The Critical Research Project is an extended illustrated study of a topic from the field of Illustration in its widest context.


The Critical Research Project is an extended illustrated study of a topic from the field of Illustration in its widest context.  You may complete a 6000 word dissertation or opt for a 4500 extended essay and a 10 minute presentation of the research background, ideas, concepts and learning outcomes of the dissertation.  All submissions are online and not physical or in person.

The best critical research documents are those which combine critical discussion, analysis and reasoned speculation and have a clear focus. Ideally it should include primary research (where appropriate)and be original in theme and/or treatment.

The purpose of this project is to enable you to gain an understanding of your chosen topic by undertaking a serious investigation through primary and secondary research, analysis and critical debate, in support of a specific argument. It should be seen as an opportunity to develop and demonstrate skills of description, analysis, critical debate and organisation.  There is an emphasis on the importance of self-reflective practice, time management skills and autonomous learning.

This handbook is to aid you in the production of your research project. You should read it carefully and your final outcome must be written in accordance with these guidelines.  Although these guidelines are intended to be comprehensive, you are advised to read the module descriptor; together with other documents provided on Unilearn and attend all scheduled workshops, lectures and tutorials. It is important to remember that this module emphasises self-directed study and independent learning. You are expected to be self-motivated and only guided by supervisor input. It is essential that you take ownership of your critical research project and engage fully in the research process.

Perhaps you feel a little daunted and nervous about your dissertation? However, if you engage in the taught sessions and tutorials, read and follow these guidelines, we can steer you in the right direction to produce a piece of critical research to be proud of.


Your assessment and feedback this year will be made up of formative and summative assessment. In other words, some of the submissions will count towards your final grade, and some are to help you improve your work and prepare you for the formally assessed summative assessment. 

You have two choices and the module codes are different for each choice:

Choice 1: Written dissertation of 6000 words only. Critical Research Project by Dissertation DI3S09

Choice 2: Written dissertation of 4500 words (75% of 20 credits) and an oral visual presentation of 10 minutes (25% of 20 credits). Critical Research Project DI3S07

N.B. There are pros and cons to either choice.  The 6000 word dissertation allows you to write more and go in-depth on your topic.  The 4500 word dissertation plus presentation allows you to explain your research and the investigation process at the end of the project, a visual behind the scenes look at your written work.  Consider where your s

Assignment Deadlines

You have 3-4 assignments to submit for this module. This enables you to build week on week towards the final deadline.  It also enables you to reflect on your progress and develop your research throughout the module.  Currently all assignments and deadlines are:

Research Question/Title

BEFORE OR ON Wednesday 7th October 2020 by 4pm

Please email this on the provided form to Sarah

Title of email: CRP and Name i.e. CRP Sarah Carter

(This is a formative assessment and not graded).

Your question at this point must be agreed via group tutorials.  Together with your question you must provide evidence of a source of primary research, a very brief outline for each chapter and a proposed bibliography.

500 Word Draft

BEFORE OR ON Wednesday 21st October 2020 by 4pm

Please upload the draft file to the Turn-it-in link provided on Unilearn.

(This is a formative assessment and not graded).

Your draft will not contribute to the module mark, but it is to be completed and submitted in time. Rough drafts handed in late will not be read. You may submit your draft before the set deadline if agreed with your tutor.

Completed Dissertation

BEFORE OR ON Wednesday 25th November 2020 by 4pm

Submission online only to Turn-it-in on Unilearn – you do not need to print your dissertation.

Work received late (after 4pm on the submission date) but within 5 days of the deadline can receive a maximum grade of 40%. All work received later than 5 days will be awarded 0% unless mitigating circumstances have been applied for and approved in advance of the deadline.  Please note the 20-day rule for assessment feedback does not apply to this module due to the nature of the assignment.

Project Presentation

BEFORE OR ON Wednesday 25th November 2020 by 4pm

Please upload a presentation with audio to the Illustration Google Drive.

Title of the file: Student Name and Number

(This is a summative assessment and is graded).

You must complete the oral presentation in order to successfully complete the 25% of the module.  It is important to note that this presentation is not a visual copy or version of your project.  You will be provided with clear guidelines on what is to be included in this oral assessment during your module sessions.

Assessment Criteria


Research/Knowledge Acquisition and Analysis:

Identification, evaluation and interpretation of a range of valid and reliable academic, visual and cultural material.  Variety, validity and appropriate use of material.

  • How thorough and in-depth is the research undertaken? Are any important and highly relevant sources or lines of enquiries missed?
  • Does the research demonstrate awareness of methodology (particularly if primary sources are utilised) and are these applied confidently? (E.g. a framework for visual analysis, object analysis, qualitative interviews etc.)
  • Does the student demonstrate a critical awareness of sources utilised and their potential biases? (E.g. journalistic sources, websites, academic perspectives etc.)
  • Are the primary sources properly analysed and integrated in the debate? Are they considered in relation to relevant secondary sources? How nuanced and balanced is the interpretation?

