For Camberwell College of Arts MA Visual Arts Students


Full time Students Research Written Paper submission deadline: Wednesday 20 March 2013

Hand in Time and Location
Time: 10am – 12 noon
Location: Ground Floor Meeting Room - WPN G04f
Directions: To find the Ground Floor Meeting Room turn left immediately past reception, walk down the corridor, past the student contact desk; keep going straight and go through a door. The Ground Floor meeting room is to the left of double doors. It will be sign posted. Please ask at the student contact desk or reception if you are unsure.

Please ensure that your paper is bound or stapled but not in plastic sleeves.

Please ensure that all copies are labelled or have a cover sheet stating your:
Student ID number
Unit number

The number of copies you hand in is dependent on your pathway:

Book Arts - submit 3 hard copies.

Designer Maker – submit 2 hard copies

Digital Arts – submit 1 hard copy

Illustration – submit 1hard copy ( please keep back up copy on your computer hard drive)

Printmaking – please check with your pathway leader

Accommodated Assessment
If you qualify for Accommodated Assessment, you will hand in your paper at the student contact desk on the date agreed by your pathway leader; please contact them if you have any queries.

Research Paper seminar with Jane Madsen

Tuesday 15 January
G04f - Ground Floor Meeting Room
Printmaking(5); Digital Arts(2); Designer Maker(5)
Wednesday 16 January
G04f - Ground Floor Meeting Room
Book Arts(6); Printmaking(2); Digital Arts(2); Designer Maker(2)
Thursday 17 January
10.00 -11.30
Illustration Studio
12.00 -13.30
Illustration Studio
14.30 -16.00
Book/Print studio
Book Arts(6); Printmaking(2); Digital Arts(2); Designer Maker (2)
This seminar is set up to facilitate discussion on research themes
Please bring with you:
- title of the essay
- 2 images (perhaps more but not less)
- a paragraph outline (that may develop into the abstract later)
- a bibliography of at least 4 -5 key texts

BRIEF: Written Paper contextualising your practice based research (Research Paper)

For this assignment you are asked to write a paper in essay form addressing a research question of your choice. The question should tackle an issue or theoretical concern that is central to your practice although your paper should not refer directly to your work. The research question should relate to the contemporary culture of art and design and may also encompass non-Western traditions. The aim of the paper is to contribute knowledge in your chosen field of research. Consider that your paper is to be published and/or presented at a conference.

It is important that your paper demonstrates your ability to formulate a research question and research the issues you have identified. You should aim to write a coherent argument in which you critically contextualise the issue you are addressing, and arrive at a justified and independent conclusion. Your paper should be thoroughly proofread with typos, grammatical mistakes and spelling errors eradicated.

You should contextualise your research by using at least 10 citations (from research sources such as books, exhibitions, public lectures, journals, art magazines, web resources…). These citations must conform to the Harvard convention of citation.

Your final paper should consist of the following academic structure:
  1. Title page providing name, course and email address
  2. The research question (essay title)
  3. A 300-word abstract, setting out the main points to be investigated, followed by 5 key words
  4. A detailed contents page
  5. A one-page bibliography constructed according to the Harvard convention of citation.
  6. The main body of the paper

The overall submission must be 3,000 (+/- 300) words in length (excluding the abstract and bibliography) and include at least 10 citations.

Learning Outcomes in line with those stated in the Handbook and (Marking Criteria)
  • Demonstrate a critical engagement with practice-based research. (Analysis, Technical Competence, Experimenation)
  • Articulate a clear understanding of the methodology and context of your creative practice in written form. (Analysis, Research, Communication and Presentation)

These learning outcomes will be evidenced in the following way:
  • Ability to formulate a specific research question.
  • Ability to contextualise that question within a critical framework.
  • Ability to form an independent conclusion.
  • Professional presentation of the research paper adhering to the academic structure and the Harvard convention.

