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MPhil/PhD Research Degrees

If you aspire to know your subject in greater depth or make a significant academic contribution, a research degree could be the answer.

Course Information

Research degrees are awarded in recognition of significant contributions to knowledge and scholarship produced through the development of original research through supervised, self-directed study.

Research Degree supervision is offered within or across both theoretical and practice-based programmes in art and architecture; design including fashion and textiles; film and animation; and performance; where AUB can provide appropriately qualified supervision.

Our research degrees are awarded through our partnership with the University of the Arts London.

Course outline

The MPhil/PhD Award at AUB is validated by the University of the Arts London (UAL).

The format of study for a research degree (MPhil/PhD) is very different from a taught degree. As a research student, you will engage in a programme of independent research and/or practice based work. Following discussion with the Director of Studies you will be assigned one, or sometimes two, second supervisors with whom you will plan your programme of research and with whom you will have regular tutorials to support your study throughout your time as a student.

Your research may combine the practice, theory and /or history of your specialist area and you will be guided in your study to define clearly and persuasively what is original and innovative about your chosen topic and how best to present and disseminate your arguments and findings, whether this is substantially a written thesis or via a combination of practice (for example, exhibition, installation) and text-based critique.

Because of the individual nature of your study, your requirements (for example, for studio space or other specialist resources) will be discussed with your supervisor.

Students will register for full/part-time study, in the first instance for MPhil qualification and, following successful upgrade through Confirmation, for PhD.

As well as tutorials with your supervisors, you will participate in a programme of research methods training. In your first year of registration, there will be three separate weeks attendance in London at the University of the Arts London Research Network (RNUAL).

This will be complemented by a separate programme to be attended regularly at AUB. Workshops will be provided, for example, on preparing a research proposal, presentation skills and writing skills.

The MPhil degree is awarded in recognition of a systematic, well documented and well argued study which demonstrates a degree of originality and critical awareness. It should also demonstrate a distinct contribution to scholarship. It is an award in its own right or, alternatively, it may be undertaken as preparation for a PhD.

The PhD is awarded in recognition of a significant contribution to knowledge and understanding. The thesis should contain material which is worthy of publication or public presentation. The doctorate must represent a more substantial individual achievement and demonstrate recognisably greater depth than an MPhil.

Research degree supervisors

Research Degree supervision is offered within or across both theoretical and practice-based programmes in art and architecture; design including fashion and textiles; film and animation; and performance; where AUB can provide appropriately qualified supervision.

If you've got a question for our research supervisors, get in touch with the Research Office by email or call +44 1202 363334

Find our pathway supervisors below:

Willem de Bruijn – Art and Architecture Supervisor
Dr. Willem de Bruijn is interested in receiving applications from students interested in pursuing a PhD within and across the areas of architecture, architectural history and theory, philosophy and fine art.

Christian Edwardes – Art Supervisor
Dr. Christian Edwardes is interested in receiving applications from practice-based PhD students who are interested in researching the relationships between art and cultural geography, spaces and places of practice, and non-representational (or ‘more-than-representational’) theories and creative work.

Colin Perry – Art Supervisor
Dr Colin Perry is interested in receiving applications from PhD students who wish to examine aspects of contemporary art, modern art history and visual culture, particularly in relation to the moving image, documentary, socially engaged practice, as well as issues of gender, ethnicity, place, memory and radical cultures.

Dominic Shepherd – Art Supervisor
Associate Professor Dominic Shepherd is interested in receiving applications from PhD practice based candidates who wish to explore Fine Art Painting with particular regard to material and image. More focused aspects might include investigation of the actual and the imagined through enchantment, revelation and the magical as both process and subject.

Kirsten Hardie – Design Supervisor
Associate Professor and National Teaching Fellow Dr. Kirsten Hardie is interested in receiving applications from PhD students who wish to examine areas relating to packaging design; advertising mascots; graphic design history (and related theory); and studies relating to notions of taste and design including areas such as design history; (flock; kitsch). She is interested in also receiving applications relating to object-based learning in higher education; and graphic design and higher education, education/pedagogy.

