> Doctoral Programme

POSTGRADUATE RESEARCH IN ART AND DESIGN

For details of current research student projects, please see: 

PhD Projects Directory

Research degree options in ADRI include PhD and MPhil either a theoretical or historical study or research-based practice, “mixed mode”, that is a combination of theoretical reflection and creative practice.  We also offer a unique ArtsD research degree (Doctor of Arts) where the emphasis is placed on the execution of a unique project by an expert practitioner.  With the professional practitioner in mind, we offer a PhD by Public Works.  We also offer MA by Research Project in addition to our taught MA programmes.  All Middlesex research degrees may be pursued on a full-time or part-time basis and also by distance learning.

We offer a research degrees joint training programme between the Schools of Art & Design and Media & Performing Arts. The training is based on the expertise of our Professors and Associate Professors.  The programme explores diverse themes across our research communities: including craft, documentation, history, politics, performance and reflection. 

The research staff in the School of Art and Design have extensive experience as supervisors and examiners of research degrees.  Supervision is available across a diverse spectrum of subject specialisms: ranging from contemporary visual culture/art history; animation studies; photography; graphic design; socially engaged practices in fine art and visual culture; architectural design and urban cultures; diaspora, difference and exchanges between cultures; electronic and digital arts; feminist theory and practice; art practice as investigation and curating.  Expertise reflects the personal, collaborative and cross-disciplinary research interests within ADRI as a whole. 

For enquiries about PhDs, please contact Professor Vida Midgelow, v.midgelow[at]mdx.ac.uk.

See our Research Clusters for more details of subjects and potential supervisors.  Currently these are: Art Practice as Investigation; Making Places;  Socially Engaged Practices; Diasporic and Transcultural Practices; Create/Feminisms; Visual Culture and Curating; Science Fiction Research Clusters.  We welcome applications which can be supported by the staff within these Research Clusters and which may be aligned to them.

With currently around 45 PhD research students and over 70 MA students (on taught programmes), we welcome the growth and development of our strong international postgraduate community.  We encourage a commitment to a serious investment in dialogic modes of learning through seminar discussions, research presentations and exhibitions of work.  Research is based at The Grove, the arts building designed by the world-renowned BPR Architects and a new £80m addition to our flagship campus in Hendon.  There is a dedicated base room for research students in The Grove, with presentation facilities, a social space and desk working.  The Grove is equipped with bespoke art studios and workshops, and specialist exhibition spaces.  We encourage collaborative research projects or sponsorships with external partners, and currently have Collaborative Doctoral Award studentships with the ICA and the National Maritime Museum.

Information for prospective students:

Where is the School of Art and Design?

Art and Design is situated at the Hendon campus in the Grove Building, a brand new, £80 million building offering state of the art facilities. Art and Design at Middlesex University has been enriching the creative, cultural and intellectual life of London and communities around the world for 130 years, beginning life as Hornsey College of Art, founded in 1880 – an iconic British art institution, renowned for its experimental and progressive approach to art and design education. The School continues to pride itself on providing a home for innovative thinking and ground breaking practice in art and design. The quality of research in the School of Art and Design is world class, with 78% of work submitted to the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF) being rated 3* or 4*. There has been a major strategic investment in research at the University recently, and 10 new Professors and Readers have been appointed across all areas of the School.

We offer the following research degrees:

MA by Research Project
This is an individual study which involves writing and researching a 30,000 word thesis. This is to be completed within one year (full-time, FT) study or two years (part-time, PT). (Please refer to the Courses page for the separate taught MA programmes in the School).

MPhil/PhD
MPhil/PhDs may be undertaken as either a text-based research project in art or design histories, curation or visual culture or a practice-based research route (previously known as mixed mode) where the research project is examined by thesis and an appropriate presentation of art and design practices.
The practice-based route requires a thesis of up to 20,000 words (MPhil) or 40,000 (PhD) with an appropriate presentation of visual research. The text based route requires a thesis of 40,000 (MPhil) words and 80,000 (PhD) words. The MPhil/PhD can be undertaken in 3 years (FT), 5 years (PT) or 4 years (as distance learning).

