Creating space for challenge: theory and practice explored through independent research projects

Simon Denison

Hereford College of Arts, Hereford College of Arts, Folly Lane, Hereford, HR1 1LT;

5th May 2017


Providing Academic Challenge (20 minute presentation)

Practice in Context modules are core academic modules delivered to all students at Level 4, Level 5 and Level 6. They culminate with students undertaking an independent research project. The dissertation aims to enable students to

  • Gain knowledge through independent, wide-ranging and sustained research into critical and cultural theory, culture and creative practice. (Research)
  • Construct a coherent and convincing point of view on a subject, securely based on research evidence and critical reasoning. (Critical Reasoning)
  • Make sense of culture and creative practice in a perceptive and illuminating manner in terms of critical and cultural theory and context. (Theory & Practice)
  • Communicate a complex case clearly and accurately in an extended text using appropriate academic conventions. (Communication)

Simmons (2014) suggests ‘reason’ is one bridge between theory and practice and supports students in re-contextualising knowledge. The dissertation is designed to work in conversation with the studio and support students in articulating their ideas through forming a cohesive piece of written work whilst enabling the kinds of transformative learning inherent within research-based curricula (Healey, Jenkins and Lea, 2014).

This paper considers the role of ‘Practice in Context’ within the college curriculum. It also invites dialogue around new work on multi-modal dissertation alternatives.