Argument and Structure:

The ability and skill to present a coherent argument presented in a logical structure and form. Focus and clarity are important elements of this assessment criteria.

  • Does the student provide a clear title/question related to their specific topic? Is it informed by genuine research enquiry?
  • Does the work clearly outline in the introduction what it aims to accomplish?  Does the work answer the research question posed? Does it acknowledge the boundaries of the research? Is the scope of research realistic?
  • Is the argument informed by critical and reflective analysis? Is the question posed focused and referred to throughout the body of the work?  Does the conclusion provide sufficient thought and consideration of the evidence provided in the main text?
  • Does the work follow a sound and logical structure and how well is this structure conveyed to the reader?
  • Does the dissertation demonstrate the level of structure, focus and logical progression expected at Level 6?

Written Presentation:

Communication and presentation skills in visual and written formats, as appropriate to the task.  Correct and accurate use of grammar, spelling and referencing are key.

  • Is the academic referencing system adhered to systematically and confidently? Are images/illustrations properly referenced?
  • Is the quality of writing of sound standard and appropriate to the format of a dissertation at Level 6?
  • Does the work submitted follow the guidelines set out in this handbook? 

Assessment Criteria cont.


Oral Presentation:

Ability and skill of verbal communication style and the use of appropriate visual and supporting material.  A combination of what is said and what is seen – specifically relating to the presentation guidelines.

  • Can the student communicate their research in a confident and coherent manner?  Is the presentation style used appropriate to the subject of the research project?  Does the student appear as an ‘expert’ on their specific topic? How confidently does the student communicate the topic?  Is the student engaged in the research process? 
  • Has the student presented additional supporting material, not found in the main dissertation or has the student just provided a copy of the project verbatim?  Is the supporting material correctly referenced in the presentation?  Is the visual and supporting material appropriate for the focus and direction of the research project and presentation?  Do the visuals and supporting material enhance the communication/delivery of the presentation?
  • Has the student engaged with the dissertation tutorial process? Is this evident in the presentation of both verbal and visual material?
  • Does the presentation demonstrate the level of communication and presentation expected at Level 6?

Application of Knowledge:

Understanding and application of key principles covered and immersion in the subject area.  Evidence of the depth and breadth of research undertaken.

  • Does the student appear as an ‘expert’ on their specific topic? How confidently does the student handle the topic?  Does the student reflect on their research and respond to this reflection appropriately?
  • Does the work achieve what it sets out to accomplish? Are the research methods used appropriate and realistic?  Are the ideas, concepts and proposed outcomes of the research clearly identified?
  • Can the student confidently discuss their research methodology and appropriation of research material?  Can they present how this was applied to their project in a clear and consistent manner?
  • Has the student engaged with the dissertation tutorial process? (Attendance, time-keeping, preparedness, independence and organisation of work).

Learning Outcomes

  • Undertake and successfully complete a variety of research tasks related to a sustained enquiry appropriate to the student’s award.
  • Present a coherent account of the research undertaken and the results achieved using the academic conventions associated with a project of this nature.

Personal and Professional Development

  1. Written communication skills.

This module develops your ability to communicate succinctly through writing.

  • Verbal communication skills

Through your tutorials and assignments, you will develop your ability to articulate complex ideas, debates and perspectives verbally.

  • Presentation skills

Your ability to present your ideas confidently and professionally in writing is a key learning outcome of this module.

  • Critical analysis and reflection

Critically evaluating your own findings and progress, as well as the work of others, is key to your success on this module. The research process should develop your intellectual acuity and critical self-reflection.

  • Research skills

A dissertation is a small-scale academic research project through which you should develop awareness of some primary research methodologies and engage with primary sources such as images, objects and film. Identifying and assessing appropriate academic literature, and finally, the ability to manage your time and monitor your own progress is key.

  • Career preparation and professional development

Your dissertation research is an opportunity to engage with the context and key debates in your subject discipline. Through your research you may establish important contacts for the future. The dissertation should be considered as a project where you are the project manager. This will allow you to develop important professional skills in planning, resource and time management and meeting deadlines.

Resources and Communication

Please use the Unilearn discussion board for any general queries. Only email a tutor with issues related directly to the research project. Accompanying workshops will be offered. (See schedule above). These include:

  • What makes a good dissertation/how to structure a dissertation – Essay Writing
  • Using and integrating sources in your text – Referencing

Some Useful Books

Bassot, B. (2019), The Study Success Journal, Red Globe Press, London. 

Collins, H. (2019), Creative Research, Bloomsbury, London.

