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School of Arts

  • Research degree programmes

    Postgraduate research students are a vital part of the dynamic and thriving research environment in Arts.

  • Research degrees

    The School of Arts offers research degrees in Fine Art, Film Studies, Historical and Popular Musicology, Sound Arts and Composition, and Publishing. The School has a dynamic research environment for postgraduate researchers following practice-based, archival, cultural, historical and theoretical research practices. We offer four research degree routes:

    • MPhil;
    • MPhil transferring to PhD;
    • PhD direct (only for students who have recently completed a master’s or MPhil degree in an area closely related to the proposed research topic);
    • PhD by published work (only for students who have prior association with Oxford Brookes University).

    Students are advised to consider how their studies will be funded prior to making an application (see Current Fees and Funding section in the "Proposal guidelines" document).

  • We welcome research proposals related to the research interests of our research groups and staff. Previous PhD research has included:

    • Arts practice as research
    • Contemporary and Experimental Musical Composition and Improvisational processes
    • Contemporary practices in arts and museum management
    • Film History (with an emphasis on European and British cinema)
    • Film Theory; Hollywood and independent American cinemas; and Film Criticism
    • International, Strategy, Policy and Development: Studies of contemporary publishing in local, regional and national contexts, issues of development and publishing.
    • Kinetic sculpture and installation
    • Opera (particularly the works of Puccini, Wagner, Strauss, Verdi and Smyth)
    • Operatic Culture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries (particularly in Italy and Britain), including opera's social, political and aesthetic contexts, singers, recordings and performance culture and opera criticism
    • Music in 19th-century culture; Music and national identities; Reception studies, canon formation and music historiography
    • Music, gender and religion in the early modern period
    • Popular music and popular song (particularly the music of Radiohead, Elvis Costello and The Beach Boys)
    • Public art and site specific installation
    • Social Sculpture
    • Sound Art and Sonic Art
    • The Culture and History of Publishing: Late nineteenth-, twentieth- and twenty-first-century print culture, publishing and book history

    The School of Arts is dedicated to offering an outstanding experience for research students. As a research student you will enjoy the following benefits:

    • You will be able to work with one of the school’s high quality ambitious research groups.
    • You will study alongside talented academics working in similar fields.
    • While you engage in your own research, you have opportunities to interact with a dynamic research environment that is actively engaged in broad reaching arts based projects, teaching and writing funding proposals.
    • Students benefit from links with the wider faculty.
    • Students benefit from automatic membership of the Faculty Doctoral Training Programme.  
    • 24-hour access to workshop and studio facilities.
    • Excellent facilities in film, video, photography, print and book making, woodworking, metal, casting, and range of specialist machinery.
    • Weekly School of Arts practice based seminar group.
    • A wide variety of optional training courses, student events, lectures and other opportunities delivered in-house.
    • All students are allocated a Director of Studies and at least one other supervisor who they meet with regularly.
    • A range of personal support that includes access to a wide range of staff who are available for consultation.

    The application process is broken down into 5 steps:

    1. Check essential requirements

      Before you apply, please check you meet entry requirements as well as the financial requirements of the programme.

      • Explore our research groups and supervisory staff pages

        Explore the research groups and their associated staff members to see how your chosen field of study aligns with the research portfolio within the school.

      • Agree your research

        At this stage you should contact Ray Lee and advise them that you are considering making an application. You are also welcome to contact particular academics to help you develop your ideas.

      • Formulate your proposal

        Ray Lee will put you in touch with potential supervisors who will be able to advise you on the structure and content of your research proposal. Once you have developed this you will be in a position to apply for a place on our PhD programme and will need to submit your research proposal to . For guidance on writing a PhD research proposal, download our research degree proposal guidelines.

      • Gather required documents and submit:

        • Research proposal
        • Scan of your passport
        • Scan of your final degree certificates already awarded
        • Scan of transcripts
        • Two references (at least one academic) – your references must be on institutional headed paper and be dated and signed by referee(s). They can be uploaded online to UCAS Postgraduate at either the initial application stage (if the referee permits the reference to be shared with you), or can be sent directly to the Research Administrator in the Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment in a sealed envelope, or emailed.
        • Evidence of funding – if sponsored by an employer or government, you must provide evidence in the form of a recently dated sponsorship letter on official headed paper. If supporting your studies from private funds, you must provide a recently dated bank statement.

        When you are ready, submit your UCAS Postgraduate application along with the required supporting documents through the  UCAS Postgraduate website. You should note that we cannot consider your application for admission until all the documents noted above have been received, including financial documentation.

      Fine Art & Sound Art Theory and Practice:

      • Dr. Ray Lee
      • Tiffany Black
      • Janice Howard
      • Stephen Cornford
      • Dr. Clair Chinnery
      • Paul Kilsby
      • Dr. Alexandra Trott
      • Prof. Paul Whitty

      Social Sculpture Theory and Practice:

      • Prof. Shelley Sacks

      Historical and Popular Musicology

      • Dr.Jan Butler
      • Dr. Dai Griffiths
      • Dr. Alexandra Wilson
      • Dr. Barbara Eichner

      Musical Composition and Sonic Art:

      • Dr. Paul Dibley
      • Prof. Paul Whitty

      Film and Digital Media Production:

      • Dr. Warren Buckland
      • Dr. Alison Khan
      • Dr. Lindsay Steenberg
      • Dr. James Cateridge
      • Dr. Paulo Russo
      • Dr. Alberto Mira


      • Dr. Caroline Davis
      • Dr. Jane Potter
      • Dr. Sally Hughes
      • Dr. Angus Phillips
    2. There are currently over 40 students registered on the research degree programme in the School. Many students contribute to the activities of our research groups and increase their skills and expertise, as well as their future career and employment prospects. Students are also members of the Faculty’s Doctoral Training Programme which provides research training and support.