PHD Fine Art and Design

Study Mode Full-time
Year of Entry 2023/24
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Fine Art and Design

Full-time Art and design

Investigate a research topic of your choice during a period of supervised study and make an original contribution to knowledge in Fine Art or Design.

Everything you need to know...

  • Pound sign

    What is the fee?

    Home: £4,712 per year
    International/EU: £16,385 per year

  • Time

    How long will I study?

    4 Years

  • Location

    Where will I study?

    City Campus

  • Date

    When do I start?

    February 2024
    May 2024

Course summary

  • Undertake doctoral research on a programme specialising in practice-led approaches, with outstanding student satisfaction ratings
  • Develop the knowledge and skills necessary to become an independent and effective researcher
  • Benefit from excellent workshop, studio, and creative media centre facilities
  • Study within the exciting research environment of the Art, Design and Media Research Centre, Lab4Living or Design Futures, delivering critical insight and world-leading impact


Develop and implement a programme of research with experienced supervisors and practitioners in fine art, design, or film & media production, with research interests in health and wellbeing, physical and digital making, and social and political challenges.

Creative UK membership

We are members of Creative UK, which means our art and design students are also members until they graduate. With 10,000 members in its network, Creative UK represents, champions and supports the UK’s creative industries, advocating on the issues that matter the most to creative communities.


View our students' work

View our gallery of student work and learn more about the exciting projects they've been working on this year.

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How you learn

All our courses are designed around a set of key principles based on engaging you with the world, collaborating with others, challenging you to think in new ways, and providing you with a supportive environment in which you can thrive.

90% of our research in Art & Design was assessed as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in REF2021.  SHU is in the top 10 of UK universities for research impact in art and design.

You will work with a supervisory team with expertise in your chosen research area who will help you to define and plan your research programme, agree associated training requirements, and provide direction while supporting you to develop as an independent researcher.  You will join a dynamic community of postgraduate researchers and have opportunities to share your work at SHU and beyond. 

You learn through:

  • independent study
  • project supervision
  • active research, making and exhibition (as appropriate)
  • practice-led research workshops and live projects
  • researcher development training events
  • presenting your research at conferences and seminars
  • participation in lively debate and discussion with your peers
  • writing and defending a practice-led doctoral thesis 

You will receive training on professional standards in research practice, including ethics and project management, and how to enhance your personal effectiveness as a researcher.  You will explore how to disseminate your research and establish an academic profile.  You will present at the Culture & Creativity Research Institute (CCRI) interdisciplinary conferences on the themes of research METHOD and research IMPACT, which provide a platform for focussed discussion on research process and practice and questions of application, audience, and impact. 

Your learning is supported by access to:

  • a dedicated Postgraduate Research Tutor for Fine Art, Design & Media practice, and PGR administration team
  • a library research support team and 24-hour access to library facilities
  • SHU Academic Skills Centre with sessions specifically for doctoral researchers
  • the University English Scheme for international students
  • a programme of support for doctoral student wellbeing

Applied learning

Networking opportunities

Throughout your course you will have opportunities to interact with academics and specialists in your field.  Funds are available for you to present your work in professional academic settings at international and national conferences and/or in public exhibition and we will encourage you to seek opportunities to engage different audiences with your research.   All our doctoral students make a vital contribution to the intellectual life of the University from the earliest stages of their research.

The Art, Design and Media Research Centre hosts stimulating seminar series featuring established academics and practitioners in the field, such as the highly regarded Transmission and Gravity, and international conferences such as Design for Health

CCRI is a partner in the AHRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Heritage.

SHU doctoral students are supported to enter the national ‘3-minute thesis’ competition

SHU art and design students are members of Creative UK. With 10,000 members, Creative UK represents, champions, and supports the UK’s creative industries, advocating on the issues that matter the most to creative communities

Live projects

Research in this area offers critical insights on cultural and political issues and explores specific social contexts.  Some doctoral projects are developed in collaboration with respected national and international organisations.  Recent partners include Sheffield Museums, S1 Artspace, Site Gallery, Bishops House, The Foundling Museum, The William Morris Gallery, the V&A, Freetown Christiania, the British Museum and English Heritage.

Future careers

A PhD in fine art and design prepares you for a career in

  • design
  • fine art practice
  • curation
  • design management
  • making or manufacturing
  • company-employed design
  • independent design practice
  • education
  • retail/marketing
  • design research
  • art research
  • academia

Previous graduates of this course have gone on to work for international design companies and consultancies, in museums research, as research assistants, and in leadership, lectureship and research positions at other universities.

Where will I study?

You study at City Campus through a structured mix of lectures, seminars and practical sessions as well as access to digital and online resources to support your learning.

City Campus

City Campus is located in the heart of Sheffield, within minutes of the train and bus stations.

