VA5007 - Art Practice 3: Thinking Through Making

What will I learn on this module?

To support the development of your practice there will be a series of lecture and seminar sessions investigating how historical and contemporary artists have questioned society and its cultures. Focusing on key examples in their historical context, artists’ manifestos and writings, theoretical texts and creative strategies, we will investigate what constitutes a “critical art practice” through two key questions: what are artists critical of; and how is that criticality expressed? Examining historical and contemporary examples, we will focus upon four main areas:

• Questioning the institutions and spaces of the artworld
• Critique of society and its structures
• Questioning cultural conventions and traditional methods of representation
• Questioning humans’ relationship with the environment.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through a blend of practical and traditional academic teaching. The teaching will be constructive and offer you experiential learning opportunities to test and apply the skills you will be expected to develop. Practical experimentation and development will take place in the studio, where you will be expected to work independently. Critical discussion will take place in the studio and project spaces. Aspects of deeper research skills and critical analysis will be taught through subject specific seminars. You will be tasked with the production of a critical statement on material specificity and the presentation of an artwork as part of a group exhibition. Studio practice will be interwoven with contextual and theoretical studies, delivered through an initial discussion to introduce the main themes at the beginning of the module, followed by four sessions on a fortnightly basis. These sessions will comprise of a short lecture outlining key issues and examples, followed by group seminar discussion and workshop activities. Emphasis will be on identifying key issues and artistic strategies and evaluating them in relation to your own thematic concerns. Sessions will employ workshop tasks and critical reflection upon your own practice.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You are supported by an academic team, and by a module lead who will introduce the module at the start of the semester and offer guidance throughout. You will receive constructive, critical guidance from your studio tutor and will develop your critical engagement through peer-to-peer critique. Technical support will offer you the opportunity to deepen your understanding of a specific material process. Your learning is mapped out for you in a module guide given to you at the start of the semester that includes your assessment brief, guidance notes and key dates for the semester to help you organise and plan your time. Teaching materials, notices and guidance will be made available to you through our online electronic learning portal, which is accessible online both on campus and externally. You will have university email that we contact you through, and all course timetabling is published on your electronic timetable. You will have twenty-four-hour access to the university library. To support you we will provide you with on-going formative feedback through the teaching you receive and will provide you with assessment criteria by which you might understand and meet the module learning outcomes. Learning materials for seminar and workshop sessions – such as examples, relevant texts to read, and worksheets - will be provided in advance of the teaching sessions.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

1. Produce a range of artworks, through an ongoing visual and material enquiry, that develop a critical understanding between content and method
2. Conduct independent research that demonstrates a sustained engagement with relevant contemporary art practices

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

3. Conduct research that critically assesses specific theories and lines of enquiry in relation to your studio practice.
4. Evidence a critical understanding of appropriate technical and conceptual strategies for the production and presentation of works.

How will I be assessed?

Summative Assessment (100%):
You will be tasked with the production of a written critical statement (1000 words) and the presentation of an artwork as part of a group exhibition. It is expected that this statement will be informed by the practical, theoretical and contextual material of the module.

Summative Assessment Feedback
You will receive verbal feedback from your studio tutor within seven days of the submission deadline. Feedback is individual and provided in the context of the assessment criteria given to you at the start of the semester in the module guide. Written feedback on your written statement is delivered within 20 working days via the eLearning Portal.

Formative Feedback:
To prepare you successfully to undertake the summative assessment(s) on this module, formative assessments will be set by the module team. These may take the form of in-class tasks or projects, developmental activities undertaken between classes, or learning exercises/activities set over a longer period. Feedback (written and/or oral) will be provided to help you learn from, reflect on, and develop in light of these formative assessments.

MLOs: The summative tasks address all the MLOs.





Module abstract

This module will build on your initial explorations established at Level 4 and will allow you to develop your independent critical practice. Having established some general knowledge and understanding of the material, historical, cultural and political contexts of contemporary art in Level 4, this module will guide and support you to develop your own independent interest in such topics where you will learn to identify and explore the specific material and critical forms that you value.

Course info

UCAS Code W105

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Arts

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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