International Journal of Art & Design Education

Current Issues in Art and Design Education: Modularisation and Course Ethos: the Case of Art and Design in Higher Education

Volume 9.3   1990



This paper examines key characteristics of art and design education, which have been discovered through, and illuminated by, ethnographic research. It seeks to explain why there was, at the time, a strong resistance from art and design educators teaching in higher education, to the modularisation of degree-level courses. The ethnographic description focuses on fine art and foundation courses in particular.

Gillian and Nick Wayte examine the rationales and aims of unitisation and modularisation at higher education level, comparing these to a system in which common skills are integrated rather than offered as discrete units. They quote from documents issued by examiners and validating bodies that contributed to arguments for and against modularity. They suggest that modularisation of advanced courses strikes at the heart of beliefs informing art education and challenge the traditional roles of students and lecturers in the art educative process. They also suggest that the ethos and core principles of art and design education will promote resistance of modular course organisation.