We welcome enquiries from anyone who would like to carry out research in any aspect of design or in technology in education.
Current studies include:
- eco-design and forecasting trends
- the design of multi-sensory retail environments
- curriculum development in design
- the role of awkward space in cities
- pupil assessment in design and technology education
- reflexive drawing and the connection between representation and creativity
- social theory in a world of designed objects
- harnessing memes to disseminate design ideas
Find out more about research degrees at Goldsmiths.
Practice-based MPhil and PhD
Both the MPhil and the PhD can be linked to design practice.
A practice-based MPhil explores new approaches to, or applications of, existing knowledge by means of practice.
A practice-based PhD creates new knowledge by means of practice.
In either case, your final presentation will include both an original, creative practice component and a thesis that will contextualise this practice.
Since the practice component of your research constitutes a significant part of the final examination, the thesis requirement is reduced.
Assessment is by thesis and viva voce.
Design Star Centre for Doctoral Training
Goldsmiths is a member of the Design Star Centre for Doctoral Training, which brings the Department of Design together with other leading design departments at the University of Brighton; Loughborough University; The Open University; and the University of Reading.
It aims to develop future intellectual leadership in design: research leaders of the future who are equipped to make a difference to contemporary social concerns, knowledge production and creative practices. This requires an approach to research training that places diversity and interdisciplinarity at its core.
Design Star brings together world-class research in:
- design for industry
- interaction design
- design process
- communication design
- sustainable design
- design history
- creative practice.
Its spread of design disciplines is linked by a common approach to design that encourages the integration of history, theory and engagement.
Contact the department
If you have specific questions about the degree, contact the Department of Design
You should normally have (or expect to be awarded) a a good 2:1 or 1st class honours degree, and 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.
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 of 7.0 with a 7.0 in writing 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
Find out more about tuition fees.
Students on this course are eligible to apply for one of 12 PhD studentships offered each year by the Design Star Consortium doctoral training centre. These studentships cover:
- Tuition fees for each year of supervised study
- A tax-free maintenance grant
- Access to a research training support grant
- Financial support to attend specified events and placements, visits or training
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
- A personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online
- 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)
- A visual portfolio if relevant (see below for details)
- 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.
For the purpose of the initial application it is recommended that you prepare a portfolio of material documenting your previous work. We typically ask for a ten-page annotated portfolio in the form of a PDF file which you can upload when you apply.
The proposal should be between 1,500 and 3,000 words in length (not including references). The key consideration in drafting the proposal should be clarity.
Your research proposal should be organised using the following headings:
- Title: be concise and explicit;
- Introduction: introduce the questions and issues central to your research / identify the field of study in broad terms / indicate how you expect your research to contribute to the field;
- Research background and questions: expand on your introduction – look at key sources, texts and approaches in the field / consider how your proposal differs from and contributes to existing work / consider how it extends our understanding of particular questions or topics / also briefly indicate how your previous studies, professional and/or other experience contributes to your understanding of the field and your preparedness for undertaking research training;
- Research design: outline the methodology you will employ / consider resources and facilities needed / forms of analysis;
- Schedule of work: how you plan to complete the project within the period of the award – this could include a timetable for researching and writing;
- References: a list of works cited in your proposal, such as: books, journal articles, web sites and prior art and design.
The level of detail required under each heading will depend on the specific project. The key requirement is that the proposal communicates a clear programme of enquiry and investigation. 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.
An initial suggestion of who you think might be an appropriate supervisor for your research is useful both for directing your application to appropriate members of staff and in determining a good match between your research and the Department. Please see the description of Design staff research interests for details.
When to apply
You can make an application to study for an MPhil or PhD with us at any time of the year, for the academic starting the following October.
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 applying for a Design Star studentship, please note applications typically close in February.
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.
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.
Learning & teaching
Postgraduate Seminar Series
Design Matters is the Department of Design's postgraduate research seminar series that both compliments the Goldsmiths-wide research training programme and delivers design-specific support to postgraduate design students.
The seminars take place on a regular basis over the academic year and are designed to support the requirements of students studying for written and practice-based doctorates. As such, the seminar series includes a rich and relevant mix of sessions including the practical demands that student’s face, such as the craft of writing, presentation skills and examination expectations and procedures, as well as scholarly issues, such as the strategies for undertaking a literature review, the methodological assumptions and the theoretical challenges of design research.
The seminar series also includes invited speakers, ranging from recently minted doctors to eminent design scholars who are asked to reflect on their academic biographies and provide guidance and insights on careers with a doctorate in design.
Design Matters seminars have, in the past, been complimented by The Design and Social Seminar Series, namely the Data Practices seminars. Here, students were given the opportunity to engage with scholars and practitioners involved in various data related interests, from citizen science projects to new forms of coding.
PhD by Design
PhD by Design is a series of events that explore the messiness of practice-based research.
The first PhD By Design conference was organised by current and former PhD students in the Department of Design at Goldsmiths, University of London in November 2014. This was followed up with a one-day satellite sessions at Leeds College of Art in May 2015, which focused more specifically on issues raised at the first event.
The aim of these events is to vocalise, discuss and work through many of the topical issues of conducting a practice-based PhD in Design. They enable early career design researchers to explore a variety of aspects of knowledge production within an academic institution.
A secondary aim of the events is to share questions that emerge through doing practice-based research. Some of the questions they aim to tackle are:
- What counts as practice-based research?
- What are the politics of designing and conducting practice-based research?
- Where are the boundaries of theory & practice?
- How can we make practice-based research accountable?