Arts M and Arts D qualification
This route is designed for practitioners of advanced standing to enable them to create a piece of work at the cutting edge of practice, presented with and through a text of up to 10,000 words for M level and 20,000 words for Arts D level. The Arts M is a one year period of study. The Arts D is 3 years (FT) or 5 years (PT).  

Doctor of Philosophy by Public Works
This qualification is open to individuals with a considerable track record in practice who have made a significant contribution to knowledge through their work and is designed to enable them to gain recognition by means of the award of PhD in a 12 month period (FT). A context statement of 30,000 words is required.

What areas can be researched?

Supervision is available across most of the broad areas of Art and Design provided by the School, which comprises two Departments 1) Department of Visual Art  (reorganised from September 2016) into 3 Directorates: Animation and Photography;  Graphic Design and Illustration and Fine Art and 2) Department of Design (with 2 Directorates: Fashion Design and Interior Architecture/Interior Design). The research interests and areas of expertise our supervisors are outlined here. We welcome applications in all these areas.

For clarification of the appropriateness of any intended research project, please contact Professor Vida Midgelow (v.midgelow[at]mdx.ac.uk) with a brief outline of the research you wish to undertake. Our decision criteria is based the strength and focus of the individual proposal, and the current availability of an appropriate supervisor. Support for other areas of research may also become available.

The formal process for application is on the main University website under the heading ‘Courses’ which gives full details of the application procedure and what to expect as a research student at Middlesex University. Research facilities for students at Middlesex include a specialist Art and Design Library containing a substantial range of material in the form of books, journals, periodicals and on-line resources. The archive of Hornsey College of Art is situated in the Sheppard Library, as is the Materials Library. The Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MoDA) is also part of Middlesex University, and offers researchers a world class collection of primary materials on the history of the domestic interior. The School also hosts the John Lansdown archive and the Dick Arnall collection. The School of Art and Design enjoys a unique partnership with the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) where research events are held and one, jointly supervised PhD is in place. We also have an AHRC funded Collaborative Doctoral Award with the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

The School of Art and Design has workshop production facilities for: ceramics, embroidery, wood, metal, plastic, silver and jewellery, textiles (print, weave, knit, textile art, fashion), digital photography, animation, video and printmaking. There are a number of collaborations between Art & Design and the School of Science and Technology, and between the School of Media and Performing Arts.

Is there a choice of supervisors?

To an extent. Two supervisors are allocated to each research student. Projects sometimes have three supervisors, particularly if they are inter-disciplinary or joint visual/textual projects. The student/supervisor relationship is key in successfully completing a research degree, more important than the choice of institution, and normally discussions are necessary between the applicant and the intended supervisors before the proposals are accepted.
The allocation of supervisors will be negotiated before you enrol but you are encouraged to contact any supervisors prior to application and discuss your proposed area of study and their ability to supervise it (i.e. that they are available). It is important that both the School and the applicants are happy about the supervisory arrangements, and that we feel we are able to supervise the research. We will not accept a project if we do not feel that we have the appropriate expertise to offer in that area. Conversely, projects may have to be turned down if the appropriate supervisors are fully committed with existing students.

Who are the supervisors, and what are their research interests?

Please see our PhD Supervisors and our faculty's personal research profiles under People.

Can I do practice-led research?

Yes, we welcome applications which are practice based. These options are available with the MPhil/PhD programme and the Arts M or Arts D options. The Doctor of Philosophy by Public Works enables an advanced practitioner to reflect on a body of work already achieved and gain recognition for it.

Any tips I should bear in mind when thinking about my application?

