Please note! Course description is confirmed for two academic years, 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 learn to:

1. Evaluate and compare different art and design research methods while becoming aware of the research done in the Department of Media.

2. Locate and retrieve information from multiple sources.

3. Integrate the new knowledge and formulate research questions.

4. Plan and produce a research plan.

Credits: 4

Schedule: 27.10.2020 - 01.12.2020

Teacher in charge (valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022): Lily Diaz-Kommonen

Teacher in charge (applies in this implementation): Lily Diaz-Kommonen

Contact information for the course (valid 06.10.2020-21.12.2112):

Zoom link:

CEFR level (applies in this implementation):

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

Teaching language: English

Languages of study attainment: English


  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:


    Session 1 – Why research?
    We begin with the question of Why do research in art and design? Why is it that in our times it has become important that ‘creative’ people such as artists and designers engage in research? The lecture presents a variety of methodologies used for artistic research including Practice-led and Studio-based research. Students are given a set of cases derived from works of major contemporary artists and designers as reading assignment for the next session.

    Session 2 – MyResearch
    Discussion of the case studies that were assigned in the previous session. The lecture discusses the major aspects of a research plan. For the next session students prepare and hand in a 500 – word proposal (including a Gantt chart) that focuses on how research might be used in the creation/production of the idea for the next session.

    Session 3 – Pragmatic approach to research in new media
    Discussion of a selection of the plans developed by students. A lecture focusing on Five major facets of new media of Concept, Interaction, Content, Audience, Interface are explored with the objective of illuminating how artistic and design research can be used. The plans developed by students are exchanged. The objective is for students to learn to do a positive peer-review of each other’s work.

    Session 4 – Some theoretical considerations
    During this session we will discuss different visions and points of view about the topics of Epistemology and Ontology and how these two influence current knowledge paradigms. Discussion of materials presented. A selection of the peer-review done by the students is presented.

    Session 5 – Review of research methods, part 1
    The session presents a review of a variety of research methodologies used to develop creative projects in art and design and focused towards new media. Students break into groups and discuss the methods presented. Session ends with questions and discussion among all groups.

    Session 6 – Review of research methods, part 2
    This final session presents experimental research methods used in Aalto ARTS. Invited doctoral students come to present and discuss their work with MA students. Students hand in their final improved presentations of research plan.

  • Applies in this implementation:

    A Bibliographic List will be distributed during the first session of the course. 

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.

  • Applies in this implementation:

    More information about the exam will be given at the beginning of the course. 

  • Valid 01.08.2020-31.07.2022:

    4 credits, of which 3 credits will come from one lecture module, and 1 credit from a book exam (on a general exam day).

  • Applies in this implementation:

    Workload consists of 4 credits, of which 3 credits will come from one lecture module, and 1 credit from an exam. To prepare for the exam, the teacher will make lecture slides available in MyCourses and at the beginning of the course will provide the students a reading list of bibliographic materials related to the topics covered in the class. These bibliographic materials will be used to complete the exam, that will be done as a take home and open book test, to be handed in at the end of the course.


    Study Materials          

    Each lecture provides the students with a different set of study materials:

    Lecture one: Students are given a set of short case studies prepared by the teacher and based on works by major contemporary artists and designers to read and reflect.

    Lecture two: Students are given a basic research plan template, prepared by the teacher, to use for completing their own preliminary research plan that must be completed and handed in by the next lecture.

    Lecture three: Students are given a “positive peer-review checklist” prepared by the teacher so that they can carry on reviews of their colleague’s preliminary research plans.

    Lecture four: A selection of the preliminary research plans done by students are presented in the class. Students are divided into groups and each group is given a digitized selection of IDEO Methods Cards depicting the different research and design methodologies. They are asked to look up information about these methods in preparation for the next two lectures. 

    Lectures five and six: Involves a review of research methods used in art and design, such as activity analysis, behavioral archeology, cultural probes, experience prototyping, scenario design, personas, protocol analysis, role-playing (bodystorming, informance, Wizard of Oz), among others. Using the knowledge acquired throughout the course, which also includes the reading and preparation for the exam, students work and improve their preliminary research plans. Copies of these are handed over by each student at the end of the course.


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.


    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.


Details on the schedule
  • Applies in this implementation:

    Schedule of assignments

    1. Case study assignment - Select one of the cases (or propose one of your own) and write a brief 500-word report. Due on 3/11.  Note that, in order to give the teacher time for review, assignments have to be submitted on the Monday previous to the session during which they will be discussed. Assignments should be uploaded to MyCourses.

    2. Preliminary research plan - Using a template provided, students write a preliminary research plan. Due on 10/11. Note that, in order to give the teacher time for review, assignments have to be submitted on the Monday previous to the session during which they will be discussed. Assignments should be uploaded to MyCourses.

    3. Peer-review - Using a template provided, students prepare peer-reviews and read texts, to begin preparation for exam. Due 17/11. Note that, in order to give the teacher time for review, assignments have to be submitted on the Monday previous to the session during which they will be discussed. Assignments should be uploaded to MyCourses.

    4. Exam - Students are provided the take home exam on the 26/11 at 12-noon. Each student prepares her/his take home exam by themselves. They can use the books and materials read throughout the course. The exam must be submitted by 12-midnight 27/11. It should be uploaded to MyCourses.

    5. Final research plan - Every student completes the research plan that was begun in the second session of the course and which has now undergone a peer-review. This final research plan is handed at the end of the course, 01/12. As with all the other tasks, the final research plan is uploaded to MyCourses.