Skip to content


The Department of Art and Design provides a supportive environment for students who wish to undertake postgraduate research leading to the award of MPhil or PhD. Research Degrees can be pursued either through conventional text based studies or through a combination of studio-based activity where individual creative practice forms a significant part of the intellectual enquiry supported by a critical commentary. The creative work can take any form but it must be clearly presented in relation to the argument of the thesis and demonstrate an understanding of the appropriate theoretical/historical/critical/ contemporary context of the research.

Research Areas

Research in the Department emanates from its programmes in Fine Art, Photography, and Design and encompasses a broad range of media interests, practical approaches and historical and theoretical perspectives. A key aspect of both teaching and research at Chester is the notion of interdisciplinarity and dialogue between disciplines and practices is something that is of interest to many of the researchers working within the Department. Areas of research interest that extend across disciplinary boundaries include:

  • The legacies of modernism and their reinterpretation through contemporary practice
  • The role of materiality and embodiment in thinking, making and knowing
  • Themes of time, place, and cultural memory
  • Participatory practice
  • Areas of communication, cultural awareness and identity within digital environments

The ‘expanded field’ of textile practice and the critical discourses which surround the positioning of traditional textile materials and processes within the broader realm of contemporary visual culture, is an area of research activity that is also particularly distinctive to the Department. Another significant area in this regard is drawing, particularly in the context of the Centre for Narrative Drawing.

The Department 

The Department would be keen to hear from students who would wish to pursue their research across a broad spectrum of fine art, photography and design as well as welcoming proposals in these interdisciplinary areas. The Department has seen considerable expansion over recent years with the introduction of new programmes, an increasing proportion of staff with practice based PhD’s, and a corresponding widening portfolio of research interests; all of which makes for an exciting and rapidly developing research environment. The particular strength of the Department lies in the supportive environment that it provides for students at every level of study and in the facilitating of dialogues between researchers across a range of subject specialisms.

Research within the Department of Art and Design is organised at Faculty level through its research centre. The Chester Centre for Research in Arts and Media (CCRAM) was jointly established in 2004 with the Department of Performing Arts where it is recognised that there is a shared interest and existing expertise in the way that practice advances knowledge. The Centre promotes and supports both traditional and practice-based research by providing an intellectual, creative and organisational resource for researchers across the Faculty of Arts and Media, and a venue for the exchange of ideas and dialogue with individuals and institutions at a local, regional, national and international level.

Entry Months

These Research Degrees usually commence annually in October, February and May.


If you are considering studying for an MPhil or PhD and would like to discuss the process and the availability of appropriate supervision, please contact Dr. Tom McGuirk or Dr. Maxine Bristow, Reader in Fine Art.