Course information

Department

Art

Length

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

Course overview

We will be making some changes to the way our programmes will be delivered in 2021-22 to ensure we continue to respond to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. All programmes will be delivered in-person on campus with some specific sessions within each programme being delivered online in a pre-recorded format. Where necessary, changes will also be made to assessment formats.

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.

Research degrees in this department have two elements:

  • the research work that you carry out individually under supervision
  • a programme of seminars and installations which bring you into dialogue with other research students and a wider community inside and outside Goldsmiths

We welcome proposals for research in any area of fine art, curating and art writing. We give priority to those with proposals for research within the areas of interest of our staff.

The Department of Art has nine specialist Art Practice Areas providing support for a wide variety of processes that complement and extend traditional disciplines, such as metalwork, casting, woodwork, ceramics, textiles, print, photography, 3D printing, graphics, video editing, animation and 3D modelling.

Full time students currently have access to studio space in either Lewisham Way or Deptford Creek buildings. All MPhil/PhD students may make use of bookable spaces subject to availability, and regularly exhibiting practice-based work is encouraged. A programme of installations functions as a means of public engagement with research projects.

Research degrees are supported by further courses and professional development provided by the Graduate School

There are three different pathways:

  • Pathway 1 - Thesis by Practice (accompanied by a critical account)
  • 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 section below.

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

Image credit: Erica Scourti, 8 Things to be Scared of Instead of Death (2021) - video stills

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Programme Leader, Dr Nina Wakeford or the Department of Art.

Structure

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 (with written critical account of research)

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.

Research students 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.

Supervision

Every research student has a supervisory team consisting of a Primary Supervisor and a Second Supervisor. As we encourage and support interdisciplinary research, many of our research students 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

A series of events and activities for all incoming MPhil/PhD research students 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 research students, who are also invited to attend a day of public presentations by current research students.

Research Presentation Seminars

The intention of the Research Presentation Seminar is to probe and develop your research project as it progresses through various stages. In this respect, the seminars can be formative and generative, open to questions, debates and problems, or they can be presentations of preliminary outputs or findings.

Academic Practice Workshops

Each of these workshops is dedicated to a key element of research and/or professional practice. Our training is responsive to the current concerns of postgraduate research in Fine Art, Curating and Art Writing.

Subjects covered in previous years are indicative of the scope of these workshops:

  • The relationship of a ‘question’ to a research project e.g. can we understand practice as a mode of responding to questions?
  • The role of ethics in research
  • The relevance of interdisciplinary or ‘inventive’ methods for research
  • How to explore validity and sufficiency in practice-based research
  • The communication of research and the Contextual Review as part of doctoral research
  • Heterogeneity in research outputs: e.g. the affordances of the exhibition, the website, the book, etc
  • Documentation and the importance of sequence, narrative, detail, speculation
  • The generation of publics in research dissemination

Installations

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 twice during your time on the programme. The installation is an opportunity to make public the practice component of the research in relation to the overarching claims and written components of your thesis, to test their boundaries, or to investigate how to productively disregard such categorisations. 

Annual Review Panels

Scheduled in Term 3, the Annual Review Panels are an opportunity to monitor progress and support research students at formative stages throughout the project.

Postgraduate Talks Series

The Art Department Postgraduate Talks Series is geared toward the MFA and MPhil/PhD cohorts. The series is informed by and informs ongoing discussions within the PhD research environment.

Contemporary Artist Talks

The Contemporary Artist Talks series runs throughout the year, showcasing prominent national and international artists.

For 2021-22 and 2020–21, we have made some changes to how the teaching and assessment of certain programmes are delivered. To check what changes affect this programme, please visit the programme changes page.

Entry requirements

We expect all applicants to have a 2:1 or 1:1 honours degree (or equivalent), usually to have a Masters degree in a relevant discipline (or equivalent research experience), and to be suitably proficient in spoken and written English.

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

Annual tuition fees

These are the fees for students starting their programme in the 2021/2022 academic year.

  • Home - full-time: £4500
  • Home - part-time: £2250
  • International - full-time: £21180

If your fees are not listed here, please check our postgraduate fees guidance or contact the Fees Office, who can also advise you about how to pay your fees.

It’s not currently possible for international students to study part-time if you require a Student Visa, however this is currently being reviewed and will be confirmed in the new year. Please read our visa guidance in the interim for more information. If you think you might be eligible to study part-time while being on another visa type, please contact our Admissions Team for more information.

If you are looking to pay your fees please see our guide to making a payment.

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

You can make an application to study for an MPhil or PhD with us at any time of the year.

