6 month scoping project: literature review on practice-based PhD supervision

Article: Using a blended approach to facilitate postgraduate supervision

Article from:  Innovations in Education and Teaching International

Innovations in Education and Teaching International, Volume 46, Issue 2 May 2009 , pages 213 – 226

Article date:  May 1, 2009

Authors:  de Beer, Marie; Mason, Roger B


This paper explores the feasibility of using a blended approach to postgraduate research-degree supervision. Such a model could reduce research supervisors’ workloads and improve the quality and success of Masters and Doctoral students’ research output. The paper presents a case study that is based on a framework that was originally designed for blended learning activities. It is based on supporting different types of interaction between postgraduate research students and their supervisors. The findings show that a blended approach to postgraduate supervision improves the supervision process, reduces the administrative workload of the supervisor, and creates a dynamic record of the …

Article: Changing postgraduate supervision practice: a programme to encourage learning through reflection and feedback

Article from: Innovations in Education and Teaching International

The entity from which ERIC acquires the content, including journal, organization, and conference names, or by means of online submission from the author.Innovations in Education and Teaching International, v41 n1 p5-22 Feb 2004

Article date: February 1, 2004

Author:   Brew, Angela; Peseta, Tai Copyright


New research training agendas necessarily bring with them renewed attention on the professional development of research supervisors. This paper charts specific aspects of the University of Sydney’s Postgraduate Supervision Development Programme, particularly the development of a new innovation called the Recognition Module. The Recognition Module invites research supervisors to develop an online case study of their supervision practice as a form of professional academic development. To this end, we showcase the work of two supervisors who have engaged with the Recognition Module, and note the qualitative changes in their thinking about supervision. Further, we argue that the Recognition…

Practice-based Doctorates, United Kingdom Council for Graduate Education, 25th November 1997

Research and Practice in the PhD: issues for training and supervision

Dr Darren Newbury, Birmingham Institute of Art and Design



PhDs in Art and Design: issues for supervision and training

What then are the issues raised by this argument for those involved in the provision of research training and supervision for students beginning practice-based programmes of research in art and design. I would like to offer the following items as being central to the consideration of the needs of research students beginning programmes of research that involve elements of practice and indicate how myself and colleagues tried to respond to them through the Research Training Initiative. This list is not intended to be definitive in any way, and as such merely reflects my own experience in developing workshop programmes and published research guides to support higher degree students.

– models of practice-based and practice/theory submissions. Need for case studies; not prescribing the route, but as examples, as a record of what people are doing, as part of research methodology.

– initiating students into the practice/research debate (cross-disciplinary). This can be done through workshops, conferences, etc.

– the supervisory team. The nature and make up of the team is crucial particularly in new areas.

– not forgetting the importance of generic research skills. These may be very important if they have not been provided at undergraduate level.

– forms of submission and examination. For example a research guide on viva examinations including those that involve an exhibition.

McGuire, James (1996) Clinical Psychology Training: The Transition to Doctoral Level. Taught

Doctorates Workshop Report. UK Council for Graduate Education.

Stead, Valerie (1997) Practice-based Doctorates. Research and Postgraduate Education, UKCGE

winter conference, Wolverhampton, 31st January.

UK Council for Graduate Education


© UK Council for Graduate Education ISBN 0 9525751 2 4


5.5 Supervisors

All institutions have similar general regulations covering the arrangements for the supervision of PhDs. These general regulations specify the number of supervisors to be appointed, and that those appointed should be suitably qualified and experienced. They may specify the number of successful previous supervisions the supervisor must have undertaken, and the number of supervisions a candidate may expect as a minimum. However, within these general regulations there is no specific reference made to the supervision of students carrying out practice-based work. This is not to say that such advice may not exist in the form of guidelines within individual departments. If institutions are to adopt the inclusive model outlined in this paper it may be timely for them to consider their current regulations and formal guidelines in this area to ensure that students in the field of creative arts are supported in their work and to ensure that the student’s project is such as to enable it to conform to more traditional research requirements, if the revised regulations so require. It will often be necessary for institutions to appoint two supervisors to cover both the academic and practical aspects, in line with the advice on external examiners below. [p24]

National University of Ireland Huston School of Film & Digital Media

National University of Ireland, Galway

Tel: +353 (0)91 495076 | Email:

Courses :Practice-based PhD

Doctor of Philosophy in Film, Television and Digital Media (Practice-based PhD)



Supervision is undertaken by a supervision committee led by the Director, Rod Stoneman and including members of other Departments and Centres at the National University of Ireland, Galway and the Burren College of Art, as appropriate. Prior agreement by a member of staff to mentor a new student is an important consideration in acceptance of students into the PhD programme.

Position Papers on Practice-Based Research:

Circulated in advance of the symposium RESEARCH QUESTIONS

NCAD 22nd of April 2005

Extract: 4. Teachers Academy Rotterdam.

Research supervision is one of the themes of the Teachers Academy and offers an opportunity to learn from experience in interactive group settings and practical workshops , organized and presented by colleagues. The Teachers Academy is being hosted by Codarts (formerly University of Music and Dance) Rotterdam April 13 -16, 2005.

The supervisor’s lot.

