module specification

FA7025 - Research Methods in Art, Architecture and Design (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Research Methods in Art, Architecture and Design
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 40
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 400
319 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30%   Illustrated case study and project work
Coursework 70%   Research Proposal
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Monday Morning

Module summary

This module provides an introduction to research in Art, Architecture and Design, and is particularly suitable as an introduction to creative practice-based and creative practice-led research. It offers research training that can be used as preparation and foundation for MPhil and PhD research and the development of professional practice. Research approaches suitable for practice-led disciplines are introduced and written work will make use of scholarly conventions.

The module explores the nature and definitions of research in art, architecture and design based disciplines. Students are introduced to interdisciplinary research methods from a range of perspectives. Understanding of research is demonstrated through the development of a research proposal, and through practical exploration and experimentation conducted, recorded and analysed as a research project.

This module aims to:
• enable students to understand what is meant by research in art, architecture and design;
• furnish students with the intellectual skills to enable them to develop a research proposal for M level and doctoral level research;
• furnish students with the critical skills to explore the ways in which they may analyse their own work within appropriate intellectual frameworks;
• develop students' abilities to reflect on their practice and their understanding of the relationship between practice and theory;
• engender understanding of the research project through experimentation and practical exploration;
• engender an open and experimental approach to the development and use of research methods;
• enable students  appropriately to use formal research methods, conventions and apparatus.


The module will introduce and explore:
• the nature of research in art, architecture and design;
• interdisciplinary methodologies;
• the role of heuristics, the iterative process in research, and reflective practice;
• the nature, role, and development of research questions;
• the nature, role, and development of research methods;
• methods of analysis;
• how to write a research proposal.

Through a series of seminars a number of visiting practitioners will share their own research and methodologies for discussion. In seminars and workshops students will explore the concepts of research in the arts and design, and the roles of research questions in different types of research. Students will begin to explore the opportunities and limitations of methodologies; that might be understood as conventional, creative, experimental, or opportunistic; and the demands of gaining the necesarry skills to apply them. This is followed by independent learning in which methods relevant to the project being developed are put into practice. LO1,LO2,LO3,LO4

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 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. Throughout the module, students build a body of work, including reflections on progress and achievement.

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

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:
1) demonstrate an understanding of research methods in art, architecture or design and demonstrate development and implementation of practice-based research methods appropriate for the proposed project;
2) develop an appropriate range of research questions and propositions, and use academic conventions in written work;
3) consider the ethical dimensions of the chosen research topic;
4) demonstrate skills of organisation, experimentation, documentation, reflection, and analysis.

Assessment strategy

Research Proposal
Textual submission of 2000 - 3000 words, fully contextualising and justifying the project proposal and research questions. To include a description of research methods, their process of development and rationale. The proposal should also include an appropriate and relevant reference list and bibliography, and evidence consideration of research ethics.

Illustrated case studio and project work
The case study comprises of a textual submission (1,500 words) describing the development, application and contextualising of a selected research method including reflection on its outcomes. Project work should be submitted in appropriate media / documentation evidencing the development and application of the research method.


Texts will be recommended on an individual basis as appropriate. Students will be expected to read widely in and around their subject area and to keep up with current specialist journals and exhibitions.

Barratt, E. and Bolt, B. (ed.) (2014) Material Inventions, Applying Creative Arts Research,  London: I.B. Taurus
Barrett E. and Bolt B. (ed.) (2007) Practice as Research: Approaches to Creative Arts Inquiry, London: I.B. Tauris

Fraser, M. (ed.) (2013) Design Research in Architecture: An Overview, London: Routledge
Laurel, B. (ed.) (2004) Design Research: Methods and Perspectives, Cambridge: MIT Press
Nelson, R. et al. (2013) Practice as Research in the Arts: Principles, Protocols, Pedagogies, Resistances, New York: Palgrave Macmillan
Biggs, M. and Karlsson, H. (ed.) (2010) The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts, London and New York: Routledge
Wesseling, J. (ed.) (2011) See it Again, Say it Again: The Artist as Researcher Amsterdam: Valliz

Creswell, J. (2013) Research Design (International Student Edition): Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, New York: Sage Publications
Becker, H. (1998) Tricks of the Trade: How to Think about your research while you’re doing it, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press
Costley, C. Elliot, G. and Gibbs, P. (2010) Doing Work Based Research: Approaches to Enquiry for insider researchers, Los Angeles, London, New Delhi: Sage
Gray, C. and Malins, J. (2000) ‘Research Procedures/Methodology for Artists and Designers’, Carole Gray— Research Publications [web site]
Hannula M. et al. (2005) Artistic research : theories, methods and practices, Gothenberg, University of Gothenberg

Lawson, B. (1980) How Designers Think: The Design Process Demystified, 2nd edition, London, Butterworth Architecture
Mitchell, M. and Tang, B. (2017) Loose Fit City: The Contribution of Bottom-Up Architecture to Urban Design and Planning, London: Routledge
Orna, E. Stevens, G. (1995) Managing Information for Research, Buckingham and Philadelphia, Open University Press
Rose, G. (2001) Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials: An Introduction to Interpreting Visual Objects, Sage
Smith, C. (1997) ‘Action research: a method for integrating theory and practice in project based research in art and design’ in Evans, S. Greenhill S. (ed.), Sculpture/Method/Research, London, Letherby Press
Sullivan, G. (2005) Art Practice as Research, Thousand Oaks, California, Sage

Van Leeuwen, T. Jewitt, C. (2001) Handbook of Visual Analysis, London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: Sage