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.

We encourage students to explore both discipline-specific areas of research, and interdisciplinary projects. As this is a research programme, support and supervision may be provided by any of the teaching staff in this School.

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.

How to apply and entrance requirements

If you'd like to study on a postgraduate programme at Edinburgh College of Art, you must apply through EUCLID, our online application system. You can find out how to do this on the University of Edinburgh website, where you'll also be able to:

  • see detailed entrance requirements for each programme on the Degree Finder
  • get information on what to expect after you apply
  • find out about study modes, start dates and fees
  • find out if, and how, you need to submit a portfolio, showreel or research proposal
  • find out where to go for further advice and guidance

Take me to the University of Edinburgh website on how to apply for postgraduate study

Preparing your application

Common to all research programmes are a set of research aims, a research context, a research process and a research product/outcome. The research proposal should include reference to all of these elements. All applicants for postgraduate research programmes must submit a research proposal.

Portfolios or writing samples are also required for some research degrees.

View the Design guidelines (PDF)


Dr Nichola Dobson

Lecturer in Animation, School of Design

Director of Postgraduate Research, Design; Programme Director MPhil/PhD Design

Email: n.dobson@ed.ac.uk

Facilities and resources

Students at the University of Edinburgh have access to a range of library resources across the campus and online.

The printmaking suite provides a host of facilities for traditional and contemporary printmaking processes.

Scholarships and bursaries

AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with NEoN Digital Arts: Valuing festivals as incubators of digital creativity – capturing the process of commissioning and presenting digital art

  • Deadline:
  • Value: Fees and a stipend at UKRI level (£15,285 for 2020/21) for 3.5 years
  • Eligibility: Full awards are only available to those who meet UK residency requirements. Students from EU countries may be eligible for a fees-only award.

AHRC PhD Doctoral Studentships

  • Deadline: 12 noon on 2 December 2019
  • Value: Stipend of around £15,000 p/a & fees (fees only for EU students)
  • Eligibility: For research interests aligning with, or cutting across, ECA's Schools.

ECA PhD Scholarship

  • Deadline:
  • Value: £16,000 per year for three years
  • Eligibility: Applications are invited for PhD research projects that take advantage of the leading research expertise across ECA.

College Research Awards

  • Deadline:
  • Value: £16,000 per year for three years
  • Eligibility: Applications are invited for PhD research projects that take advantage of the leading research expertise across ECA.

Edinburgh Global Research Scholarships

  • Deadline:
  • Value: Covers the difference between the tuition fee for a UK/EU postgraduate student and that chargeable to an overseas postgraduate student
  • Eligibility: Open to overseas students commencing a PhD in any field of study.

Carnegie / Caledonian PhD Scholarships

  • Deadline: 28 January 2020
  • Value: Covers tuition fees, a maintenance allowance and a research expenses allowance.
  • Eligibility: For graduates of a Scottish university with a first-class honours degree, or final year students of an undergraduate degree in Scotland expected to obtain a first-class honours (withdrawing if they fail to do so).


Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions

Email: ecaresearchdegrees@ed.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)131 651 5736