Research in the context of art and design is a much-debated and vexed subject. In some respects it is difficult to see the cause of this anxiety, as most art and design research is scientific, of the humanities, or technological and only troublesome, therefore, to the extent that research is seen as problematic in these disciplines. The debate becomes most intense when discussing what is sometimes called “practice-based research”, and in particular when it is argued that art-making or design-making is research, and when the artefact is put forward as the goal of the research – the embodiment of new knowledge. The issues in this debate are political, conceptual and practical.

Here, I approach the conceptual and practical issues from a personal point of view – that of my experience as a supervisor and examiner of PhD students. Recently, I have found myself confronting distinctive practical problems when supervising some PhD students (i.e., those where art- or design-making is central to their “research” programmes) which I have not been able to resolve through the application of accumulated experience of past research projects. Of course, this might simply reflect my own supervisory shortcomings. Nevertheless, I have come to the conclusion that the ways of research familiar to me cannot provide the answers I need. Some art- and design-making “research” projects are different in ways that require me to go beyond the ways of research with which I am familiar if I am to be a useful supervisor and fair examiner. [p32]

Extracted from Stephen Scrivener, “Reflection in and on Action and Practice in Creative-Production Doctoral Projects in Art and Design”, Vol.1 Working Papers in Art and Design, University of Hertfordshire, England.


See also:

re:search – in and through the arts

1 November 2003 – 31 October 2005


Supported by the SOCRATES Programme European Commission

Extract: R e s e a r c h S u p e r v i s i o n

One-to-one supervision is still the norm, although it moves away from a merely theoretical approach common in art history. Contact and direction between supervisor and the doctoral candidate range from one supervisor to a team of supervisors and from intensive to hardly existent. Most supervisors are professional artists employed by the institution. In some countries external reviewers (or examiners) are involved. The status of professors at Higher Arts Education Institutes varies according to national and institutional traditions, possibly hampering the mobility of research and supervisory staff. [p12]

I n t e r n a t i o n a l P l a t f o r m s o f s u p e r v i s o r s, r e s e a r c h e r s

Specialised cross-national networks driven by artists, designers, researchers, students, supervisors, theorists should create platforms for collaboration, training, and reflection. [p14]

F o l l o w – u p i n v e s t i g a t i o n i n t o s u p e r v i s i o n

A follow-up investigation into supervision criteria, requirements for supervisors,

development of supervisory teams and research training is critical for the development of

research and research degrees and will facilitate international mobility of researchers and

of supervisors. Practical proposals included a training course for supervisors and the

collation of a list of potential supervisors and external examiners. [p14]

T y p e s o f R e s e a r c h D e g r e e s

In the surveyed countries the wide variety of titles, structures and organisation suggests a greater diversity and difference than may really exist. PhDs in the Arts incorporating arts

practice focusing on a thesis are found especially in Germany, Ireland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. In Ireland, Poland, Slovakia and Spain PhDs in arts institutions similar to PhDs in art history, musicology or theatre studies exist.

Spain and France in particular, and all profiles in general argue in favour of practice-based research as a legitimate basis for a third cycle degree in the arts. In Ireland, Netherlands,

and Poland proposals for practice based research degrees are being developed and in the UK practice-based PhDs in the arts are already awarded. As a result of recent changes in legislation a doctorate title, based on arts practice research is now available in

Slovakia. [p12]

S u p e r v i s i o n , r e s e a r c h t r a i n i n g a n d d e v e l o p i n g w a y s

o f o r g a n i s i n g r e s e a r c h

Supervision is increasingly considered crucial for the quality of research and for the development of the research profile of the institution. Models include one supervisor, in some countries two or even three supervisors per candidate. Contacts between supervisor and the doctoral candidate range from informal interaction with one supervisor to intensive exchange with a supervisory team. Supervisors are chosen on the basis of academic and/or artistic merit. Most supervisors are professional artists employed by the institution while in some countries external reviewers or examiners are involved.

The academic status of professors at art schools and the scientific standards applied in evaluating research outcomes in the arts, reflect different cultural, national and institutional traditions. In Germany and Poland a ‘habilitation’ degree is the required academic status for qualified supervisors. All countries surveyed adopt a formal process for recruiting PhD staff and for the formulation of special research supervision standards.

Further investigation into the requirements for supervisors in the light of the growing mobility of (research) staff and (PhD) students would be useful for the promotion of international collaboration and international programmes. [p34]

The focus on supervision was particularly strong in the Teachers’ Academy organised in

April 2005, which prioritised ‘Research and Research Supervision’. Within the programme of the Teachers’ Academy an interdisciplinary research ‘path’ has been organised, which was pulled together in a panel discussion at the end of the event. More than 1/2 of the 90 participants participated in these ‘research’ sessions. Partner institutions and others presented practical experiences in the form of ‘Inspiring Practices’ and ‘Interactive Workshops’. The Teachers’ Academy Training fulfilled the need to exchange experience and build up individual and collective expertise. The inclusion of this ‘research path’ into the programme offered the opportunity to cluster the research and supervision perspective into an attractive programme. Most research sessions have been rated very high in the conference evaluation forms. The presentations have been selected following a call for presentations, which is a labour intensive but rewarding procedure. [p42]

