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MPhil/PhD Research Degrees

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.

Course information

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.

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

Course outline

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.

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 fine art; architecture; design including textiles; film and animation; performance; photography; and creative technologies, where AUB can provide appropriately qualified supervision.

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

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 details of our research degree supervisors below:

Dr Willem de Bruijn Senior Lecturer – BA (Hons) Architecture and Postgraduate Award Leader – MRes Arts

PhD, MSc

James Cole Headshot
Dr James Cole Course Leader/Senior Lecturer

BA, MA, PGCAP, PhD

Email me jcole@aub.ac.uk
Dr Jon Croose headshot
Dr Jonathan Croose Course Leader – BA Performance Design and Film Costume. Senior Lecturer – Contextual Studies

PhD, MA, BA (Hons), PGCert, LTHE, PGCE, NCTJ.

Dr David Ellison Senior Lecturer Commercial Photography

PhD, BA, AFHEA

Dr Kirsten Hardie Associate Professor

PhD, MA, BA(Hons), NTF, FHEA

Dr Philip Jones Director of the Graduate School

PhD, MA, BA(Hons)

Email me pjones@aub.ac.uk
Dr David Lund Senior Lecturer – BA (Hons) Modelmaking and BA (Hons) Design

PhD, BA (Hons)

Email me dlund@aub.ac.uk
Image of Kevan Manwaring
Dr Kevan Manwaring Senior Lecturer – BA (Hons) Creative Writing

PhD, MA, BA, FHEA

Dr Natalie Scott Lecturer in Creative Writing

PhD, MA, BA (Hons), PGCE, CAPF

Associate Professor Dominic Shepherd Award Leader – MA Painting and Art Subject leader Graduate School

MA

Emma Shercliff Headshot
Dr Emma Shercliff Associate Professor of Textiles and Participatory Making

PhD, BA(Hons), FHEA

Dr Laurie Taylor Lecturer - Photography (History & Theory)

PhD, MA, MA, BFA

Dr Romana Turina Senior Lecturer – BA (Hons) Film Production and MA Film Practice

PhD, MA, PGCE, FHEA, SEDA

Professor Paul Ward Post‑Graduate Award Leader MA Animation Production and Post‑Graduate Subject Leader (Moving Image)

BA, PGCE, MA, PhD

Email me pward@aub.ac.uk
Dr Andy Weir Senior Lecturer Fine Art

PhD, MFA, MA, MA

Email me aweir@aub.ac.uk
Dr Petronilla Whitfield Associate Professor in Voice and Acting 

PhD, MA, PGCE, Drama Dip, SFHEA

Dr Christian McLening Director of Research and Development

PhD, MA, BA, PGCE (HE), CTPD

Research students

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

How to apply

The deadline for applications for entry in October 2023 is 30 May 2023. Deadlines for studentships may differ.

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 will normally be expected to have:

  • An upper second class honours degree (2:1) from a recognised higher education institution.
  • Also, a Master’s 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.

If English is not your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language entry requirements by providing one of the following:

A recent AUB approved English Language Test (ELT) – such as an IELTS 7.0 with a 7.0 in writing and with no other component score lower than 6.0, or an equivalent test score. Your qualification needs to have been awarded no more than 2 years prior to your enrolment date.

You can apply before you receive your English Language Test or MA certificate. If you’re offered a place, you’ll need to show your qualification before enrolment.

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)

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.

PGR students at AUB are entitled to the following contact hours with their supervisory team:

  • Full-time students: 20 hours contact hours a year in total (10 supervisory meetings)
  • Part-time students: 10 hours contact hours a year in total (five supervisory meetings)

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

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

Students studying in-country would normally be expected to maintain a presence at the University and to make every effort to play an active role in the research community. This may include but is not limited to:

  • Participation in research groups
  • Research events such as RKE seminars, workshops, training and development opportunities, PGR symposia.

It's possible to attend training and events online, from a distance and also have supervision online if this is preferred. But the University would encourage on-campus attendance where possible.

Research training delivered through the Research Network University of the Arts London can be accessed online and sessions are recorded. This includes block weeks of training in the autumn, spring and summer and online study days that cover the key stages of progression.

You'll undertake your programme of study at AUB, with some workshops and presentations taking place at UAL as part of your PGR training.

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'll be assigned one, or sometimes two, second supervisors with whom you'll plan your programme of research and with whom you'll 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'll 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. All research students will develop an original written thesis and practice-based candidates will also produce accompanying creative work (for example, a series of drawings or a film).

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.

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 September/October.

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 or 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've 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're 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.

Although we welcome applications for study towards a research degree throughout the year, the University has one point of entry at the start of each academic year normally the 30 May.

Full-time and part-time applications should be made directly to AUB through our online application system. Applications are assessed for suitability for research degree study at AUB including the strength of the research proposal and supervisory expertise and capacity.

Applicants are normally invited to put forward a draft proposal in advance of making an application to ensure that AUB has expertise to supervise in the proposed area of study.

Draft proposals should be returned by email to the researchoffice@aub.ac.uk to include a brief outline of no more than 1,000 words to include your research proposal, reason for study and your relevant academic/professional background. This will enable the University to make an initial assessment of whether your topic and experience are appropriate for research degree study at AUB before you make a formal application. If considered suitable, the applicant is normally invited for interview. Please use the guidance on writing proposals to help you structure your draft.

Selected applicants will be invited to attend a formal interview to discuss their proposal. They may be invited to provide supporting material such as samples of academic writing or examples of their creative practice.

The interviewing panel will make a recommendation based on whether the project and candidate are appropriate for doctoral level study at AUB and the availability of appropriate supervision and resources.

Recommendations will be considered by the Chair of Research Degrees Committee/Director of Innovation and Research Degrees. Applications that are approved will be made a conditional or unconditional offer of a place to study.

Studentships and bursaries, if available, are normally 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 are from the UK, you may be eligible to take out a postgraduate doctoral loan 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/doctoral-loan.

International students can choose to study in their own country on a full- or part-time basis via the distance learning route. Alternatively, students can study in the UK via a student visa on a full-time basis only.

Distance learning route

In addition to meeting the standard academic and language eligibility requirements, applicants to the distance learning overseas online mode need to demonstrate that they:

  • can successfully conduct their research with the resources available to them at their distance learning place of study;
  • have access to appropriate IT facilities, so that they can engage in supervision and training from their distance learning place of study:
  • have the necessary time, commitment, and appropriate attitude toward distance learning online study

Students on this mode don't hold a Student Visa so cannot enter the UK for the purpose of study or access AUB physical resources or buildings. Distance Learning Students have access to online resources available to all PGR students..

AUB recognises 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's 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.

You may need to spend more time on your PhD at key stages of progression such as confirmation and submission. 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.

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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