Art and Design - PhD

Attendance:
Full Time, Part Time, Distance Learning
Starting:
September 2017, February 2018
Fees:
£4,195 per year for UK/EU Full Time 2017 entry (view all fees)

A PhD in Art and Design will help you create opportunities to develop research skills that support professional practice, research and/or academic careers within the fields of art, design and the creative industries.  You will study in a world-class research environment which enables both practice-led and/or entirely text based PhD research to be developed to the highest level.

What's covered in the course?

A PhD enables you to follow a programme of self-directed, independent study, supported by experienced supervisors who are themselves experts in their area.  You will also be supported by the wider research community in Art and Design and you will have regular opportunities to attend research seminars, conferences and symposia.

Our PhD gives you the opportunity to spend time researching and developing a deep understanding of a unique area of interest whilst contributing world-leading insight to the academic specialisms in Art and Design at Birmingham City University.

Why Choose Us?

  • When you join us you will become a member of the thriving research culture in Art and Design at Birmingham City University across the Schools of Architecture and Design, Art, Fashion and Textiles, Jewellery and Visual Communication.
  • You will study in a world-class research environment which enables both practice-led and/or entirely text based PhD research to be developed to the highest level. We support a range of thesis submissions, including a combination of written and practice elements as well as a traditional written thesis.
  • Whether based in the contemporary Parkside building, or our historic School of Art and School of Jewellery buildings, our research students have access to dedicated workspace that acts as the hub of our PhD research activity. 
  • You will be guided in your PhD research by a team of supervisors who you will meet on a regular basis to review your progress and plan your next steps.
  • You will be encouraged to organise your research as a programme of professional and academic development tailored to your individual interests and career aspirations. For example, you can strengthen your PhD research and personal/professional development by participating in wider international research communities and conferences, and by helping to teach degree modules to undergraduate students.
  • On successful completion of your PhD research degree you will have either contributed new knowledge or extended existing theory and understanding of an area of interest and significance within the fields of art, design and the creative industries.

This course is open to International students

School of Art

Discover Birmingham School of Art

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

Visit the School website

Teaching Excellence Excellence Framework

Birmingham City University has been awarded silver status for its quality of teaching in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Research in Art and Design takes place within and across five schools (Art, Architecture and Design, Fashion and Textiles, Jewellery, and Visual Communications).  Art and Design is home to more than 80 early career through to senior researchers, and a further 70+ doctoral researchers.  Research sits firmly at the heart of our activities and there is a strong tradition of high-impact output from our various lines of study (as evidenced in the results of REF2014).

Real-world relevance is key to our work, and this is reflected both in the types of research that we undertake and the external funding that is generated by our researchers.  Our researchers are frequently invited to organize and curate major global events and to speak to international audiences (including policy-makers and funding bodies) as well as disseminating their work through publications, exhibitions and performances.

Current research interests

For specific details of supervisory expertise and current research, please see the names and profiles of academic staff before submitting your initial PhD enquiry for Art and Design PhD research. 

Art

We are host to a world-leading research cluster in fine art (the Centre for Chinese Visual Art) and are building a global reputation for work in contemporary art and visual culture in the Middle East and Global South.  Current research priorities concern critiques of the role and value of art and artists – to research practices and pedagogies in the discipline and its’ art worlds; as keyworkers in other disciplines and in regional and national contexts; and as part of global concerns.

Architecture & Design

In Architecture, again we can claim world-leading research in relation to zero-carbon housing, and landscape architecture.  With respect to the latter, our colleagues are currently working on a major policy-oriented project designed to optimize social and economic benefits from optimization of the HS2 route into Birmingham.  Current research priorities also encompass wellbeing in urban environments and design pedagogies.

Jewellery

Our jewellery researchers are at the leading-edge of historical and contemporary study. Current research priorities concern craftsmanship and heritage in both studio and industry practices as well as work at the boundaries of jewellery, the body, movement and wearability.

Visual Communications

Our research in visual communications covers a broad spectrum from typography, photography, and transmedia practices to VR. The Centre for Printing History and Culture is widely acknowledged as a global leader in typography studies. Current research priorities include the possibilities of virtual reality in design and graphic practice as well as print cultures.

Fashion and Textiles

Our textiles and fashion researchers are extremely well-embedded in the manufacturing and retail industries, and the work that they undertake is foundational to ongoing developments in the industry relating to sustainable sourcing and manufacturing, consumption cultures and retail futures.  These form the current research priorities alongside the psychology of fashion in costume and culture.