Conway, H (1999) Design History: A student’s handbook. Oxon: Routledge.

DeBlasio, D.M, Ganzert, C.f, Mould, D.h, Paschen, S.h, Sacks, H.l. (2009) Catching Stories: A practical guide to Oral History. Athens, OH: UOP

Fallan, K. (2010) Design History: understanding theory and method. Oxford: Berg.

Kvale, S. & S. Brinkmann. (2009) Interviews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing. London: Sage.

Emmison, M. And Smith, P. (2000), Researching the Visual: Images, Objects, Contexts and Interactions in Social and Cultural Inquiry. London: Sage. 

Levin, P. (2005) Excellent Dissertations! Maidenhead: Open University Press. Available

Rose, G. (2001) Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials. London: Sage.

Van Leeuwen, T. And Jewitt, C. (2000), The Handbook of Visual Analysis. London: Sage. 

Walliman, N.S.R. (2010), Research Methods: The Basics. London: Routledge. 

Walliman, N. (2004) Your undergraduate dissertation: the essential guide for success. London: Sage.


The following items may prove very useful:

  • A folder for module handbook, progress records, project plans and tutorial notes.
  • A notepad
  • A USB stick/external drive/digital storage
  • An A4 box file
  • Coloured highlighters
  • Post-its
  • Several colours of ball point pens.

NB: You may need to spend a small amount of money this year on photocopying resources in the library, inter-library loans and you may need to buy some books.

Expectations of a Dissertation Student:

  • Attend all tutorials and come prepared.
  • Not expect to see the dissertation tutor for additional help outside of the designated tutorial time.
  • Accept that failure to attend a tutorial means that the tutor will not find the student an alternative time.
  • Not expect the tutor to read text already commented on.
  • Not expect the tutor to proof-read your draft.
  • Not expect the tutor to predict a grade, or give any indication of the standard of the dissertation.
  • Accept sole responsibility for the production of the dissertation; it is the responsibility of the student to conduct their own research and manage their own time.
  • Provide a draft of a reasonable length for the tutor to read through, which will ideally be returned by the next tutorial.
  • Agree format for draft submissions with personal tutor in advance.
  • Expect constructive criticism of written drafts.
  • Not expect the tutor to provide a bibliography.
  • Understand that feedback will only be given on the final assessment and not within the twenty working days.
  • Lead the discussion in the dissertation tutorials.

Expectations of a Dissertation Tutor:

  • Provide a fixed time for the student to attend.
  • Inform the student via UniLearn, or email of a timetable change.
  • Not reread text already commented on.
  • Not read the entire dissertation prior to submission but read and give feedback on drafts submitted on time.
  • Not be expected to predict grades.
  • Provide constructive criticism, but to not “spoon feed”.
  • Encourage student with relevant research and writing techniques.
  • Not provide the student with a bibliography but may offer advice on relevant sources.
  • Provide feedback only on the final assessment and not within the twenty working days.

Selection of Topic and Question

The topic should be of personal interest since this will help you to sustain enthusiasm over a long period of time. The subject matter chosen may relate directly to your practical/studio work. 

Many students have found it helpful to research an aspect that is related to their final major project or possible placement. The most successful dissertations are those that involve some primary research so it is worth considering which sources you might have access to. Are there any interesting topics arising from previous modules that you wish to explore further?  Are there historical or current culture issues arising around the subject of illustration that you would like to investigate in more depth?

Arriving at a successful topic and question involves research in itself.

Your area of research must:

a) Be possible and practical to investigate given your limited time and resources

b) Involve the development of a critical debate and argument.

The task is not just to collect information, but also to show that you can use it in a critical and evaluative manner, so don’t attempt to cover too broad a topic.

Dissertation Research

a) Ideally research should come from a variety of sources, both primary and secondary. Where interviews and questionnaires and other forms of primary research are used, the findings must be analysed and evaluated.

b) Preliminary research should be undertaken immediately to ascertain the extent and availability of information and illustrations on your subject of choice. You may have to investigate several possibilities or angles on your subject and may need to modify your original ideas as a result.

c) It is important that you keep a log of your sources and the location of information and illustrations (see information on referencing and bibliography). We suggest you keep a reading diary, which you should also bring to each tutorial. It’s a good idea to keep a file/folder dedicated to your dissertation research, which you can bring along to your tutorials.

d) Identify and arrange interviews or visits to collections, archives, libraries or individuals pertinent to your research. This should be undertaken as soon as is reasonably possible, as you should not underestimate how long it can take to make contact or receive replies. Likewise, writing off for information and conducting questionnaires can be a time-consuming process and may involve long periods waiting for replies.

e) If you conduct personal interviews you are required to use a consent form. Templates for consent forms are available on Unilearn.

f) Image and film analysis, conducting interviews, object-based research, etc. These should inform your research strategies. An excellent dissertation demonstrates critical awareness of methodology and research approach.


