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School of Communication Research Degrees

The School welcomes applications for research degree study for MRes (Communication Design), MPhil and PhD from all areas of art, design and related disciplines that demonstrate the potential for advanced research and critical practice in the field of communication. Projects that explore topical issues through both practice and theory are particularly encouraged.

We look for critical engagement, originality and proven skills in both practice and writing, and encourage questioning and experimental research approaches. Individual research topics normally relate to the ethos and expertise of the School’s programmes and research areas, so that we can provide appropriate supervision and resources.

Students are encouraged to develop their own methodologies relevant to their individual programmes of research. In recent years, the School’s research students have developed enquiries in areas including the manifestation of digital space, the mediation of cognitive and sensory experience, and the augmentation of design practice and knowledge.

Many of the School’s research students develop collaborative research initiatives during the course of their studies, drawing on the expertise of partner organisations, including creative businesses, cultural and academic institutions. Our current research students’ topics interface with a wide range of subjects including biology, geography, English language and literature, psychology, architecture, social and computer sciences.

The School has an established track record of securing funding for individual research projects, and seven of our students are currently in receipt of AHRC Doctoral awards. We also support individual student applications to external funding schemes.

The School has a dedicated research studio, which provides a quiet space for students to develop their ideas. Students have full use of the School’s specialist workshops (digital print, animation, moving image, sound, letterpress) and labs (information experience design, animation, visual communication) to produce and present their practical work.

Annual programmes of research seminars, workshops and events are organised for staff and students at both School and programme levels. Featuring visiting speakers alongside staff and student presentations, the School’s Methods of Intent programme provides a weekly forum for discussing research methods, approaches, contexts and work in progress. Each year we also hold a summer term research student symposium, to bring the School’s research students together to discuss topical issues in communication research and to plan new approaches and developments.

We support research students through direct registration to the School. This facilitates any student working across our programme areas, while allowing students working in specific disciplines to develop subject homes in our programmes, according to the individual requirements of their research.

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There are three thematic areas for developing research in the School, linking our students, staff and knowledge exchange activities across disciplines:

Publishing

Our research into the transformation of publishing and content distribution focuses reciprocally on making public and public making, encompassing the development of future models for publishing and cultural institutions, the critical practices of writing, designing and publishing, the possibilities of new digital technologies and their effects on readership, distribution and the experience of published materials.

Identity

Our research into the construction of identities spans public and private contexts, from developing identity design strategies for commercial and social enterprises to shaping new thinking in commercial, social and cultural communication. Our researchers are active in producing physical and digital interactions to support areas such as mental and emotional wellbeing, alternative economic strategies, learning and community coherence. Their research includes activities such as visualising public and private digital activity, mapping speculative bio-digital human futures, and documenting narratives of immigration and national identity.

Experience

Our research into the shaping of experience seeks to better understand how people create experiences from information and materials in everyday contexts, and to enhance human and user experiences through speculative, inclusive and critical design. Drawing on human computer interaction, architecture and spatial design, pedagogy and data visualisation, our experience research crosses cultural, social and commercial contexts resulting in, for example, the development of cultural learning environments, interactive devices and structures, and digital applications and media.