Course information




3-4 years full-time or 6-8 years part-time

Course overview

We support innovative art research in Fine Art, Curating, Art Writing and across disciplines.

The MPhil/PhD Art is a 3-4 year (full-time) or 6-8 year (part-time) research project, the pursuit of which may involve your already-established practice, or may require the development of new modes of practice specific to the project.

There are three different pathways that you can choose to study:

  • Pathway 1: Thesis by Practice
  • Pathway 2: Thesis by Practice and Written Dissertation
  • Pathway 3: Thesis by Written Dissertation

To find out more about each of these pathways, please see the ‘Structure’ tab below.

We consider all elements of the MPhil/PhD to be sites of rigorous experimentation and encourage researchers to pursue their projects through processes of making, thinking, collaborating, investigating, experimenting, analysing and speculating. Bearing this in mind, we understand that the shape and trajectory of your research may change as you make connections and develop your practice throughout the course of your research. We will work with you to develop the most appropriate – and generative – means of pursuing, documenting and disseminating your findings, as best befits your project.

Throughout the course of your research, you will relate your research to the work of other artists and cultural workers in the field. As befits your project, you'll also make connections beyond the field with the work of writers, philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists and others. In this respect, the model of the PhD encourages you to follow your curiosity for – and make connections with and between – the thought, work and action of others.

Another distinguishing aspect of art research is the need to document process, and you will be encouraged to think expansively about how you do so. How might documentation become a space for reflecting on decisions made, however intuitively you arrive at these in the first instance? How might documentation communicate the mode of enquiry as much as the findings? How might documentation draw attention to detail and process and the complexity inherent in thinking, making, questioning and communicating art?

You'll be part of an active and collaborative research community that is there to provide support as well as to challenge you throughout.

You can get an idea of the kinds of research projects we support, or have supported, here:

Image credit: At The Edge of The Frame, 2017, Rowena Harris. Image courtesy Rowena Harris, The Gallery Apart. Photography Giorgio Benni


The Mountain of Art Research (MARs) is based in the Department of Art, and linked to this programme.

A bit like a research centre, except it's a mountain, MARs supports and promotes the development of innovative art research across a range of art practices including - but not limited to - studio, performance, film and video, curatorial, critical, art-writing, situated, participatory and interdisciplinary practice.

Through MARs we bring together researchers within Art, across disciplines, between institutions and beyond higher education for intentional, concentrated discussion and sharing of research.

Committed to rigorous formal experimentation, maverick conceptual exploration and socially-engaged articulation, MARs emphasises the material ‘stuff’ of art research as much as its speculative possibilities; its capacity as a space for reflection as well as its political imperative.

As both platform and ethos, the aim of MARs is to challenge received ideas and habits; to promote new ways of thinking and being both in and out of this world.


You will apply with a well-developed idea for an individual research project that you have begun to plan artistically.

Deadlines for entry in 2019/20:

Round 1 (where applications are to be considered for CHASE funding)

  • Application deadline: Wednesday, 7 November 2018 at 5.00pm
  • Interviews: Held in the week of 3 December 2018.

Round 2 (where applications are to be considered for Departmental Bursaries)

  • Application deadline: Wednesday, 13 March 2019 at 5.00pm
  • Interviews: Held in the week of 29 April 2019.

See the section ‘How to Apply’ below for full details about our applications process, including key dates and deadlines.

Please also see our page on Funding for Postgraduate Research in the Department of Art for information about scholarships, bursaries and other financial support for postgraduate research.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Art Research Admissions


The Department of Art at Goldsmiths is committed to supporting and developing art research of the highest quality in the areas of Fine Art, Curating, Art Writing and across disciplines.

Programme pathways

Within the overarching programme of MPhil/PhD in Art there are three different pathways for undertaking doctoral research, including:

Pathway 1: Thesis by Practice

The thesis comprises a substantial body of studio practice, curatorial practice and/or art writing practice, presented as an integrated whole. This is accompanied by a considered form of documentation, as appropriate to the project, and a written component of approximately 20,000-40,000 words for PhD (10,000-20,000 words for MPhil) offering a critical account of the research.

For more information on Pathway 1, please refer to the programme specification.

Pathway 2: Thesis by Practice and Written Dissertation

The thesis comprises a body of studio practice, curatorial practice and/or art writing practice AND a written dissertation of 40,000-80,000 words for PhD (20,000-40,000 for MPhil), presented together as an integrated whole. The thesis will be accompanied by a considered form of documentation, as appropriate to the project.

For more information on Pathway 2, please refer to the programme specification.

Pathway 3: Thesis by Written Dissertation

The thesis comprises a written dissertation of 80,000-100,000 words for PhD (40,000-50,000 words for MPhil), presented as an integrated whole.

For more information on Pathway 3, please refer to the programme specification.

Researchers will start on one of these three pathways when they apply and may change to a different option only up until the time of Upgrade.


Every Researcher has a supervisory team consisting of a Primary Supervisor and a Second Supervisor. As we encourage and support interdisciplinary research, many of our Researchers have Second Supervisors in another Department. The exact structure of your supervision will be determined by the nature of your project and through discussion with your supervisory team; however, it is expected that you will maintain regular contact with your supervisors throughout the research project.

Programme Activities (Induction Week)

Induction Week

A series of events and activities for all incoming MPhil/PhD Researchers in the College is organised by the Graduate School as part of Induction Week. The Department of Art hosts a specific induction session for all incoming art researchers, who are also invited to attend a day of public presentations by current researchers.

Public Presentations

The Public Presentations provide an opportunity for researchers due to upgrade or submit their final examination the following year to make a presentation of their work. It is also an opportunity for incoming PhD Researchers to experience the work of those already pursuing the PhD.

Programme Activities (Intensives)

All skills training, research activities, monitoring exercises and public-facing events fall into three intensive clusters, one in each term, including:

  • Term 1 - Flashpoint 1
  • Term 2 - Flashpoint 2
  • Term 3 - Annual Review Panels / Public Event

The three intensives compulsory for all MPhil/PhD Researchers.

All Researchers enrolled in the Programme are expected to attend in person and participate in person in these three intensives, which the exception of those in their Writing Up Year, who are only expected to attend the Annual Review Panels.

Your attendance and participation in the intensives includes acting as the main organiser for many of the events. We consider this organisation of events including the Art Research Seminars, Small-Scale Events and Large-Scale Public Event to be a key component of your research training and development.


Scheduled in Term 1 and Term 2, respectively, the Flashpoints are moments where Researchers comes together to gain necessary skills, share and disseminate research, open public debate and foster community through:

  • Skills Workshops run by invited guests
  • Art Research Seminars collaboratively organised and run by small groups of MPhil/PhD Researchers
  • Smaller-scale Public Events organised by MPhil/PhD Researchers in consultation with members of staff
  • Flashback/Flashforward where we look back at, and forward to, the events in each Flashpoint

Annual Review Panels/Public Event

Scheduled in Term 3, the Annual Review Panels are an opportunity to monitor progress and support researchers at formative stages throughout the project. One large-scale, student-organised event is the major outward-facing event of the Programme for the year.

Programme Activities (Scheduled throughout Year)


If you are a research student on one of the practice options, you are required to install your practice by means of a public facing exhibition at least two times during your time on the programme. The INSTALLATION allows you to test out how to best stage and articulate your practice and its research trajectory; how to negotiate exhibition and presentation formats most suitable to your research/practice; and how to best open these up for debate. As you calibrate your overall thesis and assemble its component parts, the installation is an important opportunity to negotiate the practice component of the research in relation to the overarching claims and written components of your thesis, to test their boundaries, or indeed to investigate how to productively disregard such categorisations. 

The INSTALLATIONS are also a committed chance to solicit debate, feedback, discussion, and explore collaborative expansions to the scope of your individual research practice. We have allocated programme resources for these installations so that you can invite external guests and/ or collaborators into the production and/ or discussion of these. Installations normally occur at key stages of your research, which may be leading up to the transfer of registration from MPhil to PhD or the final exam, but may also include other moments where the research would benefit from public exposure, expansion and discussion.

MARs Sessions

MARs (Mountain of Art Research) Sessions are small-scale, curated events that span a single afternoon and engage around 10-12 people in conversation, all of whom share a research interest in common. The sessions are initiated, organised and run by members of academic staff in the Department of Art, keying into specific research interests.

The aim of the MARs sessions is to bring together researchers within Art, across disciplines, between institutions and beyond higher education for intentional, concentrated discussion and sharing of research. The objective is to highlight the research interests of staff members in the Department of Art, deepen and develop this research, and extend related research networks. Linked to and supported by the Research Programme in the Department of Art, a benefit of the MARs sessions will be to make connections between PhD research and academic staff research.

Depending on the curatorial agenda, each MARs session may have up to three ‘prep’ sessions involving readings, screenings, gallery visits, etc. Keying into the research theme/topic of the main MARs session, these ‘prep’ sessions are organised by PhD Researchers in Art in consultation with the main MARs organizer. Intended for PhD Researchers in Art and other disciplines, the ‘prep’ sessions run on consecutive weeks leading up to the main MARs session. Other PhD Programme initiatives may also link to these sessions, drawing from and supporting the research and connections being made.

Philosophy Seminars

Seminar running through the Autumn and Spring terms involving readings of texts from philosophy and literature relevant to current questions in art. 

MFA Crit Groups

PhD Researchers in Year 1 are welcome to attend MFA Year 2 Group Crits. There are four MFA Crit Groups in total and these meet on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The MFA sessions start the week beginning 2 October for five-minute 'slide' introductions; the MFA seminars then begin properly the week after Reading Week - the week beginning 13 November - and run every week except Reading Week and holidays through to the end of May.

There is space for up to two PhD Researchers in each MFA Crit Group. Should you take up this opportunity to attend the MFA Group Crits, you would be expected to fully participate in your Crit Group and would do one critical studies presentation based on your practice and one studio practice presentation.

Postgraduate Shared Lecture Series

The Postgraduate Shared Lecture Series is geared toward the Postgraduate Taught and Postgraduate Research cohort. The series is informed by and informs ongoing discussions within the PGT and PGR environment.

Contemporary Artist Talks

The Contemporary Artist Talks series runs throughout the year, showcasing prominent national and international artists who speak in detail about their work and practice.

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.

International qualifications

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

If English isn’t your first language, you will need an IELTS score (or equivalent English language qualification) of 6.5 with a 6.5 in writing and no element lower than 6.0 to study this programme. If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

Fees, funding & scholarships

To find out more about your fees, please check our postgraduate fees guidance or contact the Fees Office, who can also advise you about how to pay your fees.

Additional costs

In addition to your tuition fees, you'll be responsible for any additional costs associated with your course, such as buying stationery and paying for photocopying. You can find out more about what you need to budget for on our study costs page.

There may also be specific additional costs associated with your programme. This can include things like paying for field trips or specialist materials for your assignments.

Funding opportunities

Find out more about postgraduate fees and explore funding opportunities. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

Please also see our page on Funding for Postgraduate Research in the Department of Art for information about scholarships, bursaries and other financial support for postgraduate research.

How to apply

Before you apply

Good applications take time, and there is a lot of work to be done before you submit a formal application. You should bear this in mind if you are thinking of applying, ensuring that you allow yourself enough time to craft a solid and considered application.

Here is what to do before you apply:

Consider the Research Environment

When thinking about doing a PhD, it is important to consider carefully the research environment where you place yourself. The Art Department supports a broad range of research-intensive Fine Art, Curating and Art-Writing practices. The Department itself is part of an important and vibrant research university.

We encourage you to explore the web pages for the Department of Art and for Goldsmiths College. If you are able, we invite you to visit the campus in order to see what we have to offer. It is important to determine early on whether you think Goldsmiths will be the best research environment for your project and to consider what it is that you, in turn, can contribute to this environment.

As you explore the Department, specifically, and Goldsmiths, more broadly, we encourage you to consider whether your research project would benefit from support across disciplines. Many of our Researchers have their Primary Supervisor in the Department of Art and a Secondary Supervisor in another Department.

Look for Potential Supervisors

Before you apply, you should look at our Departmental Staff Page to see if your project can be supported by our range of Supervisors. If your project warrants it, you should also look at Departments across Goldsmiths for any potential second supervisors. Should you eventually decide to go through with the formal application process, you will be asked to indicate any potential supervisors on your application.

Please note that Supervisors have a limited capacity to take on new research projects, so it may not always be possible to work with your first choice of Supervisor.

Two Points about Procedure

  • Unlike other institutions, decisions about applications in the Department of Art do not rest with potential Supervisors alone; rather, decisions involve a number of different staff members, including potential Supervisors, at various stages of the selection process (see ‘Selection Process’ below). For this reason we ask that you DO NOT get in direct contact with potential Supervisors to discuss your application or research proposal. Instead, if you are interested in applying, please apply directly to the Department using the on-line system, which includes indicating the names of any potential supervisors on your application.
  • Neither the Research Admissions Tutor nor the Programme Director will advise on potential supervisors or specifically discuss your research proposal with you prior to submitting an application. This is because, for the purposes of the applications process, it is important for us to see how you develop a research proposal independently in the first instance, prior to working with someone. If your application is shortlisted and you are invited for an interview, it will then be possible to discuss possible supervisors for your project. And if you are then accepted onto the programme, and particularly if you are shortlisted for external funding (e.g. through the CHASE award system), you and your potential Supervisor can begin working together to hone and refine your research proposal.