Students on this programme are eligible for CHASE funding. Please also consult the AHRC Fees and Funding page. If you wish to be considered for CHASE funding, the deadline for an application to Goldsmiths is 17 December 2021 (see below for applicant workshops).

There is a process for application and we recommend the following steps.

Check staff research interests 

In the first instance, you should have a look at the staff research interests to see if Art is the right department for you and whether a member of staff matches your research interests. You should then contact appropriate staff members who you think match your area of research to enquire as to whether or not they are interested in supervising your research. The University of London requires that students have two supervisors and we prefer applicants to have identified two supervisors in advance.

We recommend that you contact and liaise with prospective supervisors. If you are unable to do this, please indicate an appropriate supervisor from the Department’s staff list. Nominating supervisors indicates that you have a good grasp of your research and helps us to direct your application to appropriate members of staff and in determining a good match between your research and the Department. Please see the description of Art staff research interests on the Department of Art’s webpage. Some staff may not be available as they have reached a maximum number of MPhil/PhD students.

Develop a Research Proposal

At this point, you should start to develop a research proposal and determine which pathway is right for your project. Please see below for information on what is required for the research proposal, as this varies by pathway.

Make a formal application

If the member(s) of staff you have contacted is interested in supervising you then the next step is to make a formal application via the Goldsmiths online application system. On your application, you should name the supervisors who have indicated their willingness to supervise you. At this point, your application goes to Goldsmiths central admissions department and is subsequently sent out to the Department of Art’s admissions group for a first-pass review before it gets sent to the nominated supervisors.

We will email you a decision as to whether or not you have been selected for interview or if you have been accepted or rejected. Unfortunately, due to the number of applications we receive, we are not able to offer feedback on unsuccessful applications.  

Writing the Research Proposal

Your MPhil/PhD proposal should describe the programme of enquiry and investigation you anticipate pursuing with us. We recognise that your research direction is likely to change and become more detailed as you progress, so the proposal should be considered a starting point. Nonetheless, it should demonstrate that you are capable of framing your own agenda for research and that you have a sense of the larger field to which you wish to make a creative and critical contribution.

The Research Proposal should be no more than 3,000 words, and must include all the following information:

  • Title of project – Be as concise and explicit as you can (we know this is provisional)
  • Keywords – Three or four 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
  • Names of intended supervisors
  • Background and research questions – You should identify the broad field of study, your intervention into this, and how your proposal will offer an original contribution. Identify any deep concern or problem driving your research and why it is important to pursue this. Typically, applicants highlight the research questions by way of three or four bullet points.
  • Role of writing and research methods – You should indicate how the written component of your chosen Pathway will enable you to address your research questions. Please state why the chosen Pathway is suitable for this project and what research methods you will use.
  • Stages of research and schedule – This should include an indicative timetable for the completion of artworks, exhibitions, written works, etc.
  • References – Include a list of works cited, in a standard format such as Harvard, listing any books and articles to which you refer in the proposal as well as other sources, such as artworks. This is indicative, not exhaustive.

In addition, if you are applying for practice-based pathways you must include

  • Approach to Practice-Led Research  – You should describe how you understand the ways in which the methods/forms of your current practice function as research, and how the planned methods/forms will function to answer your research questions (no more than 700 words). 

See here for general advice on writing a Research Proposal

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. This should be no more than 1,500 words.

The Personal Statement must include all of the following information:

  • Brief biography – A short biographical statement
  • Research background – Identify how your professional or other experience has prepared you for this research.
  • Motivations and capacity – Provide a brief statement about your motivations for embarking on an MPhil/PhD, and your capacity to undertake a long-term research project

See here for general advice on writing a Personal Statement.

Formal Applications Process

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

You should upload the following materials under ‘Other Documents’:

  • Research Proposal (3,000 words) – including Approach to Practice-Led Research, if required
  • Personal Statement (1,500 words)
  • Writing Sample (2,000-5,000 words) – A sample of academic writing, such as an essay, an extract from your MA dissertation, or a piece of published writing.
  • Practice Portfolio – If your research involves practice, you should include examples of your recent work in an appropriately documented form. We would prefer an annotated portfolio in the form of a PDF (ten-page maximum).
  • CV – A full CV, which includes the classes of your educational degrees.
  • Transcript – 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). 

Other information

Graduate schools and CHASE workshops 

Please note that the Graduate School and CHASE are planning to run applicant workshops. You should consult their websites for this information as it becomes available. It is strongly recommended you attend a CHASE workshop if you are intending to be funded through this route.

Find out more about applying.

Staff

Core team

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

Supervision

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.

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.

Careers

Skills

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.

Careers

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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