Art - MPhil


This is a research degree which offers graduates the opportunity to undertake advance research in a variety of areas, including: Contemporary Art Practices (Intermediality, Painting, Sculpture, Print, Drawing, Film & Video, Photography, New Media, Performance, Movement/Dance/Choreography, Sound Art, Artwriting, Artists' Publishing, Curating), Extradisciplinary Arts (Education/Anthropology/Social Practices/Science), Parahumanities, Contemporary Visual, Material & Sensual Cultures, Contemporary Cultural Theory & Criticism, Artist-led Cultures, Histories of Contemporary Art (1975-Present).

For UK and European Union candidates, the MPhil in Art is available in both full-time mode (two years) and part-time mode (four years). However, for overseas candidates, this degree is only available in full-time mode due to visa restrictions. The degree is based on independent study, supported by a supervisory team, which normally includes two or three supervisors. Second or third supervisors can be based in areas outside the School of Art, either in ECA, or the wider University, depending on the interdisciplinary needs of the proposed research project.

Entry requirements include a 2:1 Honours degree or equivalent, and a research proposal of appropriate level (guidelines are available), in an area which can be supervised by available academic staff (please check staff research profiles). Candidates with relevant professional experience, who do not hold the required academic qualifications, can submit a research proposal accompanied by a portfolio with evidence of appropriate professional practice.

During their first year of study, students are encouraged to attend a Research Methods course run by the School of Art, as well as training sessions and workshops coordinated by the University’s Institute of Academic Development (IAD). These are designed to help them undertake their research more efficiently, and develop transferable skills. Students are also encouraged to attend relevant lectures, seminars and workshops which take place across all levels of provision in the School of Art, the wider Edinburgh College of Art, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the University more generally.

Students benefit from a range of libraries (including the Main Library of the University and two specialised libraries within ECA), studios, and a large number of specialised workshops, as well as exhibition spaces, both within the premises of ECA and the wider University, as well as in other venues in the city of Edinburgh with which ECA has developed links, partnerships and various types of collaborative relationships. Furthermore, research students in the School of Art benefit from related activities taking place in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, such as the Edinburgh Festival.

Students registered for an MPhil in Art can apply to transfer to PhD in Art, before the end of their second year of full-time study (fourth year of part-time study) at the latest.


Candidates are required to submit a thesis of maximum length of 50,000 words, or if appropriate a thesis of maximum length of 30,000 words, accompanied by an appropriate portfolio of practical work. Students are normally examined by means of a viva voce (oral examination), in which one external and one internal examiner interview the candidate after having read the written work, and considered any practical work that might be part of the submission (including work presented in exhibition format, performances, and experimental writing).

Knowledge and understanding

In this degree, we expect students to be able to relate their work to the general body of knowledge within their research area, and present the results of the research in a critical and scholarly manner. The presentation of the outcomes could be by thesis alone or, when appropriate, by a combination of thesis and portfolio of artefacts, artworks and other practice-based, practice-led or practice-related outcomes more generally.

When appropriate, students should be able to also show an informed awareness of the variety of methods, theoretical frameworks as well as creative and professional practices that have shaped the ways in which their chosen area is understood, interpreted and is manifested within past and current practices. Furthermore, students should be able to display a sophisticated grasp of specialised terminology current within their field of study (or combination of fields of study, when the research is interdisciplinary) and demonstrate the ability to understand, analyse and evaluate different arguments and competing critical claims within their area of expertise, as well as develop their own arguments, positions and approaches as appropriate, in both textual and other formats.

If students choose to follow a research methodology informed by practice, which might lead to the production of a portfolio of artefacts, practice-based, practice-led, or other practice-related outcomes submitted alongside the written thesis, this portfolio must comprise original work which is worthy of public exhibition, shows competence in the appropriate ancillary technical skills, and is suitably documented to provide an appropriate permanent record of the work. Finally, students should be able to demonstrate the ability to undertake theoretical and practical explorations in the form of a coherent and consistent dialogue between theory and practice which leads to an overall position, jointly supported by all aspects of theory and practice involved.


Dr Susannah Thompson, Programme Director | View staff profile >

This is a research programme. Support and supervision may be provided by any of the teaching staff in this School.

View the full staff list for the School of Art >


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