module specification

DN4001 - Visual Research and Communication (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Visual Research and Communication
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 300
219 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 80%   Portfolio
Coursework 20%   Critical evaluation
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Tuesday Morning
Year (Spring and Summer) City Wednesday Morning

Module summary

This module is intended to enable graphic designers, publishers, illustrators and animators to develop a range of knowledge, skills and approaches in the research, sketching and communication of information and ideas in visual form.

Students will take part in a range of studios, workshops and lectures that introduce a wide range of traditional and contemporary drawing, visual research and communication media, methods and practices to help explore, record, select from, analyse and interpret the environment and the world of images, spaces and artefacts for a range of purposes.

Through the regular practice of a wide range of visual communication methods, whether for the recording and communication of information, the generation of concepts and design or the expression of ideas, students will develop confidence and a key resource to support practice.

Discipline specific projects will explore the recording and expression of line, colour, form, structure, light, space and perspective, texture, detail and context appropriate to the requirements of specific fields in a range of media and formats.

The module seeks to enable students to:

• study and practice a range of techniques and approaches in the research and recording of exhibitions, contemporary and historical practitioners within the field of visual communication, books, magazines and specialist blogs;

• gain increasing fluency in a range of formal techniques in the generation and communication of ideas and information in visual form;

• begin to develop a personal approach and a regular practice of drawing as a form of visual research;

• begin to demonstrate critical interpretation of what is recorded and produced through visual research and communication practice through reflection.


Through structured learning and individual projects, students will develop knowledge and experience of:

• observation techniques;  LO1

• techniques of visual recording ;  LO1, 2

• case study analysis incorporating visual techniques;  LO2

• visual experimentation to generate concepts and proposals;  LO3

• discipline-specific skills in visual communication;  LO4

• sector-specific skills and techniques in traditional (hand) and modern (digital) media;  LO3

• drawing as a method of analysing material, construction and surface;  LO3

• how to begin forming a personal approach to visual research and communication.  LO2, 4

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching ensures that independent study is effective and addresses the learning outcomes and assessment tasks. Students are expected to, and have the opportunity to, continue with their studies outside of scheduled classes. There will be a range of learning strategies deployed and individual learning styles will be accommodated. The module’s learning outcomes, its contents and delivery, have been scrutinised and will be regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive approach to pedagogic practice.

The module is delivered through lectures, practical workshops, demonstrations, inductions and studio-based activities supported by external visits where necessary. Group seminars, tutorials and informal feedback during workshop sessions offer the opportunity to reflect upon learning-in-progress, and to discuss and progress strategies for developing skills and practice. Blended learning will support students in individual and group assignments. The module and course utilise the University’s blended learning platform to support and reinforce learning, to foster peer-to-peer communication and to facilitate tutorial support for students. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment items and interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development.

Successful learning in this module is dependent upon regular attendance and engagement in the scheduled teaching and the level of self-managed study undertaken. In order to make the most of all the opportunities available, students will be encouraged and supported to organise and plan their learning activities effectively. The level of self-managed learning will be monitored. Self-directed study may include individual and/or group tasks, for example, research, site visits, drawing tasks, digital skills, or collecting and collating materials in preparation for the following week's session. The construction of a portfolio of personally produced and assembled work is vital to success in the module and the progress of this will be monitored in tutorials and seminars.

The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able, as they progress from year to year, to understand the professional environment of their disciplines, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the module students will be able to:

Knowledge and Understanding
LO1 research, analyse and record chosen objects of study through a range of visual techniques relevant to visual communication;

Cognitive Intellectual Skills
LO2 use visual research and communication techniques and approaches to produce and support critical interpretation and reflection in both sketchbooks and blog with primary and secondary research evidenced;

Transferable Skills
LO3 express and communicate to others concepts, ideas or proposals employing an appropriate range of visual techniques and media;

Subject Specific Practical Skills
LO4 demonstrate confidence in regular use of visual research and communication techniques as fundamental tools of critical and creative practice demonstrated through a portfolio of edited and designed outputs and developmental work.


Assessment strategy

In end of project critiques, students are expected to produce a coherent presentation of the development of their visual research and visual communication, together with a critical evaluation of relative successes and failures, communicating and debating this with others. Formative feedback will be provided throughout in tutorials, group discussions and during workshop sessions. Formative feedback encourages students to reflect on progress and discuss strategies for further development of skills and practice.

Structured activities and independent learning within the portfolio will be formatively assessed.  The satisfactory completion of relevant technical/ workshop activities and continuing independent practice (and associated health and safety procedures) will be monitored.

The final mark will be awarded in relation to a portfolio of a carefully presented work at the end the module, including all projects undertaken, evidencing engagement and development of work and visual research, produced both under guidance and independently. Summative assessment will reflect on the whole body of work and qualities demonstrated throughout. Work must be carefully organised, presented to a professional standard and should communicate the development of ideas. The content must be clearly labelled with name, student number, module code and date. Students are required to attend timetabled sessions.

Written feedback will be provided corresponding to published assessment criteria and guidance given towards future development. Precise requirements for submission will be given in project briefs.


Core Texts:
Berger, J. (2003) Ways of Seeing, Penguin
Bestley, R. and Noble, I. (2004) Visual Research An Introduction to Research Methods in Graphic Design, AVA Publishing
Caputo,T.  (2002) Visual Storytelling: The Art and Technique, Watson-Guptill
Fletcher, A. (2001) The Art of Looking Sideways, Phaidon

Additional Reading:
Crow, D. (2003) Visible Signs, An Introduction to Semiotics in the Visual Arts, Bloomsbury
Drpic, I. (1988) Sketching and Rendering Interior Spaces, Phaidon
Harrison, H. (2009) The Encyclopaedia of Drawing Techniques, Search Press
Ingledew, J. (2017), How to have great ideas: A guide to creative thinking, Laurence King
Kress, G. and Van Leeuwen, T. (2015) Reading images, The Grammar of Visual Design: Routledge
Lupton, E. (2004) Thinking with Type, Princeton Architectural Press
Munari, B (2008) ‘Design as Art’, Penguin

Baseline Magazine
Creative Review


Electronic Databases:
E-Flux Journal
The Serving Library

Design Resources: