Research ( full-time, part-time)
January, April, September
Our research degree will allow you to explore your own interests in fine art - from history of art to painting and printmaking - supported by the expertise of our staff at Cambridge School of Art.
Find out more about studying during COVID-19 in the Entry requirements section, below.
Informed by your particular discipline, you’ll critically contextualise your work, clarifying both theoretical and practical research-based enquiries, and producing distinctive contributions to the research field.
You’ll be allocated two supervisors, with additional staff members available if necessary. Our supervisors are experienced in most areas of contemporary fine art, including recent issues in painting and the expanded field of contemporary practice; objects, installation and the virtual; interdisciplinary work with sound and video; performance art practices and their relationship to liveness and documentation; the interdisciplinary nature of printmaking; and landscape, mapping and ambulatory practices.
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 the Fine Art Research Unit (FARU), which holds regular seminars and informal presentations for postgraduate and research students, and the StoryLab Research Institute.
At our FARU sessions you can present your work-in-progress, as well as hearing staff-led papers and engaging in discussions on our current research and related topics. You’ll benefit from our strong links with institutions in the UK and abroad, including Kettle's Yard, Cambridge Arts Picturehouse and the Cambridgeshire Film Consortium; Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Camberwell College of Arts and Central St Martins in London; ERBA Valence and ENSA Bourges, France. You’ll also have access to many exhibition and conference opportunities.
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 publications include: La Peinure Presque Abstraite (Arles, 2009); Rob Holyhead Paintings (Riding House, 2009), Ashgate Research Companion to Experimental Music (2009); Reconstructing the Old House catalogue (2009); and Environmental Apocalypse in Science and Art (Routledge, 2013). Our exhibitions include Rob Holyhead, Karsten Schubert, London; David Ryan in De la Warr Pavilion, Bexhill (2010); 'Crossing Abstraction', Kunstraum Bethianen, Berlin (2009); and Benet Spencer in Reconstructing the Old House, Nunnery Gallery, London (2009).
Our staff’s expertise includes:
Veronique Chance: photography, video and print media and intermedial/performative approaches to these, through shared language and the deployment of technology.
Elena Cologni: research as art practice methodologies, participatory and dialogic approaches in art, site responsive practices, eco feminism and female environmental art practices, interdisciplinary approaches through art in relation to cognition, place attachment, processes of memorisation, care ethics and well-being.
Robert Holyhead: recent abstract painting; relationship of painting to exhibition practices and installation.
Dr Nina Lübbren: nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century art, art and the fantastic, Bollywood cinema, visual narratives.
Martin Salisbury: children's book illustration, painting for exhibition, the study of theory and practice in illustration.
Benet Spencer: contemporary attitudes in painting; relation of painting to architectural practices.
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 have the chance to work in our 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 also have access to the world-famous University of Cambridge Library as well as our own campus library resources, and local art galleries like Kettle's Yard. And you’ll be able to use 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 giving papers.
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.
In conjunction with University research support, you can request specific support for writing-up, conference papers, general research methods and other research skills if you need it.
If you're interested in finding out more about research study opportunities in this area, please email email@example.com.
MPhil or PhD with progression from MPhil: You’ll need a Bachelors degree or equivalent with first or upper second class honours, in a related subject area.
PhD: You’ll need a Masters 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.
Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the programme as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Contact our postgraduate research degree team for more information about studying a PhD, MPhil or Professional Doctorate at ARU.
You'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your research programme. Before starting, 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.