Research degrees in Fine Art - MPhil and PhD

Research Degrees Overview

At Newcastle you will be taught by some of the best researchers working nationally and internationally. In the most recent national UK ‘Research Excellence Framework’, the REF, 83% of our research was rated ‘internationally excellent’ or better, placing us in the top five of all UK art schools for Fine Art. Fine art building

Fine Art at Newcastle is especially well equipped to foster and support both theoretical and studio-based practice and research. The department is committed to supporting an artist’s individual practice, as well as actively seeking ways for artists and scholars to collaborate, both with other artists and art professionals, and more widely across what is a culturally and technologically rich university. Our aim is to enable artists to pursue knowledge and understanding through original, studio-based research in a supportive and stimulating research environment. Full-time Research students are allocated excellent studio space in the School and have access to a wide range of well-resourced facilities, both in the School and beyond.

  • The MPhil is a research degree requiring a year of study full-time or two years part-time. The project/proposal for the MPhil can be practice-led or theoretical, and the submission can be a text ( a thesis of not more than 50,000 words) or a combination (50/50) of studio practice and text.
  • PhD students may propose a research project that is practice-led or a research project that is solely text based. A practice-led PhD would require three years of full-time study (or six years part-time) and the final submission would be a combination of an exhibition of creative work made over the period of study/research and a thesis. The thesis would typically be 30,000 words, which constitutes approximately 30% of the degree. A text based PhD would require three years of study (or six years part-time) and the final submission would typically be a thesis of 80 - 100,000 words. PhD students will normally have completed a masters level course prior to their PhD.

MFA 2013Applications are welcomed in any subject area of Fine Art and in which we are able to offer supervision by appropriate staff. Your project may be practice-led, historical or theoretical, and will be supported by expert supervision in the context of our strong practice-based, art-historical and cross-disciplinary research activities. We are particularly interested in attracting research proposals from students who will benefit from the specific research expertise of individual members of staff within Fine Art and our research themes. In addition, we also welcome proposals that would benefit from the extraordinary range of resources and opportunities for interdisciplinary research that are available across the School of Arts and Cultures and the University as a whole. Research students can also benefit from the expertise of Culture Lab, a multi-application multi-user digital media facility that supports interdisciplinary research in the interface of art and science.

Karl deVroomenThe School of Arts and Cultures of which Fine Art is a part, has a vibrant intellectual culture which provides the basis for cutting-edge practice, research and scholarship in and across the fields of Music, Fine Art, History of Art, Digital Media and Cultural and Heritage Studies. The School is home to a great variety of practice and research types: the School provides exciting possibilities for the cross-fertilisation of ideas and for interdisciplinary research:

  • practice as research, eg in fine art, in music composition and performance.
  • historical, critical and theoretical studies, eg in fine art, musicology, art history and museology
  • sociological and psychological research in cultural and heritage studies
  • research into architecture, design and technology in museum and gallery studies
  • research either focusing on, and/or utilising, new media and other technologies in creative practices

Current and recent PhD student research projects can be seen here, and have included: Anthony Schrag, Cath Keay, Ruth Barker, Annie O'Donnell, Jason Dee, Christian Mieves, Tom Schofield, Janet Lambert, John Maclean, James Quin, Kate Stobbart, Alexia Mellor, Gareth Hudson, Isabella Streffen, Lilian Nabulime.

Supervision, research training and seminars

Appropriate supervisors are allocated from within Fine Art, and if required, from elsewhere in the university, following detailed discussion with the student about the proposed research project. All staff are research-active professionals, artists, researchers and academics, and thus provide up-to-date practice-led teaching, supervision and professional experience and knowledge. We encourage you to exhibit your work in appropriate venues and attend and make presentations at our regular postgraduate seminars, which aim to encourage intellectual and practical exchange between academic staff, our visiting artists and students.

The Fine Art Research Student Seminar Programme includes subject-specific lectures and an evolving programme of seminars and round-table discussions that inform and contextualise research and provide subject-specific research training. These also offer the opportunity for doctoral researchers to exchange ideas and engage in conversation across disciplines with staff, fellow students and visiting artists, scholars, curators and critics.

Specific seminars topics include writing in relation to studio-based research and practice, and preparing papers for specialist journals and conference presentation. The nature, purpose and possible forms of a Fine Art PhD are also a topic of debate. These seminars also provide a forum for peer-review on research issues and progress, and students are required to periodically present their research to staff and their peers. All staff contribute to these seminars and appropriate external specialists and researchers are also invited to present and to discuss projects. Where appropriate, MFA students take part in these seminars.

Fine Art studioThroughout their studies, extensive support and training in research methods is provided by the Faculty Postgraduate Research Training Programme. This is available to full-time and part-time research students in the social sciences and humanities at Newcastle University throughout their time studying for their research degree. It provides training in professional/key skills, research techniques and supports personal development. The extensive research training programme provides a unique discipline-specific and generic training that ensures that all research postgraduates acquire the research skills and competencies necessary to complete their research theses. It has been recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council as a sound foundation for doctoral studies. The training goes further than helping with individual students to complete their specialist study, as the aim at Newcastle University is to equip all research students with a broad range of research skills and a thorough working knowledge of research project management.

Exhibition 2013

How to Apply

It is essential to bear in mind the staff's research interests (including any cross-disciplinary plans) and the facilities within the department, and within the university, when deciding to apply for research degrees with us.

Prior to submitting the formal application form that is required by the University, we would strongly advise you if possible to contact us in order to discuss your project. We would ask you to submit to the Director of Postgraduate Studies visual documentation of your work, if appropriate, and a research proposal of 1,000–1,500 words. We can then discuss the feasibility of your proposal and indicate whether we might be able to support your project with the appropriate resources and supervisors. We would also be able to indicate whether there is any specific information, documentation or change to the proposal that we would require before your formal application was submitted. Full details of how to apply can be found here.

Entrance qualifications

For entry to the MPhil, at least an upper-second-class Honours degree or higher or an international equivalent is required. For entry to the PhD, the requirement is an upper-second-class Honours degree or higher or an international equivalent, plus a Master’s level degree or international equivalent. Both require the submission of a Research Proposal as part of the application. Applicants with other qualifications and experience will be considered on an individual basis.

English Language

Applicants for whom English is not a first language must provide evidence of a satisfactory command of English, preferably with an IELTS score of 6.5 or greater, TOEFL 575 (paper-based) or 233 (computer-based), or equivalent.


Information about AHRC funding is available.

International Students

Newcastle University offers a large number of partial scholarships to prospective international postgraduate research students. International students may be eligible to apply for funding from their own governments or educational bodies, especially for PhD level research. You are advised to investigate these possibilities with your governmental or educational bodies as early as possible as many sources of funding have application deadlines in advance of those followed in the UK.

Jason Dee - Fine Art PhD

Other Opportunities

There are other funding opportunities available to both UK and non-UK citizens. In the first instance, try using the university's funding pages to help you. You could also check out the DirectGov pages on finance (for students from England).

Tuition Fees

Comprehensive information about fees and funding is available in the University's Funding & Finance pages.


Enquiries specific to Postgraduate study and research may be made to the Head of Postgraduate Studies, Dr Ed Juler

Damon Rostron MFA