STEAMhouse

Art and Design researchers are pivotal to the University’s new STEAMhouse initiative. The new STEAMhouse facility (a major regional investment) will see concentration of research around design-led innovation and provide a host of opportunities to derive and influence next generation products and processes. For example, our innovative work on 3D imagery is at the forefront of STEAMhouse activities and is central to our engagement with creative and innovating SMEs. STEAMhouse provides an extremely exciting opportunity for PhD applicants as well as our researchers.

Past projects

Stimulating creative innovation – an International Perspective

In summer 2015, researchers from BCU's Strategic Creativity Lab took a team of creative entrepreneurs from Birmingham to meet with a similar group in Mexico City. In a project funded by the British Council, the two teams came together to explore the possibility of transferring creative innovation concepts and tools across international boundaries.

In a project that focused on the development of high-end gastronomic concepts from traditional Mexican street food, the researchers worked over five intensive days to create a spectrum of new, commercially actionable food and dining experiences. The project was hailed as a major success, not only in the development of exciting, novel food products, but in proving that service innovation models and toolkits developed for European markets can be adapted successfully for deployment in growing and developing economies.

Past projects: The Staffordshire Hoard 

staffs hoard feature

Researchers and experts from the Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre (JIIC) at the School of Jewellery used 3D scanning and printing technology to recreate some of the hoard’s most precious items for future generations to study and enjoy. The research work involved in collaborating with conservators and preparing the replicas has resulted the generation of significant new knowledge in 3D measuring techniques, increased our understanding of historical production and craft processes, and pushed the boundaries in 3D printing involving precious metals. 

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
PhD Sep 2017 FT 3-4 years £4,195 per year
PT 4-7 years £2,098 per year
DL 4-7 years £2,622 per year
Feb 2018 FT 3-4 years £4,195 per year
PT 4-7 years £2,098 per year
DL 4-7 years £2,622 per year

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
PhD Sep 2017 FT 3-4 years £12,000 per year
DL 4-7 years £7,500 per year
Feb 2018 FT 3-4 years £12,000 per year
DL 4-7 years £7,500 per year

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Please send us an initial PhD enquiry containing your brief PhD research proposal (max. 500 words), and/or any questions or queries you may have.

We will review your initial enquiry to ensure your research proposal compliments one of our PhD research interests and if so we will ask you to make a full application.

Research proposal guidance

Your research proposal in the full application should address the following areas:

The Working Title of Proposal
Context of the Research

Explain why this research is needed. Outline previous work in the field (if any exists).

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

Research Question(s)

What are your aims and objectives?

Methodology

What are your aims and objectives?

Resources Required

Are there specific facilities that you will need to conduct your research (e.g. materials, hardware or software)? If so are these already in place? How do you propose to fund your research?

Potential application and impact of your research

What do you imagine the wider benefits of this research will be? Who will be interested in your work?

References

What are the key texts, sources and interlocutors that you are engaging with now, and plan to engage with during your research.

You may wish to upload supporting documentation, for example if you proposing research that will be practice-led or practice-based, then we will need to see evidence of your creative and professional practice.

Additional costs

As each PhD is an individual research project, it is impossible to specify what additional costs may be incurred. Whilst we are able to offer limited financial support towards the direct costs of research (e.g. the purchase of books or digital reproductions of primary sources; attendance at conferences and workshops, etc.) you may need to supplement this.  Any potential costs should be identified in your application.

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.

This course is available part-time

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

The PhD Journey

Our PhD in Art and Design gives you the opportunity to spend time researching and developing a deep understanding of a unique area of interest whilst contributing world-leading insight to the academic specialisms in Art and Design at Birmingham City University.

You will present your research developments regularly to supervisors and have opportunities to present to the research community at various events across the Faculty.

Full-time students are expected to complete within three to four years, whilst part-time students may take four to seven years.  In your first year (two years for part-time students) you will spend time reviewing the field and refining your individual PhD research proposal and projected plan. You will be supported in this by your supervisory team and through attendance at the PGCert in Research Practice, which runs for the first semester of your studies.  At the end of your first year (second year for part-time students) you will complete a Progression Assessment Panel.  Your second year (years three and four for PT students) is likely to be spent undertaking in-depth research in your chosen area, with the third year (years five and six for part-time students) focused more on writing, preparing and finalising the format of your PhD thesis for examination. Your thesis will present your findings in a suitable format for your research topic (whether that be through artwork, artefact, exhibition, performance, or as an entirely written thesis). 

