Summary

Adorning the body through tattooing is an ancient practice which has become widespread over the last few decades. According to a 2015 survey, one fifth of the UK population has a tattoo. Traditionally associated with subcultures, and still taboo in some societies, tattooing has become a significant aspect of popular culture in many parts of the world. As such, this indelible form of body modification is increasingly subject to academic and artistic attention. While some studies have researched the semiotics of tattooing as a visual language (Chris William Martin 2020) or traced its historical connection to maritime culture (Matt Lodder 2015), others have focused on the archiving of commemorative tattoos (Deborah Davidson 2017). Tribute Ink, an initiative of the British Legion, explores the role tattooing plays in remembrance and commemoration among veterans and serving members of the Armed Forces.

Sociology recognises the body as central to an individual’s sense of self and it is regarded by some theorists as the principle resource used in the construction of identity. As tattooing has moved from the social margins into mainstream culture it is starting to be viewed in a more positive light as a new form of making meaning and identity formation. Sociologist Les Back (2004) has argued that tattooing provides a hitherto under-appreciated means of expressing complex emotions, including those of love and affection. The embodied and ephemeral nature of these communications means that they are often overlooked or marginalised. Although tattoos may last a lifetime, upon death they decay and these diverse records of the human condition, sometimes representing episodes of loss, trauma, hope and resilience, are lost to posterity.

This study will deploy a range of methods to investigate the phenomenon of contemporary tattooing. The project will involve cataloguing and establishing a typology of designs through a process of systematic recording and engagement with community partners. It will also examine how artforms concerned with surface embellishment, from printmaking to ceramics and textiles, might be used as a matrix through which to archive and creatively explore these micro-sites of embodied memory. In materializing these private shrines as publicly accessible art objects, the project seeks to make an original contribution to understanding the practice of tattooing and its relationship to wider issues of identity, trauma, commemoration and wellbeing.

We welcome applications from artists, ceramicists and other creative practitioners with an interest in surface design and socially engaged practice. This project may also appeal to those with a background in material culture, heritage studies and curation, and we welcome applications which seek to engage with existing museum collections or other archives.


Essential criteria

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study.

We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Research proposal of 2000 words detailing aims, objectives, milestones and methodology of the project

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • For VCRS Awards, Masters at 75%
  • Completion of Masters at a level equivalent to commendation or distinction at Ulster
  • Practice-based research experience and/or dissemination
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project

Funding and eligibility

The University offers the following levels of support:

Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,840 (tbc) maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £8,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Department for the Economy (DFE)

The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,840 (tbc) per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

  • Candidates with pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, who also satisfy a three year residency requirement in the UK prior to the start of the course for which a Studentship is held MAY receive a Studentship covering fees and maintenance.
  • Republic of Ireland (ROI) nationals who satisfy three years’ residency in the UK prior to the start of the course MAY receive a Studentship covering fees and maintenance (ROI nationals don’t need to have pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme to qualify).
  • Other non-ROI EU applicants are ‘International’ are not eligible for this source of funding.
  • Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Due consideration should be given to financing your studies. Further information on cost of living


The Doctoral College at Ulster University


Reviews

I am Dean and Professor of Fine Arts School, Shenyang University. I received my undergraduate in Graphic Design at Luxun Fine Arts Academy and Masters of Applied Art at Luxun Fine Arts Academy too. My research is about art and social actions.It is one of the best experiences for me to study PhD at Ulster in Belfast. No words can express how much I learned and gained from my supervisors and colleagues and how much I feel grateful to them. They have broaden my views and deepen my understanding about art and art practice. With their help, my work "Cyber Cocoon Kids" was exhibited at UN in New York in 2018, which was one of my proudest moment. What a luck that I am from China, Shenyang, sister city of Belfast. I love Belfast and I would like to contribute to cooperation of the two cities in the future. With this PhD experience, I put what I learned into practice.

Yong Xie - PhD by Published Works in Art and Design

I am a storyteller, photographer and researcher. In 2010 I graduated from University of Wales, Newport (BA Hons Documentary Photography). From 2010 - 2015 I was a trustee and curator of Third Floor Gallery in Cardiff, Wales.My proudest moment was when I was told I passed my Viva. It took a lot of hard work to get to that point. It was a moment of great relief and pride of accomplishment. I am not entirely sure what my favourite memory was, but I will never forget how a good meeting with supervisors made me feel, especially when they were pleased with yet another submitted chapter!I couldn't have got through this without my family. My wife Binta, my daughters Ewa and Kamila (who was born during the year two!!!), my mother and father, and my siblings. I would not be here without my supervisors Paul Seawright and Ken Grant whose constructive criticism helped me to succeed in producing strong research.

Nowicki Bartosz - PhD in Art and Design

The PhD training programme and regular supervision contacts have provided the direction and support necessary to ensure that I deliver a quality thesis in a timely manner.I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working at Ulster University and feel it has put me in a better position to sustain a full time career as an artist and academic in the years to come.

Jacqueline Wylie

Before taking on a PhD, I was a freelance photojournalist. Before that, I did a Degree in editorial photography at the University of Brighton, prior to that I was a British soldier. My research is based upon British soldiers' personal photographs and my research "question" was why is this area of "war photography" not acknowledged and without agency.I am most proud of getting through and obtaining my Doctorate. Having left school with no qualifications has not been easy, so achieving this has been one of the most important things to happen in my life. My favorite memory at Ulster University was when my fellow PhD researcher and I got through out Confirmation Viva; afterwards, we celebrated and went to a wonderful Belfast pub nearby. We were all so relieved! I could not have got through the PhD without the wonderful support and guidance of my supervisors; also Spike the librarian really helped me when I was having doubts about my abilities. If I could speak to myself at the start of my

Stuart Griffiths - PhD in Art and Design