The role of the artefact in art and design research

Dr Michael Biggs University of Hertfordshire, England

Extract: The theme that is hopefully pervading this issue of the journal is “what is the role of the artefact in art and design research?” Being of an enquiring disposition that immediately raises two further questions in my mind: firstly, what does the question mean, and secondly how does this question arise? [p1]

Biggs, M.A.R. (2004) Editorial: the role of the artefact in art and design research. Working Papers in Art and Design 3 Retrieved <date> from URL

papers/wpades/ vol3/mbintro.html  ISSN 1466-4917

The functions of the written text in practice-based PhD submissions

Katie MacLeod

University of Plymouth, UK

Extract: This paper will be in two parts, both parts relating to higher degree research which is practiced based in Fine Art: the first part will deal with the function of a written text; the second part will briefly examine the concept of a text/thesis. In order to understand the function of the written text in MPhil and PhD practice based research, I find it necessary to look at what I take to be the different types of practice based research because, for each type the written element fulfils a slightly different function. My study, (Macleod, 1995 -) has led to the identification of three types of higher degree practice research: type A which is defined as positioning a practice; type B defined as theorising a practice and type C which has been given the in-progress definition of revealing a practice. [p1]

MacLeod, K. (2000) The functions of the written text in practice-based PhD submissions. Working Papers in Art and Design 1

Retrieved <date> from URL



Reflection in and on action and practice in creative-production doctoral projects in art and design

Steven Scrivener

Research in the context of art and design is a much-debated and vexed subject. In some respects it is difficult to see the cause of this anxiety, as most art and design research is scientific, of the humanities, or technological and only troublesome, therefore, to the extent that research is seen as problematic in these disciplines. The debate becomes most intense when discussing what is sometimes called “practice-based research”, and in particular when it is argued that art-making or design-making is research, and when the artefact is put forward as the goal of the research – the embodiment of new knowledge (cf. Frayling, 1993/94). The issues in this debate are political, conceptual and practical.

Scrivener, S. (2000) Reflection in and on action and practice in creative-production doctoral projects in art and design. Working Papers in Art and Design 1

Retrieved <date> from URL



ISSN 1466-4917

Newcastle University

Research degrees in Fine Art – MPhil and PhD

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 University of Sunderland

“… In talking about how an artist works, I happened to use the word experiment. A colleague from a humanities background launched a vocal attack on that – at which a physicist burst out: “You”ve just disallowed the entire practice of research in physics!” (Tim Jones, Wimbledon School of Art, quoted in Watts, 1998, p. iv)

“All that is revealed in the practice is concealed in the research” (Macleod, 1999b, quoting student p.38)

“Genuinely new knowledge is inevitably threatening” (Macleod, 1999b, p.5)

“”… simultaneously to meet the criteria for a research degree and to have the creative approval of their peers. … a “double load” …” (Hockey, 1999, p.43)

“Research is a practice, writing is practice, doing science is practice, doing design is practice, making art is a practice.” (Frayling, 1993, p.4)

“On the other hand, engaging art-making as research does place demands upon it that are likely to affect it as a process.” (Hanrahan, 1998, p.31)

“We are not attempting to impose “alien” academic research traditions precisely because those traditions have been under serious threat in the universities for years and, in some areas, is now in retreat.” (Seago, 1995, p.4)

“Curiously, the “pure idea” of art, the relation of form to content in what is a process bound discipline, does not appear to be in hot debate. Until it is, artists will be in danger of producing poor art as research.” (Macleod, 1998, p.35)

“She soon discovered the limitations in this structuralist approach (i.e. the data was selected, and could only deal with stable, unchanging contexts- what structuralists describe as “synchronic”), realising that practice-led research requires “diachronic” data – which has evolved through time, is unstable and changing.” (Gray and Pirie, 1995, p.8. Concerning Anne Douglas” doctorate on sculpture)

“… there is rather a whole “rigour of softness” (our phrase), which extends from the study of an individual case right through to the development of a general theory which has a different logic from the rigour of discovery through experimentation or survey, and which is more suitable for the study of whole human situations in their natural contexts.” (Reason and Rowan, 1981, p.189)

A Ph.D. student interviewed by Macleod describes “… her art practice as “robust” and her writing as “fragile”.” (Macleod, 1998, p.33)

Bibliography (selected):

This is a short bibliography concerning some current issues for art-practice-led research, and including references for the quotes above. There are additional bibliographies attached to each research training document, whether GRS or School of Arts, Design and Media specific. See also links page.

These periodicals feature articles concerning art-practice-led research in most issues (all are taken by Ashburne Library):

Co-design (oriented more to design than fine art)

Drawing Fire



Austin, F. (1999). “Practice-based research”, Artists’ Newsletter, April. 5.

Davey, J. R. N. (1999). “Writing and the in-between”, Point, no. 7 Spr/Summer. 12-18

Douglas, A. (1992). Structure and improvisation: The making aspect of sculpture. Ph.D. thesis, University of Sunderland.

Frayling, C. (1993). Research in art and design, Royal College of Art Research Papers series vol. 1 no. 1. London: Royal College of Art.

Gilbert, J. (1998). Legitimising sketchbooks as a research tool in an academic setting, Journal of Art and Design Education, vol. 17 no. 3. 255-266.

