Painting banner image

Painting 3: Contextual Studies | Major Project

Course Level: 3 (HE6) | HE Credits: 80 | Approx. Duration: 24 months at 8hrs/week


Contextual Studies

The Contextual Studies Open course underpins and strengthens your skills, knowledge and understanding and is an opportunity to synthesise theory and practice through a self-initiated research project.  The Open course encourages a high degree of self-motivation and autonomy. The written work prepared for assignments is used to support you to develop of self-reflection, critique, time/project management and academic rigour.

With tutorial support, this self-directed course will support you to undertake substantial textual and written research, with the aim of developing contextual and conceptual awareness of your own practice and the practice of others.

In consultation with your tutor you’ll prepare a proposal (1000 words) for research that will culminate in an extended written project or dissertation (5000 words). This complements the programme of practical work from the other two courses within Painting 3.

The assignments will provide a structure to support your proposal, research process, writing and presentation. You’ll use a properly referenced research journal to support your academic development.

Major Project

The aim of Major Project is to introduce you to the rigour of study at this level, and as such demands commitment and self-motivation in the production of a collection of ambitious paintings (in scale, material, method and concept) which are experimental, accomplished and contemporary.

The Open course is designed to enable you to put into practice and demonstrate your learning during this and previous courses. The focus is on the development of your practice leading to a confident body of work for this level, to work independently, and to instil a critical awareness in relation to your own practice and the practices of others.

If you live outside of the UK, please call the office on 0044 1226 730495 to make payment.


Contextual Studies

The aims of the course are to:

  • A1 consolidate your skills in evaluating a complex body of knowledge in the field.
  • A2 Help you identify and apply a range of research, analysis and critical evaluation of theories and practices in your writing
  • A3 Enable the application of a level of analysis and synthesis in theory and practice
  • A4 Facilitate you to consolidate a personal visual language through research and synthesis of this through writing


Major Project

The aims of the course are to:

  • A1 Support you to propose and complete your own projects, building on the range of practical and academic skills developed at previous levels
  • A2 Develop your ability to select and combine methods and materials to convert ideas into practice
  • A3 Develop your visual language to express creative thought and individuality
  • A4 Support you to create a new and ambitious body of work in response to research questions
  • A5. Enable you to gain further detailed knowledge and understanding of approaches to painting and the contemporary cultural context


Contextual Studies

On successful completion of the course students will:

  • LO1 demonstrate a coherent and detailed understanding of subject knowledge, informed by recent practical and textual research into Contemporary Fine Art/Painting disciplines (A1)
  • LO2 Use appropriate research methodologies, to produce an illustrated text relating to concepts and contexts relevant to chosen subject (A2)
  • LO3 Analyse, evaluate, and synthesise ideas from appropriate primary and secondary research sources (A3)
  • LO4 Construct a coherent written argument, critical review or investigation that informs and is informed by your personal visual language (A4)


Major Project

On successful completion of the course you will be able to:

  • LO1 Deploy, with minimal guidance, accomplished technical and practical skills in painting
  • LO2 Select and combine appropriate methods and materials to carry complex ideas through into practice
  • LO3 Demonstrate a clear visual language with a high level of individuality and inventiveness
  • LO4 Produce an ambitious and focused body of work at an accomplished standard
  • LO5 Demonstrate complex knowledge and broad ranging understanding of a range of painting and its contemporary cultural context

Course content

Contextual Studies

Research and documentation, Research methodologies (primary and secondary research, written and visual research), Academic writing skills (identifying, sources and analysing appropriate material; developing analytical and evaluative skills.

Different approaches to writing about art using appropriate language and critical frameworks (major ideas, theories and debates surrounding contemporary painting practices)

  • Assignment one: completion of project proposal for review with description of the proposed layout of the text (sections/chapters, images etc.) and a brief description of written work’s relation to the student’s own practice. To include a list of initial research questions, outline of artists/movements to be explored and bibliography
  • Assignment two: completion of first draft with evidence of research
  • Assignment three: second draft using appropriate terminology and references
  • Assignment four: submission of the full text with introduction, conclusion and images for review
  • Assignment five: final copy of text fully referenced with quotes, footnotes, bibliography, contents/image list etc.


Major Project

  • Assignment one: completion of project plan, with a list of initial research questions, plus a selection of test pieces for review
  • Assignment two: completion of first set of paintings, written self-assessment and submission of draft proposal for Contextual Studies project
  • Assignment three: completion of second set of paintings with written self assessment
  • Assignment four: completion of third set of paintings with written self assessment
  • Assignment five: completion of fourth set of paintings, and commentary on the works’ relation to the written element for Painting 3: Contextual Studies