Research ( full-time, part-time)
January, April, September
Distance-learning supervision available on this course.
This programme is located in Cambridge School of Art. Find out more about our research.
Academic interest in children’s book illustration is growing. Examine this field of illustration through a combination of practical work and theoretical enquiry.
Find out more about teaching options and studying during COVID-19 in the Entry requirements section, below.
Our PhD programme encourages individual, practice led research projects that explore aspects of the art of children’s book illustration from the perspective of high-level practice. We look for research proposals that are informed by personal practice and demonstrate an ambition to examine an area or aspect of children’s book illustration through a combination of creative and theoretical enquiry. Using your personal creative practice as a research tool, you’ll produce distinctive contributions to the growing knowledge pool in this area.
All your subject-specific studies will be enhanced and supported by our University-wide training sessions, where you’ll gain important research expertise in areas like ethics, presentations, intellectual property and digital scholarship. You’ll also have access to many exhibition and conference opportunities.
At Cambridge School of Art, you’ll be part of a vibrant and growing community of researchers at PhD level. We provide various research forums that accentuate the discursive and interdisciplinary nature of research, including research clusters that hold regular seminars and informal presentations for postgraduate and research students, as well the Centre for Children's Book Studies.
You’ll benefit from our strong industry links with many children’s book publishers, as well as Bologna Children’s Book Fair, Kettle’s Yard, and the University of Cambridge's Centre for Research into Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH) and the Centre for Children’s Literature at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.
MPhil: full-time 1-3 years, part-time 2-4 years.
PhD via progression from MPhil, including that period: full-time 2.5-5 years, part-time 3.5-6 years.
PhD: full-time 2-4 years, part-time 3-6 years.
For further guidance on the duration of research degrees please refer to the Research Degrees Regulations.
You’ll be supervised and supported by staff who have published and exhibited nationally and internationally. Our expertise includes:
Professor Martin Salisbury: practice and theory of children's book illustration. Co-author of Children's Picturebooks: The Art of Visual Storytelling (Laurence King, 2010), winner of the UKLA Academic Book Award 2013; author of Play Pen: New Children's Book Illustration (Laurence King, 2007) and Illustrating Children's Books (A&C Black, 2004).
Dr Becky Palmer: illustrator and author of comics and picturebooks including Ellie and Lump’s Very Busy Day (Walker Books, 2017) and La Soupière Magique (Éditions Sarbacane, 2014).
Katherina Manalessou: author of Zoom Zoom Zoom (Macmillan Children's Books 2014); commercial illustration commissions and personal projects such as artist’s books and limited edition prints.
At Cambridge School of Art, we combine the traditions of our past with the possibilities afforded by the latest technologies.
Using our expertise and connections in Cambridge and beyond, we nurture creativity through experimentation and risk-taking to empower the makers and creators of the future.
Our academics excel at both practice and theory, making a real impact in their chosen fields, whether they are curating exhibitions, designing book covers or photographing communities in Africa. They are also regularly published in catalogues, books, journals and conference papers, their research classed as being of ‘international standing’, with some elements ‘world-leading’, in the most recent Research Excellence Framework.
You’ll work within our dedicated illustration studios that surround Ruskin Gallery, a unique space that shows a range of work including student shows and touring exhibitions of international standing. You can also make use of our other facilities, including printmaking and sculpture workshops, photography dark rooms, life drawing studio, and computer suites for video production and digital imaging, as well as four Mac suites with Adobe Creative Suite software and high-quality 27-inch monitors.
You’ll have access to our Faculty’s PhD room, where all our doctoral students can meet up to work and take an active part in our postgraduate student community.
In some cases extra costs known as bench fees will be charged for a postgraduate research degree. These are to cover additional/exceptional costs directly related to a specific research project.
Some examples of these costs are (the list is not exhaustive): equipment hire, access costs to specialist equipment/workshops, volunteer expenses, specialist tissue/cell culture, specialist reagents or materials, specialist software, access to specialist databases, data collection costs, specialist media, recording or digital storage needs.
We charge bench fees in bands. They may apply for every year of your course. These bands are the same for full- and part-time students.
If you have to pay bench fees this will be made clear at your interview, and stated in your offer letter.
For 2021/22 the bench fee bands are:
Initial registration: £1,300
Full registration: £4,000
Part time: £1,000
Full time: £1,800
You can pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments – though you won't need to pay until you've accepted an offer to study with us. Find out more about paying your fees.
ARU's academic excellence was recognised in 2021, as part of the Research Excellence Framework (REF), an exercise which assesses the quality of academic research. Sixteen areas of our work were classed as generating world-leading research. The results showed that we're making a significant impact on the societies we live in.
We’ll provide you with many opportunities for career development and training, and encourage you to get involved with external activities like exhibiting, curating, conference organisation and presenting papers. There may be opportunities to take part in collaborative projects with our Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge, and our annual trips to the Bologna Children's Book Fair.
Many research students in this discipline are seeking to combine high-level professional creative practice with academic careers. You can also request specific support for writing-up, conference papers, general research methods and other research skills if you need it.
MPhil or PhD with progression from MPhil: You’ll need a Bachelor degree or equivalent with first or upper second class honours, in a related subject area.
PhD: You’ll need a Master degree or equivalent in a related subject area.
Please note we consider candidates for PhD with progression from MPhil in the first instance. If you want to be considered for direct entry to the PhD route then this can be discussed at interview if you are shortlisted. Please note you’ll also need to provide academic justification for this request.
You'll be required to submit a portfolio of your practical work to date as part of your application.
If English is not your first language, you'll require a minimum IELTS score of 6.5, with a minimum of 5.5 in each component (or equivalent test). If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry.
Whether you're studying entirely online or through a blend of on-campus and online learning in September 2020, you'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your course. Before starting the course, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning.
Studying during COVID-19
Due to national restrictions all universities in England, including ARU, are only able to provide face to face access to research resources in limited circumstances where access can be justified under movement restrictions. Visit our restrictions page for details. All assessments and supervision are currently conducted online.
In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic and related Government guidance, your research programme will be framed, wherever possible, to be conducted away from campus and in line with movement restrictions. For some types of research attendance on campus will be essential for some activities, and these activities will need to be undertaken in a COVID-19 safe manner in line with our risk management procedures.
In the event that there are further changes to the current restrictions that are in place within the UK due to the pandemic, we may need all of our researchers to work online only at short notice to remain in line with Government guidelines and ensure the continued safety of our students and staff.