MPhil and PhD Opportunities

Art Design and Performance

Postgraduate Research in Art Design and Performance

Star Overview

Research overview

Building upon the rich tradition of art and design education which has existed in Portsmouth since 1870, the School of Art and Design emphasises the relationship between practice and research in a cultural context. Any issue of wider concern in society and culture can be taken as a starting point for research. Art and Design researchers deal with image making, visual communication, and design problem solving whether that is through actively experimenting (practice-led research) or analysing and articulating these images or visual processes.

Art and Design research transcends disciplines, and can apply a wide range of research skills and methods to a variety of issues. What research projects tend to have in common at Portsmouth, is social awareness, and the paradigm of positioning practice based work critically in a social, cultural and historical context.

Supervisors come from both practice and theory backgrounds. We are therefore well positioned to support a variety of research programmes and we offer PhD by practice as an option. We encourage qualitative or practice-led research, utilising appropriate research skills such as: historical research, semiotic analysis, user research, action research, iterative process and reflective practice.

Research groups

CCI Practice & Performance Research Group (PPRG)

The PPRG exists to provide interdisciplinary discussion across the Faculty on conducting research by practice-based art, design and performance methods. It shares examples of staff and other creativity and explores the growing body of theory and models of research in this area in order to build our research culture and to inform effective future research funding applications and REF submissions.


How to apply 

To apply for a postgraduate research degree with us, you'll need a good first degree from an internationally-recognised university or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. We'll also consider outstanding applicants with exceptional equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications.

We're currently rebuilding our website, so to explore the 3 different routes you can take into a postgrad research degree at Portsmouth, visit our new 'How to Apply' pages.

Sue Carter-Hearne, MA Fine Art student 2012

I saw this as an opportunity to continue on my creative journey and work alongside new and different creative people.

Sue Carter-Hearne, MA Fine Art student 2012

Self-funded PhD opportunities

Key Facts


MPhil: 2 years full-time, 4 years part-time
PhD: 3 years full-time, 6 years part-time
By Publication: 1 year part-time
Start date: October/February


A minimum of a second-class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject or a master’s degree in an appropriate subject. Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. An online portfolio submission may be required as part of the selection process. All applicants are subject to interview.

English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

MPhil/PhD Fees*

MPhil full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the Government Postgraduate Loan

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the Government Doctoral Loan


Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,260 p/a*
Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,130 p/a*
International full-time students: £13,200 p/a*
International part-time students: £6,600 p/a*

* All fees are subject to annual increase.

By Publication Fees*


Members of staff: £1,550 p/a*
External candidates: £4,260 p/a*

*All fees are subject to annual increase.

View tuition fee terms and conditions


School of Art, Design and Performance

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Light bulb Research Areas

Art & Science

Developing art and design practice through scientific and historical knowledge; critical engagement with science and technology; applying artistic skills and methods to scientific tasks or public engagement with science; the role of science in contemporary and historical visual culture.

Sensory perception / Haptics

Design considerations particularly taking into account aspects related to the senses and their meaning, e.g. the relationship of vision and touch or the semantics of colour.

Culture & Cognition

Research into the brain as a cultural object; distributed cognition and material/visual culture; other ways of understanding the world relating to semiotics, epistemology, perception and aesthetics.

Embodied Interface Design

Research includes investigating affordances and metaphors in full body and/or multi-sensory interaction, exploring a new design space.

Visual Culture

Research interests include: transcultural contemporary art; the social and design history of cinemas; the 1960s in cultural memory; contemporary Hollywood cinema; history of the circus; history of collecting and commemoration; curating as research.

Typographic Design

Our research focuses on tracing the history of the craft of typography and understanding and developing its potential today.

Design Epistemology / Design Process

Seeking to develop a systematic investigation of how designers think, know and make. This is in particular relation to analogue (drawing/sketching) and digital skills (appropriation/remediation)

Information Design / Data Visualisation

Making sense of data through hierarchical aesthetic relationships and ordering. It also includes applying user-centred parameters to turn information into meaningful knowledge.

Illustration and Social Awareness

Using image making as a critical tool to widen understanding of issues in contemporary society.

Artists’ Book, Zines & Independent Publishing

Exploring traditional print and emergent online platforms in their potential to publish uncensored, raw and dynamic content.

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Monitor Facilities & Features

Flexible Learning

You will benefit from access to many of our facilities and services. Our student website will be your one-stop shop for all news, information and links to other services. 24/7 online access to the University Library’s vast electronic book, journal and database collections will help you find the right resources for your research.


We have facilities for practical and creative development in a wide range of production methods. You will have access to learning areas for creative practice and academic study, dedicated computer suites with the latest software and digital printing, a printmaking workshop, photographic facilities, digital fabric printing and laser cutting.

Graduate School

From the moment you join us, you will be supported by the University's Graduate School, alongside your assigned supervisory team. You will be invited to a two-day induction, helping you to get the most from our facilities and be part of our thriving research community. You can also extend your skills as a researcher through the Graduate School Development Programme, which offers training, workshops and events.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

To work with someone and see not only the transformation in that person over time – but also to see the realisation that they have contributed something truly new to the world – is really inspiring as a supervisor.

Dr Mike Harkins, PhD Superviser Art and Design

Mortarboard Careers & Opportunities

Career Planning

One of the benefits of studying at Portsmouth is the comprehensive support we provide in career planning. Our careers and recruitment service - Purple Door - can assist you in career research and finding employment opportunities. 

The Graduate School Development Programme offers a series of dedicated workshops on career planning, specifically for research degree students. You will also have access to consultations with careers advisers or online support. This service is available for five years after graduation.


Doctoral graduates are highly-skilled researchers that make an impact in a range of sectors. They benefit from high employment rates and, on average, earn more than holders of undergraduate and Masters degrees. A doctorate demonstrates to employers that you are intelligent, capable and motivated, and that you have advanced technical and research skills.

In addition to supervision from experts in the field, you will be supported to become an internationally employable doctoral graduate. You will also develop skills that are desirable to employers including critical thinking, problem-solving, project management, communication, leadership and creativity.

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