The generally accepted definition of a doctorate is 'an original contribution to knowledge/theory'. A PhD contributes new knowledge beyond what is currently available. An MPhil is a study of existing knowledge, by way of a critical review or evaluation. The project proposal should, through the parameters of its aims and its questioning, have the ambition for a PhD written into it and show awareness of what this contribution to new knowledge might be.

While studying for an MPhil/PhD is also regarded as a training in research methods and a qualification necessary for progressing a career in higher education, these are not the criteria on which the proposal is accepted. Successfully undertaking a research degree requires development and completion of a self-directed independent learning project.

Undertaking post-graduate research is not the same thing as writing a book, presenting an exhibition of work, or completing a body of work etc. It may well lead to this, but the format of a thesis and the requirements for successfully completing a PhD are different.

For research that is undertaken as part of a team, each MPhil/PhD student must demonstrate their particular contribution to the research. An MPhil/PhD is awarded for individual research only.

What kinds of things should my proposal include?

Your application form must be accompanied by a 3-4 page outline of your proposed research project. Specific guidance is provided on the form.

As a general guide, this research proposal should state the key aims of the project. It should detail how and where you intend to spend the 3-5 years to complete the research, i.e. what fieldwork is necessary to complete the project. You should consider where you intend to  study: in an art/design studio, which libraries do you need to visit; does the project require a work/teaching situation; how do you intend to collect primary research materials (which may involve travel, work in archives or interviewing key practitioners in the field) for your project?

You can present the research proposals through key questions which you would like to tackle. If you have identified a research problem or questions in practice or available literature, please outline how you intend to tackle this in your research. What methods will you use? What are the main problems you will address and the main questions you will ask? What will you test, analyse or hope to demonstrate in this research?

You should also outline the present context for this project.
The proposal should demonstrate your knowledge of the 'state of the field' : ie the art and design works, academic and critical works that you regard as significant and current, that have provoked or inspired the project and with which your own research will engage. Please indicate the strengths and weaknesses you perceive in these works and how gaps in already published research are the starting points on which your own work will build. Please include an initial bibliography.

In the case of a practice-based research project, you should outline the dynamic between the practice you are planning to undertake and either its context in a field of research or the key research questions with which you are intending to engage.

Will I have to submit any supplementary material?

Yes. in the case of practice-based projects in any of the research degrees for fine art or design, up to 20 images of work or other appropriate documentation of your work to date.

Should I contact you before putting in my application?

Yes. Applicants are urged to submit your final application only after consultation with the Research Degrees Director and/or potential supervisors. The most successful projects are those which were well thought through in the process of application, including discussion between the applicant and potential supervisors. Please do not hesitate to get in contact with any questions.

Is any funding available?

The University will advertise any available research studentships (ie funding) between February and April each year and at other times as appropriate. The advertisements will appear in suitable local and national media, including jobs.ac.uk and will include details of awards, contact names and addresses and a closing date. Studentships will also be advertised on the University website. The closing date for studentships is usually late spring.

Where do I get application forms?

Applicants should get application forms for entry to from the dedicated Middlesex Research Degrees page.

Entry points are September and January each year. Applications should be sent several months in advance of these key entry points.

Where should I send completed application forms?

These should be returned to research.adm[at]mdx.ac.uk

Forms must be returned to the Research and Knowledge Transfer Office, from where they will be forwarded to the School of Art and Design for consideration. Forms must be completed in full, including information on existing qualifications and transcripts (where necessary), funding details or requirements, evidence of English language proficiency (where appropriate) and names and addresses of referees. Supplementary material (images and essays as outlined above) must be included at this time. As stated above, it is advised that applicants discuss their research proposals with suitable members of academic staff prior to returning their application forms.

What are the criteria for offering places?

The quality of the research proposal.

The applicant’s academic or equivalent qualifications.

The ability of the School to provide supervision in the specific area.

The reports of the referees.

 

Contacts:

Middlesex University Research page

Middlesex University Guidance for Applicants

Professor Vida Midgelow (v.midgelow[at]mdx.ac.uk)