Phil Jones – Design Supervisor
Dr. Phil Jones is interested in receiving proposals for the application of theories of cognition to visual art and design, particularly communication design and graphic design; the use of metaphor in multimodal communication; visual language and schematics.

Susan Lambert – Design Supervisor
Professor Susan Lambert is interested in receiving applications from PhD students who wish to examine questions relating to the curation of plastics, how plastics have influenced design and the impact of design in plastics on what it means to be human. The research can include traditional systematic inquiry through to practice-based, where the creative artefact is the basis of the contribution to knowledge, and practice-led, where the research primarily leads to new understandings about practice.

Christian Mclening – Design Supervisor
Dr. Christian Mclening is interested in receiving applications from PhD students who wish to explore product design; design methods and processes; design and materials including sustainability, and innovation; and approaches to design education.

Emma Shercliff – Textiles Supervisor
Dr. Emma Shercliff is interested in receiving applications for PhD projects in textile craft and design practices, particularly stitched textiles; collective and social making practices; gender and power dynamics in/of craft practices; relationships between literary metaphor and creative textile practices; relationships between implicit and explicit forms of knowledge and the meanings of hand-making within post-industrial digital cultures; the learning and transmission of hand skills; creative methodologies.

Rachel Worth – Fashion Supervisor
Professor Rachel Worth would like to hear from prospective PhD students who wish to examine an aspect of the history of dress and textiles from the eighteenth century to the present, in particular, the history of non-elite and working-class dress; fashion retailing; the representation of dress in visual and literary sources as a way of understanding both past and present societies; sustainability and the history of fashion.

Patti Gaal-Holmes – Film Supervisor
Dr. Patti Gaal-Holmesis interested in receiving applications from PhD students who wish to investigate experimental film histories and processes of filmmaking, as well as film-related projects focusing on cross-cultural identity, histories, archives and memory. Additionally, relationships between photography and film (analogue and digital); and processes of thinking between research and practice are welcomed.

Amanda Stephenson – Film Supervisor
Dr. Amanda Stephenson is interested in receiving applications from students who would like to explore contemporary film or television productions in relation to any aspect of the protected characteristics including gender, sexuality, race, age, disability; also class and physical characteristics. How these topics engage with wider academic disciplines is of particular interest.

Paul Taberham – Film and Animation Supervisor
Dr. Paul Taberham is interested in receiving applications from PhD students who wish to explore experimental film and animation, cognitive film theory, animation aesthetics, sound design, narrative theory, and the relationship between film and aesthetic theory within the analytic tradition.

Romana Turina – Film Supervisor
Dr. Romana Turina is interested in receiving applications from PhD students who wish to examine the relationship between the moving image and the written word, the translation of 20th century's history, sense of time and space into storytelling, particularly if related to border areas.

Andrew Vallance – Film Supervisor
Dr. Andrew Vallance is interested in receiving applications from PhD students who wish to examine the relationship between film practice, from features to documentary to experimental media, and its related cultures, theoretical contexts and critical purpose.

Paul Ward – Animation Supervisor
Professor Paul Ward is interested in receiving applications from PhD students who wish to examine the relationship between animation theory, practice and professionalism, the production cultures of animation, and areas such as animation and documentary, animation and education/pedagogy, and animation and performance.

Jonathan Croose – Performance Supervisor
Dr. Jonathan Croose is interested in receiving applications from PhD candidates who wish to explore the relationship between performance and notions of place, the politics of heritage performance, and the role of the arts in urban regeneration and social participation. He is also interested to hear from students who wish to examine notions of ‘vernacular’ or ‘illegitimate’ performance, such as street arts, busking, walkabout theatre and clowning, that challenge ideas of ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture within contested notions of public space. Dr Croose is particularly keen to support students who wish to take a performance/practice-as-research approach to doctoral study, or who wish to explore ethnographic methods in arts contexts.

