VA6009 - Independent Research Project

What will I learn on this module?

This module is your opportunity to undertake some extended research into a topic that interests you, in the broad field of art history, theory and material culture. The outcome will be an essay of 3000 words, building on your experience in prior modules. It is sensible to choose an area that has some relevance to your studio practice as the research you undertake will inform your practice and may help you develop your ideas.

While the focus of this module is upon independent research, it will be supported by three workshop-seminars in planning, bibliography building and editing. You will also be assigned an academic supervisor who will offer 90 minutes of 1-2-1 tutorials, usually delivered as three separate tutorials in semester 1.

The main object of this module is to develop a good understanding of building an argument through research. Your essay must engage with scholarly sources, and you will use these sources to develop a critically engaged essay.

How will I learn on this module?

You will be supported to develop your project proposal at the end of Level 5. In semester 1 of Level 6, you will attend three seminar-workshops at which you will work on your planning, your bibliography and editing and formatting.

As you develop your project using sources from the library and elsewhere, you will be supported with up to three individual tutorials with an assigned academic supervisor (delivered in person or on teams). There tutorials will help you plan, research and write.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

The module lead will offer support in planning and getting started through focused workshops, and your academic supervisor will support you throughout the process of researching and writing.

The main resource for this module is the university library, where you can access good quality books, articles and other resources both online and in physical form. It is important to concentrate on high quality research outputs such as peer-reviewed books and journals, alongside the other relevant published and visual material for you project. Make the most of the excellent research resources at the library, including access to skills plus and ‘Cite The Right’ to guide you through referencing.

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:

You will independently develop a body of research that will give you specialist knowledge on a chosen topic.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

You will demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between research and reason, through making and supporting a clear argument.

You will develop good organisation skills, managing your research project alongside studio modules.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

You will show awareness of theories, themes and ideas relevant to contemporary art.

How will I be assessed?


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.


You will write an essay (3000 words) on a topic of your choice. It will be marked and moderated, and you will receive written feedback. There will be the opportunity to attend a drop-in tutorial after receiving feedback, to raise any questions or ask for further support.


The assessment task tests all of the MLOs.





Module abstract

Independent research is a skill that has many applications in varied professions. This module supports you in planning and undertaking a research project before writing a considered essay that is based on your analysis of sources and evidence that you have identified yourself. You will build on your previous art history and theory essays by developing the skill of persuading a reader by constructing a well-evidenced argument. You have an opportunity to research a topic that interests you, supporting the themes and ideas that are developing in your studio practice. You will be supported with workshops, as well as individual one to one tuition.

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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