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PHD Fine Art and Design

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Study Mode Part-time
Year of Entry 2022/23

Fine Art and Design

Part-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...

What is the fee? Home: £2,298 per year
International/EU: £7,450 per year
How long will I study? 7 Years
Where will I study? City Campus
When do I start? October 2022
February 2023
May 2023

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.

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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

Course leaders and tutors

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Dr Becky Shaw
Reader in Fine Art and Postgraduate Research Tutor for the Art and Design Research Centre

My current role as Postgraduate Research Tutor in the Art and Design Research Centre enables me to bring together my interests in practice, research, education, and … Read more

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.

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City Campus map

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S1 1WB

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Adsetts library
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

All applicants should hold a strong undergraduate degree (2.1 or above) and/or a relevant masters qualification (or expectation of the same).

All applicants must submit a completed postgraduate application form including a 1500 word research proposal.

You are encouraged to find out more about our staff and their current research to inform the development of your research proposal and to ensure it aligns with our research themes. Before submitting your proposal, please contact the member(s) of staff listed against the relevant research theme.

Applicants are required to give a short 10–15 minute presentation followed by an interview. Interview panel members will include the head of research degrees for the relevant research area or centre, a local postgraduate research tutor and a prospective director of studies.

Where English is not your first language, you must show evidence of English language ability to the following (or equivalent) minimum level of proficiency: an IELTS score of 7.0, with 7.0 in all components (or equivalent). Please note that your test score must be current, i.e. within the last two years.

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. You can also watch a video guide on how to apply.

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 part-time study in 2022/23 is £2,298 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 part-time study in 2022/23 is £7,450 per year. (Note that this course is not suitable for students requiring a Tier 4 visa). 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.

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?

Complete the application form available on our research pages.

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