We are a research-intensive unit with a vibrant research culture within and across the disciplines above, along with collaborations with a wide range of external partners. REF2021 saw us being ranked alongside leading UK research-intensive university and conservatoire departments. We were placed joint first in the UK for research impact, in addition to our research environment being recognised as 100% ‘world-leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’, with more than half of our publications and practice-based outputs rated within these top two categories.

Our collaborative grouping of music, drama, film/screen and heritage contributes to a vibrant research culture which encompasses both theory and practice, as well as interdisciplinary opportunities.


Research at Ulster in subjects related to performing and practice-based arts, creative technologies, museum and heritage studies and associated cultural contexts is combined within this unit. PhD research can be pursued in the following individual subject areas and around priority topics including:

Film and Screen

  • Contemporary Filmmaking Practice
  • Modern and Contemporary Cinema
  • Alternative, Amateur and Resistance Media
  • Horror: Theory, Practices and Cultures
  • Immersive Media and Cinematic VR


  • Performance and Gender
  • Performance and Violence, Performance and Trauma
  • Applied Theatre and Disability Arts
  • Theatre and Ritual
  • Storytelling

Heritage and Museum Studies

  • Material culture
  • Collections interpretation and collection history
  • Conflict testimony in museum interpretation
  • Interculturalism and the museum
  • Museums and the everyday
  • Digital heritage interpretation
  • Dark Tourism


  • Composition and the Composer-Performer
  • Improvised Music
  • Music and the Visual
  • Music Technology and Electronic/Electroacoustic/Sound-based Composition

Entry requirements

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.

English language requirements

In order to be admitted to research study at Ulster, you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency as part of your application.

Get full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found on our English language requirements page.

Careers and opportunities

PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.

The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015), and while two thirds end up in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the range of skills acquired equips the remainder for employment in a wide range of contexts.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Details of tuition fees can be found under the fees schedule for the academic year of entry.

To work out for which fees you would be eligible and to find out more information about potential sources of funding, please view the Fees and Funding pages on the Doctoral College website.


We are delighted that you are considering Ulster University for your research studies.

Get full details on the application process and further guidance on how to apply, and what you will need to upload as part of your application.

Once you have identified supervisors, discussed a research proposal and are ready to make an application, please apply using the online application system.

Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.