History of Design Research

The History of Design programme encourages applications for research degrees. We offer MPhil and PhD by thesis. Potential applicants should email the programme administrator, to arrange to discuss their possible subject area with an appropriate course tutor. Please email

We welcome research applications that pursue the meanings of designed objects, spaces and images within the context of manufacture, mediation and consumption in any national or international context and historical period after 1400. Together with our partner institution, the V&A, we can offer expertise in a wide range of material and media specialisation, including dress and textiles, graphics, print and digital cultures, architecture, interior and product design, craft and applied arts. We welcome cross-disciplinary approaches to the subject from related research fields such as history and history of art, sociology and anthropology. Research student programme seminars, reading groups and workshops are offered to all students enrolled in the School of Arts & Humanities.

Areas of recent and current research interest include:

  • craftsmanship and artisanal cultures
  • design, trade and exchange
  • design exhibitions; curatorial practice, history and theory
  • design and national/global identities
  • the design and material culture of the domestic interior
  • material history and the history of materiality
  • Asian design history.