Petronilla Whitfield – Performance Supervisor
Dr. Petronilla Whitfield is interested in receiving applications from PhD students who wish to explore: the pedagogy of Actor Training and Voice Studies; the reading and acting of Shakespeare’s text; dyslexia and specific learning differences in actor training environments; embodied cognition and the creation of meaning in the text; how we read; multisensory processing in teaching, learning and inhabiting the text; acting and voice methods; action research as an emancipatory path for student and teacher; story-telling as performance; multi-cultural voices and authentic expression; the trans-mediation of reading and acting through new technologies, as a pedagogical support or dimensions of live performance.

Research students

Find out more about what our current research students are working on.

How to Apply

The deadline for applications is 30 May 2021 for entry in September 2021.

You are encouraged to contact the Research Office or +44 1202 363334 for an initial discussion before making an application.

You can find out more about how to apply and our entry requirements.

Frequently asked questions

You'll normally be expected to have a Masters Level qualification in an appropriate subject to be considered for registration for MPhil/PhD at AUB.

In some instances, applicants without this requirement may be considered if they can demonstrate appropriate alternative qualifications, professional experience or previous research and an understanding of research methodologies appropriate to their proposed programme of study.

Those for whom English is not a first language will have to pass an International Language Test (IELTS) scoring at least 7.0+ (with a 7.0 in writing).

Applicants should be aware that meeting the University’s minimum entry requirements does not guarantee entry. This is only one of the factors taken into account when the University makes its decision.

Many other factors are also important, such as the availability of suitable supervisors and resources; suitability for research degree study at AUB; relevant experience; and references.

Full-time

  • PhD: 3 years (Maximum length 4 years)
  • MPhil: 2 years (Maximum length 3 years)

Part-time

  • PhD: 5 years (Maximum length 8 years)
  • MPhil: 3 years (Maximum length 6 years)

We welcome postgraduate research (PGR) degree proposals in the broad areas of art and architecture; design including fashion and textiles; film and animation; performance; where we can offer appropriate supervision.

If you're interested in making an application you're invited to consider the supervisory expertise of our research degree supervisors which can be found on the website.

Students are entitled to the following contact hours with their supervisory team:

  • Full-time students: 20 hours contact hours a year in total
  • Part-time students: 10 hours contact hours a year in total

It's up to each supervisory team to agree when supervisory meetings take place.

Supervisory meetings do not all have to be face-to-face; some can; with the agreement of the supervisory team, be virtual.

You're required to be on campus for supervisory meetings.

In the first year of study, you are also required to attend an introductory/enrolment session in September, and an induction day in early October.

You're also expected to attend two postgraduate day symposia, normally held in December and May; and the AUB Research Conference, normally held between April and June.

Holders of AUB studentships are required to contribute six hours of academic duties per week at AUB (as per the terms and conditions of the award); this would be agreed with your Director of Studies.

You're also expected to attend for key stages of the research degree process i.e. confirmation meeting, mock viva and examination.

Our research degrees are awarded through University of the Arts London, who also deliver the majority of the research degree training.

In the first year of study, you're required to attend a week of training in September, two days in February, and a further week in June. AUB will meet travel and subsistence costs to attend these weeks in line with the University’s rates.

In the second (or third year, if part-time) year of study, you're required to attend one day in February to give a short presentation of your research as part of confirmation (or upgrade to PhD).

UAL also run study days to cover key stages such as registration, confirmation, examination.

A PhD is awarded in recognition of a significant contribution to knowledge and understanding. The thesis should contain material which is worthy of publication or public presentation. The doctorate must represent a more substantial individual achievement and demonstrate recognisably greater depth than an MPhil.

An MPhil degree is awarded in recognition of a systematic, well-documented and well-argued study, which demonstrates a degree of originality and critical awareness. It should also demonstrate a distinct contribution to scholarship.

You'll undertake your programme of study at AUB, with some workshops and presentations taking place at UAL as part of your PGR training. You're expected to attend for three block weeks at UAL in your first year of study. These normally take place in September, February and June. Costs for attendance are met by AUB.