Write a Research Proposal

You will need to complete a research proposal at the earliest possible stage, and before you begin the official applications process. Your Research Proposal will offer an indication of your research project, method, context and anticipated outcomes.

The Research Proposal should be no more than 2,500 words.

The Research Proposal must include all of the following information:

  • Title of project You should indicate the full title of your research project.
  • Abstract (200 words) – This should be a concise description of the project.
  • Key words (5-6) – You should put five or six key words relating to your project.
  • Thesis option – Indicate whether you will be applying for ‘'Thesis by Dissertation', 'Thesis by Practice and Dissertation' or 'Thesis by Practice' (see 'Structure' section for distinction)
  • Potential supervisors – List here any potential supervisors for your project. (N.B. You should not contact potential supervisors prior to submitting your application.)
  • Research questions – You should clearly set out your research questions. Identify any deep concern or problem driving your research and why it is important to pursue this.
  • Research context – You should identify the broad field of study, your intervention into this and how your proposal will contribute originally to Art and to the wider research context.
  • Research background – You should also identify how your previous studies and professional or other experience has prepared you for this research.
  • Research methods – Here you should consider how you will pursue your research. In doing so, you should consider the role of your practice as research and outline the relationship between your practice and the written component, if applicable.
  • Schedule to completion – This should include plans for the completion of artworks, exhibitions, written works, etc. This should also include a breakdown of chapters for the written component, if appropriate.
  • Bibliography – Include a list of relevant sources.

See here for general advice on writing a Research Proposal.

Please note that, as we receive a high number of applications, neither the Research Admissions Tutor nor the Programme Director will advise on potential supervisors and will not specifically discuss with you your research proposal prior to your submitting an application. If your application is shortlisted and you are invited for an interview, it will then be possible to discuss possible supervisors for your project.

Write a Personal Statement

In addition to your Research Proposal, you will be asked to submit a Personal Statement at the time of your application. The Personal Statement allows us to gauge your ability and commitment to undertaking a long-term research project.

The Personal Statement should be no more than 1,500.

The Personal Statement must include all of the following information:

  • Brief Bio – Include a short biographical statement (100-150 words).
  • Background – Describe your background and interests leading up to the PhD.
  • Practice – Provide a description of your practice and how you understand this to relate to research.
  • Investment – Provide a brief account of your personal investment in this project. Why do you believe that his work needs to be done?
  • Capacity – Provide a brief statement about your capacity to undertake a long-term research project and your willingness/ability to contribute fully to the research environment of the Department and beyond.

See here for general advice on writing a Personal Statement.

Ask Questions

If you have any general questions about the applications process, please write to the Research Admissions Tutor.

Formal Applications Process

You will apply directly to Goldsmiths using the online application system.

Follow the instructions for the online application, adding information as appropriate into the following sections:

1. Personal Details
2. Residential Details
3. Equality/Diversity
4. Qualifications
5. References – here you should provide the contact details of at least two referees
6. Personal Statement – here you should upload your pre-prepared personal statement
7. Additional Details
8. Research Proposal and Supporting Material – here you should upload the following materials under ‘Other Documents’:

  • A. Research Proposal (2,500 words) – You should upload your Research Proposal written as per above.
  • B. Personal Statement (1,500 words) – You should upload your Personal Statement written as per above.
  • C. Writing Sample (5,000-10,000 words) – You should attach a sample of academic writing, such as an essay, an extract from your MA dissertation, or a substantial piece of published writing.
  • D. Practice Portfolio – If your research involves practice, you should include examples of your recent work in an appropriately documented form, which may be done by providing a link to a website.
  • E. CV – You should include a full CV, which includes the classes of your educational degrees.
  • F. Transcript – If available, you should provide an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory). 

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

Application Deadlines

We have two rounds of applications for the MPhil and PhD Programme in Art 2019-20. During the first round, we consider applicants for CHASE funding. During the second we consider applicants for Departmental Bursaries.