Gray, C., and Malins, J. (1999). “The digital thesis: Recent developments in practice-based PhD research in art and design”, Digital Creativity, vol. 10 no. 1. 18-28.

Gray, C. and Pirie, I. (1995). ” ‘Artistic’ research procedure: Research at the edge of chaos?”, Proceedings of Design Interfaces Conference vol. 3, The European Academy of Design. Salford: University of Salford. Available from URL: <; [Accessed 2000 January 10].

Gray, C., Douglas, A., Leake, I., & Malins, J. (1995). Developing a research procedures programme for artists and designers. Aberdeen: Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University. Available from URL: <; [Accessed 2000 January 10].

Gray, C. (ed.) (1996) RADical: International research conference for art and design conference proceedings [CD-ROM]. Aberdeen: Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University.

Hanrahan, S. (1998). “The possibility of dialogue: The relationship between ‘words’ and ‘art-making’ in fine art research”, Drawing Fire, vol. 2 no. 2 Winter. 29-31.

Hockey, J. (1999). “Writing and making: Problems encountered by practice-based research degree students.” Point, no. 7, Spring/Summer. 38-43.

Hockey, J. and J. Allen-Collinson (2000). “The supervision of practice-based research degrees in art and design.” Journal of Art and Design Education, vol. 19 no. 3. 345-355.

Lowe, B. (2000) “Something for nothing?” Variant, vol. 2 no. 9. Available from URL: <;. [Accessed 2000 January 10]. 25-26.

Macleod, K. (undated, c.2000) What would falsify an art practice? Broadside series no. 5. Birmingham: University of Central England.

Macleod, K. (1999a). “The relationship of making to writing” Point, no. 7, Spring/Summer. 4-7.

Macleod, K. (1999b). “New knowledge/art knowledge: Postgraduate research in fine art”, Drawing Fire, vol. 2 no. 3. 35-40.

Macleod, K. (1998). “Research in fine art: Theory, judgement and discourse”, Drawing Fire, vol. 2 no. 2 Winter. 33-37.

Matrix 1, Matrix 2, and Matrix 3D (1988, 1993 and 1995) conference reports, various eds. London: Dali/Central St Martins College of Art and Design.

Newbury, D. (ed.) (1996). Research Guides. Birmingham: The Research Training Initiative, University of Central England.

Payne, Antonia (ed.) (2000). Research and the Artist: Considering the Role of the Art School. Oxford: Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, University of Oxford.

Reason, P. and Rowan, J. (eds.) (1981). Human inquiry: A sourcebook of new paradigm research. Chicester: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

Schön, D. (1981). The reflective practitioner. New York: Jossey-Bass.

Seago, A. (1995). Research methods for M.Phil. and Ph.D. students in art and design: Contrasts and conflicts, Royal College of Art Research Papers series, vol. 1 no. 3. London: Royal College of Art.

UK Council for Graduate Education, (1997). Practice-based doctorates in the creative and performing arts and design. Coventry: UK Council for Graduate Education.

UK Council for Graduate Education, (1997). Practice-based doctorates in the creative and performing arts and design workshop. Coventry: UK Council for Graduate Education.

Watts, C. (1998). “The art of knowedge”, The Guardian (On Course section), Sat 12th Sep. iv-v.

Wood, J. (2000) “The culture of academic rigour: Does design research really need it?”‘ The Design Journal, vol. 3 vo. 1. 44-49.

Applications are invited from candidates for research degrees in any subject area in which the School is able to offer supervision by appropriately qualified staff. Research degrees may be taken, for example, in the areas of fine art, theatre design, costume, performance, new media and audio arts, and may involve a range of practice, history and theory of art and design, materials research, and cross-disciplinary work. Where appropriate, supervision can be arranged through reciprocal arrangements with partner institutions where the project combines art and design with other subjects.

The Wales Institute for Research in Art & Design (WIRAD)

Research Training

Research training is enhanced through research groups and clusters to provide peer support and mentoring. A high quality of intellectual, physical and resource environments is maintained, as the result of substantial ongoing investment.


Super Vision: insight and interaction in graduate art and design research

1.00 – 6.00 p.m. Tuesday 23 March

CSAD Howard Gardens

CSAD is hosting a half-day symposium on graduate research in art and design, focusing on the supervisory process. Short presentations from research students and their supervisory teams are invited which cover the following points:

how supervisory teams plan and shape the research process;

how the interests of supervisor and student might intersect, i.e. how they might become interlocutors, possibly with a view to co-authorship of an article; ideally, each team member should contribute and there will be an exchange of views on the topic selected by the team;

the pleasures of supervision in art and design research (and some of the obstacles too, if appropriate at an open forum).

Ideally, point (2) will be the focus of the presentation. Presentations should be up to 20 minutes, with ten minutes of questions. Supervisory teams from Bath, Bristol, Gloucester and Swansea will also be invited. Dr Iain Biggs and one of his research students from UWE, Bristol, will be keynote speakers. A plenary performance writing session is planned, where insights from one of the afternoon’s presentations will be written up as the beginnings of a co-authored article. A buffet lunch (charge of £10) and afternoon tea will be provided, and there will also be a post-symposium meal in central Cardiff.

