VA7024 - Locating Practice

What will I learn on this module?

Locating Practice is a semester-long, 30-credit, introductory module that takes place in the first semester of the first year of the MFA. As an introduction to the theoretical potential of the course, the module enables you to explore, question, and reframe your awareness and understanding of the key issues pertinent to advanced levels of study in fine art through practice. The task concerns both your professional and academic development. As a result, the module offers a range of learning experiences through seminar debate, personal reading/writing research, and group critical viewing (first-hand and via documentation) that, once combined, put in place the principal research methodologies necessary to practice as an independent artist or pursue doctoral investigations within the context of a university-based art school.

In conjunction with Studio Practice 1 (the complimentary module in which you test different methods of production and reflect on their critical reception), Locating Practice offers opportunities for conceptual and discursive speculation that culminates in a spoken and written articulation of the current issues that represent your individual intersection of creative practice and critical theory.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn about the effective communication and dissemination of your ideas in taught seminars that analyze significant art thinking and offer critical tools for reading theoretical texts. Exceptional levels of professional expertise inform this process through the University’s partnership with BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, framing your learning within curatorial and gallery education practices that routinely realizes major international art exhibitions.

Locating Practice represents your first postgraduate step towards professional and academic career-building and tutors seek to identify how your creative practices can be ‘located’ (aesthetically, socially, politically) within arts communities beyond the University (regional, national, and international) and in academic fields that could offer future scope for interdisciplinary research.

Assessment and feedback is strategically interlinked as the taught seminars provide groundwork for the contrasting perspectives and opinions that emerge within tutorial guidance. Art school learning is achieved through diversity of opinion and intellectual risk-taking and Locating Practice is a pre-eminent opportunity for thoughtful self-reflection based on supportive advice aimed at your creative confidence and academic potential. Formative feedback helps you prepare a conference-style presentation for your immediate Northumbria-Baltic community and then supports the development of this material as a written summary. Following assessment, both components receive one-to-one attention in feedback discussion.

Technology-enhanced learning facilitates new forms of art-based thinking; booklists, journal articles, videos, pod-casts and archive materials are posted on Blackboard (Northumbria’s e-learning portal). Finally, all written components are submitted electronically via EMA (Electronic Management of Assessments).

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported through formative staff feedback on presentations of work in progress through crits and and tutorials. Guidance is also provided on structuring and formulating written statements. Written and verbal feedback at the end of the module will support your academic progress by assisting your reflection on and awareness of your achievements and potential as a learner.

Pastoral support is available through and an allocated guidance tutor who can assist you to access other relevant sources of support such as the University Counselling Service or Finance Section of the Students’ Union Advice Centre. MFA staff work closely with the University disability advisers to ensure that students with dyslexia and other learning difficulties are fully supported. Additional bookable and drop in study skills support is available through the Northumbria Skills Programme at the City Campus Library and via the e-learning portal.

In line with the University’s equal opportunities statement, all students that are confirmed with a disability are given every support to enable them to meet their full potential on the course. Regular group meetings with the module coordinator and course leader offer the opportunity to discuss assessment, practical considerations and feedback on delivery of the course and related matters. All course tutors are readily available via Email and tutorials can be easily arranged any member of the staff team outside of formal, timetabled sessions.

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?

1. Demonstrate a developed awareness of historical and contemporary models of practice
2. Clearly contextualise your studio-practice in relation to contemporary fine art and research models
3. Develop and evidence the ability to systematically analyse concepts and processes and make clear arguments in verbal and written form
4. Show sound critical judgement and evidence effective decision making in relation to the development and application of appropriate research methodologies and resources
5. Employ strategies for focussed experimentation and calculated speculation
6. Synthesise creative and organisational skills including: project planning and time management.

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. You will be expected to engage with and develop your understanding and awareness of contemporary and historical and contemporary models of artistic practice and to be able to position your own work in relation to these.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
1. Your employability will be enhanced by your powers of self-reflective analysis and creative astuteness. Thus the intellectual and professional factors addressed in Locating Practice concern your ability to critically evaluate and then act upon different conceptual, ethical and material approaches to the production of art across the cultural sector. The theoretical and methodological frameworks provided within the module are offered to help you reflect on the ways your thinking could be deployed to advance your career.

2. An awareness of sector standards (both professional and academic) for the generation and communication of art ideas is developed via staff feedback and engagement with curatorial, technical, educational, marketing and design teams as part of BxNU partnership. The wider research environment at BALTIC 39 allows students to work alongside doctoral students, staff, professional studio holders and University fellows – all offering wide-ranging professional experience.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
1. The taught seminars in Locating Practice debate the role of ethical self-knowledge within the pursuit of creative excellence. Consequently you will have opportunities to both extend and reinforce your sense of motivation, your independence as a thinker, and your capacity to apply the types of organizational skill associated with both practical and academic achievement beyond master’s-level training.

How will I be assessed?

1. A filmed oral seminar presentation of 15 minutes duration using image and text in which you locate and contextualize your present thinking as a practicing artist (50%).

2. A written summary that develops the thrust of your seminar material in a short paper of 2000 words (50%).

In preparation for the oral presentation and written submission, formative assessment is given within tutorial and group discussions. Your tutors anticipate a level of motivation and ambition that is ready for critical scrutiny and thoughtful consolidation (MLOs 3-6). As a result, they will be looking for signs of strengthening potential and expanded horizons. Guidance is offered on the structuring of the presentation and written summary. Thus tutors will also look for a readiness to acquire appropriate academic and professional skills as you start to situate your ideas within the contemporary arts (MLO 1&2.) and then, if appropriate, related interdisciplinary fields in the arts and the humanities. Verbal and written feedback will be provided after the summative assessment to help you fully understand the level of your achievement and, as a result, further develop your learning potential in the next academic year. This final module assessment evaluates the work you have submitted in relation to the following module learning outcomes:




Studio Practice 1 VA7022

Module abstract

The Locating Practice module encourages an awareness and understanding of key issues pertinent to professional fine art practice and the principal research methodologies necessary to operate as an independent artist, or to pursue further academic study and research. It provides you with an historical and thematic introduction to current issues at the intersection of critical theory and visual arts practice. Given the intellectual resources made available through the curatorial programming of BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and the University’s studio and workshop provision, module students have unprecedented scope to ‘locate’ their practical thinking in relation to the shifting currents of art thinking.

The taught seminars are held at BALTIC 39 within an environment that introduce students to a range of key critical tools through the analysis of significant artworks that require advance reading of key theoretical texts. Thus the seminars provide a strong basis for discussion and analysis, enabling you to develop reading skills, enhance your ability to engage in critical spectatorship, and gain effective communication skills in order to articulate an informed position in relation to your own and others’ creative ambitions.

Course info

Credits 30

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 2 years full-time

Department Arts

Location Baltic 39, Newcastle upon Tyne

City Newcastle

Start September 2021

Fee Information

Module Information

All information on this course page is accurate at the time of viewing.

Courses starting in 2021 are offered as a mix of online and face to face teaching due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Students will be required to attend campus as far as restrictions allow. Contact time will increase as restrictions ease, or decrease, potentially to a full online offer, should restrictions increase.

Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


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