Job title: Chair of Contemporary Art Practice & Theory, School of Art, The University of Edinburgh

Role: Programme Director, MA Contemporary Art Theory

Tel: Skype neilmulholland


Office address: E28 Main Building

Contact time:

Research outputs: Professor Neil Mulholland on Edinburgh Research Explorer

╮(╯▽╮(╰)╭╯▽ hhhhhhhhHHHNNNNgggggg

​My research and learning interests in the nonmodern, paragogy and weird materialisms coorespond with three inter-related corporations (Confraternity of Neoflagellants, Shift/Work, Atelier).

Each of these corporations is primarily concerned with methodological inventiveness, co-constructing para, 'pata, psuedo and extra-disciplinary methods that systematically re-frame artistic research as an open ended inquiry: a careful, continuous quest driven by curiosity.

Contemporary art is a parasite; a good host forever seeking an equally good host. To these ends, I mostly work collaboratively, forming a distributed corporatus, then adopting shared avatars that have interpretive flexibility.

At the moment, this means co-authoring theory-fictions and fabulating methods such as the transdiscipline of neomedievalism. This produces a pour of historical, critical, weird materialist and fictional approaches to writing charged and torn with curatorial, paragogical and artistic research.

As a member of the International Art Critics Association, I have long worked as a critic for many international art publications. I write for literary and political magazines, the popular press, television, commissioned monographs and artwriting publications and have curated exhibitions as part of international biennials as well as numerous projects at artist-led organisations. Additionally, I continue to produce original archival research on contemporary art in Britain since the 1970s.


  • 1998, Doctor of Philosophy, History of Art, The University of Glasgow
  • 1995, MA (Hons.) History of Art with English Literature, The University of Glasgow

Academic Leadership

I have held a number of senior management roles and been an academic leader at a Scottish, GB and European High Education Area level.

As Postgraduate Dean for the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences in The University of Edinburgh I was responsible for 200 taught postgradute programmes (7,500 FTE students) and 2,200 PhD students across 11 Schools: Business School; Centre for Open Learning; Divinity; Economics; Edinburgh College of Art; Health in Social Science; History, Classics and Archaeology; Law; Literatures, Languages and Cultures; Moray House School of Education; Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences; Social and Political Science.

As Dean I also-co Chaired our Senatus Researcher Experience Committee, responsible for all 5,750 PhD students in the University of Edinburgh (now our Doctoral College).

I represented The University of Edinburgh in the Russell Group, Coimbra and the League of European Research Universities.

I was Exec Member of the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science and Scottish Graduate School for the Arts & Humanities.

I have also been:

Director of PGT and PGR Learning & Teaching in Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh

School of Art PG Director and Director of MA and MFA Contemporary Art Programmes, University of Edinburgh

School of Art Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange and Programme, University of Edinburgh

Director of the Centre for Visual & Cultural Studies, Edinburgh College of Art (as SSI HEI)

Director of Taught Postgraduate Studies, Edinburgh College of Art (as SSI HEI)

Director of 8+ taught postgraduate programmes

Before joining ECA, I was a Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art at the University of the Creative Arts, Surrey and  Visiting Lecturer in Historical & Critical Studies at The Glasgow School of Art and in History of Art, The University of Glasgow.

Quality Enhancement of Learning & Teaching

I am currently Chief External Examiner Fine Art & Examiner, BA (Hons) Fine Art Critical Practice and all BA Critical Studies modules, University of Brighton, England

Chair of External Evaluation Committee (EEC), Art, History and Theory (BA, Masters, PhD), Department of Fine Arts, Cyprus University of Technology, for the Republic of Cyprus Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education.


2017-2020 External Examiner, Master of Research, Royal College of Art, London, England.

2017-2020 External Examiner, Visual Culture: BA Fine Art and BA Visual Art Programmes, Dublin School of Creative Arts, Dublin Institute Technology, Ireland.

2019:  Chair of External Evaluation Committee (EEC), Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art, University of Nicosia for the Republic of Cyprus Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education.

2014-2018 Chief External Examiner and External Examiner MA Creative Practice, Leeds Arts University, Leeds, England.

2016 BA and MFA Fine Art Revalidation Panellist and Reviewer, School of Art & Design, Ulster University, Belfast, Ireland.

2013-2017 MA Fine Art and MFA Programmes at the University of Leeds, England.

2010-2015 External Examiner Visual Culture, History and Theory modules in the BA (Hons) Contemporary Fine Art, BA (Hons) Fashion and Textile Design with Enterprise, BA (Hons) Graphic Design, BA (Hons) Illustration and BA (Hons) Photography in the School of Art, Design and Media, University of Portsmouth, England.

2009-2013 External examiner of BA (Hons.) Fine Art Programmes at the School of Art, BIAD, Birmingham City University, England.

I supervise PhD students in working, broadly, in the fields of artistic research and in visual, cultural and material research.

I am Programme Director of the MA Contemporary Art Theory in the School of Art 

I established the MA CAT in 2001 as a post-studio programme that supports the practices of artists and contemporary art professionals. My research and teaching are fully integrated in this programme. Additionally, the theory and practice of teaching art is, in its own right, one of my key research concerns:

Contemporary Art & Open Learning

  • In 2020, I co-created new open courseware in Contemporary Art & Open Learning with Jake Watts, Emma Balkind and Beth Dynowski. The courseware is an Open Educational Resource that anyone can access online.