City Campus map | City Campus tour 

City Campus map

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S1 1WB

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Adsetts library

Adsetts Library is located on our City Campus. It's open 24 hours a day, every day.

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Equipment and facilities

The university has exceptional fine art, design and media practice facilities, equipment and technical support, and screening facilities at 'The Void' film lecture theatre, which boasts cinema-standard 4K digital projection and two 40-year-old Westrex 7000 35mm projectors.  PhD students have access to studio and exhibition space at S1 Artspace.

Two libraries provide 24-hour access, and a dedicated library research support team offer expert advice and training on all aspects of information and publishing

Doctoral researchers in the Culture and Creativity Research Institute have dedicated office space to work in, which we also use to host our community writing sessions.

We’ve invested over £100m in new facilities in the last five years, to help you study how and when you want. This means 24-hour libraries and study spaces designed by our student

Entry requirements

All students

You need to provide evidence of:

  • A relevant undergraduate degree qualification (2.1 or above)
  • A relevant masters level qualification (Merit or above). Note that studentship applicants must have all degree results in hand before applying.

To apply, you must submit a fully complete online application, including:

  • A 1,500-word research proposal
  • Information about exhibitions/creative projects and concise creative practice documentation, portfolio or website link/s, either uploaded to the application as separate document/s, or include in your personal statement.
  • Degree certificates.
  • Module transcripts.
  • Details of two referees who can comment on your academic ability and readiness for PhD study.
  • Sponsorship letter (if applicable).

All suitable candidates are invited to an interview and asked to give a short presentation about your proposed research. You will be asked questions about the project proposal and your interest in PhD level study. You are encouraged to find out more about our areas of research interest and expertise before applying. Potential supervisors can be identified through the research centre website linked above or by contacting the postgraduate research tutor for advice.

International Students (additional information)

If you are an international student (including non-UK European) see International Entry Requirements for guidance on entry requirements for your country.

All international applicants are required to show evidence (current within the last two years) of English language ability before embarking on a PhD. For this course, it must be at a minimum level of IELTS 7.0 with 7.0 in all skill components (or equivalent). For more information about the different English language qualifications we accept, see English Language Qualifications. We also accept successful completion (within the last two years) of a UK degree course taught in English.

If evidence of English Language ability is not supplied at application, an offer of PhD study would be conditional on provision of such evidence.

Students who are based overseas may be able to study for a PhD by Distance Learning, subject to establishing a satisfactory distance learning agreement, as part of the application process.

Additional information for EU/International students

If you are an International or non-UK European student, you can find out more about the country specific qualifications we accept on our international qualifications page.

For details of English language entry requirements (IELTS), please see the information for 'All students'.

Fees and funding

Home students

Our tuition fee for UK postgraduate research students starting full-time study in 2023/24 is £4,712 per year. An additional bench fee may also be charged for this course, depending on the nature of your project and requirements for specialist facilities. Information on whether a bench fee is chargeable can be provided by the relevant Research Institute, and will be confirmed in your offer letter.

If you are studying an undergraduate course, postgraduate pre-registration course or postgraduate research course over more than one academic year then your tuition fees may increase in subsequent years in line with Government regulations or UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) published fees. More information can be found in our terms and conditions under student fees regulations.

International students

Our tuition fee for International/EU postgraduate research students starting full-time study in 2023/24 is £16,385 per year. There will be a final writing up fee of £500. An additional bench fee may also be charged for this course, depending on the nature of your project and requirements for specialist facilities. Information on whether a bench fee is chargeable can be provided by the relevant Research Institute, and will be confirmed in your offer letter.

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Doctoral student loans

Up to £25,700 available to help you while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.

Doctoral student loans

Additional course costs

This link allows you to view estimated costs associated with the main activities on specific courses. These are estimates and, as such, are only an indication of additional course costs. Actual costs can vary greatly depending on the choices you make during your course.

Additional costs for Art and design courses (PDF, 272.7KB)

Legal information

Any offer of a place to study is subject to your acceptance of the University’s Terms and Conditions and Student Regulations.


How do I apply?

You apply for this course via our online application form.

Apply for May 2024

You can also use the application form above to apply for future years of entry.

Not ready to apply just yet?

Why not come to our next open day? Open days are the perfect place to talk to staff and students, visit our campuses and get all the information you need. Alternatively, feel free to ask us a question.

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Why choose us?

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We are Gold rated in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) for the outstanding quality of our teaching and student outcomes

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We guarantee to find you an affordable place to live that’s close to campus and comes with all bills included

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95% of our UK graduates are in work or further study 15 months after graduating (2020/21 Graduate Outcomes Survey)

Where next?

Find out more about Sheffield Hallam's postgraduate opportunities and community.

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Information for international students

Information for international students including entry requirements by country and funding.

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