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MPhil / PhD

Research Degrees in Art & Design

Work by Joy Butress; garment with lace details
  • Level(s) of study: Postgraduate research
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Location: City Campus
  • Starting: Throughout year depending on project.
  • Course duration: 2-4 years full-time, 4-8 years part-time.

Our Art and Design research is dynamic and imaginative. We have an outward looking research culture, with a strong focus on art and design practice as a significant contributor to cultural enrichment, social dynamics and economic vitality.

Undertaking an MPhil or PhD

Nottingham Trent University offers opportunities to study for an MPhil or PhD by research in all its academic schools. Supervision is available by full-time or part-time study, and can sometimes be provided by distance learning.

Supporting your studies

Carrying out research for a PhD, MPhil or ProfD requires different skills from undergraduate or taught postgraduate study. You will mostly work on your own research project, but we also emphasise the importance of regular meetings with your supervisory team.

The team consists of a director of studies (who will usually have expertise in your subject area) and at least one other supervisor selected for their complementary expertise such as relevant research methods.

The Graduate School Team will support you from your initial enquiry, through the application process and the various stages of your degree, until your viva voce examination and subsequent graduation. Once you begin your studies, you will have induction sessions to introduce you to the University, help you settle in and meet other researchers.


Visit the Doctoral School website for scholarship and bursary information. In addition, you can read about AHRC funding for UK / EU Arts and Humanities research students.

Researcher training

In addition to studying for a research degree, students undertaking traditional route PhDs will participate in researcher training. This combines general research training with specific topics associated with your discipline. The training focuses on the requirements of external research funding bodies and government requirements.

We also provide a structured programme of transferable skills training and career development. This is informed by the work of Vitae, the national organisation which support researchers throughout their careers.

What you'll study

The School of Art and Design provides a dynamic environment in which to pursue graduate study. The School plays host to a broad range of disciplines. These contemplate and engage the visual and material worlds and embrace various methodological approaches drawn from art practice to systems engineering, and from experimental testing to conceptual speculation.

Academic staff, research fellows and doctoral students in art and design form an active research community, participating in the following research centres, groups and networks:

Subject areas

  • Decorative Arts
  • Design History and Visual Culture
  • Fashion and Textile Design
  • Fashion Marketing and Management
  • Fine Art
  • Graphic Design
  • Narrative and Interactive Arts
  • Photography

Careers and employability

Your career development

Nottingham Trent University prides itself on the real-world relevance of its courses, and places particular emphasis on helping students to develop the academic and practical know-how that encourages initiative, innovation and academic excellence.

All our research degrees incorporate a programme of supporting studies designed to develop knowledge and skills of all aspects of the research process, including the funding and dissemination of research. This will ensure that you have the necessary expertise to successfully complete your doctoral programme and lay sound foundations for your future career.

Participation in academic conferences, seminars and external networks will cultivate contacts, skills and knowledge essential for successful research practice. These abilities are also transferable to a wide range of other careers. Researchers are also invited to take part in our own Research Conferences giving you the opportunity to present your work and discuss with other researchers at NTU.

There are some opportunities for research students to prepare for an academic career by teaching undergraduate students or supervising laboratory work, and students may take part in the Introduction to Learning and Teaching in Higher Education training programme.

Many of our PhD students go on to be employed in Higher Education, as university lecturers and researchers. Others continue with their work in creative practice, as designers and artists.

Employment opportunities may also exist in sectors allied to art and design, such as:

  • the heritage and museums sector
  • arts education
  • arts and cultural policy
  • political and social think-tanks
  • research and development
  • bid writing with charitable trusts and public sector organisations.

The School has successfully secured funding under the AHRC skills development programme to establish knowledge exchange opportunities for some of its PhD students. Working in partnership with other Midlands universities, the scheme allows art and design PhD students to undertake short research residencies with cultural and commercial organisations. The residencies allow students to develop and apply their research skills – analytical thinking, communication, problem-solving – in a context outside of the academic institution.

There are opportunities to participate in ERASMUS overseas exchanges in some subject areas. The University has links with many other institutions such as:

  • Sapienza Università di Roma
  • Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • l'Université d'Angers
  • Universitat Ramon Llull (Barcelona)

How to apply

Entry requirements

You will need:

An applicant for admission to read for a PhD/MPhil should normally hold a first or upper second class honours degree of a UK university or an equivalent qualification, or a lower second class honours degree with a Master's degree at Merit level of a UK university or an equivalent qualification.

International students will also need to meet the English language requirements - IELTS 6.5 (with minimum sub-scores of 6.0).

Applicants who have taken a higher degree at a UK university are normally exempt from the English language requirements. Applicants who do not meet the English language proficiency requirement will normally be asked to complete an English Language course.

Application process

To apply for a PhD / MPhil please submit a research proposal (between 1,000 and a maximum of 2,000 words) which addresses the following points:

  • provisional title
  • the topic or area to be investigated (the subject or field that you are going to investigate)
  • the problem or hypothesis to be tested (the research questions or problem you want to address, the research objectives)
  • the relationship of the proposed research to the published literature and to current research in the field (how your project relates to other work)
  • an indication of the contribution to knowledge that the thesis is anticipated to make (what you hope to find out)
  • the methods and techniques to be used in the research (how you propose to go about the research)
  • a provisional timetable for the project, indicating anticipated activities
  • details of your previous work in the proposed field, or relationship to prior experience or study
  • bibliography of sources already consulted or identified as of relevance to your proposal.

As you’re applying for a Research degree, you may also like to have a look around our Research pages. This may help you to spot academic staff, research areas or projects that interest you.

How to apply

Click apply to download the application form and guidance notes.

All applications should be emailed to the Doctoral School.

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Fees and funding


See our fees and funding page for details.


See our fees and funding page for details.

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418