Research course

Creative and Critical Practice Research Programme

University of Sussex · School of English

Entry requirements

Months of entry

January, October, April

Course content

  • PhD in Creative and Critical Practice
  • MPhil in Creative and Critical Practice

This innovative PhD combines creative media production and critically engaged writing. The creative element involves practice-led research, while the written component allows you to explore relevant issues such as form, genre, technology, representation, technique or narrative. Your work might involve video,
photography and imaging, interactive media, sound, digital and social media or a combination of these. The work may incorporate live performance and installation, elements of which must be documented in retainable forms for examination. The final project must demonstrate the integration of its practical and theoretical components, with written and production elements complementing each other.

We offer expert supervision across a wide range of critical and creative practice with specialist focus on documentary filmmaking, digital arts, photography, media practice for development and social change, sonic media. Research proposals in these fields are particularly welcome.


You have two supervisors who together help you devise a detailed programme of study tailored to the individual research project, and who offer regular guidance and feedback until completion.

Research training

All new research students are required to participate in a programme of research training and to take other postgraduate modules that may be recommended by their supervisors (exemption from research training modules can be granted to those who have already taken such modules at MA level).

Throughout your studies, you are expected to take part in the research culture of the School and relevant research centres. This might include participation in reading and discussion groups, skills development training, research-in-progress seminars, etc.

You are expected to present your research both within the School and beyond. The School offers support for conference attendance and student-led symposia, from the second year onwards. There is a mentoring scheme within the School for PhD students, and you join a lively well-established interdisciplinary research community.

The University’s Doctoral School runs a wide range of training courses covering the needs of students throughout all phases of their studies.


You receive expert support from supervisors and technical advisors, and are expected to attend masterclasses by visiting practioners, but there is no time-tabled technical tuition. We therefore expect applicants to have had (and be able to demonstrate) a substantial amount of previous production experience in their chosen medium.

The first term (or first two terms for part-time students) is devoted to developing your research plan – typically refining research questions, designing a methodology and production plan, and engaging in a literature review. By the end of the first year (or second year part time), you produce and present your first research paper or project, moving to complete the production of the creative work and written component over the next two years (or four, if you study part time).

You have access to studios, editing suites and equipment. All our facilities are bookable online and available 24/7, via an access control system.

Assessment and progression

Progress is monitored by supervision meetings, annual reports and an annual interview by a review panel. The thesis is presented as a substantial body of creative practice and a written element of 20,000-40,000 words (PhD) or 10,000-20,000 words (MPhil).

Given the range of media and their differing potential within the research process, it is impossible to be precise about what ‘substantial’ means. In film and video, it would normally entail the submission of a work of about 60 minutes in length (or more), but detailed requirements are worked out on a case-by-case basis.

The practical component should fully exploit the medium (or media) in which it is working and should make a contribution to the thesis that could not have been made in words. It should not be merely illustrative of the theory but must make an original contribution in its own right, which relates back, in an integral fashion, to the theoretical component of the thesis.

The thesis is judged by internal and external examiners. The examination includes an oral defence.

Recent PhD thesis titles

Life Art/Live Art: a critical-visual study of three women performance artists and their documentation

U know them by their fruit: unfinalising the ‘extreme other self’ in documentary filmmaking

Information for international students

See link for international students' entry requirements:

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

The University of Sussex aims to attract the most talented students to postgraduate study and offers one of the most generous scholarship programmes of any UK university. For full details of our scholarships please

Qualification and course duration


part time
36-72 months
full time
24-48 months


full time
12-36 months
part time
24-48 months

Course contact details

Student Recruitment Services
+44 (0)1273 873525