The material included in this guide has been gathered and adapted from the following publications:
The Study Skills Handbook – Stella Cottrell
The Mature Student’s Guide to Writing – Jean Rose
How to Write Better Essays – Bryan Greetham
Reading, Writing and Reasoning – Gavin Fairbairn and Christopher Winch
Writing at University – Phyllis Crème and Mary R. Lea
Unit 3 is a practical unit with written elements in which you are expected to develop a personal investigation based on an idea, issue, concept or theme leading to a finished piece or pieces.
The practical elements should be linked with some aspect of contemporary or past practice of artists, designers or craftspeople. You should be selective when deciding what to submit for this unit.
As the quality of written communication is an important aspect of this unit candidates should consider the following points:
Written material of a critical, analytical nature can be included in a variety of forms, such as a personal study, a journal, a log, reports on gallery visits or an evaluation and reflection on candidates’ work and that of others.
Written material should be no less than 1000 and no more than 3000 words.
Sources should be identified and a bibliography and list of visits should be included.
You should demonstrate that they are aware of the discipline of working within given word counts.
You must also:
Ensure that text is legible and spelling, punctuation and grammar are accurate so that meaning is clear
Select and use a form and style of writing appropriate to purpose and to complex subject matter
Organise information clearly and coherently, using specialist vocabulary when appropriate.
The personal Investigation will be assessed as a single unit. Evidence of addressing the Assessment Objectives must be provided in both visual and written elements and connections between these two elements should be clearly established. Sources should be identified and acknowledged.
UNIT 3 Visual and Written Study
This unit is about you making sense of your own emerging work as an art and design student, developing your understanding of complex issues, meanings and contexts in art and design and applying them in your own terms with purpose and reasoning. Through extensive background reading, visual research, practical investigation/ exploration and annotated evaluation of this research you will provide yourself with the platform to develop ideas towards a final presentation in the form of a coherent and informed body of work and practical outcome(s) supported by an essay of between 1000 and 3000 words. You will need to show links between your own work and that of the artists and designers you have chosen.
Your project must include:
Initial research and a proposal
Annotated sketchbook(s)/ workbook(s)
Word processed essay (between1000 to 3000 words)
This is your opportunity to discuss your ideas and findings of your personal study. You are required to demonstrate your research and analytical skills through reflecting upon your own work and identifying connections with the work of others. You must discuss and evaluate how your practical work has been informed by the work of your selected artists/s.
Introduce your assignment. Explain how you responded to the theme through gathering primary and secondary sources.
Discuss and evaluate how you have explored materials, techniques and processes in your practical work.
Make strong connections between your work and your selected artists work.
Select key examples of your selected artists work (be selective) to analyse how they have selected method, process and style to communicate their ideas in their work. Consider the context and ideas involved in the art movement to which they belong. Use handout - ‘How to critically analyse an artwork’.
Compare your artist’s work to the work of another artist that relates to your ideas or that share the same art movement.
Place images where relevant to your discussions. Use them as vehicles to discuss how your selected artist/s works and how you have practically worked. It is more effective to have a few well-selected images than lots of images that you don’t make sense of.
You must demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the working vocabulary and specialist terminology, which is relevant to your chosen area(s) of Fine Art.
The guidelines should be taken as just that. There is no rule, for example, that says you must plan an essay before writing it.
Some people find that they work best by getting the ideas flowing first and imposing some sort of structure later; it is only once they start writing that they start to have an idea of what their direction will be.
Even so, they must be clear at the outset as to what the essay title requires of them to make sure that they stay within its constraints.
If, however, you are fairly new to essay writing and not very confident about it, you might find it helpful to follow the suggested stages in a fairly methodical way.
Is made easier by prior planning
Makes it clear how you are going to address the question, where you are going and why
Sets out your main ideas clearly
Makes it clear how the main ideas relate to each other
Takes the reader through your answer in a logical, progressive way
Helps the reader to remember what you’ve said
Organises groups of related information in paragraphs
Uses connecting words and phrases to relate each point/idea to earlier and later points .
Arouse the reader’s interest
Set the scene
Explain how you interpret the question set
Define or explain key terms if necessary
Identify the issues that you are going to explore
Give a brief outline of how you will deal with each issue, and in which order
Contains the points outlined in your introduction, divided into paragraphs:
Covers the first thing you said you’d address.
The first sentence (the topic sentence) introduces the main idea of the paragraph.
Other sentences develop the topic.
Include relevant examples, details, evidence, quotations, references.
Paragraph 2 and other paragraphs
The first sentence links the paragraph to the previous paragraph then introduces the main idea of the paragraph.
