Available for January start

Course details

Study options

Full-time: 2-4 years, Part-time: 3-8 years

Course level



MPhil or PhD

Start dates

January, March, September, June


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.

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 r.burstow@derby.ac.uk or Dr Angela Bartram at a.bartram@derby.ac.uk.

MPhil or PhD

This route typically involves undertaking independent research under academic supervision that leads to the production of a written thesis, which for some subjects may also be accompanied by creative works. The MPhil is studied over 3 years (full-time) or 4 years (part-time); the PhD is studied over 4 years (full-time) or 8 years (part-time).

MPhil or PhD by Published Works

This route is designed to provide doctoral recognition for your previous research achievements. These would be contained in a body of largely already published or creative works accompanied by a critical appraisal, which contextualises your publications, and justifies the contribution these have made to your subject area. The MPhil or PhD by Published Works is studies over 2 years (full-time) or 3 years (part-time).

MPhil or PhD by Concurrent Publication

This route is only available for University of Derby staff. Under this route, you are expected to produce and publish research or creative work accompanied by a critical appraisal which contextualises your publications, and justifies the contribution these have made to your subject area. The MPhil by Concurrent Publication is studied over 3 years (part-time only); the PhD by Concurrent Publication is studied over 8 years (part-time only).

For each route, you will meet with your supervisors on a regular basis, to be agreed between yourself and your supervisory team following enrolment onto the research degree programme.

Entry requirements

Applicants for research degrees should normally hold an honours degree from a UK University, or qualifications or experience which are deemed by the University to be equivalent.

Language requirements

Applicants who do not hold a UK, EEA, or Swiss passport must also provide an IELTS certificate showing that you meet our entry requirements (overall score 6.5, minimum 5.5 in each area of learning).

Please note that you do not need to supply an IELTS certificate if you have completed a degree from a predominantly English-speaking country, as defined by the UKVI; or if you have citizenship of a predominantly English-speaking country, as defined by the UKVI.

Fees and funding

Doctoral loans

Find out more about doctoral loans and see if you could be eligible for a doctoral loan.


Scholarships and discounts may be available to international students on specific intakes.

How to apply

UK/EU students

UK/EU postgraduate research students can apply directly to the University.

Apply directly to the University

Guidance for EU students post-Brexit

International students

International postgraduate research students can apply directly to the University. If you wish to work during your studies, please check your eligibility to work during your studies before applying.

Apply directly to the University

Guidance for international applicants applying for a postgraduate degree


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 r.burstow@derby.ac.uk +44 (0)1332 593165
Research Student Office pgrstudentoffice@derby.ac.uk +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.

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Additional information about your studies

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.