After attending Thomas Muir High School, Buchanan studied at the Glasgow School of Art in the 1980s, where he was part of a group later described as "The Irascibles", which included fellow students Douglas Gordon, Ross Sinclair, Jaqueline Donachie, Christine Borland and Martin Boyce.
Work in Progress (1995) is a set of photographs of amateur Scottish footballers wearing the team shirts of Inter Milan and AC Milan. His 2004 film about Indian and Scottish soldiers, History Painting, was commissioned by the British Council for the 11th Indian Triennale.
In 2000 he won the inaugural Beck's Futures prize for his work Gobstopper, a video of children trying to hold their breath while being driven through Glasgow's Clyde Tunnel. In 2004 he was awarded a Paul Hamlyn Award.
In 2011 Buchanan exhibited Legacy at the Imperial War Museum in London. The work, a video and photographic installation commissioned by the museum, depicted Scottish bands from the Irish republican and British Unionist communities performing in Northern Ireland.
- "Roderick Buchanan and Thomas Muir". Map Magazine. 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-04.
- Neil Mulholland, The Cultural Devolution: Art in Britain in the Late Twentieth Century, Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2003, p144. ISBN 0-7546-0392-X
- Peter Plagens, Britannia Rules The Wave, Newsweek, May 8, 2000
- "Legacy: Roderick Buchanan - Imperial War Museum London". artlyst.com. 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2012.