1.4 Exploratory Project

Unit Title Exploratory Project
Unit Code MA 1.4
Location N/A
Level & Credit M 15 credits
When taught Year 1
Duration One year P/T
Learning hours 150 hours
Date first approved 01/07/10
Date of this version 01/06/10


The Exploratory Project unit develops models for postgraduate learning and the nature of reflective practice. The unit introduces students to the process of learning by project and the formulation of a Project Plan to encourage and support the development of greater speculative and experimental approaches to research. The Project Plan is used to develop an individual rationale and aims and objectives, as well as links to theoretical and research methods (or the framing of a research question in relation to your practice); it is also the method by which you will record your development to encourage further reflective practice.

With the advice of the supervisor, you will develop a Project Plan by reflecting upon work already accomplished and plan studies for the remainder of the course. The Project Plan will define your project in terms of research methods, tools and resources, contexts, theories and outcomes; it will also determine the project unit structure and play an important role in helping you to formulate aims and outcomes to meet the unit requirements and criteria.

This unit is concerned with testing and progressing research with the aim of confirming direction for studio practice in year 2. There will be an emphasis on evaluation and analysis, risk taking and creative failure, as a means to identify studio objectives. The scale, format and choice of visual language are important considerations. You will be encouraged to see your practical work as an equal partner in the realisation of your ideas. It must inform the personal programme of study, and indicate strategies to progress work. You will be required to engage in the analysis of your own practice and to understand how it can contribute to your thinking. The evaluation of the visual work of other students as well as professional practitioners will inform debate and provide focus for the ambitions of the unit.


The aims of this Unit are to:

A1.  enable the maturing of speculative and experimental approaches to research;
A2.  produce a body of work which demonstrates critical awareness and active decisions;
A3.  formulate a Project Plan based on an individual rationale that consolidates your first year of work and devises an outline for your second year of work.


On completion of this Unit you will be able to:

LO1 commit to and engage with appropriate visual languages to form an                       emerging thematic core to studio practice;
LO2 develop a range of work which reflects a synthesis of contextual knowledge and informed decision making;
LO3 locate your practice within contemporary contexts with an awareness of pertinent current issues and debates;
LO4 realise your ideas with the necessary skills and expertise drawn from the forefront of the discipline.


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, including practical work, sketchbooks, a research journal and a 500 word artist statement that contextualises your practice You will be assessed in relation to the learning objectives, your participation in online forums, and by the learning outcomes of the unit.


You will be assessed on your;

Knowledge of contexts, concepts, and methods specifically

Knowledge of and experience of working with a range of visual languages appropriate to content and subject matter through insight into the discipline  (LO1).

Comprehensive knowledge of the critical, contemporary historical context of the discipline (LO3).

Understanding through the application of knowledge , specifically

The ability to produce a body of resolved work that shows active decision-making  in the context of the work of key artists, professional practitioners, writers and theorists, etc (LO2).

Application of professional skills, specifically

comprehensive application of technical and methodological skills concomitant with your ideas (LO4).


Heartney, E  (2008) Art and Today, Phaidon Press, UK.
Weintraub,  L (2003) Making Contemporary Art: How Today’s Artists Think and Work, Thames & Hudson, UK.
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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