SCI30090 Thinking through Observational Drawing – a skills-based approach

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module is an introduction to observational drawing. It provides a skills-based approach to critical thinking through visual analysis.

At it’s core, drawing is a problem solving tool that fosters close observation and analytical thinking. It is a sense-making capacity that requires us to slow down, be patient and pay attention. It’s function as a tool of enquiry can be found across all subject areas.

Through a series of studio-based classes students will be introduced to observational drawing using a range of media and techniques. Through practical studio projects students will use drawing skills as tools for looking, questioning, analysing and describing what they see.

The module covers traditional and contemporary approaches to drawing and introduces methods dealing with the figure in space, accuracy through use of gridding, plumlines and advanced anatomy.

This module is a collaboration between UCD Parity Studios and The Royal Hibernian Academy with tuition from RHA artists Colin Martin RHA, Una Sealy RHA, Conor Walton, Blaise Smith RHA, Sahoko Blake, Raphael Hynes, Dorothy Smith.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this modules students should be able to:
1. Observe and draw accurately by employing sight/size methodology.
2. Organise compositional space informed by traditional and contemporary approaches.
3. Investigate drawing materials and various approaches to drawing
4. Employ gestural and analytical methods of observational drawing.
5. Model and observe light, form and structure.
6. Use perspectival and architectural drawing methods in the construction and composition of 2D space.
7. Learn and recognise the basic anatomical structure of the human figure

Indicative Module Content:

Course content ranges from sight size observation, spatial organisation to in-depth anatomical study (classes include life drawing from the model).

Investigation of materials and drawing approaches. Gestural and analytical methodologies. Observation of light, form and structure. Perspectival and architectural drawing methods. Introduction to how contemporary and historical art drawing practices.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This is a practical studio based course in observational drawing. Students will form a foundational knowledge of drawing practices, materials and observational skills. Students will gain a formal comprehension of drawing technique. The course will be delivered in the form of lectures, group crits and discussion, learner reviews, project work, self directed learning, studio practice, recommended reading lists.
This module is in collaboration with The Royal Hibernian Academy. Classes will be delivered by Emer O Boyle (UCD Parity Studios) and RHA artists Colin Martin RHA, Una Sealy RHA, Conor Walton, Blaise Smith RHA, Sahoko Blake, Raphael Hynes, Dorothy Smith.
The module runs on Tuesdays from 2pm -5pm delivered at the Royal Hibernian Academy Drawing Studio, Ely Place, Dublin . DO2 A213 and in UCD Parity Studios, School of Physics.

Students will complete a project portfolio comprising 4 elements:
1. Research: The student’s ability to demonstrate their research that underpins their learning during the module. This can be separated into primary sources, which include notebooks, PDFs, blogs that relate to developing the practice based element of each module and the secondary research, which relates to contextual research that supports the students decision making.
2. Trial & Testing: Trial and testing relates to how the student uses an iterative process to practice and develop the learning undertaken during the course and how this is used to inform critical decision making.
3. Skills: Students are assessed on how they have practiced and mastered the skill-based elements of the course. This can include their choice and approach to media and materials.
4. Resolution: This covers how a student resolves the observational and contextual challenges that have been posed on the course. The final quality of the presentation will be taken into account.
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Portfolio: Portfolio project Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will receive written feedback on course completion. Continuous assessments: Learner Progress reports, learner reviews, project presentation, group crits, learning portfolios.

Name Role
Ms Emer O'Boyle Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Studio Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Tues 14:00 - 17:00