Doctor of Philosophy

Mimi Kelly, PhD
Untitled #6, 2010
Image: Dan Freene, retouching Wassim Bazzi

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree at the Sydney College of the Arts is designed to engage visual artists in independent research that constitutes an original contribution to the understanding of contemporary visual arts.

The PhD program provides candidates with a critical and intellectual focus to explore a single proposed research topic full-time over three to four years. Candidate’s research may reflect a critical exploration of the history, theory and practice of visual art; the development of new materials or technologies; the relationship between visual art and society; or the relationship between visual art and other disciplines.

Candidates elect to complete the PhD either by:

  1. a thesis comprising a substantial body of creative work for exhibition plus a written text examining the histories and theoretical underpinnings of the creative work, both of which demonstrate an original contribution to knowledge; or
  2. a substantial written thesis that, through a sustained investigation, demonstrates an original contribution to knowledge in the field of the history and theory of contemporary art.

Candidates develop their creative work in one or more of the SCA studio areas.

Each research candidate has a supervisor, a member of the SCA academic staff, appointed to take primary responsibility for the conduct and progress of the candidature, and an auxiliary supervisor, a member of academic staff at the Faculty or within the University of Sydney, appointed to provide additional support to the candidate and to cover times when the primary supervisor is not available.

At the commencement of their candidature, first year PhD candidates attend an introductory seminar program which develops the proposed research project and introduces a range of philosophical approaches to creative arts research, and attend four workshops on writing a thesis in a practice-led research context.

From the second year onwards, candidates attend and present a paper on the current state of their research at the Graduate Forum. This program provides an opportunity for candidates to present aspects of their research to the Faculty and postgraduate colleagues. All PhD candidates are required to attend each presentation.

PhD Outcomes

Doctor of Philosophy graduates gain professional development, critical evaluation skills and advanced research methodologies appropriate to contemporary visual arts practice. The PhD prepares graduates for career and research options beyond studio practice.

Find out how to apply.

Further course information.