VE 1.1 Visual Enquiry and Research Methods Unit Overview

Unit Title Visual Enquiry and Research Methods
Unit Code MA 1.1
Location N/A
Level & Credit M 30 credits
When taught Year 1
Duration One year P/T
Learning hours 300 hours
Date first approved 01/07/10
Date of this version 01/06/10


This Unit, and Unit MA 1.2, provide a general context and supportive framework for the specific development of the Project Plan in Unit MA 1.4.  Together both support and advance the project work produced during the rest of your MA study.  This Unit is concerned with the development of appropriate research methods for creative practice. As such the Unit introduces you to a range of research and communication methods and tools appropriate to an advanced level of study in creative disciplines.

Art practice as a research method with its own characteristics is an emerging concept which is debated and defined here through an examination of its individual characteristics. MA 1.1 is a critically important unit and key to providing the opportunity for you to establish, the area of discipline pertinent to review, question and extend previous practice through exploration and experimentation. It will enable you to identify your technical and academic resource needs and promote technical excellence and dexterity, including sound and safe working practices. It will introduce you to the range of knowledge, interest and expertise to enable you to embark on a programme of creative work. This unit includes the study of various artists’ research methods. Reference and reinforcement will be made back to this unit through each subsequent unit. At this level of advanced study the essential abilities to record, reflect and engage in critical analysis, evaluate and synthesise are progressed and should support the development of your MA project through effective forms of communication and academic conventions.

The aims of this Unit are to:

  • A1     develop an informed understanding of a range of appropriate research methodologies for practice-based projects;
  • A2     support the development of self-directed study through the application of method, critical reflection and evaluation;
  • A3     support the development of communication skills and academic language appropriate to advanced study in the subject field.


On completion of this Unit you will be able to:

  • LO1   understand a range of methods, theoretical practices and their origins and implement these in terms of art research;
  • LO2   identify and develop appropriate methods to address research questions and specifically those in your own creative practice;
  • LO3 engage in critical self-reflection as a means of evaluating individual progress;
  • LO4 evidence and communicate your research in an appropriate manner in a range of contexts.


Teaching and Learning is through self-study with support from a tutor at a distance who will provide written and verbal feedback. You will be given unit materials, assigned a tutor, and learn through engagement with projects that lead up to assignments that consolidate learning undertaken in the unit. Tutors normally engage with you via phone and email and are sent work to review. You will work on a series of projects and reflect regularly on your work through keeping a learning log, as well as logging research findings and practical notes. You will be required to engage with your peers using OCA’s online forums.


A body of work which must include practical work, sketchbooks, a research journal and an essay of 1500 to 2000 words that contextualises how the research carried out has informed your practice and contributions to online forums.


You will be assessed on your;

Knowledge of contexts, concepts, and methods specifically knowledge and understanding of a range of research methods and theoretical practices, your rationale, context and applications to the field of Art in relation to your own work (LO1).

Understanding through the application of knowledge , specifically; ability to identify an appropriate area for research and methods to plan and execute a research project iand to evaluate progress (LO2).

Application of professional skills, specifically; ability to reflect critically on contextual practice in order to address personal development needs. (LO3) ability to communicate research processes and findings demonstrated through written and oral means (LO4).


Alberro, A. (2006) Art After Conceptual Art, M.I.T Press, U.S.A.
Gray,C. and Malins,J. (2004) Visualising Research: A Guide to the Research Process in Art and Design, Ashgate, London.
Harrison, C. Wood. (2002) Art in Theory Wiley/Blackwell
Sullivan, G. (2005) Art Practice as Research: Inquiry in the Visual Arts, Sage, London.
Watt, J The Art of Blogging a-n Publications (recommended)

Web references

You will be required to provide a bibliography to support your own contemporary art practice relevant to your chosen area of expertise. Much of this will be dependent upon your chosen area of practice (i.e. painting, print, ceramics, photography etc.), but should include material which demonstrates theoretical contextualisation of your practice.

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