You are allocated 2 hours of supervision with a supervisor for this module.  This will be made up of group and individual (one to one) tutorial sessions. This year supervision will be online and in person.  You will be put into groups of 10-11 students which will form your tutorial group for the module.

a) It is your responsibility to seek academic advice from your tutor on a regular basis. If you cannot (for valid reasons) attend a tutorial, it is your responsibility to contact your tutor prior to the appointment. It is compulsory that you attend your tutorials at the designated time. If you miss a tutorial appointment you forfeit your allocated time with your tutor.

b) You must be prepared for every tutorial so you use this time well. Make a list of issues and questions you want to discuss with you tutor and bring along with you notes from your reading, key images etc. You may find it useful to record your tutorial on your phone or similar device.

c) Your tutor will make notes during supervision tutorials.  These are to record your progress and development throughout the project and will be referred to during the assessment of your work.

Reading Diary

Keeping a reading diary throughout your research helps you keep track of your secondary sources as well as your progress. Bring your reading diary to your tutorials to remind you of what you’ve read and why. You can use the one below as a template or devise your own.

Date(s) read:
Title of article/chapter:
Page numbers:
Publication title:
Year of publication:

Time management

Set yourself realistic deadlines for each task and adjust them as necessary as you progress. Discuss with your dissertation tutor and bring it with you to each tutorial. Below is a template you should find useful.  Again, you can use the one below as a template or devise your own.

Planned study task/activityPredicted deadlineAdjusted deadlineActual date completedNotes
Check dissertation guidelines    
Finalise topic/question with dissertation tutor    
Decide overall content, issues /aspects to cover    
Identify & select sources for research    
Collect data/information    
Presentation ideas    
Review & improve 500 word draft    
Write final copy      
Presentation preparation    
Finalise presentation      
Check illustrations/visuals and supporting material    
Finalise references      

Writing the Dissertation

a) The dissertation should be either 6000 or 4500 words. However, 10% over/below the required word limit will be tolerated. The set word count does not include references/bibliography, acknowledgements, contents list, footnotes, abstract etc., but does include quotes.

b) The 500 word draft of your dissertation chapter should be double-spaced and submitted to your tutor for comment and discussion, no later than the deadline given. The deadlines are to allow your supervisor enough time to read your draft and give you feedback. This is a VERY time-consuming task for us, so please be patient.

c) The draft (using Word) should be submitted onto the Turn-it-in link provided. Please reduce size of large images to avoid too-large files. You may receive feedback either in Word track-and-change OR hand-written notes; your personal tutor will have their own preference.   

d) The draft MUST include the following: a quote, reference and image.  This is to ensure you are following the conventions of presentation as laid out in this handbook.


a) The dissertation must be fully illustrated.

b) Illustrations must be of good size and quality and can include photocopies, photographs, diagrams and drawings.

c) Illustrations must be labelled and numbered.

d) The listing of illustrations should include the name of the image or object illustrated, the artist, designer or architect, etc, the date of production, and present whereabouts of the objects (if known). If professionally obtained photographs are used, the details of the copyright holdings must be included.

e) No illustration should be included that is not discussed in the text.

f) Illustrations should be interspersed in the text, as close as possible to the text that refer to them. As Word handles images and large files poorly, you may put your images in a separate document (in which case – do not number the pages) and interleave these with the text.

g) A list of all figures, fully referenced must be included at the front of the dissertation. The list of figures follows the acknowledgements but precedes the introduction.

Examples of how to present an illustration:

Figure 1: Dylan by Milton Glaser, colour offset lithograph, 1967. 

Figure 2: Fluffy by Simone Lia, 2007.

Presentation of the Written Dissertation

a) Presentation of the dissertation layout should be well considered.

b) The dissertation should be typed, double-line spaced, in black. The following margins must also be observed: left-hand 3cm, right-hand 2cm, top 3cm and bottom 3cm.

c) Use an Arial, Times New Roman or similar typeface size 12 font.

d) Your dissertation is digital only this year via Turn It In – no printed hardcopies are required for the submission.

The dissertation should be broken down into chapters (with chapter headings), parts or sections for the sake of clarity and should be ordered logically.

The introduction to your dissertations should propose a debate and clearly state the aims and objectives of the dissertation. Further chapters should set out to develop this debate and its relevant context.

