Art and animals: the ethical inclusion of animals in art practice

Project summary

There has been an increased interest in how animals contribute to critical debates regarding the more than human, and experiences beyond the anthropomorphic, a phenomenon termed the animal turn. So much so, that there has been a significant increase in discussions of relations with non-human life since the first animal studies conference over twenty years ago.

These consider efficacious and co-living realities, the meat versus companion debate, and the ethical framework necessary within socio-cultural practice, amongst others. The non-human animal, and our relation to it, features in critical and philosophical texts, behavioural studies and, increasingly, studies within art.

That art has adopted the non-human animal is, perhaps, no surprise as through the lens of Deleuze and Guattari, Derrida and Foster we see how the artist, as a creator and observer, might be considered thus. Artists have contributed to the animal turn by including living non-humans within their work, making studies of them and with them. But, how ethical is this practice, and what lessons can be learnt?

This PhD will draw from socio-cultural and political debates to analyse appropriate inclusion and analysis of non-human subjects within art practice. Animal behavioural studies and the sciences are also expected to feature within the study. The proposed study is anticipated to include art practice as a significant component.

Research cluster 

Digital and Material Artistic Research Centre 

Entry requirements

For our PhD programmes, we normally expect you to have a First or Upper-Second (2:1) honours degree and preferably a masters degree from a UK university in a relevant subject such as Fine Art, Photography, or Performance, or qualifications that we consider to be equivalent.

International students may also need to meet our English language requirements. Find out more about our entry requirements for international students

Project specific requirements must align with the University’s standard requirements.

How to apply

Please contact Professor Ang Bartram ( in the first instance for more information on how to apply.

The University has four starting points each year for MPhil/PhD programmes (September, January, March and June). Applications should be made at least three months before you would want to start your programme. Please note that, if you require a visa, additional time will be required. 


Self-funded by student. There is a range of options that may be available to you to help you fund your PhD.