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MPhil & PhD in Arts & Computational Technology

  • Length
    3-4 years full-time or 4-6 years part-time
  • Department
    Computing

Course overview

This is the only programme in the University of London in which students can include creative work and an arts-based context of their practice within the distinctive field of arts and creative technologies.

The opportunities for artists and technologists working in artistic domains have long encountered difficulties in finding appropriate ways to ‘measure’ artistic practice in ‘practice-based research’ terms. 

The aim of the programme is to support students in their creation of new forms of artistic expression, and in their invention and application of new technologies that help make the art form possible.

We therefore expect you to take a novel and personal path of exploration. This path will be determined by the shifts you make between artistic, technical, practical, conceptual and theoretical domains in relation to your own unique vision.

You will have two supervisors (one from arts practice, and one from computer science), and can attend weekly PhD research seminars where students can present their findings to peers and staff; you are expected to give two presentations per year.

You also present your work at College level through interdisciplinary Graduate School seminars and at Spring Review week.

We have established a forum with the Creativity and Cognition studios at the University of Technology, Sydney for characterising practice situated across arts and computational technology, which offers the potential for collaborative research.

Assessment is by: 

  • written thesis (60-80,000 words)
  • practical/technological component in an appropriate form

Find out more about our research degrees, including information about starting your research, upgrading to PhD registration, and submitting your thesis.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Professor Janis Jefferies

Department

Computing at Goldsmiths is ranked: 2nd in London for this subject area** 17th in the UK for the quality of our research***

Computing

The Department of Computing offers a creative, contemporary and pioneering approach to the discipline.

From developing computers that can compose music and paint pictures, to defining and implementing new social media tools and applications, we aim to invigorate computing and the world around it. 

Learn by doing

We place a great emphasis on creativity, independence and ‘learning by doing’. Students undertake practical work in real-world situations, carrying out projects in ways that mirror industry practice. 

Interdisciplinary approach

We also promote an interdisciplinary approach to the subject: from computational arts to games and entertainment, and from data science to digital journalism. 

Industry experts

You’ll be taught by industry experts – our academics are deeply engaged in current research, with many applying their knowledge and skills to developing cutting-edge technology. And we have close links with industry, too, regularly inviting leading professionals to deliver lectures and talks. 

Find out more about the Department of Computing.

**Guardian University League Tables 2017

***Research Excellence Framework 2014, Times Higher Education research intensity subject rankings

Staff

Find out about staff in the Department of Computing.

Student profiles

Maria

"Goldsmiths Digital Studios helped to create a sense of community and belonging, and was great for ‘test-driving’ new ideas."

"I moved from Athens, Greece, to London to do a PhD in networked performance back in 2002. It was a big decision as I had to leave my job (Co-Director of Medi@terra media arts festival). Goldsmiths has a very good reputation in Greece for humanities and the arts, so friends suggested that I come here. 

I had no funding for my research, so the first few years were tough going (I was part-time). Originally I was in Drama, but found that the Department was not the most appropriate for my research. My research was interdisciplinary, looking at emergent forms of performance practice that employ networking technologies. Finding the appropriate context and supervisor is not obvious when one researches across disciplines (as more and more people do). In the end I transferred from Drama to a new centre, called the Goldsmiths Digital Studios. The GDS is based in Computing and focuses on the exploration and research of cultural, social and artistic practices that employ new technologies. This was the perfect place for me to do my research – and it did not exist when I started.

I found that being placed within the right context is extremely important. Although new, the GDS had already attracted a number of research students, and we had weekly seminars. That helped to create a sense of community and belonging, and was great for ‘test-driving’ new ideas, projects or writing."

Patrick

“There is something special in human-robot relations. People seem to always trust robots.”

In 2003, practising artist Patrick Tresset lost his ability to paint and draw. Since then he has been developing computational and robotic systems that have this capacity. Patrick co-directs the Leverhulme Trust-funded Aikon-II project, which investigates observational sketching activity through computational modelling and robotics, and has wowed audiences with ‘Paul the robot’, which can draw a portrait in 20 minutes. We asked Patrick about his experience of studying and working at Goldsmiths.

What is it about Goldsmiths that allows you to be creative and realise your ambitions as an academic?

“I initially came to Goldsmiths for an MSc in Arts and Computing as a mature student, and I am now completing a PhD. When I initially joined Goldsmiths it was the only place in the UK that had an art and computation programme that was based in the computing department as opposed to being based in the fine art department. It was the first year of this programme.   

I think what initially attracted me to join Goldsmiths apart from the programme was the reputation of free thinking and creative multidisciplinary investigation.

From the beginning at Goldsmiths, people have always supported and encouraged my research and investigations. I have always been free to do what I wanted and this has enabled me to build an international reputation."

Your robots have enchanted people across the world. What is about robots that appeals to people, and has always appealed to you?

"There is something special in human-robot relations. People seem to always trust robots; because they move and react we think that they are intelligent. It is predicted that in the next 10 to 20 years we’ll have domestic robots in our homes, but I think that because we are very far from artificial consciousness, robots will have problems of social integration. They are likely to encounter the same difficulties and prejudices as socially disabled people. I believe that it is important to give robots artistic skills because it will help them to be better accepted in society. At another level the robots I create are a form of simplistic representation of myself.”

Entry requirements

Normally upper second class honours degree in a creative practice (eg art, design, music, technology, social sciences) or computer-based discipline (including studio arts) or an MA/MFA and/or equivalent technical and artistic experience in arts and computational technology.

You should normally be competent in the language and applications of working with technologies as appropriate to your practice.

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 7.0 (including 7.0 in the written test)

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
  • A portfolio of your practical work (see below for details) 

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

Submitting your portfolio

We prefer that you send up to 20 images (via the online application system) as your portfolio.

However, if you wish to post your portfolio, do so on a CD (Mac compatible) saved as JPG, or on DVD as a PAL format video show reel of no longer than 10 minutes (please do not send QuickTime movies; only DVD format).

Supporting material should be securely packaged and clearly labeled with your name and address; Goldsmiths cannot accept responsibility for any loss/damage.

Post portfolios to: MPhil & PhD in Arts & Computational Technology Portfolios, Admissions Office, Goldsmiths, New Cross, London SE14 6NW. You must write 'MPhil &PhD in Arts & Computational Technology Portfolio' and your name on the outside of the envelope so that it can be matched with your application.

Only complete applications together with portfolios can be considered. We examine portfolios, and may then invite you to attend an interview. We'll invite international (non-EU) students who are invited for an interview, but can't attend Goldsmiths, for an interview via Skype.

You'll be able to arrange for collection of your portfolio up to three months after receiving a decision or by 31 July at the latest. Due to space limitations portfolios not collected by this date will be disposed of.

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.

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