Skip main navigation

£199.99 £139.99 for one year of Unlimited learning. Offer ends on 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply

Find out more

Welcome and introduction

Introduction video. In this course you will learn what the PhD process involves and start working on your PhD proposal.
Hello and welcome to our MOOC about practice-based research in the arts. I’m Rachel Mader, professor at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Lucerne, Switzerland. And I’m Axel Vogelsang, also professor at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Lucerne. Rachel and I will be your guides on an exciting journey, introducing you to the concept and the practice of undergoing PhD research in fine art, design and film, including several highly  interesting examples of PhDs done by contemporary designers, artists and filmmakers. Together, we will present and discuss how, as an artist, designer or filmmaker, you can turn your practice into relevant academic research.
We will look at what a doctorate or PhD in the arts comprises and to what extent it’s a fruitful and unique contribution to research and societal topics. We will also demonstrate how to do it and where. What are the institutions like that offer practice-based PhDs, what is the process like and what research methods can be used? How can you use the diverse publication forms available in the field to make your research accessible to others? This course is directed at anyone who is considering entering a PhD program or is interested in learning more about such doctorates.
It should help you understand what will be expected of you and what you should expect, enabling you to make an informed decision for or against doing a PhD. During this program, we’re working together with experts to help you better understand what it means to do a PhD in fine art, design and film. They all have either successfully achieved their PhD or have entered the final phase during production of this course. They are pleased to offer insight into their experiences and equip you with detailed information about specific steps. We hope this wide range of interesting topics has piqued your curiosity.
Welcome! We are very pleased that you have joined us. We look forward to exploring what it means to do a practice-based PhD in the arts.

In this first video, our lead educators Dr Rachel Mader and Dr Axel Vogelsang will explain how this online course encourages artists, designers and filmmakers to turn their practice into academic research, to delve deeper into significant questions and to share their knowledge with society.

In the next 6 weeks, you will learn what the PhD process involves and start working on your PhD proposal. The course is designed with a strong focus on practice, so we have invited six experts to join us. They are artists, designers, filmmakers who have all done a PhD and will share their experience with you throughout the course.

You will engage with their work, but will also take a deep look into your own practice as a starting point for your PhD. We will ask you to share some of your interests and to explore the world of practice-based research in the arts. For this you will be using another online platform called Padlet. No worries, we will explain how to do that.

Course Structure

  • In the first week we will give an introduction to the course as well as to the experts and their work. We will also address the important question of what it means to do a practice-based PhD.
  • In the second week we talk about framing a research project. How do you start to define your topic and come up with relevant research questions?
  • The third week is dedicated to the actual process of doing a PhD. This is not only about how projects progress but also about the challenges and even crises you might face and how to deal with them.
  • In the fourth week we will have a closer look at methods and approaches for doing a PhD in fine art, design and film.
  • The fifth week will focus on supporting structures. What kind of universities offer practice-based PhDs in the arts? What is the role of supervisors and how can you build a support network for yourself?
  • In the sixth and last week we will consider what you will have achieved when you finish your PhD. We will look at the role played by the dissertation as well as at the creative practice our experts delivered as part of their PhD.

Introduce yourself

Now please join the conversation and introduce yourself to the other learners in the comment section at the bottom of the page. Tell us about your expectations. Why are you here? What do you want to learn?

This article is from the free online

Preparing for a Practice-based PhD in Fine Art, Design, and Film

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education