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Art Practice: Applying Research Methods (20 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

This course explores practical research methods in an Art practice, encouraging exploration and experimentation to develop a student's personal visual language. Through studio-based one to one teaching, and consisting of short projects, field trips, workshops and talks, students will deepen and broaden their engagement between their ideas and studio practice.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

Students should have some drawing and painting experience and/or will have already completed a number of our Art and Design courses.

Special Information

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

Students should provide basic drawing materials comprising of:

  • Sketchbook - A sketchbook will be a vital piece of equipment for students to work in, whatever size of the sketchbook it should be convenient to carry especially for research 'in the field'.

  • Basic drawing materials, such as graphite stick or graphite pencil, charcoal pencil, charcoal, putty rubber.

Content of Course

Based both in the studio and the field, the course will be based on a series of short projects involving visual, contextual and personal research created outside the studio and leading to the development of studio-based work. It will introduce research methods such as gathering and organizing research material and developing that material into project-based work together with recognizing experimentation with Process as a form of practice-based research.

Students will be encouraged to engage with other artists, historical and contemporary, and other disciplines to broaden their awareness and where appropriate, visiting practitioners will engage with the students. Students will work individually and undertake a collaborative project to develop their communication and research skills. This will be reinforced by group discussion and critiques, and the work produced individually and collaboratively will form part of each student's summative assessment submission.

The practical results arising from the projects need not take the form of finished artwork but should rather be seen as informing the process of what can be developed in the longer term in this way contributing to expanding students' art practice. 

Simple research tasks such as using a library effectively will be encompassed in addition to undertaking research drawing, object-based research, identifying and collating contextual material that is of interest to the student.

Teaching method(s)

The course will mainly consist of short projects based on personal research, encouraging exploration and experimentation to develop the student's personal visual language. 

This will be supported by organized visits to exhibitions allowing for discussion and interaction with contemporary art. Talks and workshops with visiting artists will be used to widen the students learning experience and give practical encouragement to their personal development.

In addition to formal assessments, regular group critiques will allow for a shared experience and enable the students to communicate their ideas visually and verbally to their peers.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Evidence a variety of research methodologies supported by contextual investigations, for example artists, art movements and some relevant theoretical engagement.

  • Develop personal research strategies, processes and skills evidencing experimental and more resolved works.

  • Demonstrate research and knowledge presented through an individual body of work expressed through development from personal research.


Core Readings

  • Barrett, E. & Bolt, B. Practice as Research: Approaches to Creative Arts Enquiry, I B Tauris & Co Ltd, 2010

  • Leavy, P. Method Meets Art: Arts-Based Research Practice, Guilford Press, 2008

  • Robson, C. Real World Research, Blackwell, 1993

  • Nelson, R. Practice as Research in the Arts, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013

Web Sources


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.