Please note! Course description is confirmed for two academic years (1.8.2018-31.7.2020), which means that in general, e.g. Learning outcomes, assessment methods and key content stays unchanged. However, via course syllabus, it is possible to specify or change the course execution in each realization of the course, such as how the contact sessions are organized, assessment methods weighted or materials used.


Students will know different art and design research methods and become aware of the research done in the Department of Media. Students will improve their skills in research thinking and in formulating research questions. Students will learn to narrow down the information needed for their Master’s thesis, to analyze information conceptually and to search for and use needed information.

Credits: 1

Schedule: 04.03.2019 - 05.03.2019

Teacher in charge (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022): Lily Diaz-Kommonen, Masood Masoodian, Hanna Weselius

Teacher in charge (applies in this implementation): Eila Rämö

Contact information for the course (applies in this implementation):

CEFR level (applies in this implementation):

Language of instruction and studies (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022):



  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Interactivity between art and research will act as the starting point for this course. Lectures will cover essential research approaches such as qualitative research, image analysis methods, and artistic research. The three modules consist of 8 lectures each and introduce students to research topics and methods, individual researchers and doctoral students of the department.

    1. Module: Media Design Research Methods / Lily Díaz

    The module provides an introduction to the tools and methods in design research such as: collaborative and participatory design, user-centered design, ethnomethodology and scenario-based design. The work aims to develop the participant's analytical capacity to deconstruct, read and re-interpret cultural contexts and so-called situations of use. From a critical perspective we study and analyze the increasingly important role that digital media plays in the building of our everyday lives and environments. Among of the topics dealt with in class are: Activity theory, concept of the artifact, design thinking, culture as interaction and interface design, design representation. Participants carry on design exercises using the following methods: Artifact analysis, scenario design, fieldwork, questionnaire design and cultural probes.


    2. Module: Visual Communication Design Research Methods / Masood Masoodian


    This module provides an introduction to design research, and discusses different types of research methodologies commonly used in design research. These included qualitative, quantitative, visual and applied research methodologies. A particular emphasis is given to those methods used in visual communication design research. Lectures also include group discussions and individual exercises on defining research questions and identifying suitable methods to address proposed research questions in the context of MA theses. Active participation in lectures and exercises is therefore required.


    3. Module: Photography Research and Artistic Research Methods / Hanna Weseliu


    The emphasis of module 3 is on basic concepts of qualitative research, Finnish and international photography research, and qualitative research methods such as discourse analysis, reception analysis, ethnography, visual methods, etc. In addition, there is an introduction to methodological and epistemological questions of artistic research. A lecture diary is required as well as participation in group presentations.

Assessment Methods and Criteria
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    80% presence in lectures, a book exam, and the Aralis information retrieval course are required. Register for book exams on Aalto Arts general examination days and address your registration to the right examiner: Lily Díaz/New Media students, Masood Masoodian/ Visual Communication Design students, Hanna Weselius /Photography students.

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    5 credits, of which 3 credits will come from one lecture module chosen (three different modules available), 1 credit will come from an advanced information retrieval course organized by the Aralis library, and 1 credit from a book exam (on a general exam day).


Study Material
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Student chooses, according to her interests and language skills, one of the exam books listed below. In addition there may be articles and other study material delivered in modules.


    1. Module: Media Design Research Methods / Lily Díaz

    Hillary Collins 2010: Creative Research, The Theory and Practice of Research for the Creative Industries, Lausanne: Switzerland, Ava Academia.

    Klaus Krippendorff 2006: The Semantic Turn, A New Foundation for Design, London: Taylor & Francis.

    Gjoko Muratovski 2015: Research for Designers. London: SAGE Publications.


    2. Module: Visual Communication Design Research Methods / Masood Masoodian

    Gjoko Muratovski (2016), Research for Designers: A Guide to Methods and Practice. SAGE Publications.

    Gillian Rose 2016: (4th Edition). Visual Methodologies. An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials. SAGE Publications.


    3. Module: Photography Research and Artistic Research Methods / Hanna Weselius

    Course book (1): Gillian Rose 2016 (Fourth Edition). Visual Methodologies. An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials. London: SAGE.

    Exam books (2):

    Hannula, Mika: Suoranta, Juha: and Vadén, Tere 2014. Artistic research methodology. Narrative, power and the public. New York etc: Peter Lang.

    Anita Seppä 2012. Kuvien tulkinta. Helsinki: Gaudeamus.

Substitutes for Courses
  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    Substitutes the course DOM-E0001 Research Skills. Substitutes for the course 20086 Research Methods 4 ECTS. If you have passed the old Media Lab course 25409 Media Design Research Seminar 1, 3 ECTS you still have to get 1cr (take the exam or participate the information retrieval course or contact Lily Diaz for an essay).

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    BA-level course of research methods.


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