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Major Project

  • Module code: HA7201
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: 7
  • Credits: 60
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None


The Major Project is the capstone module of the Masters programme. Focusing on skills of critical research, analysis and presentation, the capstone project enables students to synthesise and apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired throughout the course. It provides them with the opportunity to craft their own approach to the field through critical-theoretical and/or creative, practice-based research, supported by a series of taught sessions, enabling a depth and breadth of engagement with research methods. The Major Project can accommodate research projects developed through a range of academic and professional contexts depending on the motivation and interests of the student. It can be presented either as a dissertation or as a creative project, such as a portfolio comprising a chosen medium or media, accompanied by a critical commentary. The intensity of the workload increases across the three teaching blocks, allowing increasing focus in line with the level of student expertise.


  • To help students select a topic and craft a research question for their Major Project which will repay extended research.
  • To help students to make the most of the opportunity the Major Project offers them both within an academic and/or professional context.
  • To help students develop a sophisticated understanding of their chosen topic, its appropriate contexts and significance.
  • To develop students' ability to deliver high-level research using selected methodologies relevant to their field of inquiry.
  • To empower students to develop and deliver innovative, practice-based research through a dissertation or a creative project with a critical commentary.

Learning outcomes

  • Carry out high level research in depth using both primary and/or secondary material.
  • Demonstrate a rigorous grasp of the appropriate theoretical, methodological and practice-related issues raised by the research.
  • Write about their topic in its appropriate contexts with sophisticated and authoritative understanding.
  • Successfully realise a Major Project in an appropriate form.

Curriculum content

  • Material thinking
  • Dissertation skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative research
  • Visual literacy
  • Visual methodologies

Teaching and learning strategy

This module runs across all three teaching blocks, constructing an iteratively developed portfolio of skills and techniques, culminating in the self-directed major project. In the first teaching block, there is a day-long skills programme, introducing the Learning Resources Centre, digital research, referencing, workshop inductions and the idea and development of research questions. Peer assisted learning will be encouraged in order to develop critical and professional skills. Students also have the opportunity to attend the annual CSCI Graduate Symposium, to be inspired by graduating students in their fields. In the second teaching block, a day-long research methods symposium will develop ideas of rigour and process through staff case studies. A lecture series will then embed these ideas through methodological themes, introducing students to the diversity of possible research approaches. Students will work to create a research proposal and make decisions about the format of their project throughout the teaching block, supported by lectures, tutorials and, in particular, during the course specific seminars. Supervisors are allocated after a research proposal is submitted for formative feedback, alongside a one to one tutorial. Regular one-to-one tutorials will be organised between supervisor and student throughout Teaching Block 3. A work-in-progress presentation will allow for formative feedback in late May to early June. After submission at the end of Teaching Block 3, an invitation will be offered for the CSCI Graduate Symposium.

The module will make use of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Canvas for communication and dissemination of information between students and staff as well as making online learning materials available to all. Students should check this site on a daily basis for module information, timetables, sign-ups, updates and additional information and teaching materials. 

All courses based in the Kingston School of Art offer students free access to the online video tutorial platform This provides a wide range of subjects to choose from, many with downloadable exercise files, including software tutorials covering photography, graphics, web design, audio and music, CAD and Microsoft Office software, as well as courses on Business and Management skills. Some of these are embedded in the curriculum and offer additional self-paced learning, others may be taken at will by students wishing to broaden their employability skills in other areas.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive UNISTATS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Lectures, seminars, tutorials 25
Guided independent study 575
Total (number of credits x 10) 600

Assessment strategy

The Major Project can be realised through a 12-15,000 word written dissertation or a creative project (e.g.: exhibition, film, catalogue, website or special project) with critical commentary of 5,000 words. A clear rationale must be provided for the form of the major project and students will be supported to make this during the course specific seminars which run as part of this module. To help develop this rationale, there will be formative assessments through reviews and peer assisted learning with opportunities for informal feedback and feed forward during the second and third teaching blocks, based on presentation of work in progress.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
1. Carry out high level research in depth using both primary and/or secondary material. Dissertation or creative project with critical commentary
2. Demonstrate a rigorous grasp of the appropriate theoretical, methodological and practice-related issues raised by the research. Dissertation or creative project with critical commentary
3. Write about their topic in its appropriate contexts with sophisticated and authoritative understanding. Dissertation or creative project with critical commentary
4. Successfully realise a Major Project in an appropriate form. Dissertation or creative project with critical commentary

Elements of Assessment

Description of Assessment Definitive UNISTATS Categories Percentage
Dissertation (12000-15000 words) Coursework 100%
Creative project with critical commentary (5000 words) Coursework 100%
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS a requirement that the element of assessment is passed in order to achieve an overall pass for the module.

Bibliography core texts

Berry, R (1995) The Research Project: How to Write It

Biggam, John (2011, 2nded) Succeeding with your Master's Dissertation: A step-By-Step Handbook Milton Keynes: Open University

Bond, Alan (ed. 2006 2nded.) Your Master's Thesis: How to Plan, Draft, Write and Revise Taunton: Studymates

Boyle Single, Peg (2009) Demystifying Dissertation Writing - A Streamlined Process from Choice of Topic to Final Text,Stylus Publishing

Carter, P (2004), Material Thinking: The Theory and Practice of Creative Research Melbourne University Press, Melbourne Modern Humanities Research Association (1979) Texts and Dissertations

Cooper, J. (2011) Student Essentials: dissertation, Richmond, Surrey: Trotman

Dawson, Catherine (2009, 4thed) Introduction to Research Methods Oxford: Howtobooks

Francis, P. (2009) Inspiring writing in art and design : taking a line for a write London: Intellect Books

Game, A and Metcalfe, A (1996) Passionate Sociology. London, SAGE

Holly, M. and M. Smith, (eds.) (2009) What is Research in the Visual Arts? Obsession, Archive, Encounter. Yale: Yale University Press.

Iversen, M. & S.W. Melville (2010) Writing art history: disciplinary departures, Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press

Pink, S. (2001) Doing visual ethnography : images, media and representation in research, London: Sage

Pryke, M, Rose, G and Whatmore, S (eds.) (2003) Using Social Theory. Thinking through Research.London, SAGE

Rose, G. (2007) Visual Methodologies (Second Edition). London, SAGE

Rose, Jean (2002) The Mature Student's Guide to Writing, Basingstoke: Palgrave

Schon, D (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. Temple Smith, London

Thomson, A (1996) Critical Thinking -A Practical Introduction

Van Emden, Joan and Linda Barker (2003) Effective Communication for Arts and Humanities Students, Basingstoke: Palgrave

Warburton, N (1996) Thinking from A to Z Routledge

Wisker, Gina (2007, 2nded.) The Postgraduate Research Handbook Basingstoke: Palgrave

Bibliography recommended reading

Further reading will be individually recommended in seminars, supervisions and also found through the VLE.

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