Follow this link for more helpful information

Order of Contents

Your dissertation should include the following elements in the order indicated:

Title page


List of contents

List of illustrations







Appendix(ces) (not always necessary)

Title Page

This should contain:

  1. The module title and code followed by
    1. The title of the dissertation including any subtitle,
    1. The name of the student,
    1. The following statement (please insert):
  2. A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Illustration, Faculty of Creative Industries, University of South Wales. No part of work referred to in this dissertation has been submitted in support of an application for another degree or qualification in this University or any other institute of Learning.
  • The date of assessment
  • School of Art and Design, University of South Wales

See overleaf for an example:

DI3S07 Critical Research Project




A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Illustration, Faculty of Creative Industries, University of South Wales. No part of work referred to in this dissertation has been submitted in support of an application for another degree or qualification in this University or any other institute of Learning.

School of Design

Faculty of Creative Industries

University of South Wales

November 2020


Writing an Abstract

An abstract gives the reader an overview of your dissertation. It is easier to write your abstract when you have completed your dissertation. Below, is a list of some points that your abstract may cover.

1. State the topic being discussed and say why it is important to research this subject.

2. Discuss the aims and objectives.

3. If you are offering an original contribution to knowledge, say what it is (not always necessary at undergraduate level).

4. Structure.

5. Conclusions drawn.

Your abstract needs to be concise and punchy. It should be between 100 and 200 words long. However, these words are NOT included in the main word count.

A sample abstract:

The effect of text and illustration on the learning of a school science topic by 13-year-old children was investigated. 272 children studying integrated science in the second year of two comprehensive schools were given texts with varied picture content. Learning was measured by a criterion-referenced objective items test which differentiated between the effects of pictures on their own, text on its own, the general effect of pictures when added to text and the specific effect of pictures associated redundantly with parts of the text. The results indicate that there is no general motivational effect of pictures on the learning of text, but that with higher ability levels the effect of specific pictures is beneficial whilst with less able children they distract. In addition, there is some evidence to indicate that when materials are presented in traditional worksheet mode they might be learned more efficiently than the same materials presented in microcomputer mode.

Beveridge, M., Reid, D.J. (1986) ‘Effects Of Text Illustration On Children’s Learning Of A School Science Topic’. British Journal of Educational Psychology 53(3), pp. 294-303.

List of Contents

a) This should include reference to all sections but not the title page. Page numbers must also be included.

b) You should give the chapters numbers and titles, as show in the example on the next page.

c) The left margin, or both margins must be justified.

d) The List of Contents should not feature any illustrations.

e) Columns must be aligned.

Contents Page (example)


List of Illustrations

List of Abbreviations/Glossary (if relevant)



Chapter 1 What is empathy and human connection?

Chapter 2 Case studies of illustrations utlising empathy and humanity

Chapter 3 The Space Between: Human connections beyond the visual image






Your acknowledgements should include reference to people or institutions that have helped you by talking to you, or supplying information. It is not essential that you acknowledge the support of your dissertation supervisor. In fact, you do not have to include an acknowledgements section in your dissertation. Your acknowledgements might read as follows:

“I would like to express my thanks to a number of people, who have helped me in writing this dissertation. Firstly, I would like to thanks Joseph Bloggs for providing invaluable advice on the drafts for this dissertation and general guidance.

Secondly, I would like to thank Dr Mary Magnificent, for showing me examples of illustrations from the collection at Some Museum. Allied to that, I am very much obliged to Dr Anne Academic of The Best University for very kindly recommending reading material and agreeing to be interviewed by me.”


a) The List of Illustrations displays the order of which the illustrations appear in the text.

b) It should have a column of the figure numbers awarded to each image.

c) The name/title of the image should be included.

d) The source should be included in full.

e) There should be a column displaying the page numbers of the pages on which the illustrations appear.

f) The image should not be included under any circumstances on this page.

g) The List of Illustrations should not be double-spaced.

See the example List of Illustrations overleaf, please.

List of illustrations

Figure 1:Dylan by Milton Glaser, colour offset lithograph, 1967.  Fifty Years of Illustration Zeegan and Roberts, Laurence King, 2014, p.19. Page 15
Figure 2:Fluffy by Simone Lia, 2007.  Illustration Now, Hall, Laurence King, 2011, pp120-121.Page 16

Body of the Text

This should consist of an introduction, which includes a clear statement about the purpose of the dissertation (i.e. what is it you’re testing or trying to find out), the main chapters and a conclusion where you assess the results of your research.

Writing Introductions and Conclusions

It will be easier to write your introduction and conclusion at the end of the writing process, as you will then know what you have included in the main text and the outcomes of your research findings.

The (Main) Introduction.

Your dissertation should cover the following points: –

  • State the subject being studied.
  • Give the aims and objectives of your research.
  • Discuss how your dissertation will be structured.
  • Refer to seminal texts that have informed your argument, or that you can legitimately challenge.
  • The introduction should be about 10-15% of your overall word count – approximately 400-600 words.