Draw everything together
Summarise the main themes
State your general conclusions
Make it clear why those conclusions are important or significant
Do not introduce new material
In the last sentence, sum up your argument very briefly, linking it to the title
Set the issues in a broader perspective/wider context
Discuss what you’ve failed to do – answers not clear, space limited
Suggest further questions of your own
Analyse the question
Make a rough outline plan
Use plan to guide research
Review, revise and refine the plan
Write first draft
Edit draft for structure and content
Edit draft for style
Proof read for spelling/punctuation
Produce final copy
Read the question (aloud if it helps!) several times.
Underline the words that tell you what approach to take.
(e.g. discuss, assess, compare – see list ,“Key Words in Essay Titles”, below)
Highlight key words relating to the subject matter.
Circle any other significant words that identify the scope of what you have to write about.
In your introduction say how you interpret the question (e.g. by rephrasing in your own words).
In your conclusion, refer back to the question; show the reader that you’re still answering the set question.
Write the question out in full on plans, notes and drafts to make sure you never lose sight of it.
NB. You might find that the title you have been given does not contain any of these key words. You will have to look carefully at the way the question is phrased, along with any accompanying guidance as to what is expected, to establish what sort of approach is required.
Give reasons for; explain why something happens
Break up into parts; investigate
Identify and write about the main issues; give your reactions based on what you’ve read/heard in lectures. Avoid just personal opinion.
Look for the similarities between two things. Show the relevance or consequences of these similarities. Perhaps conclude which is preferable.
Bring out the differences between two items or arguments. Show whether the differences are significant. Perhaps give reasons why one is preferable.
Weigh arguments for and against something, assessing the strength of the evidence on both sides. Use criteria to guide your assessment of which opinions, theories, models or items are preferable.
Give the exact meaning of. Where relevant, show you understand how the definition may be problematic.
Give the main characteristics or features of something, or outline the main events.
Assess and give your judgement about the merit, importance or usefulness of something. Back your judgement with evidence.
Look closely into something.
Make clear why something happens, or is the way it is; interpret and account for; give reasons for.
Examine thoroughly; consider from a variety of viewpoints.
Make something clear and explicit, giving examples of evidence.
Show the meaning and relevance of data or other material presented.
Give evidence which supports an argument or idea; show why a decision or conclusions were made; answer the main objections which might be made.
Investigate or examine by argument; sift and debate; give reasons for and against; examine the implications.
Bring out the differences between
Outline what happened.
Give the main points/features/general principles; show the main structure and interrelations; omit details and examples.
Show similarities and connections between.
Give the main features briefly and clearly.
Draw out the main points only; omit details and examples.
To what extent
Consider how far something is true, or contributes to a final outcome. Consider also ways in which it is not true.
Follow the development or history of an event or process.
Make an outline plan
Keep the question in sight
Try using a “spider” or “pattern” plan to brainstorm relevant points – both what you know and what you need to find out. This type of plan reflects the way your brain works and helps to give you an overview of the essay
(See separate guide on Mind Mapping for a more advanced form of pattern planning)
Give star ratings to the points you’ve noted:
*** for key points
** for important points
* for background points
Use different colours, letters or lines to show links.
Number the key points in the order you think you’ll introduce them.
Try the Outline View in Word to plan
Try ways of planning where you can physically arrange the points:
Different points on separate index cards – colour code
“ Post-its” on a sheet of wallpaper.
If your research has drawn out key points you’d missed out, include them. Delete anything that now seems irrelevant or unimportant.
Work out the order for introducing key points.
Convert your outline plan into a linear plan – list the main topics/arguments as headings in order.
Code (colour, letters, numbers) the headings.
For each main topic/argument note the main information you’ll include and the examples/other supporting details.
Divide up your word allowance between the headings – allow one tenth each for the introduction and conclusion.
Work out how many words per page you write in your handwriting. Select the total number of pages you’ll need. Draw out pages showing what topics you’ll include on each page.
Sort your research notes – use the code colour, number or letter to relate them to your plan
Start with the “middle”.
Take each main topic/idea and write a paragraph about it.
Don’t worry about style/spelling at this stage – let the ideas flow.
Leave space for editing.
Each paragraph needs a “topic sentence” that makes it clear what that paragraph is about. The rest of the paragraph will include information and evidence related to that “topic”.
Write the conclusion – it should sum up the content of the “middle” and relate back to the title.
Write the introduction – it’s easier to say what your essay sets out to do once you’ve done it.
If you’ve word-processed your draft, print off a hard copy for editing purposes.
Put the draft aside for a day or so.
Re-read your draft, checking for structure and meaning:
Does the main body do what the introduction says it will do?
Is it clear what each paragraph is about?
(Sum up the topic in the margin and colour code it.)
Is everything in the paragraph relevant to the main “topic”?
Is there enough in each paragraph to support the “topic”?
Is anything superfluous?
Is everything in the right place?
Are the sentences in each paragraph in the right order?
Is every paragraph relevant to the question?
Does every paragraph relate clearly to the others?
Is it clear how each paragraph leads to the next?
Are the ideas clearly expressed?
Have you cited references correctly and listed them at the end?