On successful completion of your PhD research degree your findings will have either contributed new knowledge or extended existing theory and understanding of an area of interest and significance within the fields of art, design and the creative industries.

You will have proven yourself as a scholar, be an expert in your field and be eligible to use the title ‘Doctor’.

Supervisors and Support

As a PhD research student you will be guided through your programme of study by a team of supervisors.

Your supervisory team will include a Director of Studies whose role it is to ensure that you are meeting targets and following the correct processes and systems for conducting PhD research.

You will also be supported by a second supervisor (and sometimes a third) who will provide guidance based on their specialist knowledge of your specific PhD research interest.

You will meet with your supervisors on a regular basis to review your progress, receive advice and plan the next stages of your PhD research.

Modes of study

Our PhD programmes are offered full-time and part-time. We do also occasionally consider proposals for part-time distance learning. These modes of study ensure that we can create a PhD research plan around your lifestyle needs, even if you are in full-time employment.

Full-time PhD Research: three to four years

As a full-time PhD research student you will undertake much of your research on campus using the facilities at Birmingham School of Art, Birmingham School of Jewellery and/or the Parkside building as appropriate to your research project.

You will usually spend at least 37 hours per week engaged in research.

You will be expected to complete your research and submit your work for examination within 36-43 months.

Part-time PhD Research: four to seven years

You can chose part-time PhD research if you opt to study whilst in employment or if full-time study is impractical.

You will be encouraged to use the campus facilities when you can and may often work from home.

You will usually spend at least 14 hours per week engaged in research.

You will be expected to complete your research and submit your work for examination within 48-72 months.

Distance Learning PhD Research: four to seven years

Distance learning is possible, under carefully controlled circumstances, if you normally live outside of the UK but wish to conduct PhD research with Birmingham City University.

You will still be required to have some level of face-to-face engagement with us each academic year, often by conducting research on campus in Birmingham (UK).

Face to face research will be arranged for a period of time during the summer months, or at a mutually agreed time.

You will be expected to complete your research and submit your work for examination within 48-72 months.

View more examples of student work...

How the PhD is assessed

We support both traditional PhD research presented through an academic thesis and practice-led PhD research. Your thesis will present your findings in a suitable format for your research topic (whether that be through artwork, artefact, exhibition, or performance). We support a range of thesis submissions, including a combination of written and practice elements as well as a traditional written thesis.

Both routes will require you to conduct a piece of unique PhD research, submit a thesis for examination and sit an oral exam (viva voce) in which you defend your thesis before a panel of experts. 

You will also be supported through the activities of our PGR Studio. The PGR Studio  seeks to promote an experimental, creative and practice-based space that resonates across all the academic Schools and disciplines in the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media. A studio can be an artists’ studio, a design studio, a recording studio, a rehearsal studio or a writing studio.

The PGR Studio aims to enhance our postgraduate research (PGR) community and student experience through supporting routes into and out of PhDs through professional and career development within and beyond Higher Education as well as the transition throughout PhD study. We run workshops, training, social events and other activities in partnership with our PGRs for our PGRs

You can also strengthen your PhD research and personal/professional development by participating in wider international research communities and conferences, and by helping to teach degree modules to undergraduate students.

The value of a PhD to employability

The Doctor of Philosophy or PhD is recognised worldwide and is often an essential requirement for those wishing to follow an academic or research career in the fields of art, design and the creative industries.

Our Art and Design PhD research degree will help you create opportunities to develop research skills that support your professional practice. We recognise that in our fields academic work is often combined with professional creative practice in portfolio careers.

After the PhD

Our PhD graduates often continue their research through post-doctoral fellowships and academic posts. Our graduates have also gone on to successful professional careers in a diverse range of fields and role including as artists, designers, architects, consultants, curators, writers and managers.

Placements

PhD researchers funded under the Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership have the opportunity to undertake industry placements as part of their research. For more information visit the Midlands3Cities website.

For those students not funded by Midlands3Cities, the PhD still allows you the opportunity to work with other institutions and companies as part of your research. You can discuss your options with your potential supervisors, if you feel a placement would benefit your research.

OpportUNIty

OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

Careers

The Doctor of Philosophy or PhD is recognised worldwide and is often an essential requirement for those wishing to follow an academic or research career in industry or commerce.

Our Art and Design PhD research degree will help you create opportunities to develop research skills that support professional practice, research and/or academic careers.

