module specification

FA7025 - Research Methods in Art, Architecture and Design (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Research Methods in Art, Architecture and Design
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 40
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 400
319 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 60%   Research Report (3,000 words)
Coursework 40%   Illustrated 1500 word Case Study and Presentation
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Monday Morning

Module summary

This module provides an introduction to research methods, and is particularly suitable as an introduction to practice-based and practice-led research in creative practice. It offers research training that can be used as preparation and foundation for MA, MPhil and PhD research and the development of professional practice. Research approaches, suitable for practice-led disciplines, such as literature reviews and formal case studies will be undertaken, 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 and transdisciplinary 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.

Research will be undertaken within the module to support the understanding of research methods, and the project being proposed, through practical exploration of, and experimentation with methods related to the research project under development.

Module aims

This module aims to:

  • Enable students to understand what is meant by research in art, architecture and design as a disciplined intellectual practice and effective activity;
  • 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 and transdisciplinary 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;
  • Forms of data collection and 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.

Learning and teaching

The Learning and Teaching strategy for the module is to both inform students and actively engage them in a critical discussion related to the role of research. This is achieved through:

Lectures – illustrated lectures related to research in Art, Architecture and Design.

Seminars – students will engage in critical discussion with peers and give seminar presentations on their own research, this will enable them to share research approaches, ask questions and interrogate the role of research together.

Supervision – individual and group tutorials will be available to students on the module and support them to frame their area of research and develop their proposal.

Workshops – students will explore research methods through practice and experimentation with them; students will explore one or a number of research methods related to their project, involving: data gathering, documentation, and analysis.

In addition students are encouraged to make maximum use of the resources available to them in terms of the IT provision both within the Faculty and the library. Blended Learning /weblearn includes the provision of course and module information on the web, lecture notes, feedback, and blogs are used to enhance independent learning.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of research methods in art, architecture or design including literature reviews and case studies
  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;
  5. Demonstrate understanding of a range of practice based research methods appropriate for the proposed project.

Assessment strategy

This module will be assessed by satisfactory completion of a Research Report (including literature review) (3000 words), and 1500 word Case Study (oral and visual presentation), with accompanying materials, notebooks, etc. evidencing the working research method applied.

Work will be assessed against the learning outcomes in relation to the following criteria:

  • Appropriate use of research methods
  • Quality of analysis and interpretation
  • Subject knowledge and relevance
  • Quality of communication and presentation
  • Appropriate technical competence
  • Appropriate use of problem solving, testing and experimentation
  • Management of own learning and personal professional development
  • Effective collaborative and/or independent working methods


The following are indicative only. Refereed journals/articles and electronic resources: issued according to syllabus.
Creswell, J. (2013) Research Design (International Student Edition): Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, New York: Sage Publications
Nelson, R. et al. (2013) Practice as Research in the Arts: Principles, Protocols, Pedagogies, Resistances, New York: Palgrave Macmillan
Barrett E. and Bolt B. (2007) Practice as Research: Approaches to Creative Arts Inquiry, London: I.B. Tauris.

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.
Biggs, M and Karlsson, H. (ed.) (2010) The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts, London and New York: Routledge.
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.

Hockey, J. and Collinson, J. (2006) ‘Seeing the way: visual sociology and the distance runner’s perspective’, Visual Studies, Vol. 21, No. 1, April.
Lawson, B. (1980) How Designers Think: The Design Process Demystified, 2nd edition, London, Butterworth Architecture.

Montaigne, Michel de (1991), ‘On the art of conversation’, Book III, 8, in The Complete Essays, tr. M. A. Screech, Penguin: pp. 1044-1069.
Orna, E. Stevens, G (1995) Managing Information for Research, Buckingham and Philadelphia, Open University Press.
Pegley, O. (2007) ‘Capturing and Analysing own design activity’, Design Studies, Vol 28, No. 5, September.
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.