Design - MPhil/PhD


Undertaking an MPhil or PhD in Design offers you the opportunity to become part of a dynamic and varied research community. We have students engaged in a wide range of research projects covering the subject areas that form the School of Design. Given this we encourage students to explore both discipline-specific areas of research, and interdisciplinary projects.

Research environment

Research is central to the School of Design, providing MPhil and PhD candidates with a rich variety of staff research interests, and we specialise in areas including: place, body and environment; design and digital technologies; materiality and making; mechanics of narrative; design anthropology; design history and theory; and contemporary film theory and practice. Whichever area your research engages with you will either carry out a practice-based MPhil or PhD that offers you the opportunity to explore the research problem through a practical portfolio and textual output. Alternatively you can produce a fully text-based output. Both routes can be studied at PhD-level over three years full-time, or six years part-time. At MPhil-level full time study is two years, or four years part-time.

By its very nature MPhil/PhD-level research is determined by individual research interests, however you will be supported by a supervisory team who will assist you throughout your period of study. Alongside this you will become an active member of the research community in the School of Design, across Edinburgh College of Art, and the University of Edinburgh as a whole. These opportunities include a wide range of lectures, seminars, conferences, and workshops, including innovative research methods training, and the development of transferrable professional skills.


Dr Glyn Davis, PG Research 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 Design >


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A fully operational, entirely student-run 90-seat theatre housed in a neo-gothic church.

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The Centre for Research Collections (CRC) is the main space for anyone using the University of Edinburgh’s historic collections.

Work spaces are available across the University. ECA's computers include software tailored to the disciplines studied here.

At the heart of the Evolution House Learning and Research Zone, the ECA Library provides an innovative environment for learning, teaching and research resources in art and design.

ECAfé provides a full catering service to all staff, students and visitors to Edinburgh College of Art.

Edinburgh Global's mission is to encourage internationalisation, enhance the student experience, create and develop partnerships.

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A Georgian garden that doubles as a venue for performances in the centre of the city.

The primary collection of books, periodicals, manuscripts, and research material.

By day, a café, bar and study space, and by night a club venue. Potterrow’s dome is also home to the Advice Place and the Potter Shop.

Includes a screen-printing room, relief room, lithography room, process room, intaglio room, and caseroom.

The neo-classical Sculpture Court in the ECA Main Building is home to the many pieces from the Edinburgh Cast Collection, and is regularly used for student exhibitions.

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Offering counselling services for students, workshops, consultation and training for staff.

Supporting students with dyslexia, mental health issues and students on the autistic spectrum, as well as those who have physical and sensory impairments.

Talbot Rice Gallery is the public art Gallery for the University of Edinburgh.

Home to six distinctive bars, Teviot is the oldest purpose built students' union in the world.

Screen-printing facilities, a camera room, a digital fabric printer, and drawing studios with individual workstations.

A hub for the University Societies and setting regular live music, comedy, spoken word and poetry nights.

A bar at the Lauriston Campus which hosts regular events including club nights and gigs.

Woodworking tools and machinery include laser cutters, a vacuum former, and a 3D scanner and printer.

Scholarships & bursaries

Successful applicants will have a research interest aligning with, or cutting across, ECA's five Schools.

The scholarships cover tuition fees, maintenance allowance, research and travel allowance.

Designed to attract high quality students applying for PhD research.

Funding for PhD students undertaking interdisciplinary research at ECA. (£16,000 per year)

Open to overseas students starting a PhD at University of Edinburgh.

News & events


Rocio von Jungenfeld taking a photograph
Image courtesy of Teclo Gonzalez Garcia

Rocio returned to ECA to talk to current students about her research interests and her trajectory as a creative practitioner and designer.


The six contestants who took part in the ECA heat of this year's 3 Minute Thesis competition
The six contestants who took part in the ECA heat of this year's 3 Minute Thesis competition

Six PhD students battle it out, with wins for Music and Landscape Architecture.


For further information please contact the School of Design Director of Postgraduate Research, Dr Glyn Davis ( or the ECA Postgraduate Office (