To participate, please send a 300-word outline of how your supervisory team might address points 1-3 to Clive Cazeaux, Graduate Studies Coordinator, by Monday 1 March 2010.

Places are free but limited, so please register in advance. There will be a £10 charge for those wishing to attend the pre-event buffet. To register for a place at the symposium and/or book a place at the buffet lunch, contact Debbie Savage, Research Coordinator, by Monday 8 March 2010.


A selective list of resources related to the creative arts PhD

Allen-Collinson, J. (2005) ‘Artistry and analysis: student experiences of UK practice-based doctorates in art and design.’ International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 18 (6), 713 – 728.

Allsopp, R. (1999) ‘Performance writing.’ PAJ: a Journal of Performance and Art, 21 (1), 76-80.

Arnold, J. (2005) ‘The PhD in writing accompanied by an exegesis.’ Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 5 (2) 55-75.

AVPhD Retrieved 10.1108 from

Web site for a training and support network funded by the AHRC in September 2005 for academics involved in supervision and examination of audio-visual practice based doctorates. It is now primarily an online resource, which aims to support regional initiatives in the UK. The website has 3 main features; Events — current and past AVPhD symposia, exhibitions, and related happenings; Resources — links to organisations, journals, conferences and an archive of papers generated by AVPhD events; and Research Centres — links to academic institutions that offer AVPhD degrees. A researcher database is currently being developed.

Baker, S. (2009) ‘Art School 2.0: Art Schools in the Information Age or Reciprocal Relations and the Art of the Possible.’ In Buckley, B. & Conomos, J. (eds.) Re-thinking the Contemporary Art School: the artist, the PhD and the academy. Forthcoming in 2009 NSCAD University Press: Halifax, Canada.

Barber, B. (2009) ‘The Question (of Failure) in Art Research.’ In Buckley, B. & Conomos, J. (eds.) Re-thinking the Contemporary Art School: the artist, the PhD and the academy. Forthcoming in 2009 NSCAD University Press: Halifax, Canada.

Barrett, E. & Bolt, B. (eds.) (2007) Practice as Research: Approaches to Creative Arts Enquiry. I.B.Tauris, London.

Barrett, E. (2004) ‘What Does It Meme? The Exegesis as Volorisation and Validation of Creative Arts Research.’ TEXT Special Issue, (3) 1-7. Retrieved 3.6.08 from

Bazeley, P. (2006) “Research dissemination in creative arts, humanities and the social sciences.’ Higher Education Research & Development, 25 (3), 307-31.

Biggs, I. (2006) ‘Art as Research, Doctoral Education and the Politics of Knowledge.’ Engage 1 (8), 6-11.

Biggs, M. (2000) ‘Editorial: The Foundations of Practice-Based Research.’ Working Papers in Art and Design, (1). Retrieved 3.8.09 from

Birrell, R. (2009) ‘Editorial – A Gathering of artistic research: from new Science to nameless science.’ Art & Research: a journal of ideas, contexts and methods, 2 (2) Retrieved 3.5.09 from [This issue of Art & Research includes papers from significant European and American conferences and symposia on the topic of artistic research held between May and December 2008.]

Bogh, M. (2009) ‘Borderlands: The Art School Between the Academy and Higher Education.’ In Buckley, B. & Conomos, J. (eds.) Re-thinking the Contemporary Art School: the artist, the PhD and the academy. Forthcoming in 2009 NSCAD University Press: Halifax, Canada.

Bolt, B. (2004) ‘The Exegesis and the Shock of the New.’ TEXT Special Issue, (3) 1-7. Retrieved 3.6.08 from

Bolt, B. (2007) ‘Material Thinking and the Agency of Matter.’ Studies in Material Thinking 1,(1) Retrieved 6.8.08 from

Brady, T. (2004) ‘A question of genre: de-mystifying the exegesis.’ Text 4 (1), 1-11.

Brien, D.L. (2004) ‘The problem of Where to Start: a Foundation Question for Creative Writing Higher Degree Candidates and Supervisors.’ TEXT Special Issue, (3) Retrieved 3.6.08 from

Buckley, B. & Conomos, J. (eds.) Re-thinking the Contemporary Art School: the artist, the PhD and the academy. Forthcoming in 2009 NSCAD University Press: Halifax, Canada.

Buckley, B. (2009) ‘What is with the Ceiling! The Artist, Higher Degrees, and Research in the University Art School.’ In Buckley, B. & Conomos, J. (eds.) Re-thinking the Contemporary Art Scholo: the artist, the PhD and the academy. Forthcoming in 2009 NSCAD University Press: Halifax, Canada.

Candlin, F. (2000) ‘A Proper Anxiety? Practice-Based Phds and Academic Unease.’ Working Papers In Art and Design (1) Retrieved 10.8.08 fromƒ

Candlin, F. (2000) ‘Practice-based Doctorate and Questions of Academic Legitimacy.’ International Journal of Art & Design Education 19 (1) 96-101.

Candy, L. (2006) ‘Practice Based Research: A Guide.’ In Creativity and Cognition Studios University of Technology, Sydney.

