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Postgraduate research

Art PhD

What is Art?

An art research degree offers you the opportunity to explore your innovative practice as research through the production of an original body of work and to place your work in relation to the work of other practitioners in a contemporary and historical context. You’ll draw upon and extend existing knowledge and practices, and you’ll show that the research makes an original contribution to knowledge.

Typically, we’ll help you to focus and refine detailed aspects of your practice as a research process – aspects which may or may not have previously been associated with art practice or other exploratory and creative forms of research. We’ll encourage you to more critically examine the thoughts and actions of others, as well as your own imperatives as a practising artist and/or art researcher.

You’ll develop a thesis in parallel with practice-based research, and we’ll help you focus on appropriate developments of your practice for pursuing your as research and work with you to refine appropriate forms of discourse and dissemination.

Alternatively, a PhD in Art can be wholly historical or theoretical, conforming to the conventions of traditional written theses. For some candidates, PhD research enables them to progress their career by establishing their research capabilities and credentials in an academic context. For others, the opportunity to examine practices in depth, to make a rigorous and original contribution to knowledge, can be an end in itself. For all those who commit to the PhD process, it represents an opportunity to rigorously examine a passion or interest that is both personally meaningful, and results in a high-level qualification concluding through the viva process in detailed peer review.

Researchers have the opportunity to study, discuss or exhibit their work, engaging with colleagues from a range of areas via seminars, symposia and conferences both online and offline: or travelling to meet with key figures from the area you wish to immerse yourself in.

Research areas

You’ll be supported by staff whose specialisms include:

  • contemporary drawing practice and pedagogy
  • contemporary painting
  • concrete poetry
  • socially engaged practice
  • narrative illustration
  • curatorial practice
  • curation in a community context
  • International Modernism re-explored in contemporary fine art practice
  • agendas around art and wellbeing
  • art and biblical interpretation
  • Ethiopian artistic and architectural heritage
  • artists’ books and publishing
  • sculpture
  • the extended field in relation to performance and video.

This research contributes to the research priority area: Creative practice and theory.

Get Art course updates and hear more about studying with us.

Entry requirements

    • At least a 2.1 honours degree or equivalent qualification in a relevant subject area

    • A master’s degree or equivalent in a subject area relevant to the proposed research topic.

    • Candidates who do not possess a master’s degree that includes research methods training at an advanced level are required to complete research methods training

    • All applicants will be interviewed to ascertain experience, aptitude and current level of innovation, creativity and critical thinking. The interview will also be an opportunity to identify an appropriate supervisory team

    • EU and international students need IELTS 6.5 overall (with a minimum of 6.0 in writing and 5.5 in any other component) or equivalent.

    • Please provide a copy of your research proposal. This should be 1,000 words (excluding references and appendices) following the structure outlined in this research proposal guide.

      Please note; we’re unable to process applications without a proposal for the School’s consideration. Not supplying one will delay the processing of applications.

Fees and costs

Start date Course code Fee (UK)
per year
Fee (international)
per year
October 2023 £5,100 £11,730
February 2024 £5,100 £11,730
October 2024 TBC TBC
February 2025 TBC TBC

Ready to apply?

Industry links

By developing your ideas within your supervisory team, and external connections made through your research, you’ll put forward your completed research project and take the first steps in expanding your connections with a larger artistic and academic community.

Develop your ideas

Challenge your own practice and ideas in a community of practitioners and academics – with a deep commitment to discourse and exchange around their subject and field(s) of knowledge.

Present your research

The School of Arts can help you with opportunities to present conference papers and participate in seminars, public exhibitions and other forms of critical exchange – all as part of your research process.

Join our community

You’ll benefit from personal support with renowned Artists, Photographers, and design professionals offering expert supervision.

"I feel completely supported and part of a community"

“My supervisors have provided invaluable leadership to carry me through my PhD, not with praise and cajoling remarks, but instead, through honest evaluation and their confidence that I have the wherewithal to carry out the work.”

Shelley Campbell, research student

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