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Postgraduate Research

Manchester School of Art’s Research Centre MIRIAD, offers research degrees in the practices, professions, histories and theories of art and design and cognate disciplines. These can be studied on a full and part-time basis at Masters, MPhil and PhD Level.

Our multidisciplinary programme is versatile and can be a purely theoretical or practice-led interrogation of creative processes and their outcomes. Research degrees are linked with the research groups of the MIRIAD Research Centre. The groups indicate the areas of research expertise within Manchester School of Art.

MIRIAD pioneered the practice-led MPhil and PhD, and today we provide a nationally recognized environment for postgraduate research. We have long-standing relationships with galleries, museums, and the creative industries in the NW region and beyond. The degrees offered by MIRIAD provide students with the opportunity to undertake research projects with over fifty nationally and internationally recognized historians, theorists, practitioners and professionals.

MIRIAD has a thriving community of approximately ninety students and is situated close to the centre of Manchester in the Righton Building, a former Edwardian department store, on the All Saints Campus. The nurturing environment of MIRIAD provides flexible learning opportunities and encourages progression from masters to doctoral level.

Study at MIRIAD

Study can be directed towards a research or a professional career. With the assistance of your supervisory team, in the first months after enrolment you will refine and complete your research proposal. If you are registered for an MPhil you will have the option after a maximum of fifteen months to apply for transfer to a PhD. MA by Research students complete their research within a year (two years part-time).

We provide a programme of training and workshops to equip you with the skills and knowledge necessary for carrying out your research. The Researcher Development Programme consists of weekly seminars. Students are also assisted to run projects and events with each other and with regional arts organisations.

Every student is supervised by at least two subject specialists and a director of studies. Your work is supported, developed and challenged through workshops, lectures, critiques, discussions, studio and learning cultures, specialist tutorials and personal tutorials. Elements from the taught MA programme, such as theory courses are also available (Thursdays). Researchers are encouraged to contribute to seminars and conferences and there are opportunities to exhibit work. Financial support for research expenses and conference attendance can be made available.

There are regular progression stages which, along with regular tutorials and an annual review, ensure students’ smooth progression through the research degree. You keep a personal development portfolio to assist you in contextualising and reflecting upon your work.

Your research practice – writing, making, reading, discussion – defines everything that you do. The practice will result in any agreed form that is capable of producing evidence of an appropriate level of achievement – visual, written, aural or digital. Studio-based submissions are accompanied by a written critical report.

All programmes commence towards the end of September but it can be possible to enrol at other points in the year. The programme in research methods and other taught elements normally take place on Wednesday of each week.

MMU is a member of the North West Doctoral Training Consortium. Students can join with people from other universities in the Consortium in training and events across the region.

MIRIAD Online is our site for news, resources, events and conferences of interest to research students.

MA by Research

Study undertaken at masters level runs for a year (full-time) and explores aspects of knowledge at the forefront of an academic or professional discipline. Students are expected to demonstrate originality in the application of knowledge, and to gain understanding of how the boundaries of knowledge are advanced through research. They will be able to deal with complex issues systematically and creatively.

A MA by Research thesis will not normally exceed 30,000 words (excluding ancillary matter such as footnotes). When the submission is accompanied by material in other than written form, the written component should normally be within 10,000 – 15,000 words.

Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

The degree of MPhil entails a longer research programme than the MA, allowing greater scope for subject, methods and critical enquiry. It continues for at least eighteen months of full-time study. For many it is a bridging stage between study at masters and at doctoral level.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Doctorates are awarded for creating, interpreting and communicating knowledge that extends the forefront of a discipline or of professional practice, through original research and critical thinking. To achieve the award, the student will have demonstrated extensive scholarship in their discipline or area of practice and shown mastery of subject-specific intellectual skills.

Traditionally the PhD was examined solely through a written thesis but now the thesis can include the student’s own creative work. MIRIAD offers a number of routes to a PhD from a wholly written thesis of 80,000 words to PhDs by published work or PhDs by practice. See the MIRIAD Research Degrees Handbook 2015—2016 for details of these.

Fees & Applying

For 2016/17 the MIRIAD research degree fees are—

  • Home/EU (Part-time) £2060
  • Home/EU (Full-time) £4121
  • Overseas £13300

Also see details of our Current Studentships.

To apply, please download the application form available on the How to Apply page. For further information and advice please contact the Research Degrees Administrator.

Manchester School of Art researchers contribute to report

North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership (NWCDTP)

Manchester Metropolitan University is a member of the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership (NWCDTP) which was awarded £14 million in 2014 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to train skilled researchers in arts and humanities.

The partnership is led by the University of Manchester and other members are the Universities of Keele, Lancaster, Liverpool, Salford and the Royal Northern College of Music. In addition it has eight non-academic partners: BBC, FACT, Home, Tate Liverpool, Staffordshire Archives, MOSI, Future Everything, Opera North.

They will award around 200 PhD studentships over a 5 year period. Students are also offered placement opportunities and additional skills training, working alongside partner organisations including museums, galleries, cultural organisations and businesses. The development of broader skills such as partnership working, language skills and experience in working outside academia is also encouraged. There is also joint supervision of students, sharing of resources from across the consortia, further activities such as student events, conferences and the fostering of peer support networks.