MPhil & PhD in Art

By Sally Kindberg

Course overview

Our research programmes are designed for artists who would like to explore and develop their understanding of their practice, and in so doing to contribute to the wider cultural context through original critical work.

In all Art research subjects (whether you specialise as an artist, a curator or a writer) you may either register for practice-based research or register to undertake research leading to a thesis submitted in accordance with the normal provisions of the University.

At research level the Department of Art’s aim is to support the development of original practice in the form of artworks, curatorial production and writing. As an artist registered for either practice-based research or by written thesis only, you will work alongside curators and writers and participate in our rich critical research environment. You will normally work with two supervisors who will meet you to discuss the development of your research project on a regular basis, as well as have the opportunity to organise and participate in training workshops, seminars, screenings, displays and research symposia.

You will apply with a well-developed idea for an individual research project that you have begun to plan artistically as well as to contextualise with reference to contemporary and historical examples of artworks, exhibitions, designs, social, political and philosophical ideas, etc. We consider all elements of the PhD – the written element and the artistic or curatorial production for practice-based research – to be sites of rigorous formal experimentation. Throughout your period of study you will be expected to articulate the shape and form of your research and the relation between its elements and to discuss them in research fora on a regular basis.

Find out more about research degrees at Goldsmiths

If you are an international student and would like to study a 'tailor-made' programme (for up to a year), you may be interested in applying as a Guest Research Student

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Professor Michael Newman


If you are registered for a practice-based research project you are expected to produce a series of artworks and/or documentation of a series of exhibitions or events developed whilst on the programme as well as a dissertation of 20,000 words (MPhil) or 40,000 words (PhD). If you are registered according to the normal provisions of the University your final text has a target of 40,000 words for an MPhil and 80,000 words for a PhD. All research students are registered first for an MPhil then may either transfer registration to PhD following the successful completion of an upgrade exam or finish their study at this stage by submitting their research for an MPhil exam.

We provide full-time practice-based research students with studio or office accommodation as appropriate; we expect part-time students to have their own studio or office as appropriate, which is subject to the same conditions as for part-time MFA in Fine Art students.

We recommend that all applicants contact us initially to discuss their proposal and identify a potential supervisor from the Art Department academic staff with whom they would like to work. All applications must be accompanied by a digital portfolio or website. If shortlisted, applicants will be expected to attend an interview (international applicants may be interviewed by skype).

Assessment is by either:

  • Thesis, including practice; viva voce
  • Thesis and viva voce


We have a world-leading reputation that brings together
students and researchers from all over the globe


We specialise in making, curating and writing about contemporary art in a dynamic, critical and interdisciplinary environment.

And we work with a network of artists, curators, galleries and museums in both London and internationally to create an inspiring and dynamic place in which to study and develop an artistic practice.

Our alumni go on to do great things. Many of them are among the most recognised names working in art today, and since 1990 they’ve been nominated for the Turner Prize more than 30 times, winning the prize on seven occasions.

Find out more about the Department of Art


Skills & careers


Our art programmes aim to equip you with the necessary skills to develop independent thought and confidence in your practice. In addition, these skills are of use in other career paths you may wish to follow.


Our students have been successful in many fields including media, museums, galleries, education, the music business and academia. Many have continued to be successful, practising artists long after graduating, and have won major prizes and exhibited around the world. The Turner Prize shortlist has consistently included at least one of our former graduates. Seven of the prize winners have studied here:

  • Grenville Davey
  • Antony Gormley
  • Damien Hirst
  • Gillian Wearing
  • Steve McQueen
  • Mark Wallinger
  • Laure Prouvost

Entry requirements

You should normally have (or expect to be awarded) a taught Masters in a relevant subject area. 

You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.

Equivalent qualifications
We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us.

For this programme we require:

IELTS 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.5 in the written test and no individual test lower than 6.0)

If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

How to apply

You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system. 

Before submitting your application you'll need to have: 

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
  • The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
  • Contact details of a second referee
  • personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online

          Please see our guidance on writing a postgraduate statement

  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory)
  • Details of your research proposal

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

Before you apply for a research programme, we advise you to get in touch with the programme contact, listed above. It may also be possible to arrange an advisory meeting.

Before you start at Goldsmiths, the actual topic of your research has to be agreed with your proposed supervisor, who will be a member of staff active in your general field of research. The choice of topic may be influenced by the current research in the department or the requirements of an external funding body. 

If you wish to study on a part-time basis, you should also indicate how many hours a week you intend to devote to research, whether this will be at evenings or weekends, and for how many hours each day.

Research proposals

Along with your application and academic reference, you should also upload a research proposal at the point of application. 

This should be in the form of a statement of the proposed area of research and should include: 

  • delineation of the research topic
  • why it has been chosen
  • an initial hypothesis (if applicable)
  • a brief list of major secondary sources

If you are applying for practice-based research please provide examples of your recent work in an appropriately documented form. You should explain how the written component of your thesis will exemplify and locate the ideas you hope to develop in conjunction with your practice. Please make sure that your slides and other supporting material are clearly labelled with your name and address.

When to apply 

We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September. 

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place conditional on you achieving a particular qualification. 

If you're applying for external funding from one of the Research Councils, make sure you submit your application by the deadline they've specified. 

Selection process 

Admission to many programmes is by interview, unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application and qualifications alone.

Find out more about applying.

Fees, funding & scholarships

Find out more about tuition fees.

Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.



We offer three one-year bursaries of £5,000 each for first year students. These are awarded by competition only after applicants have received an unconditional offer for either the MPhil/PhD Art or MPhil/PhD Curating programmes. If you would like to be considered for a bursary please send a 750-word research project outline, bibliography, cv and digital portfolio (where appropriate) to Professor Michael Newman by 15 January 2015, email

Deadline: 15 January 2015

Related content links