PhD Creative Arts

About the course

A University of Hertfordshire PhD degree is an internationally recognised research degree signifying very high levels of achievement in research, and an original contribution to knowledge in the student’s chosen field.

In the School of Creative Arts, a PhD may be undertaken in 3 years (full-time) or 6 years (part-time) in any creative arts discipline that the School engages with, and for which we have appropriately qualified supervisory staff.  We have a wide range of expertise in historical and theoretical research, as well as in practice-led/practice-based research, relating to the fine and applied arts, film, media and TV studies, interior and architecture design, music and the music industry.

During the period of PhD study you will develop extensive subject expertise and independent research skills, which are honed over an extended period of time. You will undertake a substantial self-directed research project for the duration of the degree, in negotiation with two or more academic members of staff, who are your supervisors.  In addition, you will also engage with a negotiated programme of selected generic skills development and careers workshops provided by the University of Hertfordshire Doctoral College, as well as discipline-specific research training provided by the School. 

Your proposed PhD project may be purely theoretical or practice-led/practice-based. If there is a practice element in your project, one of your supervisors will be a practitioner in an appropriate discipline, and appropriate studio space and/or workshop facilities will be made available if necessary. The School has a wide range of outstanding facilities for researchers in the broad area of creative arts, and the University library has an excellent range of relevant and up-to-date resources to support research in this area.

During the course of the degree, you would typically be expected to present your research at internal and external seminars and conferences, and to exhibit your practical work if it is part of the research project. Some opportunities in this regard may be provided by the School and/or the University. 

Why choose this course?

  • An internationally recognised research qualification.
  • Develop advanced subject expertise at postgraduate level.
  • Develop research skills through practice and extensive research experience.
  • Employers are looking for high calibre graduates with advanced skills who can demonstrate independent, creative thinking and problem-solving through research.

What will I study?

Research degrees are not taught programmes, however, programmes of supporting studies are a key element.

PhD study in the School of Creative Arts requires regular attendance on campus, so this degree cannot normally be undertaken online from your home country, unlike the Professional Doctorates in Fine Art (DFA) and Design (DDes)

The School of Creative Arts has a lively research community staffed by supervisors whose research is world leading, Supervisory teams provide guidance in helping you to formulate and develop your research during the course of the programme. A minimum of 3 full-team supervisions per academic year is mandatory for full-time students (pro-rata for part-time students) but typically meetings with the full team and with individual supervisors is more frequent.

We offer a range of subject specific research training throughout various research group seminars. Our research students are strongly encouraged to participate in modules in our taught Masters programmes, and the University also has an extensive Researcher Development Programme, which is provided by the UH Doctoral College and offers generic research training.

The PhD in the School of Creative Arts has three main assessment points after enrolment: Initial registration for the degree after 8 months (for both full-time and part-time students); the doctoral progression after 18 months for full-time and pro-rata for part time students, and the final examination.

Your research project will be examined on the basis of the final submission, which may include a combination of both written and non-textual material that must be "defended" in a viva and contain a thesis (a position that can be defended by substantiated argument), and a clearly stated original contribution to knowledge in the field.


Graduates with this degree will be able to demonstrate to employers a highly-valued ability to work independently on a substantial and challenging original project and to maintain that focus over an extended period, and will have developed much sought after, highly refined research skills. Research students will also benefit from the School’s networks of international partners in the creative and cultural industries, which may offer valuable opportunities for career development, as well as from career development workshops and events.

Please note that some of the images and videos on our course pages may have been taken before social distancing rules in the UK came into force.