PhD Arts Practice Programme of Study


The taught modules occur in the first two years of the programme, with the majority taking place in year one. There are three kinds of taught modules: shared modules (all in year one) which are taken by all doctoral candidates, elective modules, which are self directed modules, designed according to a needs analysis conducted by the student and his / her supervisory panel and spread across years one and two and generic skills modules, which are coordinated by the Graduate school and selected by students in consultation with the supervisory panel. Shared Modules are taught during one immersion week per month in the first year of study, as well as during a summer programme at the end of year one. These include:


The aim of these modules is to introduce students to a variety of theoretical perspectives on arts practice research, towards the development of a framework suited to the specialist needs of individual research questions.  The module examines the recent history of the development of practice-based research in the arts within university structures and the challenges involved in incorporating artistic practice into traditional modes of research. It examines the privileged status of writing in theory production within the academy and the importance of ‘the somatic turn’ in contemporary research which seeks to redress the ‘mind’ / ‘body’ duality at the heart of the Western philosophical tradition and re-evaluate the role of ‘doing’ in our understandings of ‘knowledge’. Keywords and concepts will be addressed and problematised, such as aesthetics, agency, embodiment, everyday life, festival, gender, heritage, identity, liveness, narrative, performance art, performativity, play, poetics, race, representation/mimesis, ritual, spectatorship, theory.


These modules address basic questions concerning the design of a research project, including ways of framing research questions, the relationship between theory and practice in research, research ethics, and issues of representation. A key topic addressed in this module concerns the relationship between arts practice and writing. Writing out of creative practice, autoethnography, personal narrative, narrative inquiry and writing as a strand of the creative process are some of the modes of writing explored in the development of a research structure (apparatus) which can provide for the crossing of thresholds between the studio-based and text-based strands of arts-practice research.


The aim of this module is to explore dimensions of practice through reflexive participation in an intensive arts practice research workshop, with practice being investigated both as an object of inquiry and a theoretical / methodological source relevant to the research endeavour.

Featuring collaborative and interactive research in practice with the assistance of a selection of mentors, this module experiments with interdisciplinary engagements among the students as they participate together in an intensive arts practice research workshop of limited duration. The faculty member or invited facilitator, an innovative practitioner across disciplines, provides a catalyst for multi-disciplinary responses to their work in which reflection will play a central part. The primary working mode in this module brings the students’ arts practice into the foreground as the object of investigation.


A personal development plan will be created by each student in consultation with his / her primary supervisor + panel, which will detail the components of the research plan including timeframes, targets, resources and the agreed body of work submission. The research thesis (body of work) is the culminating product of the research programme.  The thesis will combine written and practical components. Normally, a 40,000 word analytical text constituting 50 per cent of the project will form the written portion of the body of work. The practical component will be agreed by the student + supervisory panel by the end of year one and will normally include at least two significant public performances (to take place during years three and four) as well as suitable archival recordings of same.


The programme is divided into two stages, with Stage 1 corresponding with the first year of the programme. At the end of Stage 1, an assessment panel will adjudicate on the readiness of candidates to progress to Stage 2. The Assessment Panel will base its judgement on a written statement of progress and a research plan from the candidate, and a written progress report from the principal supervisor, and satisfactory completion of the modules in Stage 1. The assessment panel may also require a presentation / performance from the student and may interview the student and/or the principal supervisor.

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