NB: Please do not include sentences such as, “I will be visiting the library and using books, journal articles, newspapers, videos, etc”. This sounds rather naïve and it is taken as given that you will be readingacademic books and journal articles. Finally, do not call thissection the “Main Introduction”; “Introduction” is quite sufficient.

The (Main) Conclusion.

Everyone’s dissertation should have a (main) conclusion. A conclusion should cover the points outlined below:

  • It should summarise and draw together the main points of your dissertation.
  • When summarising, you ought to refer back to the aims and objectives outlined in your introduction. This will give an overall sense of consistency to the dissertation.  
  • Never introduce new information in your conclusion.
  • Never finish on a quotation or a question.
  • Try to avoid saying such phrases as, “in conclusion”, “to conclude”, “it can thus be concluded”, etc.
  • Your conclusion should be around 10% of your overall word-count – approximately 400-600 words.

Main Chapters

Each one of the chapters in your dissertation will need its own ‘mini’ introduction and conclusion – a couple of sentences should suffice.  Each chapter should be approximately 25% of your word count – 1000-1250 words. You can choose to write between 3-5 chapters depending on your word count – this can be discussed in tutorials.

Introductions to Each Chapter:

When writing the introductions to your chapters, you should observe the following:

  • Inform the reader of the subject and purpose of your chapter.
  • State the aims and objectives of your chapter.
  • Describe and account for the structure of the chapter.

Conclusions to Each Chapter:

When writing the conclusions for each chapter, try to observe the “rules” outlined below:

  • Summarise and draw together the main points of your argument in order to emphasise the overarching argument of the chapter.
  • Refer back to the aims and objectives of the chapter.
  • Never conclude on a question or quotation.
  • Try to avoid saying such phrases as, “in conclusion”, “to conclude”, “it can thus be concluded”, etc.
  • Try to finish your conclusion on a sentence that links the chapter to the following chapter.

Chapter Headings

a) The chapter headings should include a chapter number and the title of the chapter.

b) All chapter headings should appear in point 16, in bold and be left justified. Chapter headings should not appear in the centre of the page.

c) Sub-headings are not to be used in the dissertation.

d) Please indicate paragraphs with a line break.

e) The left margin should be justified.

Bibliographical References and Citation of Sources

Very useful link to Study Skills Writing page:

Harvard Referencing

The referencing should conform to Harvard in-text referencing as outlined in the University of South Wales Guide to Harvard Referencing. You can download this from the Library’s website:

If you have a referencing query which is not answered by the Guide you may also seek the advice of the Study Skills staff and/or library staff. 

Please note: You should keep a careful record of your sources and the location of information and illustrations, both for reference purposes while researching and so that proper attribution of sources can be made.


This is a list of all your references used in the body text. This will be listed in alphabetical order, not chronological order.  Please refer to the Harvard Referencing Guide on the USW Study Skills web page


a) This should contain all of the written sources you have used in your research – NOT just referred to. These should include primary sources (contemporary documents central to your topic, transcripts from interviews) and secondary sources (sources written subsequently about your topic, e.g. works of criticism or history).

b) Sources should also be listed in alphabetical order of author’s surname.

E.g.: Dyhouse, C. (2013) Girl Trouble: Panic and Progress in the History of Young Women. London: Zed Books.

c) Sources should be listed under the following categories: Primary, Secondary.

Primary Sources

These include the object of study itself, drawings, models, plans, paintings, photographs, objects, film footage, interviews and contemporary statements made by users of design, and design theorists and critics.

Secondary Sources

Most of the sources that you will consult during your research will be secondary sources. Secondary sources should be of academic standard and include general histories, articles in magazines and journals, monographs and exhibition catalogues. When using secondary sources, the student should be aware of the following:

For example:

Primary Sources

Gluck, F. (ed) (1980) Modern Publicity, 1980/81, Studio Vista.

Spark, R. (1978) ‘Winter of Discontent’, The Sun, 30 April. pp.17-8.


Gately, P. (2016) Personal interview: 23 August. (if not anonymised)

Pete Gately is now an Art director, at M. & C. Saatchi, but prior to that he was anArt director at BMP DDB Needham and worked as an unpaid member of the Shadow Communications Agency. Unfortunately, he could not remember exactly which General Election Campaigns he had worked on, for he complained that he was, “no good with numbers – I’m creative,” but he definitely worked on Labour’s 1989 General Election Campaign, since he designed the Tory Health Policy. More Plastic Surgeons. and Tory Education Policy. Pay As you Learn. Posters.

Sinclair, J. (2016) Personal interview: 5 January.

Jeremy Sinclair was the Creative Director, at Saatchi & Saatchi at the time of the 1979 General Election Campaign. He is now Chairman of M. & C. Saatchi.


Design Museum, London. 1st September 2019

Secondary Sources

Crary, J. (1992) Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London: M.I.T. Press.