The format of study for a research degree (MPhil/PhD) is very different from a taught degree. As a research student, you'll engage in a programme of independent research and/or practice based work. Following discussion with your Director of Studies, you will be assigned one, or sometimes two, second supervisors with whom you will plan your programme of research and with whom you will have regular tutorials to support your study throughout your time as a student.

Your research may combine the practice, theory and /or history of your specialist area and you will be guided in your study to define clearly and persuasively what is original and innovative about your chosen topic and how best to present and disseminate your arguments and findings, whether this is substantially a written thesis or via a combination of practice (for example, exhibition, installation) and text-based critique.

Because of the individual nature of your study, your requirements (for example, for studio space or other specialist resources) will be discussed with your supervisor.

As well as tutorials with your supervisors, you will participate in a programme of research methods training. In your first year of registration, there will be three separate weeks attendance in London at the University of the Arts London Research Network (RNUAL) in September, February and June.

This will be complemented by a separate programme to be attended regularly at AUB.

Full-time

  • Year One: Enrolment/Registration
  • Year Two: Confirmation (upgrade to PhD)
  • Year Three: Submission and Examination

Part-time

  • Year One: Enrolment/Registration
  • Year Three: Confirmation (upgrade to PhD)
  • Year Five: Submission and Examination

Enrolment
Enrolment takes place in early September at AUB and prior to the first RNUAL block week in London.

Registration
Once successfully enrolled at AUB, your supervisory team will advise you in developing a full proposal for submission to the University’s Research Degrees Committee, so that your research degree can be formally registered with the University of the Arts London. In this submission, you will indicate your intended degree (MPhil/PhD). Research Degrees Committee will also consider the ethical dimensions of your project. If your project is considered more than minimal ethical risk, approval of your registration will also need to be sought from the University of the Arts London Research Ethics Sub-Committee. The application for registration will normally be submitted within two months for full-time students and three months for part-time.

Once these committees have approved your application for registration, you will be officially registered for an unspecified research degree with the intention to complete a programme of study for an MPhil or a PhD. The degree for which you are ultimately examined is confirmed at Confirmation.

Students must not undertake any ‘field’ research until they have obtained ethical approval.

Confirmation
After a probationary period (normally 12-18 months for full-time and 24-36 months for part-time students) your supervisory team will assist you in developing your application to confirm the degree for which you will ultimately be examined.

Final submission and examination
Your final submission will be a written thesis.

  • If you are doing a purely theoretical PhD, you must write between 60,000 and 100,000 words.
  • If a practice-based PhD, you must write between 30,000 and 100,000 and submit a body of work.

Examination is by an oral examination or viva, and is with academics who are normally external to AUB.

The deadline for applications is normally May for entry in September as advertised on our website.

Studentships and bursaries, if available, are advertised in spring each year. Due to the level of interest for these opportunities, it is not normally possible for us to offer feedback in advance of making an application.

If you're from the EU or the UK, you may be eligible to take out a postgraduate doctoral loan of up to £25,000 from the UK government. The loan is paid directly to you and can be used for your course fees and living costs. The loan will be divided equally across each year of your course. Full details, including eligibility criteria and repayment terms, can be found on gov.uk.

We recognise that embarking on a research degree is a significant undertaking in terms of both finance and time. As a full-time student you are expected to commit to an average of 35 hours a week to your research and so it is important to ensure that the number of hours engaged in any form of paid employment is not excessive.

As a part-time student you are expected to commit to an average of 17.5 hours a week to your research. Paid employment may be undertaken within reason and such that it is not detrimental to your studies i.e. normally no more than 23.5 hours paid work per week during term time.

Students requiring a visa in order to study at the University will need to check the terms and conditions relating to their eligibility to work. Please note that it is not possible for overseas students to study on a part-time basis if the student needs a Tier 4 (General) student visa to enter the UK.

If you have questions about research degree study at AUB, please contact the Research Office:

E: researchoffice@aub.ac.uk

T: +44 1202 363334

If you have questions about the regulations, please see UAL’s Handbook and Regulations for further information and guidance on research degrees.

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