Your papers will be marked in three categories of achievement:


You are required to attend a tutorial with your essay tutor. The date and time will be notified by your course leader. Please bring to the tutorial the following:
(1) abstract, (2) research question and (3) case studies for discussion.

Advice note from Jane Madsen

MA Extended Essay Camberwell: NOTES for tutorials - Jane Madsen
For the tutorial: bring an Outline of your essay and a Bibliography

What is an Abstract?
Why is it important? What is the difference between an Abstract and an Introduction? Abstracts are becoming more important now with the advent of online research. Most readers and researchers work out what to read, or download through e-journals on the basis of an abstract.
Abstracts are a brief summary of the essay or critical paper. On the whole, abstracts are written in a similar form – outline the purpose of the essay, summarize the methodology, what was discovered in the process and how you argued it and briefly define the conclusions.
What is an Introduction?
The introduction should delineate what has prompted the research, the search for new knowledge and what attracted you to the topic, the context for the topic and why it is important. The introduction should indicate how the topic will be approached, it methodology. This can include a quote from of the key texts used. It should be clear, concise and to the point indicating what the essay intendeds to do, what the research question or inquiries are. It is useful to refer to key, texts that will appear in the essay.

In the body of the text the essay should develop an argument in a coherent way. This should be demonstrated with reference to, analysis and discussion of your sources – visual, theoretical, historical or philosophical. In the explication of your thesis, or question, or proposition it is important to stick to the area of inquiry that was outlined in the introduction. In an essay that is not very long do not try to cover too much it is more effective to focus in depth on a narrower topic. Remember that the essay is meant for a reader, and assume that you are writing for a reader inside the field of art and design.
Section headings can be useful for organizing and structuring the essay and establishing the argument break down the word count eg 3000 words:
3 x 900 w = 2700 + into & conclusion OR 2 x 1300 w = 2600 + intro & conclusion
Conclusion what should it do?
The conclusion should summarize the issues initially raised in the introduction and bring together the main points developed through the essay or dissertation. An important aspect of the conclusion is to let the reader understand that the essay is finished and to indicate that the purpose of the writing has been achieved. This brief, but very important part of the essay should return to the points outlined in the introduction, and developed in the argument and explication. It is not a good idea to introduce new ideas in the conclusion. It is important to be concise in the conclusion.
CENTURIES (please note the common mistake here)
1400 – 1499 = C15th, 1500 – 1599 = C16th, 1600 – 1699 = C17th, 1700 – 1799 = C18th
1800 – 1899 = C19th, 1900 – 1999 = C20th, 2000 – 2099 = C21st

Writing your Research Papers
Some Advice
Catherine Elwes
Essay-writing might present a daunting prospect for some of you, with memories of school setting up negative expectations. But in the context of this assignment, writing a research paper should be interesting and enjoyable. It gives you an opportunity to test your ideas against existing theoretical frameworks and examine, in some depth, works by artists that are significant to your own practice.

Any opportunity to improve your writing is worth the effort. Whatever career path you are following, you will always need to write – reports, applications, treatments etc. So, even if you don’t follow an academic career, it is always a good idea to improve your ability to express yourself in writing.

The Research Question
The all-important research question is key to the essay. This will provide you with a starting point and help you develop the structure of the writing. It is sometimes difficult to know what is and what isn’t a research question. Here is an example:
It is NOT a review of your favourite artist’s work:
“An account of Bill Viola’s videos from the 1980s”
However, it might well be:
1. “In what ways did Bill Viola’s videos from the 1980s anticipate the embodied works of the new millennium?”
Or even
2. “How did Barthes’ notion of the ‘supplementary reading’ play out in Bill Viola’s videos from the 1980s?”

History & Theory
It is preferable to map out the theoretical and historical territory of your discussion before you start, signalling where you will develop the argument as you go.

So, taking our example No. 1 of Bill Viola, you might sketch in the history of video art starting with Nam June Paik, mentioning as you go how the body interacts with the technology and then launch into your discussion of Viola’s own work. At the same time as describing the work of the period - in my example, the 1980s - you would enumerate the major theories, of, in this case, the moving image, and then signal those contemporary theories that will inform your discussion of his chosen works.