Candy, L. (2006) ‘Differences between Practice-Based and Practice-Led Research.’ (CCS Report: 2006-V1.0 November, University of Technology, Sydney). Retrieved 5.8.08 from

Cantwell, R. H. & Scevak, J. (2004) “Discrepancies between the “ideal” and “passable” doctorate: Supervisor thinking on doctoral standards,” Refereed paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education, Melbourne, November 2004, pp 1-9., accessed 30.8.07.

Carter, P. (2004) Material Thinking: The Theory and Practice of Creative Research. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2004.

Coldstein, C. (1996) Teaching Art: Academies and Schools from Vasari to Albers. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Connellan, K. (2002) Opening Pandora’s Paintbox. South Australian School of Art, University of South Australia. Available from

Corse, S. & Alexander, V. (1983) ‘Education and Artists: Changing Patterns in the Training of Painters.’ Current Research on Occupations and Professions 8, 101-17.

The Council of Australian Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies. (2005) Framework for Best Practice in Doctoral Examination in Australia, Retrieved 11.12.08 from

The Council of Australian Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies (2008). Framework for Best Practice in Doctoral Research Education in Australia. Retrieved 14.2.09 from

Dally, K., Holbrook, A., Bourke, S., Graham, A. & Lawry, M. (2003) ‘Higher degree examination in the Fine Art.’ In P. Jeffery (ed.) Defining the doctorate: doctoral studies in education and the creative and performing arts. Australian Association for Research in Education Mini-conference 2003 Conference Papers, Coldstream, Vic.

Dally, K., Holbrook, A., Graham, A. & Lawry, M. (2004) ‘The processes and parameters of Fine Art PhD examination.’ International Journal of Educational Research, 41(2), 136-162.

Dally, K., Holbrook, A., Graham, A. & Lawry, M. (2004) ‘The Fine Art higher degree examination process.’ Paper presented at the Quality in Postgraduate Research International Conference, Adelaide, South Australia, 22-23 April 2004.

Dally, K., Holbrook, A., Lawry, M. & Graham, A. (2004) ‘Assessing the exhibition and the exegesis in visual arts higher degrees: Perspectives of examiners.’ Working Papers in Art and Design, (3), 1-14.

Dena, C. (2005) ‘The Creative Degree as Interface ” Realtime, (68), 32-33. Retrieved 3.9.08 from

Denicolo, P. (2003) ‘Assessing the PhD: A Constructive View of Criteria.’ Quality Assurance in Education, 11 (2) 84-91.

‘Doing a Postgraduate Degree.’ (1996) In Research Guides, edited by The Research Training Initiative. Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Birmingham.

Duxbury, L., Grierson, E.M., & Waite, D. (2008) Thinking Through Practice: art as research in the academy. RMIT Publishing, Melbourne.

Duxbury, L. (2007) ‘Testing Times: The Artist as Academic and the Current University Research Climate.’ Studies in Material Thinking, 1 (1) Retrieved 10.10.08 from

Edmonds, E. (2007) ‘Research on and from within Creative Practice.’ Leonardo, 40 (4), 318.

Elkins, J. (ed.) (2009) Artists with PhDs: On the New Doctoral Degree in Studio Art. New Academia Publishing, Washington, DC.

Elkins, J. (2004) ‘Theoretical Remarks on Combined Creative and Scholarly PhD Degrees in the Visual Arts’ The Journal of Aesthetic Education, 38, (4), 22-31.

Evans, T., Macauley, P., Pearson, M. & Tregenza, K. (2003) ‘A brief review of PhDs in Creative and Performing Arts in Australia.’ In P. Jeffery (ed.) Defining the doctorate: doctoral studies in education and the creative and performing arts. Australian Association for Research in Education Mini-conference 2003 Conference Papers, Coldstream, Vic., pp.1-14.

Fletcher, J. & Mann, A. (2004) ‘Illuminating the Exegesis, an Introduction.’ TEXT Special Issue, (3) 1-9, Retrieved 3.8.08 from

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Future-Proofing the Creative Arts in Higher Education

Scoping for Quality in Creative Arts Doctoral Programs

Extract: 5.8 Supervision

5.8.1 Allocation of Supervisors

The most common approach to the allocation of supervisors reported by the interviewees was for the postgraduate coordinator and the head of school or the associate dean of research to determine the supervision of doctoral candidates. To some extent, from the responses gained through interviews, it appears that the procedure used reflects the size of the doctoral cohort at the school.

Some schools allocate supervisors at a committee level, whereby the postgraduate coordinator consults with the research higher degrees committee, committee of graduate studies or equivalent.

