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Unit rationale, description and aim

Honours graduates in the Creative Arts create work that contributes to an artistic field and develops the ability to articulate the relevance of their work in relation to scholarly research and contemporary practice. This Honours unit involves the preparation of an original creative research project and exegesis/dissertation in a self-initiated area of specialisation. The student will work with their supervisor to develop and refine creative concepts, processes, skills and techniques. At the conclusion of the program of study, students will submit their project for exhibition and assessment, as well as a scholarly exegesis/dissertation of 7,500 words for examination.


This unit is one of a sequence of units that together fulfill Australian tertiary sector Honours requirements to produce a substantial independent research/thesis project that demonstrates advanced disciplinary knowledge. The unit Learning Outcomes all relate to the Course Learning Outcomes’ emphasis on transmitting advanced knowledge in the form of an independent creative project with exegesis/dissertation. The aim of this unit is to develop the knowledge and skills required for students to research, contextualise and create original work through creative practice and scholarly theorisation.

Admission to this unit requires the approval of the National Head of School and is only available for students with majors in: Design and Technologies, Drama, English (Creative Writing), Media, Music, or Visual Arts and Design.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Autonomously formulate a complex, critical and creatively led research project according to the methodological, theoretical and ethical conventions of the field of studyGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11
LO2Critically analyse and evaluate an original research question in the form of a creative project and exegesis/dissertationGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11
LO3Execute advanced technical and research skills in the chosen creative disciplineGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11
LO4Demonstrate advanced verbal and written communication skillsGC1, GC2, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12


Topics covered in supervision sessions will normally include:

  • research skills
  • contemporary artistic practice and related theoretical discourse
  • creative independent practice-led research
  • project planning and goal setting
  • managing and presenting a major creative project
  • advanced critical and creative thinking and problem-solving
  • ethics
  • preparation of an exegesis/dissertation
  • writing, editing and proof-reading.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

At Honours level, and as developing creative practitioners, students must work in a self-directed process of continual learning that draws on personal experience, theories, principles and concepts defining their creative practice and integrate these fields in order to interpret and establish their work in terms of social, cultural and artistic relevance. As this is a personalised and developmental learning process, the focus of the learning and teaching rationale is to partner Honours students with an appropriate academic supervisor who can guide and support their developing agency as artists and scholarly researchers over the course of their project.


The creative process is a medium through which knowledge can be produced and practice-led research acknowledges that deep student understanding and learning can be achieved through the creation of visual and performing arts artefacts.


The Supervisor will be appointed by the National Head of School. An initial proposal for a creative practice research area that considers required materials, space, ethical consideration and the scope of the work is to be submitted to the National Head of School early in the semester as part of the first Creative Practice and Exegesis/Dissertation unit.


Supervisors will mentor the student on the content topics above and any further topics of direct relevance to the creative field.

Assessment strategy and rationale

This assessment regime aligns with the standard tertiary practice for AQF-Level 8, Honours level work in creative fields of study. The final creative project will assess technical skills and practice and the exegesis/dissertation will assess the student’s thesis writing and communication skills. The project and exegesis/dissertation together represent the summative assessment that judges a student’s ability to formulate, analyse, evaluate and transmit knowledge addressing an original research problem. During the study period for the Unit, cycles of formative assessment will occur as the student shares planning, creative models and written drafts with their supervisor to receive feedback and guidance on their progress towards the summative assessment.


On completion of the course of study and research, a candidate must exhibit their creative project and submit a 7,500-word exegesis/dissertation based on work carried out during the period of study. The creative project and exegesis/dissertation must adhere to the conventions of the candidate’s field of study and the requirements stipulated in the University Guidelines for Honours Programs.


The final mark will be based 50% on the assessment of the creative project, and 50% on the exegesis/dissertation.

The creative project and exegesis/dissertation is comprised of 50 credit points of units. The result for each unit in this sequence will be the same and will be entered once the creative project and exegesis/dissertation have been examined.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Creative Project: The Creative component is an opportunity for the honours candidate to demonstrate creative work of a high standard that is suitable to be performed, exhibited or otherwise presented.

50% over 50cp of creative project and exegesis/dissertation units

LO1, LO2, LO3

Exegesis/Dissertation: The Exegesis/Dissertation provides the candidate with an opportunity to demonstrate the quality of their engagement between the creative work and the research which underpins this creativity. It should demonstrate self-reflexivity and a strong ability to critically analyse and evaluate the creative process and the final creative product.

50% over 50cp of creative project and exegesis/dissertation units

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Representative texts and references

Barrett, Estelle, and Barbara Bolt. Material Inventions: Applying Creative Arts Research. London: I.B. Tauris, 2014.

Biggs, Michael, et al. The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts. 1st ed. New York: Routledge, 2011.

Leavy, Patricia. Method Meets Art: Arts-Based Research Practice. New York: Guilford Press, 2009.

Grierson, Elizabeth, et al. Creative Arts Research: Narratives of Methodologies and Practices. Rotterdam, Boston: Sense Publishers, 2009.

Kershaw, Baz, and Helen Nicholson. Research Methods in Theatre and Performance. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011.

Knowles, J. Gary, and Ardra L. Cole. Handbook of the Arts in Qualitative Research: Perspectives, Methodologies, Examples, and Issues. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2008.

Nelson, Robin. “Practice-as-Research and the Problem of Knowledge.” Performance Research, vol. 11, no. 4, 2006, pp. 105–116.

Nelson, Robin. Practice as Research in the Arts: Principles, Protocols, Pedagogies, Resistances. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013

Pendzik, Susana., et al. The Self in Performance Autobiographical, Self-Revelatory, and Autoethnographic Forms of Therapeutic Theatre. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Scott, Joanne. Intermedial Praxis and Practice as Research 'Doing-Thinking' in Practice. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

Smith, Hazel, and R. T. Dean. Practice-Led Research, Research-Led Practice in the Creative Arts. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009.

Additional texts and references appropriate to the topic as recommended by the supervisor.

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