If the medium and individual works you are discussing have social or political as well as cultural significance, then weave these themes into your account. If you are drawing on other disciplines, for example, political theory, psychology, anthropology or science, then integrate these into your analysis of your case studies.

Breadth of Focus
Do not cast your net too wide. As a rule of thumb, restrict yourself to no more than 3 case studies – artists or works. The theoretical sources you consult to support your arguments should also be restricted to around 3 and be drawn from books, peer reviewed journals as well as online sources.

Things Not To Do
Do not copy and paste large chunks of other people’s writing. We want to know what you think of the subject you are researching, not just what other people have said.
Do not write at length about your own practice, although you may mention your own concerns, or a particular cultural background that informs your thinking in the context of your research for the paper.

Things To Do
Do remember to use quotation marks when you are reproducing, word for word, other people’s writings. If you don’t, this constitutes plagiarism.
Do use spell check and pay heed to the green line warning that you are running into grammatical problems.
Do read the paper out loud to yourself. You will hear when the text isn’t making sense.
Do, if you can, get someone else to read your paper. You will soon find out if there are any problems of sense or grammar.
Do copy edit the paper before submission.

Helpful Hints: Mind Reading
No one can read your mind, so do not assume we know what you are thinking. Put it down in writing. Remember to briefly describe each work you want the reader to consider. If you leave out essential information – like the fact that the work is a multiple or is deployed across several screens, then the reader will have trouble following the logic of your discussion.

Hints from Other Students
Finish your essay a good two weeks before the deadline to allow for revisions.
Save multiple copies of your essay file.
Number each new version in the file name.
Email the essay to yourself at the end of each working session.

Clarity is all-important. There are many pitfalls, one example being confusions about who the subject of the sentence might be:
“John saw Pete crossing the road. He was going to the cinema so he asked him to go with him.” Who asked whom to go to the cinema?
Say things simply and if you find this difficult, speak the sentence out loud before writing or speak it as you write. You will soon hear any problems.
Write short sentences. Avoid long sentences with many sub clauses.

The classic essay structure dictates that you announce what you are going to say, say it and then sum up your main findings. It is not a hard and fast rule, but it can help if you apply the basic formulation:


It can help if you make a visual representation of the essay, showing the different chapters or headings and assigning content to each section. Some people make flow charts on a computer, others write lists, or draw charts freehand.
You could make a list of key points you want to cover and then fit them into the overall design of the essay.
Pay particular attention to how sections will be linked thematically to maintain a flow in the text.
I find it useful to create headings for each new thought and then group them into larger sections at the end. This provides a shorthand account of the whole essay that is easy to take in at a glance.

Primary Research
If you are in a position to interview the artists, designers, theorists or curators you are writing about or quoting, this will be a bonus and the work you do could go forward into further research projects.

These notes are offered as advice only, and do not form part of the expected learning outcomes of the essay. There are two books in the library, which provide detailed advice:
The Academic Essay: how to plan, draft, revise and write essays Derek Soles, Studymates (2005).
How to write essays: a practical guide for students John Clanchy & Brigid Ballard, Longman (1998).
How to Write Better Essays, Bryan Greetham, Palgrave Macmillan (2008).

The Harvard Style referencing guide
external image pdf.png llr_harvardstyle.pdf

Support with Writing available for MA students.

Library Services' information skills page
-Tips on referencing, plagiarism, information retrieval skills etc.
There are many books on essay writing in the library, that would be helpful if you are not familiar with the convention of essay writing.

Also the Academic & Disability Support section on Black Board has a lot of information on study skills.
Any student who feels that they may have dyslexia and wants this confirmed can request a screening, please contact
Christine Bowmaker on 020 7514 6365 or to make an appointment.
(Christine's office is on the ground floor, near the reception desk)
One-to-one support with a specialist tutor is provided for any student who has dyslexia or a disability.

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