Learning and teaching methods
The course offers teaching and learning methods that enable each student to develop in areas they are less familiar with and reach a level of professional inquiry, advance their analytical independence, which are vital for their ability to further their career with a distinctive individual approach with which to challenge existing traditions. The course demands a high level of both intellectual and physical engagement. Networking, collaboration and participation in national and international performance and film festivals, exhibitions, competitions and conferences are firmly supported and promoted by the course and programme and help students to disseminate their work in the public domain.
Methods employed for the delivery of the curriculum:
The teaching and learning is conducted through a variety of lectures, group discussions, regular individual tutorials, presentations, experimental workshops, independent and supervised studio practice, performance rehearsals, technical workshops, master classes, external collaborations and detailed feedback from peers and tutors. The course team also seeks to include digital platforms (Moodle) more actively in the delivery of the curriculum.
Research and Analysis:
Students are familiarised with intensive high level theoretical and practical research methods that allows them to situate their own work in the wider field of art and performance design. They are provided with the foundations of postgraduate level systematic academic research that enables them to make informed analytical decisions grounded in expert knowledge. This is accompanied by prototyping, material, movement, technical and creative experimentation to develop both theory and practice together. Students are required to formulate research questions, develop meaningful messages and identify audiences, employ continuous reflection and evaluations of ideas and practical realisation processes throughout each project from start to completion which are discussed with tutors and peers on a regular basis.
Students often seek to utilise their existing cultural diversity and skill base to draw attention to social, political and environmental issues. Frequent discussions with tutors and peers offered through the shared MA Costume studio resources, the cross school collaborative unit, the performance research hub and the PhD Performance Dress Lab provide a platform for knowledge exchange. Students are challenged to develop conceptual approaches that questions traditional perceptions and methods to advances the discipline into new areas of investigation. Experimentations and research outcomes are encouraged to be shared on University and public platforms.
Theory and Practice:
In line with the UAL Learning, Teaching and Enhancement Strategy (2015-2022) the course pursues ‘enquiry-based and object-based learning’. The course provides a close synergy between theory and practice and at the heart of both is high level research that leads, informs and promotes innovation and engagement with the wider context of art, design and performance as a means of effectively communicating to the public. Students learn to understand the fundamental principles by which a costume can convey meaning and message to audiences. This is achieved by detailed text , character and contextual analysis which often requires investigations and understanding of psychological, religious, social, historical, anthropological, political, philosophical, scientific and feminist theory as well as investigations and understanding of materials, anatomy, physics, digital and manual craft techniques which are utilised, engaged and evaluated in their ability to communicate what is intended. Theoretical concepts and ideas are tested in real live experiences in form of workshops under the guidance and in collaboration with specialist researchers and practitioners from the theatre, dance, fine art, photography and film industry.
Experimentation and Innovation:
The course offers a studio environment which fosters peer to peer learning. Students can test out ideas and prototypes with each other as audience and performers which encourages reflection and discussion. Studio practice is both independent and supervised allowing for support where needed. The Performance Programme specialist resources and technical support enable practical experimentation with analogue and digital construction techniques and offers guidance and expertise. Students can access media facilities where advanced digital construction and interactive technologies for performance are tested and made available. The knowledge by staff and emphasis on students to experiment with materials, shape and form encourages innovation. As a result, students have won recent awards in the categories of innovation and avantgarde design at WoW in New Zealand and participation in Exhibitions such as Evolution of Performance Design (Beijing, Shanghai 2016), Innovative Costume for the 21st Century: The New Generation, (Moscow 2019).
Technical Skills and Prototyping:
In order to enable students to advance their practice, the course offers a series of technical workshops that are embedded in the delivery of the course. Traditional costume construction methods such as corsetry, tailoring, padding, millinery, lingerie and material surface manipulation are delivered by technicians and industry specialists. Alongside those, other skills such as film editing, studio lighting, camera operation and life drawing are offered by academic staff and media technicians. Students also have access to performance and textile design technicians who are specialists in areas such as, knitting, embroidery, print, sculpting, casting, puppetry, masks, animatronics, make-up and hair which provides inspiration and support for experimental prototyping. LCF digital learning will provide workshops on using Workflow. The LCF digital learning lab will provide inductions to 3 D printing, body scanning, conductive materials and sensors. LCF digital learning will provide workshops for professional use of online platforms as professional marketing tool.
Collaboration is firmly embedded in the course curriculum. Especially the 3 core units: Costume for Live Performance, Costume for Film and Master’s Project as well as the Collaborative unit, all have substantial collaborative components. The Costume for Live Performance unit concludes with a live performance workshop, where each student has the opportunity to work with performers, choreographer, photographer and assistants in a professional situation where their costume narrative is developed, tested, performed and recorded. The Costume for Film unit concludes with a film shoot, where each student has the opportunity to work with a camera operator, performer and assistants to create a costume based short film. For the Master’s Project, students have the opportunity to work with performers, choreographers, sound, lighting and Hair and Make Up designer in the development of their live performance or short film towards the public show. During the design and realisation process, students have contact with collaborators throughout the duration of their projects in meetings, fittings, rehearsals and workshops. It enables the students to develop additional skills in film and performance directing, production and stage management as well as postproduction.
The documentation of research, analysis, concept, design, practical realisation development processes and methods in form of portfolios, technical logs/costume bible and realised costumes form the key components of the unit delivery by students. These are delivered in both analogue as is standard in the industry and in digital form to enable students to develop digital presentation skills for future use. Guidance and support is provided by staff with an outward facing ethos, encouraging students to record their practice with relevant methods to meet advanced professional standards.
Summary of Teaching and Learning Methods:
- individual tutorials
- master classes
- physical, material and technical workshops
- Practical testing
- collaborative and independent practice
- formative feedback
- performance laboratory to test the costume and its narrative potential through movement in collaboration with professionals from the industry.
- critically reflecting on processes of communicating interpretations and narratives of the realised costumes.