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Walking in the City: Contemporary Flânerie

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

Consider experiencing new ways of seeing and sensing the city in a contemporary art context.

This course explores the effect of how we choose to walk through the city upon and our experience of it. You will try out different forms of structured walks through the city, recording the experiences through drawing, photography, audio or writing.

Please note, this course includes local fieldtrips around the city.

Course Details

Special Information

Essential materials you will need to bring to the first class:

  • Digital camera / phone

  • Small sketchbook and simple drawing materials such as pencil, pens, coloured pencils, charcoal

  • Small notebook for writing notes

Materials and equipment provided for students as part of the course and included in course fee:

  • A small pack of post-it notes per student (Each student should have around 30 post-it notes)

  • 1 piece each A1 tracing paper

Materials and equipment available for purchase during the course:

  • Additional sheets of tracing paper

Content of Course

Day 1

1. Overview of course and contextual slide show: contemporary artistic responses to aspects of cities including discussion of urban walking text excerpt (made available to students in advance).

2. Tutor-led group practical exercise: slow walking in Dunbar’s Close.

3. Talk and discussion: return to studio to reflect on experience of slow walk. Tutor to give a short talk on journaling as a way of gathering sensory information from city walks. Show examples of paper journaling.

4. Briefing from tutor on ‘algorithmic walking’ (a walk with a set of given rules), followed by short, guided algorithmic walking exercise.

5. Short, independent algorithmic walking exercise during which students can journal their experience and sensory / visual observations of their route.

6. Group discussion: return to the studio to consider and discuss experience of algorithmic walking and chance to compile reflections on slow and algorithmic walks.

Day 2

7. Short video / slide presentation of work by artists engaging in urban walking practices.

8. Briefing from tutor on ‘topological walking’ (a walk following a particular physical or environmental feature, such as a river, contour level etc.), followed by short, guided topological walk.

9. Short, independent topological walk - students can journal their experience and sensory/visual observations of their route.

10. Briefing from tutor on ‘transect walking’ (following a specific line drawn on a map, without reference to the physical or environmental barriers which lie on the route).

11. Short, guided transect walk.

12. Short, independent transect walk during which students can journal their experience.

13. Group comparison of different ways of walking in the city, and discussion of students’ experience of journaling as a way of compiling information in the field.

Teaching method(s)

This course will be based and delivered in specialist art and design studios or workshops and will typically include a range of practical exercises, introductions to techniques, processes and concepts, and set projects which lead to more focused and personal exploration.

Students’ progress will be monitored and supported by the tutor who will suggest follow up reading, research and practice to support their studies.

The course will be taught using a combination of the following methods: introductory, contextual slideshows, briefings by tutor on practical exercises and journalling, tutor-led group practical walking exercises, group discussions, one-to-one student discussions on journalling.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should:

  • Be acquainted with several methods of structured walking within the city.

  • Be acquainted with ways of gathering information from the city which are new to them, drawing upon approaches used by contemporary artists and other urban practitioners.

  • Understand the potential value of field-based approaches for their own personal practice.

  • Begin to understand the value of using a journal in which to compile images and collect thoughts.


Core Readings

  • Evans, D. 2013. The Art of Walking: A Field Guide. London: Black Dog Publishing

  • Perec, G. 1997. Species of Spaces and Other Pieces. London: Penguin

  • Coverley, M., 2006. Psychogeography. London: Pocket Essentials

  • Johnstone, S., 2008. The Everyday: Documents of Contemporary Art. Massachusetts: MIT Press

Class Handouts

I will distribute class handouts describing each of the walking methodologies which we will use during the course, as well as a short text excerpt on urban walking prior to the start of the class. The text excerpt will be used as a starting point for group discussion on Day 1.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.