Course details

Study options

Full-time: From 3 years

Course level




Start date

See below †


Markeaton Street, Derby Campus

Course description

In the School of Arts we foster the next generation of researchers. We have a vibrant research community with existing topics of Ph.D. research in costume, painting, photography, sculpture, film, visual communication, music, scenography, creative ecologies, health and wellbeing, cultural value in the Arts. All of these enquiries are supervised by Research Excellence rated staff of 3* and above, of International and world leading standing.

In choosing to study with us you would be joining a select group of researchers working within the intellectual context of an established research context. The distinctive interdisciplinary make-up of our PhD programme encourages a freedom to pursue new and innovative directions, whilst being guided by experienced and leading academics.

A PhD is the highest academic award for which a student can be registered. This programme allows you to explore and pursue a research project built around a substantial piece of work, which has to show evidence of original contribution to knowledge.

Employable Graduates – we’re ranked 15th highest amongst all UK universities and 12th for English institutions with 96% of graduates in work or further study within six months of completing their degree: HESA 2016.

A full-time PhD is a three year programme of research, culminating in the production of a large-scale piece of written work in the form of a research thesis that should not normally exceed 40,000 words. Alternatively in the Arts the submission is accompanied by material in other than written form, the written commentary should normally be a minimum of 10,000 words. All of the details of the submission are planned with your Director of Studies.

You are expected to work to an approved programme of work including appropriate programmes of postgraduate study (which may be drawn from parts of existing postgraduate courses, final year degree programmes, conferences, seminars, guided reading or a combination of study methods).

You will be appointed a Director of Studies who is your main supervisor who will normally be part of a supervisory team, comprising up to three members to advise and support you on your project.

You'll gain a strong knowledge and understanding of the subject and then take the discipline forward through an approved programme of original research. Your research supervisor will support and guide you throughout the duration of your studies

You'll study alongside other research students from diverse backgrounds and nationalities, which will really enhance your learning experience, research and conversations. We have a structured seminar series where you can hear the work of researchers in the school and those building their Ph.D. projects and results.

We are an intellectually exciting School organised into Media, Performing Arts, Art, and Design. Staff and students come from a wide range of backgrounds and our primary areas of interest are interdisciplinary practices related to digital and material arts. This encompasses film, photography, theatre, music and dance, fashion and textiles, visual communication, creative work and creative and cultural markets.

As a result of this mix, we have a unique interdisciplinary blend of research events and activities. We have the FORMAT International Film & Photography Festival biannually, the Learning Theatre Arts Council England funded project Derby Theatre, the Heritage Lottery Funded DerwentWISE project, and multidisciplinary Nature Connections Festival. All of these are in addition to the city’s cultural houses’ exhibitions, screenings and performances.

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework the School of Arts achieved 82% of research at International level and World Class.

How you will learn

Completing a PhD can give you a great sense of personal achievement and help you develop a high level of transferable skills which will be useful in your subsequent career, as well as contributing to the development of knowledge in your chosen field.

But it may also be something that suits you as a person if you wish:

If you would like to discuss your ideas, please contact Dr Robert Burstow at or Dr Angela Bartram at


Additonal information about your studies

Full Time

MPhil                                           Programme length 2 years - minimum registration 2 years.

MPhil by Published Works            Programme length 1 year - minimum registration 1 year.

PhD Traditional Route                  Programme length 3 years - minimum registration 2 years.

PhD Integrated Route *               Programme length 4 years - minimum registration 3 years.

PhD by Published Works              Programme length 1 year - minimum registration 1 year.


Part Time

MPhil                                            Programme length 4 years - minimum registration 3 years

MPhil by Published Works             Programme length 2 years - minimum registration 2 years

PhD Traditional Route                  Programme length 6 years - minimum registration 5 years

PhD Integrated Route *                Programme length 6 years - minimum registration 5 years

PhD by Published Works               Programme length 2 years - minimum registration 2 years

PhD by Concurrent Publication**  Programme length 6 years - minimum registration 5 years


* The Integrated route is under review and currently unavailable.

** The Concurrent Publication route is only available to UoD Staff on a Part time basis.


For more information on PhD routes, please see 

Entry requirements

For MPhil/PhD programmes, we normally expect you to have a first or second class honours degree, preferably a Masters degree from a UK University or qualifications that we consider to be equivalent.

Language requirements

The College must also be satisfied that the candidate has the necessary command of the English language to undertake a research investigation. Copies of English language qualifications should be included where appropriate; please note that for research programmes a minimum of IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each element (reading, writing, speaking and listening) is expected. Please note that English language certificates are only valid for two years.

Fees and funding

Find out more about fee information for our research degrees.

How to apply

Please see Information for applicants for more information on submission dates and how to apply.

All enrolments are arranged by appointment once your application is successful. Please be aware that it can take between six and twelve weeks to consider a complete application.


You'll develop in-depth expertise in your chosen area which can lead to real career progression either in business or in academia.

Contact us

Course: Robert Burstow +44 (0)1332 593165
Research Student Office +44 (0)1332 591060

If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.

Contact us Contact us

† Additional information about your studies

Start dates are September, January, March and June.

Teaching hours

Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.

Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.