Mapping the Arts Curriculum: Losing our Way or the Roadmap to the Future?


In the last few years, many universities in Australia and overseas have been undertaking exercises in curriculum mapping, where staff review the learning outcomes, content, learning activities, and assessment of a given subject, to identify where and how graduate attributes are taught, practised, and assessed within the subject. The goals are usually to assist in aligning subject design with assessment or learning activities, and ultimately with the graduate attributes that are set for the whole degree. When curriculum mapping is done over a whole degree the goal is often to reveal gaps and areas of over-concentration.

The College of Fine Arts has recently undertaken a preliminary mapping process across all its undergraduate degrees. This process has required the approaches used to develop graduate attributes and curriculum maps to be applied to the areas of fine arts and design in particular. This paper will explore the value of curriculum mapping in these disciplines. How does the process function when the subject is addressing notions of creativity, self-development, and a – somewhat open-ended – studio practice? What is its value in the fine arts and design; and what does it contribute to the overall education in the visual arts?

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Graham Forsyth is Senior Lecturer in Art History & Theory, and Associate Dean (Academic) at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. Graham has led a major survey of the Student Experience at COFA (completed in 2006), as well as a project to Map Graduate Attributes undertaken in 2005.