Evans, C. (2003) Fashion on the Edge: Spectacle, Modernity and Deathliness. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Rose, G. (2001) Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials. London: Sage.

Shinkle, E. (2008) ‘Introduction’. Fashion as Photograph: Viewing and Reviewing Images of Fashion. Ed. Shinkle, Eugénie. London: I.B Tauris. 1-14.

Smedley, E. (2000) “Escaping to Reality: Fashion Photography in the 1990s“.  Fashion Cultures: Theories, Explanations and Analysis. Eds. Stella Bruzzi and Pamela Church Gibson. Abingdon: Routledge. 143-156.

Sontag, S. (1977) On Photography. London: Penguin Books.


May include primary source material directly relevant to the dissertation such as statistics, verbatim interviews, questionnaires and correspondence with individuals, or institutions in search of information even when it has been unsuccessful.

Incorporating References into Sentences

One inconclusive study (Shrensky, 1998, P.14) suggests that smaller dogs (those weighing 9 kg or under) can more easily be taught to sing than larger dogs. Indeed, Shrensky claims that she has taught a choir of miniature poodles to sing the Hallelujah chorus. However, these claims have been disputed, as no one has been able to replicate the experiment (Wilson and Collins, 1999). According to Wilson and Collins “the whole idea is a load of rubbish” (Wilson and Collins, 1999, p. 55) Nevertheless, as Shrensky has noted in an earlier paper, these kinds of studies are almost impossible to replicate without a highly trained, specialist teacher to perform the task…

There are several ways of doing this:

Note how the example above summarises, paraphrases and quotes directly from its sources; it also integrates these into a coherent paragraph.

There are several standard phrases you can use when you want to introduce a reference.

  • You can show you agree with a source, or that it has validity, for example:
As Shrensky (1995) has noted in an earlier paper, poodles can be taught to sing. Shrensky (1995) demonstrates that poodles can be taught to sing. Minature poodles can be taught to sing (Shrensky, 1995)
  • You can show you disagree with the reference:
Shrensky (1995) alleges that poodles can be taught to sing
  • You can remain neutral:
According to Wilson and Collins (1999, p. 55), Shrensky’s study is nonsense. Wilson and Collins (1999, p. 55) state that Shrensky’s study is nonsense.

Here are a few more examples of ways of introducing your references:

As Bloggs (2006) points out,…Writing in 2006, Bloggs argued that…
According to Bloggs (2006)…Referring to… , Bloggs (2006) notes that…
In an article entitled Name of text, Bloggs (2006 p. 22) makes the point that…Writing in Name of text, Blogg (2006) explains that…
To quote from Bloggs (2006, p. 22), “…”In Name of text, Bloggs (2006) wrote that…
Bloggs (2006) informs us that…Bloggs (2006) states/suggests that…

Direct Quotation

This comprises a direct copy of part of the original; it may be a single word, phrase, part of a sentence, whole sentence or one of the paragraphs. Direct quotation should not be used indiscriminately, but when:

(i) no other words could adequately express the meaning;

(ii) the author’s words are needed, either to avoid misunderstanding or as an object of study in themselves;

(iii) you are comparing and contrasting views.

Any direct quotation should be accurate to the original, even if the original includes errors of spelling, punctuation, etc. If you wish to omit part of the original, you should indicate this by substituting three double-spaced full-stops for the omitted material; care should be taken not to distort the original when you do this. Amendments must be placed in square brackets [thus]. You can indicate that you have recognised errors in the original by placing (sic) immediately after the error.

Setting out Quotations

Quotations, if short, for instance 2-3 lines, can be set in quotation marks and included in the body of the text, e.g.:

New machines were on show at the Nottingham exhibition of 1840, one of them based on the ‘tricoteur principle’. It was, however, ‘looked at with a distrustful eye by our framework knitters as destined at some future period to supersede existing machines in manufacture.’

Longer quotations should be entered as a separate paragraph and left indented from the main text – quotation marks are required, e.g.:

Gardiner, painting an idyllic picture of the lives of Leicester stocking makers observed that:

‘Then every stocking maker had his frame at home, and his wife and daughters had their spinning wheels. Scattered throughout the country, these artisans in summer left their frames and wheels to assist in getting in the harvest, after which they returned to their usual employ and thus had constant work throughout the year. A flatness of trade was never known. Surplus goods were laid by to meet seasons as they came around.’

Secondary References

Secondary referencing is the term applied to quotes from an original piece of work that you have not read, but that has been referred to in something that you have researched. Ideally you should seek out the original work and if it is not available make it clear that you have not consulted the original in your text. The reference will look as follows:

Hollander (1996) quoted in Svendsen (2006, p.36) presents the contention that….

