Research course

Art, Design and Performance

University of Portsmouth · School of Art, Design and Performance

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Entry requirements

The entry requirements for a PhD, or MPhil include a good honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject, or a master’s degree in an appropriate subject. Equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications may be considered. All applicants are subject to interview.
If English is not your first language, you'll need English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Months of entry

February, October

Course content


If you're looking to take your skills in art and design into postgraduate research, our research degree programmes can help you achieve your ambitions.

Within the School of Art, Design & Performance, our research explores visual and material culture, graphic and communication design, illustration and the art of the book, fashion & textiles, photography and the history and theory of art and design – and focuses on the role of art and design in social, cultural and historical contexts.

Our PhD supervisors come from practical and theoretical backgrounds and are well positioned to support you in various research programmes or PhD practice.

We encourage qualitative and practice-led research, using research skills such as historical research, semiotic analysis, user research, action research, iterative process and reflective practice.

What can a postgraduate research degree do for my career?

Once you complete your postgraduate research degree, you'll be a highly-skilled researcher with the knowledge and skills to make an impact in many different industries.

Your postgraduate research qualification demonstrates to potential employers that you're an intelligent, capable and motivated person, with provable abilities and experience in critical thinking, problem-solving, project management, communication, leadership and creativity.

After researching with us, our successful postgraduate research candidates have gone on to impressive positions in academia and the private sector.

Current research

Visual and Material Culture

Our research covers the following topics

  • Visualising history

  • Curatorial practice

  • Sensory perception

  • US and UK popular culture

  • Cultures of collecting

  • Interfaces

  • Domestic design

  • Curatorship

  • Spectacle and display

  • Visual culture

  • Material culture

History and theory of art & design

Research covers the following topics

  • History of art

  • Art history

  • Art theory

  • History of design

  • Design history

  • Design theory

  • Domestic Design

  • History of the home

  • House histories

  • Design epistemology

  • Design process

  • Semiotics

  • Perception

  • Curatorial practice

Graphic and communication design

Our research covers the following topics

  • Graphic design

  • Communication design

  • Typographic design

  • Information design

  • Data visualisation

  • Branding and identity

  • Typeface design

  • Publication design

  • Wayfinding

  • Web design

  • Motion graphic design

  • User centred design

  • Design epistemology

  • Design thinking

Illustration and art of the book

Our research covers the following topics

  • Illustration

  • Artists' books

  • Bookbinding

  • Zines

  • Drawing and creative practice

  • Independent publishing

  • Exhibition

Fashion and textiles

Our research covers the following topics

  • Sustainability and ethics in supply chains

  • Socially engaged practices in making and education

  • Digital and virtual technologies

  • Critical practice and theories of craft and design


Our research focuses on the following topics:

  • Photographic art practice

  • Photographic theory

  • Practice as research

  • Psychoanalytic theory

  • Vernacular photographic practices

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MPhil
    part time
    48 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
  • PhD
    part time
    72 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    36 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Admissions Team
+44 (0)23 9284 5566