Contemporary Art + Anthropology

  • In 2021, I launched a new course in Contemporary Art + Anthropology, team taught with Dr Angela McClanahan, Frances Davis and Edinburgh University Art Collections. This course combines artistic practice and social anthropology to create a hybrid interdiscipline.

Current Research Projects

Confraternity of Neoflagellants

I work with the artist Norman Hogg (Concordia, Montréal, Quebec) as the Confraternity of Neoflagellants. We use distributed methods of production and exhibition and diverse post-media narratives to produce works by contemporary and fictitious artisans, journeymen, hosts, anchorites, avatars, Sherlockers and hyper-economists. Our intermedial research has taken the form of books, zines, videos, artefacts, paintings, articles, talks, performances, parties, academic papers, shops, music… and has featured in a wide range of galleries, art catalogues, artists’ books, art journals, and academic journals traversing the disciplines of contemporary art and medieval studies. In 2014, Goldsmiths College hosted Neomedievalisms, a symposium responding to our theory-fiction book thN Lng folk 2 go: Investigating Future Premoderns (Punctum, 2013). In 2015, we chaired “Neomedieval Aesthetics in the 21st Century” at the Leeds International Medieval Congress and performed at congresses in Toronto (BABEL Group) and Warsaw (New Materialism). Mobilitas Loci, was commissioned for the artist Amanda Beech’s bookwork First Machine and Final Machines (LGP, England, Nov 2015), which includes writing by Reza Negarestani and Ray Brassier.

In spring 2019, we exhibited a new film in Whale Fall at Gossamer Fog in London and had a solo show - pan-pan - at SAW in Ottawa. We completed our new theory-fiction book pan-pan  (Punctum, 2021) while in residency at SenseLab in Montréal in the first half of 2019. In April 2020, we published 'Built this City' for Emotionarama a new edition by Andro Semiko and Andrew Hunt.


I work with Dan Brown and Jake Watts on Shift/Work, a group that develops workshop models for artistic paragogy, participatory visual methods and open educational resources. Shift/Work has examined and reconfigured ways in which we can facilitate comprehensive workshop-based approaches to artistic production that are theoretically informed, practical and participatory. We facilitate new experiential knowledges, practices and tools for artists and art educators to adapt and implement. In 2015 we delivered papers on Shift/Work Unlearning at conferences in Poznan and Brighton. In 2016 we ran Decisions, Decisions at ESW (ITAC3), Malmö Art Academy and Reykjavík Art Academy and faciliated Groundcourse with Prof Roy Ascott. Shift/Work Speculations was composed in ESW and ran at the Kochi Biennial, India and at the Kristiansand Theatre, Norway in 2017. We ran a new workshop - IN/OUT - at Risky Business #3, Sheffield Institute of Creative Arts. I published a book - Re-imagining the Art School - that develops the paragogics of Shift/Work into a broader manifesto for art school reform and contributed a Shift/Workshop to Leap into Action a reader on Performative Pedagogics in Art & Design Education (Peter Lang, 2019).

In 2020, I co-created new open courseware in Contemporary Art & Open Learning with Jake Watts, Emma Balkind and Beth Dynowski. The courseware is an Open Educational Resource that anyone can access online.

Atelier: Making Research Material Across the Arts & Social Sciences

With Dr Angela McClanahan (School of Art) and Professor Richard Baxstrom (Social Anthropology) I co-direct the research network Atelier: Making Research Material Across the Arts & Social Sciences in the University of Edinburgh. Disciplines within the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and our external partners each have their own protocols and methods for making material available for study in the form of objects. Yet, as we make radically distinct objects from the same material, what remains to be formulated are the concepts, equipment, and techniques that might generate the truly collaborative ability to fabricate common research objects. We have developed new models of making and enquiry that bring together often separate visual and material research practices within the social sciences and humanities through the creation of ‘Atelier’. An Atelier is a commons that allows us to make shared research ‘objects’ through collaborative research practices. A series of charrettes - participatory workshops involving interested colleagues across UoE, partners in the museum and gallery sector and local ‘user groups’, in turn, focus on a particular object that facilitates and contrasts different methods of material enquiry. By engaging with ’things’ in the custody/field of our non-academic partners, these charrettes have enabled us to map and improve conditions for cross-disciplinary collaboration, shifting the emphasis away from doing research towards the creation of research objects. In 2016, Atelier have organised charrettes with National Museums Scotland (Edinburgh) and Atlas Arts (Skye) and hosted a keynote by Richard Sennett.

We have validated a new postgraduate taught course in Contemporary Art + Anthropology that forms a core component of my MA Contemporary Art Theory programme.

Current PhD students

PhD Supervision Topics

Accepting applications.

​​I supervise PhD students in artistic research and in visual and material culture studies.

If you intend to apply for funding to pursue a PhD, please contact me before September to ensure enough time to work on your proposal. I'm happy to team-supervise projects that relate to one, or more, of the groups that I belong to, specifically:

  • Confraternity of Neoflagellants 
    • Neomedievalisms
    • Nonmodern
    • Fictioning, Fabulation and Theory-Fiction
    • Weird Studies
    • Neurodiversity
    • Hypereconomics
  • Shift/Work and Art & Learning
    • art-as-education-as-art, e.g.
    • educational turn in art/curating
    • workshop-as-method
    • Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL) in art
    • paragogics
    • para-academia
  • Atelier Network
    • Contemporary Art + Anthropology
    • Hybrid research methods
    • New materialisms and non-representationalism 
    • Organisational studies pertaining to contemporary art (curating, arts programming)