Research in the School of Arts


Research degrees programme

The School of Arts has a dynamic and thriving research environment and an excellent reputation for both its research quality and impact. The School of Arts encompasses both practice-based PhD’s as well as text-based PhDs in Publishing, Musicology, and Film Studies. There are currently over 40 students registered on the research degree programme in the School and more than 100 research students in the wider Faculty. A key feature of the research degrees programme is that students can be attached to research groups where they work alongside experienced researchers and subject specialists. Many students go on to contribute to the broader activities of these groups and increase their skills and expertise, as well as their future career and employment prospects.

Students also benefit from being members of the Faculty’s Doctoral Training Programme which provides both general and subject specific research training and support.

Research degree routes

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). We invite you to explore the research student profiles page to view a selection of current research degree projects.

What research can we supervise?

We welcome research proposals related to any of the subjects covered by the research groups represented by our two research centres:

  • Social Sculpture and Connective Practice
  • Sound Art and Sonic Art
  • Contemporary and Experimental Musical Composition and Improvisational processes
  • Arts practice as research
  • Kinetic sculpture and installation
  • Public art and site specific installation
  • Contemporary practice in arts and museums
  • Film History (with an emphasis on European and British cinema)
  • Film Theory; Hollywood and independent American cinemas; and Film Criticism
  • Film reception, audiences studies
  • New Cinema history
  • Film production, distribution and exhibition
  • 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)
  • The Culture and History of Publishing: Late nineteenth-, twentieth- and twenty-first-century print culture, publishing and book history.
  • International, Strategy, Policy and Development: Studies of contemporary publishing in local, regional and national contexts, issues of development and publishing.
Supervisors in the School of Arts include:

Fine Art / Social Sculpture / Sound Art:

Music / opera / Sonic Art:



Why study here?

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 (which includes the Departments of Planning, Real Estate and Construction, Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, Computing and Communication Technologies and the School of Architecture).
  • Students benefit from automatic membership of the Faculty Doctoral Training Programme. The DTP combines generic training and support with detailed subject specific methods training. Students in Arts can join one of three strands, Environment, Technology or Arts, Culture and Media, to get the training most suited to their topic.
  • A wide variety of optional training courses, student events, lectures and other opportunities delivered through the DTP which brings together all students in the Faculty in a strong cohort.
  • 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 University operates a Research Student Entitlement which ensures students receive appropriate and generous support and opportunities to present their work at conferences.

Entry requirements

Applicants should normally hold a 1st or Upper Second Class Degree (or recognised equivalent qualification), but appropriate applications will be considered from outstanding candidates with substantial prior experience at an appropriate level.

If English is not your first language you will need to provide one of the following language certificates:

  • IELTS at least 6.5 overall (with no less than 5.5 in any element);
  • PTE Academic at least 58-65 overall (with 51 in reading and writing, 51 in listening and speaking) depending on the subject.

IELTS and PTE Academic English language test results are only valid for two years. Your English language test report must be valid on the proposed start date of the programme, should your application be successful. Evidence of English language proficiency must be provided along with other supporting documents, in the form of a good quality copy of the certificate.

As a result of very recent changes made by UK Visas & Immigration, please note we no longer regard TOEFL as an acceptable language test for entry to Oxford Brookes. This applies whether you require a Tier 4 student visa or not. You can find more details on our English language requirements pages. If you do not meet these requirements you may be able to take our University English as a pre-sessional course.

Current fees and funding

For further information on current fees and living costs please refer to the university finance pages.

Current students have awards from a wide range of external bodies including industry, government bodies and charities, and others are self-funded. The university have a number of faculty specific and competitively allocated scholarships which, when available, are advertised on our Research Funding Opportunities page and on

In addition, details of available external international scholarships and funding are available at the university's Scholarships and Bursaries page.

Applicants should be able to pay the university’s tuition fees, either personally or through grants, sponsorship or other awards made in their favour. Applicants receiving awards should be able to present evidence of their funding at the time of application, usually in the form of a letter from the awarding body. Self-funded international students should be aware that the UK Border Agency will require evidence that a candidate can pay their first year’s fees before they will grant a student visa.

When should you apply?

Our MPhil, MPhil/PhD and PhD Direct programmes are three term programmes and have a choice of start dates throughout the year in September, January and April. Our Masters by Research and PhD by Published Work programmes are two term programmes and have two possible start points, September and January. It is recommended that you apply at least 6 months in advance to allow adequate time for your application to be processed (in the case of UK/EU applicants no less than 4-6 weeks).

You should allow sufficient time to complete the application process and apply for an appropriate visa (this usually takes between 3-6 weeks to be completed) and to make arrangements to move to Oxford in time for the start of semester.

How do you apply?

The application process is broken down into 5 steps:

  1. Check essential requirements

    In order to be considered for the programme you will have to meet our application requirements and programme entry requirements. Before you apply, please check you meet entry requirements (such as academic qualifications and English Language requirements), as well as the financial requirements of the programme.

    Ask yourself the following questions:

    • Do I meet the programme entry requirements?
    • Do I meet the English language requirements?
    • Have I considered the financial requirements? (including tuition fees and living costs)
    • Do I have the supporting documents that I am required to submit with my application form?
  2. Explore our research groups and supervisory staff pages

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

  3. Agree your research

    At this stage you should contact Jane Potter ( for Publishing) or Ray Lee ( for all other Arts subjects) and advise them that you are considering making an application. You are also welcome to contact particular academics to help you develop your ideas.

  4. Formulate your proposal

    When you have agreed a research project with Jane and Ray you will be asked to prepare a proposal. You can indicate any staff members whom you would like to work with, or Ray and Jane will circulate your proposal to the most appropriate staff to get their comments. If the proposal is accepted Ray or Jane will ask you to make a formal application, or give you advice on how the proposal may be improved.

    For guidance on writing a PhD research proposal see our Guide to writing PhD Research Proposals.

  5. Gather required documents and submit:

    Our MPhil/PhD programme requires additional supporting documentation to be submitted as part of the application process. Before applying through UCAS Postgraduate please make sure you gather the following supporting documentation:

    • Research proposal
    • Scan of your passport - to confirm your name and date of birth. We will then ensure that any offer letters issued to you correspond with your passport name, this will help when applying for a student visa.
    • IELTS Certificate or equivalent (if required) – no older than two years from the proposed start date of your programme.
    • 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. Please note that it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure their referees supply these documents.
    • 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).

    After your UCAS Postgraduate application has been submitted, these documents can be e-mailed directly to the Research Administrator in the Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment ( Please note that you will need to provide certified translations of any documents which are not in English.

    Submit your application through UCAS Postgraduate

    You can apply for any of our MPhil/PhD programmes at UCAS Postgraduate (, the online application system used by Oxford Brookes. Please log onto UCAS Postgraduate and complete your application. You can save your draft as you go, log out and return to it later if you wish. At this stage your application can only be seen by you. If you have any difficulty completing your application, you can call the UCAS Postgraduate Helpline on +44 (0)871 334 4447. If you are calling from outside the UK, please call the international telephone number: +44 330 333 0235, Monday to Friday, 08:30-18:00 (UK time).

    You should note that we cannot consider your application for admission until all the documents noted above have been received, including financial documentation.


Applications must comply with our entry requirements, include a good quality research proposal and fall within the capacity of the school to provide relevant supervision. The application process is broken down into 5 steps:


In you need advice at any point, please contact: