and techniques.
·Develop a coherent thesis proposition, which synthesises primary and secondary research and
propositional design work.
Potentially developing innovative research methods.

Assessment strategy

1 SEMESTER 1: Research Method Exercises (30%)
2 SEMESTER 2: Presentation of Thesis Proposal (10%)
3 SEMESTER 2: 2000 word illustrated Thesis Abstract (60%)