Postgraduate Research

As a postgraduate research student in the department of Art at Reading, you will be part of a large and vibrant community. You will work alongside a thriving and interdisciplinary group of doctoral researchers.


With a history dating back to 1860 the Department of Art is one of the oldest and most established art Departments in the UK. We have extensive experience of successful practice based PhD supervision in Fine Art, Contemporary Art History, Curating and Art Writing.


Research in our department is led by a desire to support artistic research, propose new modes of art practice and stimulate public discourse around art. We make a distinctive contribution to creative knowledge through practice-led, theoretical and art historical modes of enquiry. We pride ourselves on our excellent research and how our research dynamically informs our teaching.


Our research seeks to engage with both the production and reception of contemporary art, exploring the interlinking roles of artist, curator and writer, and the transforming categories of practice, theory and criticism.


Our aim is to develop innovative art research that migrates between the production, distribution and mediation of art, in a stimulating inter-disciplinary environment. Key areas of focus include exhibition and curatorial practice, publication projects and critical art writing, underpinned by an emphasis on digital technologies as a format for the production, dispersion and interpretation of art.


We believe that emerging and innovative art practices forge new audiences and users. We work with international museums, galleries and collections in sharing our research to both specialist and non-academic audiences.



Our strengths derive from being a small focused research division supported by the wider University, its archives and collections. Art at Reading is key contributor to the University of Reading's Heritage and Creativity research theme.

Some examples of our distinctive research:

Sensory Object project  

The Stephen Dwoskin Archive

Zurich Platform for Curatorial practice based PhDs  


We offer flexible modes of study designed to fit with your needs. Our PhD is available for study on a full-time basis over 3-4 years and part-time over 5-6 years. Both full-time and part-time variants are available for study in Reading or working away.


You will research according to your own interests, and in addition to regular supervision you will meet twice a term for dynamic colloquia, to discuss your research within a diverse group. There are also popular fortnightly student-led seminars run in conjunction with the research group in the History Department that incorporates History of Art. There are also reading groups that coalesce around shared interests within the PHD cohort. An annual student-organised symposium, to which high-profile speakers are invited, takes place each summer term. In addition, you will have the opportunity to join our termly international seminars in London and Zurich as part of our curatorial partnership with Zurich University of the Arts. You will benefit from free membership at our associate partner, the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), in London.


We provide in-house training and discussion in practice-based research, which is in addition to the University Graduate School's extensive training in research skills.

The Graduate School

All postgraduate research students automatically become members of the University-wide Graduate School. The Graduate School provides training, professional development, study space, advice and administrative support in a dedicated building for the postgraduate research community at Reading.


Our PhD students go on to work in academia and other institutions as curators, gallery educators, writers as well as consolidate their development as artists.

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