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PhD programmes – University of Reading

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  • Well-established and professional PhD programme

    Become part of an outstanding, creative and practice-based community

PhD programmes

Our PhD programmes offer an interdisciplinary approach to practice-based research. Our international postgraduate community provides a critical environment for the development of innovative doctoral research at the forefront of the fields of contemporary art, art history and curating.

As a postgraduate research student in the Reading School of Art, you will be part of a vibrant community, working alongside a thriving international group of doctoral researchers. We offer a supportive, stimulating and creative environment in which to develop your doctoral research, and welcome applications from students from a wide range of backgrounds from the UK and internationally.

Our research programmes are designed for artists and curators who would like to explore and develop their understanding of their practice, and in so doing to contribute to the wider cultural context through original critical work.

Our research environment is diverse and interdisciplinary. Through our supportive research environment we aim to 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.

"A highlight of my PhD has been being part of the community in the Fine Art Department. I chose Reading because the information on the Curatorial Platform was very interesting. I have been fully supported, above and beyond my expectations. If my supervisor does not have an answer to a question, she finds it, or directs me to the person or place where I can find it."

Heidi Aishman, PhD student

An introduction to the department

Our research seeks to engage with both the production and reception, distribution and mediation of contemporary art, exploring the interlinking roles of artist, curator and writer, and the transforming categories of practice, theory and criticism. 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. Other specialisms include post-colonialism and de-colonisation, artist films, performance and subjectivity, theories of labour, feminism and radical art pedagogy.  Please view our staff pages for their individual areas of research expertise.

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 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:

"The PhD in curating is a unique program connecting theory with practice in a manner not available in most universities. Being part of postgraduate research has allowed me first and foremost to reflect on my practice, while expanding my knowledge on current research in the field in relation to social, political and philosophy studies."

Avi Feldman, PhD Curating

 PhD student Avi Feldman at a conference

What we offer

We offer flexible modes of study designed to fit with your needs. Our PhD is available for study on a full-time basis over three years and part-time over four to six years. Both full-time and part-time variants are available for study in Reading or at a distance.

"In 2001 I relocated to Cyprus after living in central London for many years. The move was disorientating but opened up an interest in the relationship between artist and place as well as urban walking. In 2009 I started a project exploring some of these ideas but realised that if I didn't place myself within a structured programme I will never complete it, hence the PhD. I enjoy my visits to Reading for colloquium and supervision. My advice for new PhD students: develop a good index system; write every day; and spend the first year reading all the major texts you are likely to need."

Haris Pellapaisiotis, PhD student


You will research according to your own interests, and in addition to regular supervision you will meet twice a year for dynamic colloquia, to discuss your research within a diverse group. 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.

Over the course of your PhD you will also be involved in opportunities to communicate your work and network with other researchers, present a seminar, speak at conferences and workshops, and visit or host researchers from elsewhere. We hold our own SIAM student chapter allowing for participation at various national and international SIAM student conferences.


In the first two years of your degree course, you will benefit from a programme of relevant postgraduate courses which will be agreed between you and your supervisor/s as well as a programme of transferable skills organised by the Graduate School. 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.


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, as postdoctoral researchers, but also quickly find employment in other industries.

Further information

Meet our staff

Find out about staff in the Reading School of Art.

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