Application Process

Before you apply for our Art and Design PhD, please send us an initial PhD enquiry containing a brief overview of your PhD research proposal. This gives us an opportunity to discuss and focus your PhD research before you make your final online application.

Send Initial PhD Enquiry

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Further Information

Application Process

Before you apply for our Art and Design PhD, please send us an initial PhD enquiry containing a brief overview of your PhD research proposal. This gives us an opportunity to discuss and focus your PhD research before you make your final online application.

 Send Initial PhD Enquiry

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.

BCUIC

BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Popular home countries

Our students come from around the world but our art and design course is most popular with international students from:  

Our Facilities

Birmingham School of Art

The Birmingham School of Art has a dedicated gold-standard peer review research journal, Zetesis: The International Journal for Fine Art, Philosophy & the Wild Sciences, a professional gallery - ARTicle Gallery, and world leading press - ARTicle Press. Your research environment in the School of Art will include state-of-the-art metal workshops, print-making facilities and large studios all housed in the beautiful purpose-built 19th century Victorian building on Margaret Street, Birmingham City Centre. Located next to the city centre’s Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the School is just a five-minute walk from the new Library of Birmingham and Ikon Gallery.

Birmingham School of Jewellery

Our internationally renowned School of Jewellery is the largest in Europe, with unrivalled facilities and expertise. Located in the heart of Birmingham’s famous Jewellery Quarter, the School was founded in 1890. The Vittoria Street building’s historical facade conceals a contemporary environment including workshops, a specialist library, an atrium gallery and exhibition space.

Parkside

The Parkside Building in the City Centre Campus is home to the Schools of Architecture,

Fashion, Textiles and 3D Design, and Visual Communication. Our art and design students work from a core of workshops in the centre of the five-floor building, with studio space around them. There is also ‘collision space’ where students and staff from different courses will see each other to pass the time of day, and exchange thoughts and ideas. The Parkside Gallery is a leading art and design exhibition space within the Parkside Building, with an emphasis on, but not confined to, design-led practice.

Staff

Art & Design PhDs are overseen by Sian Vaughan and Jonathan Day. All our PhD students are hosted within an academic School, although as we encourgae interdisciplinary research, supervisors may be appointed from across our Schools. Dr Vaughan oversees PhDs in the School of Art, and  the School of Fashion and Textiles. Dr Jonathan Day oversees PhDs in the School of Architecture and Design, Jewellery and Visual Communication.

Dr Sian Vaughan

Research Degrees Co-ordinator - Art and Design

Dr Sian Vaughan (nee Everitt) is currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of Art, Research Degrees Co-ordinator for Art and Design, and the Keeper of Archives for the Faculty’s Art and Design Archives.

Dr Jonathan Day

Reader in Transmedia Arts

Black Country bred, Dr Day is the spawn of 300 years of English Midlands' Industrialism. He was conceived in a derelict church, on land left wild after its ruination by Roman iron mines. His mother was 18 and had no intention of making him. My grandmother, in turn, bore her at 17, fathered by a half-Irish sailor who died near Trinidad before his mother was three. His great grandmother was the daughter of a displaced Welsh coal-miner, his great grandfather had been a horse trainer in a circus. She married him after he fed sandwiches to her starving children. She became an alcoholic, ate grass from the garden, converted to Adventism after seeing the devil and gave away all her money. These experiences set the context for his work.

Jonathan has been for the longest time a musician – he left University (without a qualification) after seeing Woody Guthrie, his seemed to be a better way to live. Catherine van Ruhland (Greenbelt Festival) described Jonathan's work at the time as 'Long nights with sages, poets and painters and long journeys wandering around Europe playing its streets and cafes held in song. His work takes its heart from time, silence and the mad, mundane and quietly beautiful vision of those who share the road.'

Some of his questions needed more extended answers, so Jonathan returned to the academic world, studying an MA in art history and a PhD in musical composition. He now teaches at the School of Visual Communication and at several Universities in south and east Asia.

As a very necessary foil to the hectic, brilliantly coloured roads he travels, Dr Day lives in Shropshire. He likes the quiet, the animals and the trees. There's something important in the curve of a bird's wing as it cuts the wind and the jumbled stones which break the earth on a round hill's top. There are intuitions which shimmer and call in the buzzard's mewl or the fox's flash. He tries to hold this sparkling stuff long enough to sing it and remember, before it trickles through his fingers back into the earth.

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295