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A Visual and Sensory Response to the City (10 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

Students with some experience of drawing, painting or photography will be introduced to a range of ways of gathering visual and sensory information from the city. After taking part in several structured, tutor-led exercises to help see the city afresh, students will return to the studio to pursue structured and independent projects, making small pieces of work, or proposals for works, with guidance from the tutor regarding themes and the use of appropriate materials.

Please note, this course includes fieldtrips around the city of Edinburgh, walking for up to a couple of miles, during part or for the full class may be required. 

Course Details

Special Information

This course will include a limited supply of basic papers and cards. However please do acquire the materials recommended for this course.

Material you will need to bring to the first class:

  • A small sketchbook and pencil / pen and basic colour set that students feel comfortable with using outside,

  • A simple digital camera / cameraphone for capturing images during fieldwork,

  • Small reporters’ notebook and pencil for making notes on fieldwork and for journaling thoughts and ideas between classes.

Content of Course

Over the class sessions the course will cover:

1. Introduction to contemporary artistic approaches to the city.

2. Introduction to research methods for gathering visual and sensory information from the city

3. Structured tutor-led exercises – visual and sensory research using photography, sketchbooks and sound recordings.

4. Practical demonstrations – how to make a sound recording.

5. Practical demonstrations – how to use mobile phone photography to gather visual images of the city.

6. Practical demonstrations – how to alter images digitally and manually.

7. Project brief – visual research (weeks 1-3).

8. Project brief – sensory research (weeks 4-6).

9. One to one discussions with students to develop an independent project (weeks 7-10).

10. One to one discussions with students regarding project development, materials and and project resolution.

Teaching method(s)

The teaching 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. Over the course, students’ progress will be monitored and supported by the tutor.  Teaching will include practical demonstrations, one to one tuition, group discussions and critiques.

Several tutor-led, structured group exercises will take place off-campus in nearby locations in Edinburgh. These will last around one hour.  Students will also be encouraged to conduct some independent  visual and sensory research  during class time and also as part of their directed study.

For work required to be undertaken after the class hours are complete, the course tutor will set students a ‘directed study plan’ which can be undertaken without the need for specialist workshops or access to models.

Directed study will include research into a range of suggested artists or designers and their associated movements to engender a contextual awareness of the sculpted figure in visual culture. Students will be expected to demonstrate how the research has informed their work through annotated sketchbooks or visual journals and practical outcomes.  The Directed Study Plan will include preparing evidence of research and practical work to form an appropriate presentation for assessment.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, the student will be able to:

Research, Context & Ideas (33.3%)

Employ a range of practical methods to gather visual and sensory information from the city, utilising a range of approaches informed by other artists, writers and urban practitioners.

Practice, Skills & Techniques (33.3%)

Demonstrate practical knowledge of ways of exploring and synthesising material gathered from the urban environment using a range of appropriate methods and techniques.

Selection, Presentation & Reflection (33.3%)

Demonstrate knowledge of how best to present a body of work appropriate to the ideas and materials explored, contextualised within contemporary art practice.




Core Readings


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

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

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

  • PEREC, G. (1997). Species of Spaces and Other Pieces. London: Penguin


Details of the Art and Design assessment requirements can be found on the short course website. Please click on the following link for more information: Submission and Assessment Information

Studying for Credit

If you choose to study for credit you will need to allocate significant time outwith classes for coursework and assessment preparation. Credit points gained from this course can count towards the Certificate of Higher Education.


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.