Useful Table about how to apply different kinds of references in your bibliography:

Type of reference:Example of reference:
BookBarnard, M. (2005) Graphic Design as Communication. London: Routledge.
Article/chapter in a bookHall, S. (2000) ‘Who needs ‘identity’?’ in du Gay, P. et al Identity: A Reader. London: Sage, pp. 15-30.
Article in a (paper) journalDavis, M. (2006) ‘Chanel, Stravinsky, and Musical Chic’, Fashion Theory, 10(4), pp. 431-460.
Article in online journalHunt, J. (2011) ‘Designing and Research: Reflections on Bridging the Gap’ Anti-po-des journal of design research, 1 [online] Available at: 4 June 2016).
Article in a newspaperHardman, R. (2008) ‘Prince of Excess’, The Daily Mail, 28 July, p.13.
Article from the internetWherever possible, identify the author: Holmes, Amy (2000), ‘Greenpeace wins media war’, at http://www.independent. (accessed: 25 November 2000). Webpages with organisations as authors: Victoria & Albert Museum (2013) ‘Museums & Higher Education’ [online] Available at: (accessed: 5 June 2013).   Always state the date you visited the site. If you cannot state the author, your reference should look like this: Anonymous, (2000) ‘Radical autumn shake-up’, [online] Available at (accessed: 8 December 2000).
FilmsThelma and Louisa (1991). Directed by Ridley Scott [Film]. United States: Pathe Entertainment.
Television ProgrammeIn Parenthesis: Making An Opera (2016), BBC Two Television, 13 July.

Spelling and grammar

A dissertation is written in third person and not first.  Do not use “I”, “me”, “my”, “mine”, etc.  Use phrases such as “the research shows that…” “this dissertation considers”, “the evidence suggests”.  Above all – use the spell-check function and take note of the following:  all names of authors, artists, designers etc. must be correct.

Please also watch out for these standard, common and very irritating spelling/grammatical errors which, if present, will probably lower your final mark. 

their: indicates ownership “Their house stood on a hill.”

there: indicates a place “There, up on the hill, stood their house.”

its: indicates ownership “Its door was painted a vivid red.”

it’s: short for it is “It’s now derelict.” Since this kind of abbreviation is never used in formal academic writing, the word ‘it’s’ should not appear at all in a research project.

then: indicates a temporal sequence “First they tried to climb through a window. Then they noticed that the door was open.”

than: used to compare things “This house was much older than the ones in the surrounding fields.”

ones: indicates a number of undefined entities “Unlike the house with the red door, the ones in the nearby fields were quite new.”

one’s: indicates possession of an unspecified person “It’s difficult to shed one’s habits.”

once: indicates a time “Once they had entered the house, they realized that someone actually seemed to live there.”

Some useful tips…

Given below are some useful tips that you should bear in mind when researching and writing your dissertation.

Make sure that your title is appropriate to your actual dissertation.  Learn how to use commas and semi-colons correctly.  Your dissertation should have a clear and logical structure.  
Extensive reading and research should inform your dissertation.Proof-read your dissertation before submitting it and do not rely only on your computer’s spell check.Try to substantiate your argument with examples.  
Try to be analytical, rather than descriptive.Always try to write in an appropriate academic style, rather than sounding like a journalist.Avoid a clichéd or formulaic approach to your writing.  
Waffle does not fool your supervisor. We recognise immediately that you are merely trying to meet the wordcount.Avoid using “me”, “you”, “they”, “we” and “us” when you write.Use internet sources with care and discernment.  
Reference correctly and consistently.Do not abbreviate; for example, do not write “it’s”, or “doesn’t”, but “it is” and “does not”.Make full use of the library’s electronic resources to find source material.
Construct your sentences carefully.Try to display independent thought in your writing.Do not refer to another text without referencing.
Try not to be indecisive in your writing.  Ensure that your dissertation does not exceed, or fail to meet, the word count.Make sure that you have a clear and concise introduction and conclusion.
Try to show enthusiasm for the subject in your writing.Try to construct and express your own academic argumentTake care in the presentation of your dissertation.

Websites /Online Journals

An increasing amount of scholarly research is web-based. Nevertheless, be circumspect in what electronic based sources you employ – ask yourself (1) is it academically credible, and (2) can it be thoroughly referenced and traced. If the answer to either of these questions is no, then DON’T use that source.

The website’s address can give indication of quality and purpose of content. Commercial websites end in .com/ and be VERY careful in your use of these. Non-profit, academic and educational websites are indicated by .edu/

Here are some useful academic media and culture related sites, on-line journals, search engines and electronic databases to get you started:

Journal of Illustration:

The Design Museum:

Journal of Design History:

Victoria and Albert Museum:

Varoom Magazine/Association of Illustrators Journal:

0 thoughts on “The Critical Research Project is an extended illustrated study of a topic from the field of Illustration in its widest context.