For further information about these two funding opportunities, please consult our page about postgraduate funding for art students.

Key dates and deadlines are as follows:

Round 1

Where applications are to be considered for CHASE funding.

Application deadline: Wednesday, 7 November 2018 at 5.00pm
Interviews will be held in the week of 3 December 2018.

Round 2

Where applications are to be considered for Departmental Bursaries.

Application deadline: Wednesday, 13 March 2019 at 5.00pm
Interviews will be held in the week of 29 April 2019.

Please note that applicants who were interviewed and accepted onto the MPhil/PhD Programme in Round 1, but not put forward for CHASE funding, will automatically be considered for a Departmental Doctoral Research Bursary in Round 2.

Please see the Department of Art's funding page for all information pertaining to scholarships, bursaries and other financial support for postgraduate research. Please also see the 'Fees, Funding and Scholarships' section on this page for opportunities available through Goldsmiths.

Selection Process

Successful applications are selected on the basis of application and interview. There are three stages to this selection process:

Stage 1: Applications - Long List

All applications received by the respective application deadlines are placed on a ‘long list’ for consideration. Here they are evaluated by a Research Applications Panel consisting of the Programme Leader, Research Admissions Tutor, and members of the PhD Staff Team and Postgraduate Research Committee, as available.

At this stage, the overall quality of each application is considered, based on the following criteria:

  • Does the research proposal demonstrate a clear and definable research project that can be realised within 3-4 years (full-time) or 6-8 years (part-time)? 
  • Does the project demonstrate the ambition to identify and address a question, deep concern and/or problematic?
  • Is there a good supervisory match for the research project (i.e. can we support the project with expert supervision within the Department/across Departments)?
  • Will the proposed research make an original contribution to knowledge and/or will it challenge existing knowledge formations? Does the project demonstrate the ambition to identify and address a deep concern or problematic?
  • Are the examples of practice and the written sample of high quality?
  • Is there a good supervisory match for the research project (i.e. can we support the project with expert supervision within the Department/across Departments)?
  • Is the proposal in keeping with the research ethos of the Programme, which supports a broad and diverse range of interdisciplinary thinking and practice and encourages researchers to consider all elements of their PhD project as sites of rigorous exploration and experimentation?
  • Is it evident that the applicant is capable of undertaking a long-term research project and willing/able to contribute fully to the research culture of the Department and beyond?

Applications that meet these criteria are placed on the ‘shortlist’.

Stage 2: Applications - Shortlist

All shortlisted applications are circulated to members of staff in the Department of Art who supervise PhDs for feedback in order to find an appropriate supervisory match. If an appropriate supervisory match can be found, the applicant is invited for an interview.

Stage 3: Interview

Interviews are held in person or by Skype, if necessary. Each interview is 40 minutes in total, including a short presentation by the applicant (10 minutes) followed by questions from the Research Interview Panel and discussion (30 minutes).

The presentation should include an overview of your research proposal, emphasizing how you understand this as a ‘research project’ that addresses a question, deep concern and/or problematic. Some discussion of how you understand the role of practice in forwarding your research as well as how this relates to the written component, if applicable, is also welcome. You may also speak to how you research will communicate and contribute more widely to a research context.

Although it may vary, the Research Interview Panel will generally consist of:

  • Director of Research Programmes
  • Research Admissions Tutor
  • Member(s) of Research Team
  • Head of Department OR Head of Research OR Member of Research Committee
  • Potential supervisor AND/OR area specialist

If your interview is successful, you will be accepted onto the programme.

In certain cases, unsuccessful applicants will be invited to re-apply after having gained more experience, or with a more developed proposal.

Find out more about applying.


Core team

We have a dedicated team of staff who work on the PhD Programme, including:


All members of Staff in the Department of Art are available to supervise PhDs. Please see our Departmental Staff Page for more information about individual staff and their research interests. You may also seek second supervision in other Departments at Goldsmiths.

Please note that you will be asked to indicate your preference for potential supervisors on your formal application; however, it is not expected that you will make contact with potential Supervisors in the early stages of your application process.

Other Involvement

Members of Staff in the Art Department as well as from other Departments at Goldsmiths are involved in many of the programme activities. External guests are also invited to participate, including running the Skills Workshops.

Throughout the course of your research, it may be possible to have ‘ad-hoc tutorials’ with members of Goldsmiths staff and external artists and academic in order to key into particular expertise and support your research.



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 researchers 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.

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