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Research Graduate School : Faculty of Art, Design and the Built Environment

  • PhD/Research Degrees

    Opportunities to be a pioneer in your field.

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The Faculty of Art, Design and the Built Environment through its Research Graduate School enables high quality research in the broad spectrum of disciplines, as well as inter-related areas.

PhD Research Opportunities 2017/18

For its intake of postgraduate research students, the Faculty of Art, Design and the Built Environment is particularly keen to receive applications addressing the topics listed below. Topics are grouped by Research Institute (RI).

The campus base for Art and Design is Belfast; for the Built Environment it is Jordanstown. Applicants should indicate the research area or project for which they wish to be considered. In addition to the topics listed here, applicants for self-funded PhD studies are also invited to come forward with their own projects. In Art & Design, we require to see samples of work (a portfolio at interview, or images, e.g. sent with the application).

Applicants are also encouraged to contact the supervisor(s)/contact(s) associated with particular projects and research areas in sufficient time in advance of applying before the deadline of 24th February 2017, in order to receive feedback on their proposal drafts. Contact details for University staff can be found at

We encourage you to compose your proposal using our proposal guidance below.

Proposal Guidance

Guidance notes for Applicants for PhD Admission / Studentships

Please prepare a proposal (500-1000 words; excluding bibliography) that includes the following:

  • Title of the Priority Topic (as advertised) including the names of prospective supervisors (listed in the advertisement).
  • Research Question(s) / Rationale and Context / Aim and Objectives
  • How does the proposal relate to your previous work / qualification(s) / experience?
  • What are the methods / processes with which you intend to pursue the research?
  • Are there any ethical considerations?
  • What may then be the outcomes over three years?
  • Indicative Bibliography

Art and Design Research Institute PhD Topics

RIAD PhD Opportunities are grouped by Research Cluster. Alternatively, you can visit the PhD Opportunities page to view them all.

Built Environment Research Institute PhD Topics

Further Information

For further information on funding opportunities and PhD study, please see:

Applications have now closed

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2017/18 annual PhD competition. The competition will reopen at the end of the year.

Excellence in Research

Through our research and researchers, supervision activity and our PhD graduates, we continue to make an active contribution to the intellectual climate, academic attainment, artistic excellence, cultural presence, technical innovation and sustainability of Northern Ireland and beyond.

Supervising staff members are active researchers and have collectively contributed to excellent outcomes for the two relevant Units of Assessment, which are both ranked within the top 5 and 10 in the UK THES Power Rankings. In the most recent student survey, the School of Architecture and Design came 4th in the UK. The Faculty is based at the newly re-built Belfast campus (Art, Design, Architecture) and in Jordanstown (Built Environment).

The Faculty's PhD cohort is, with over 120 researchers, one of the largest in the university and one of the most internationally diverse. We have over a decade's experience providing PhDs involving art and design practice, the largest group undertaking such research on the island of Ireland, as well as one of the largest in the UK context, and we have an excellent track record in attracting studentships to fund PhD research each year.

Our Responsibility

The Research Graduate School has an administrative responsibility for all aspects of the research student's progress from initial application to final examination. Details of the School's role and the processes it oversees are provided in the Faculty's handbook for postgraduate research. This is to be read in conjunction with the university-wide information that the Research Office provides.

Students are supported individually to help each one follow his or her own research interests, achieve their personal potential, and make original contributions to international research. The purpose of the Research Graduate School is to facilitate and promote such high quality postgraduate research.

Professor Neil Hewitt BSc DPhil CEng CPhys MInstP MInstR MEI

Head of Research Graduate School

Faculty of Art, Design and the Built Environment.