It was suggested that this approach facilitates the consideration of implications for the school such as the mentoring of less experienced supervisors, professional development, and more broadly the impact on the future directions of the school. The formal allocation procedure is usually preceded by informal contact between the potential candidate and supervisor/s and a formal interview in which a potential supervisor may participate. Several interviewees indicated a preference for a potential supervisor to be a member of the interview panel:

It’s important to have the proposed supervisor in the interview, so you actually get a commitment from that person – so that if we offer the applicant a place in the program, this proposed supervisor will actually take them on. And I think that’s a very effective method. I think it’s much better than accepting people into a program and then trying to find a supervisor who may or may not be suited. (PG Coordinator interview) [p57]

5.8.7 Supervision of the Written Component

The separation of supervision for the written and creative components of a doctoral degree whereby supervisors are drawn from the theory and studio sections of a school appears to have been accepted practice in the past but is now less frequently used. Only two schools surveyed continue with the practice of appointing a separate supervisor for the written and creative components and one of these schools is currently changing from this approach. Interviews with postgraduate coordinators indicated a greater focus on a collaborative approach to supervision where supervisors are drawn from different disciplines with the main supervisor responsible for both components of the thesis:

We don’t really subscribe to the principle that a studio supervisor should be responsible just for the studio work and theory supervisor just for the theory work, it just fragments the whole nature of what we’re trying to synthesise. (PG Coordinator interview)

The policy of the school is that the person who supervises should be able to supervise the thesis, which is by exhibition, and the exegesis. (PG Coordinator interview) [p63]

Practice-based research: this term has been used to describe research that develops out of various attempts to distinguish research that involves artifacts as research outcomes from the methodological conventions of the Humanities and the empirical sciences. There is a great deal of contention within the sector about this distinction and the debate exemplifies some of the fundamental contradictions that this study is attempting to uncover. Similarly, since the structural inclusion of art and design schools in the university research framework in the 1990s, it has been imperative to argue for the legitimacy of the forms of original new work, techniques and concepts that constitute the formation of new knowledge in the ‘creative arts’. There have been many attempts to equate research in this field with other disciplinary conventions. In some cases clinical disciplines such as nursing, social sciences or professions like law have similarly made such attempts. [p68]

Issue no. 5: Variable practices and expectations of supervisors

As the discussions unfolded common themes developed around the role of the supervisor and the quality of the interaction between student and supervisor. The process of monitoring student progress and confirmation is a significant element of the supervisor’s role because it has a direct impact upon both the quality of the doctorate, the completion time and, importantly, the student’s experience.

As doctoral research supervision is relatively new to the sector and the approach to the introduction of the programs has varied across schools, there was evidence of a variable set of practices and expectations about the nature of supervisory relationships.

Generational change

Further variability could be seen in the way the different models of PhD practice were understood and discussed with students and the range of experience with supervision of the academic staff.

The sector is composed of a number of generations of academics, some whose formative years were in pre-university contexts, others who travelled through the recent structural changes and others who have been through this post-1990 system as students. In each case the role of ‘mentor’ may well be understood in similar ways but the nature and methodology of the PhD may not have the same resonance. There were reported a variation of practices that could be accounted for by this generational issue.

As it becomes more common for supervisors to have completed their own doctoral study this may

Future-Proofing the Creative Arts in Higher Education lead to the adoption of a more consistent pattern. Similarly as matters of research culture in the field mature the aims and outcomes of research training will be easier to identify, both by the academics and university administrators.

Many schools implemented mandatory supervision training, variously administered and monitored, and others extended that to formal registers of supervisors as a result of relative criteria. Some schools require supervisors to have PhDs, while others will require an equivalent level of expertise in the field only. This was seen by many as a growing area of focus at both the university level and at the level of the faculty or school. It was felt by most participants in these discussions that this was one of the most important aspects of the success or otherwise of the candidacy.

Considerable discussion was focussed on the processes of supervision and it was acknowledged that this was an area of much needed development. It was thought that by engaging people in the discussion around what it means to do a PhD in this field, and what the most effective processes for managing the PhD project might be, it would be easier to develop good supervisory practices.


Support the expansion of accountability and support for supervision practices through

ACAUDS led symposium.

This usually refers to course elements that are mandatory units of study that have an assessable outcome, and usually semester based. In some research degrees there are mandatory courses offered but they are largely un-assessed and can be taken at various stages of the candidacy.

There were a number of views about the utility of such programs in assisting students in the development of research skill and methodological expertise.

From the evidence in this study there seemed to be two types of programmed activity; coursework with codes that are assessable subjects. and course elements without codes that are largely structured seminar programs. These are all requirements of the PhD but, due to the diversity in structure of the programs offered, it is difficult to compare the offerings of different schools; this comparison would also be very difficult for potential candidates.

A more in depth analysis of this area would be helpful for the sector; such an analysis could reflect upon the current practice of other disciplines too, for example by examining other ALTC projects:

Making research skill development explicit in coursework: four universities’ adaptation of a model to numerous disciplines Lead Institution: The University of Adelaide


Research skill development: questions of curriculum and pedagogy Lead Institution: The

Australian National University


One interviewee presented the view that as the PhD in visual arts is a new area it may requires a range of support. For other disciplines there is a sense that students in their undergraduate degrees are introduced to the research culture of their discipline and that they then make a choice to become a part of this culture, whereas a lot of the people that come in to us, research is a totally alien idea”. It may be that the matter of research methodology is variously understood by academics themselves and that a number of the mature PhD candidates have had a different undergraduate education, that is, pre-university model, where professional practice and not ‘research’ was the norm.

Future-Proofing the Creative Arts in Higher Education

The concern about the nature of research in the visual arts, or indeed in the creative arts as a whole goes to the definitional issues around research in this field, and how that might differ or not from advanced professional practice. These are matters for a broader debate, but as we write these matters are still in contention within the sector (see ERA discussion in Section 9).

It might be interesting to explore this issue more and to test the implication here that the undergraduate and honours years do not provide this in the visual arts. Arguments could be made that the individuated focus of undergraduate study in the creative arts is a good preparation for the for future research training programs such as Honours and masters programs.


There emerged a strong interest for further discussion in the visual arts sector about research training through some coursework elements or research methods programs. This could form a discussion topic for future ACUADS Postgraduate Coordinator meetings. This might also be assisted by further study into the links between undergraduate and postgraduate course design. [pp72 -74]

Writing in the academy: the practice-based thesis as an evolving genre

Chief Investigators:
Brian Paltridge – University of Sydney
Sue Starfield – University of New South Wales
Louise Ravelli – University of New South Wales
Research Associate / Project Co-ordinator:
Sarah Nicholson
Summary of the project:

This Australian Research Council funded study investigates the practice-based doctoral thesis in the creative and performing arts, an alternative thesis type that is still in a process of development. The project aims to identify the range and extent to which practice-based theses are being submitted for doctoral degrees in the creative and performing arts in Australian universities and the particular nature and character of these texts. The study will make a significant contribution to academic literacies research by defining the range of current practices in the area and the desirable character of a doctoral thesis written in practice-based areas of study. [p1]

University of Ulster

Art and Design

Arts and Design [PhD / MPhil]
Year of Entry: 2009

General Description

Art and Design is one of the largest Research Institutes at the University of Ulster, with more than eighty academic staff actively engaged in research, teaching and academic enterprise. The result of the Research Assessment Exercise 2008 has confirmed the international excellence and of Art and Design within a growing field of competition. 75 per cent of the unit’s research was considered to be of international standard with a significant part being world-leading. This achievement marks the creative confidence, capacity and capability of the institution across the very broad discipline area of Art and Design and in its strategic engagement with users of research. The refurbishment of the University’s Belfast campus where Art and Design is the main occupant and the establishment of a multi-million pound interdisciplinary art and design research centre (INTERFACE) are evidence of the University’s reputation as a centre of international research excellence in the field.

Supervision is available across most of the broad areas of Art and Design provided by the School. Outlined below are the research interests and areas of expertise of some of our supervisors. We welcome applications that fit within the proposed priority project areas. Final decisions rest upon the strength and focus of the proposal, and the current availability of appropriate supervisors. Support for other areas of research may also become available.



2 March 2010: Free seminar on practice, the PhD and new forms of
doctorate, London

ESRC seminar series on New Forms of Doctorate

I am very pleased to announce the latest seminar in the ESRC
series New Forms of Doctorate. Previous seminars in the series
have been highly praised and very popular, so please book your
place early.

London Knowledge Lab 23-29 Emerald Street London WC1N 3QS

Date and time
2 March 2010 coffee from 10:00; seminar begins 10:30; ends 3:30

How to secure a place
Please email Richard Sheldrake at

About the seminar
The new seminar on 2 March 2010 follows the pattern of our
previous events in combining strategic overviews of key issues
in the modern doctorate and case studies of particular forms of
research practice. Again key themes will be the kinds of
knowledge created by research and how they can best be
represented. The selection of participants is designed to give
insights across discipline boundaries.

We are very fortunate to have leading the speakers Prof. Chris
Rust, co-author of the important AHRC Review of Practice-Led
Research 2007, who is widely published on themes of tacit
knowledge and the nature of design. Dr. Mine Dogantan-Dack will
consider practice-as-research in music performance. An
internationally respected musician, she has recently directed an
AHRC project, Alchemy, rooted in rehearsal and performance with
the Marmara Trio. Dr. Anna Milsom completed her PhD in
translation at Middlesex University with a highly innovative
multimedia approach to representing her research knowledge.

Dr. Catherine Hill continues our theme from a previous seminar,
considering professional doctorates as well as the PhD. She has
a particular interest in enquiry which occurs in and for
advanced level practice and which has effective action rather
than published output as its main aim. Dr. Kristina Niedderrer
offers us a framework for the relationship between research
methods, knowledge, and that so-tricky concept, rigour. Dr Nick
Bryan-Kinns researches collaboration, engagement, and the design
process. He has particular insights to offer in
interdisciplinary studies, such as PhDs which veer towards the
arts but which are located and examined in a science and
engineering faculty, and is contributor to a major EPSRC
Doctoral Training Centre.

The speakers

Prof. Chris Rust
Professor of Design
Director, Sheffield Institute of Arts
Head of Art and Design Department
Sheffield Hallam University

Dr. Mine Dogantan-Dack
Research Fellow
Chair of Music Research Group
Music Department
Middlesex University

Dr. Anna Milsom
Senior Lecturer in Applied Translation
London Metropolitan University

Dr. Kristina Niedderer
Reader in Design and Applied Arts
Chair of Material Design and Applied Art Research Group
School of Art and Design
University of Wolverhampton

Dr. Catherine Hill
Programme leader, Professional Doctorate
Centre for Health and Social Care Research
Sheffield Hallam University

Dr. Nick Bryan-Kinns
Centre for Digital Music
and IMC Research Group
School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science,
Queen Mary, University of London

The series is led by Prof. Richard Andrews at the Institute of

The London Knowledge Lab is a collaboration between the
Institute of Education and Birkbeck.


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