Art and Design Research Themes

We work under one unit to encourage interdisciplinarity collaboration identifying with specific core themes which have evolved with new people and over time.


There are four interconnected Themes of research that have great value to our society, culture and economy.

      • Art, Conflict and Society

        The Art and Conflict research theme embraces world-leading research that makes links between specific conflicts and transferrable research outcomes.

        Documentation, fieldwork-based research and art practice publication across a variety of media including photography, film and fine art.

        Researchers work with community groups, government, those affected by the troubles, museums and other organisations applying art practice to conflict situations nationally and internationally.

        Building upon long-term individual collaborations (over 20 years) with the National Museums for Northern Ireland (NMNI), the Art & Design Research Unit has led discussions on behalf of Ulster, with NMNI’s recently appointed Director of Research (2018) leading to a formal Collaborative Agreement between NMNI, QUB and Ulster.

        This enables Research Collaboration on projects and PhD topics, Student Placements across the Arts & Humanities, Public Engagement and sharing of faculties, training and resources enriching both institutional environments.

        We have had continued engagement with exhibitions, permanent collections, book launches, PhD visits and seminars.

      • Art, Design & Health

        This thematic groups explores a range of Art & Design applications and approaches stimulating or challenging topical debate, or driving innovative solutions, for better healthcare or personal wellbeing.

        It contributes to the generation of intellectual property for new devices, exploratory practice in response to a health event or collaborate with groups or organisations towards improved systems and processes.

        In addition to work with the Health Technology Sector, which overlaps with the Creative Industries thematic group, we have several links with clinical groups or organisations, including:

        • HSC Innovations
        • Clinical Transitional Research and Innovation Centre (C-TRIC)
        • Medical Optimisation Innovation Centre (MOIC)s
        • NI Pain Society
        • NI Pain forum
      • Arts, Space and Place

        This thematic group engages with the creative community in topics interrogating historic, environmental, geographic, cultural identity and sustainability issues.  We have strong links with the Artists studio community and organisations such as Bbeyond, Belfast Exposed, the MAC and many other groups. Research themes may consider

        • Interactions of structure
        • Environment and site responsiveness
        • Sustainable and environmental
        • Site, narrative and story telling
        • Cultural memory and vernacular
        • Landscape
        • Verses Arthritis and other organisations
      • Creative Industries

        This theme has a focus on research arising from and about applied creative practices. It is linked to the Faculty Wide Creative Industries Institute and is interconnected to other Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences subjects.

        Research follows Art & Design-led investigation engaging with industry bodies, the public and private sector leading the interdisciplinary Research Knowledge Exchange activities with the creative sector.

        Research activity is based both on individual and collective research practice. Research within the thematic group is both traditional practices and those that are technologically advanced.  There are 2 spin outcomes associated with this thematic group (HUMAIN and Tactility Factory). In Northern Ireland, creative industries employ over five percent of the entire workforce contributing nearly £1billion GVA.

        This is a very interdisciplinary theme linking to a broad range of disciplines outside of the subject area, especially across STEM.

        This group is closely linked to the ARHC Creative Industries Cluster, Future Screens NI, where three of our Researchers are Co-Investigators.