module specification

FA7044 - Research for Practice (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Research for Practice
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 100%   Research report and journal (total 3000-4000 words)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Monday Morning

Module summary

The module is delivered in the context of a thematic studio, related to key themes associated with areas of art, photography or design practice that are varied annually. These establish the professional, creative and intellectual framework through which students’ projects develop.

There is a heuristic and practice-based approach to research, where postgraduate students are supported to interrogate and discuss the research processes and methodologies involved in their field of practice through seminars, lectures and tutorials.  The research for and testing of practice, undertaken during the module, is intended as both preparation for and complementary to work on the project modules and will explore connections between research, thinking and making with an emphasis on study through practice.

Module aims

The module aims to:

  • prepare art, photography or design students with the necessary reflective and research skills to tackle the challenges and demands of their project work
  • develop students’ sustainable independent and individual research-led working strategies
  • provide students with an educational framework from which they can explore and interrogate the social, ethical and sustainable responsibilities associated with their field of practice
  • enable students to test out technical and material approaches to support their project work both individually and in collaboration
  • provide students with the opportunity to develop subject-related theoretical understanding and professionalism in their practice facilitating their development as independent practitioners

The overall aim of the module is to support art, photography or design students to develop the necessary conceptual, research and practical skills to inform and frame their practice to support the development of an ambitious Major Project.


The module involves art, photography or design students in actively testing out and developing specific approaches to research to support their art or design practice. It is supported by a thematic studio that will enable them to share and discuss ongoing research in relation to a specific theme. Key areas that will be considered during the module include:

  • the construction of meaning through methods of making and presentation or exhibition display
  • the social, ethical and socio-economic functions of their field of practice
  • research methods employed by practitioners in their field
  • theoretical frameworks related to different forms of practice
  • primary research methods and ethical implications
  • communication of findings through a range of effective means

Learning and teaching

The Learning and Teaching strategy for the module is to base learning around the students’ evolving work and practice as a case study. Students increasingly become responsible for their own learning, through a phased schedule of progressive tutorial support and feedback. Activities combine lecturer-led learning, learning from others and learning through experience, examples include:

Lectures and seminars will interrogate the shared theme of the studio involving both tutor-led and student-led presentations and set readings.

Thematic studio project; talks by and discussions with parties involved in the project or related issues; reference to primary and secondary sources of material; workshops on appropriate research methods.

Peer review, critiques and self-assessment will engage students in analysis and critical evaluation of their own work and the work of others.

Self-directed study is used as the basis for tutorial discussion and critique. Students will be encouraged to reflect on, plan and review their own personal development as an ongoing process.

Practitioner talks will provide professional case studies and a platform for debate and peer group engagement.

Technical inductions and workshops are available along with open access to technical facilities and enable students to test out and produce work in an appropriate medium based on their own research plans.

In addition, students are encouraged to make maximum use of the resources available to them in terms of the IT provision both within the School 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 the module, the art, photography or design student will be able to:

  1. produce viable, creative, innovative art, photography or design through the application of a well-founded art or design research and development process
  2. reflect upon and respond to audience response and impact, commercial, ethical, environmental and legal issues involved in art, photography or design
  3. construct and apply an iterative process that communicates, tests and evaluates ideas and art, photography or design propositions through critical, self-reflective and objective processes of analysis
  4. carry out effective research into current and emerging 2D, 3D, digital, print and photographic media, and select and specify those appropriate for their own art, photography or design proposals
  5. exhibit art or design project management expertise, directing and managing the development and making process (with others, if appropriate) to achieve a convincing and well-worked proposal
  6. collate, document and present proposals effectively and persuasively in written, verbal and visual means in accordance with art, photography or design conventions and professional or commercial expectations

Assessment strategy

Assessment will be based on:

Illustrated research report (2000-2500 words) and critical journal (1000 -1500 words) - (journal recording and evaluating research activity undertaken month by month). The requirements for these will be interpreted according to individual circumstances and project requirements.  A written submission including an evaluative and analytical report of research undertaken and annotated research material, which may include (design students) case study and literature review, and which includes primary & secondary research appendices. An appropriate and relevant reference list and bibliography as directed.

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 use of problem solving, testing and experimentation
  • management of own learning and personal professional development


Key shared texts for art, photography or design students are:

Blaxter, L., Hughes, C. and Tight, M. (2006) How to Research, Maidenhead: Open University
Gray, C. and Malins, J. (2004) Visualizing research: a guide to the research process in art and design, Farnham: Ashgate
Joost, G., Bredies, K., Christensen, M., Conradi, F. and Unteidig, A. (eds.) (2016) Design as Research: Positions, Arguments, Perspectives, Basel: Birkhauser

Reading and resources for design students include:

Collins, H. (2010) Creative research : the theory and practice of research for the creative industries, Lausanne: AVA Academia
Crouch, C. and Pearce, J. (2012) Doing Research in Design, Oxford: Berg
Hanington, B. and Martin, B. (2012) Universal Methods of Design: 100 ways to research complex problems, develop innovative ideas, and design effective solutions, Beverly: Rockport
Simonsen, J., Bærenholdt, J. O.,  Büscher M. and Scheuer J. D. (eds.), (2010) Design Research : Synergies from Interdisciplinary Perspectives, London and New York: Routledge
Tilley, C., Keane, W., Kuechler-Fogden, S., Rowlands, M. and Spyer, P. (author, eds.)  (2006) Handbook of Material Culture, Sage: London

Reading and resources for art students include:

Biggs, M. and Karlsson, H. (eds.) (2010) The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts, London and New York: Routledge.
Knowles, G. and Cole, A. (2008) Handbook of the Arts in Qualitative Research: Perspectives, Methodologies, Examples and Issues, New York: Sage
McNiff, S. (2009) Art as Research; Opportunities and Challenges, London: Jessica Kingsley
Nelson, R. (2013) Practice as Research in the Arts: Principles, Protocols, Pedagogies, Resistances, London: Palgrave Macmillan