Doctor of Philosophy Program

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program constitutes independent research in an aspect of the visual arts. The degree is awarded for the successful completion of an approved program of supervised advanced research, which makes an original contribution to knowledge.

The PhD candidature represents an opportunity to explore a single research topic reflecting a critical exploration of the history, theory and practice of art; the development of new materials or technologies; the relationship between visual art and society, and/or the relationship between visual art and other disciplines. A PhD provides you an opportunity to prepare career and research options beyond that of studio practice.

Duration of the degree is three years (six semesters) to four years (eight semesters) full time or six to eight years part-time. Candidates are expected to study full time in their first year of candidature unless there are exceptional circumstances such as major personal hardship or health problems.

The following chapters will assist you with your study:

Course Structure and Requirements

Examination

COURSE STRUCTURE AND REQUIREMENTS

At the beginning of your course you are required to nominate one of the following methods of candidature:

  1. a thesis comprising a substantial body of creative work for exhibition plus a written text examining the histories and theoretical underpinnings of 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.

In Option (1), the creative work must represent a significant and coherent solo exhibition. You must obtain a pass for both the written text and creative work for the degree to be awarded.

The length of the written thesis to be agreed through consultation between you, your supervisor and the HDR Coordinator. Any changes must be approved by the supervisor and the HDR Coordinator. The expectations for Option (1) are in the vicinity of 40,000-50,000 words, and for Thesis Option (2) - in the vicinity of 60,000-80,000 words.

First Year

Probationary period

The first year of the PhD program at SCA is a probationary year for all new candidates. At the end of your first year of candidature, we expect you to have achieved the following milestones:

  • you have a clearly articulated research question
  • you have completed a literature review or introduction of 7000 – 10,000 words
  • you have a complete outline of the written component of your thesis, with draft chapter headings, sub-headings and a brief abstract of each chapter
  • you have commenced a small body of studio work within the time you have been enrolled in the degree
  • you have attended the Introductory PhD seminar program and at least 3 of the 4 thesis writing seminars.

PhD Seminar Program

The first-year Seminar Program is compulsory for all first year PhD candidates. The seminars are designed to introduce candidates to

  • the principles of practice-led research and scholarly definitions of knowledge and research
  • structuring and writing a literature review in the field of contemporary art
  • how to structure an 'art practice as research' thesis
  • developing a position from exploratory research


All first-year PhD candidates are enrolled in the unit of study CART7005 Art as Research, a seminar series on practice-led research, in their first research period.

Please refer to the Postgraduate Research Units of Study section of the SCA Handbook for the outline.

All other seminars are held as stand-alone two-hour workshops throughout the first year of candidature.

Details of the seminars and workshops are communicated to candidates' University email accounts prior to commencement and at regular intervals throughout the year.

Probation review

During your first progress review, you will give a presentation on your work to date (both creative and written work). This 15-minute presentation will be followed by a 15-minute discussion/interview in which your progress is discussed.

Your review panel is authorised to recommend a change of probationary enrolment to normal candidature.

Your progress review is administered by the HDR Administration Centre, who provide full guidelines on your progress plan, report and review.

Second and Third Years

Graduate School Forum

All PhD candidates are required to attend the Graduate School Forum once they have completed the first semester of their candidature, and must present a paper each year on the current state of their research. Each presentation session is chaired by a fellow candidate.

Candidates who are unable to attend a presentation must have their supervisor's support and request approval in writing from the HDR Coordinator.

EXAMINATION

Thesis Submission and Examination

At the end of your final year (the third or fourth year of full time candidature), you must submit for examination:

  • a thesis comprising a substantial body of creative work for exhibition plus a written 40,000 to 50,000 word text examining the histories and theoretical underpinnings of the creative work, both of which demonstrate an original contribution to knowledge; or
  • a substantial 60,000 to 80,000 word written thesis that, through sustained investigation, demonstrates an original contribution to knowledge in the field of the history and theory of contemporary art.

The thesis should:

  • be a substantially original contribution to the knowledge of the subject concerned,
  • afford evidence of originality by the discovery of new facts, and/or
  • afford evidence of originality by the exercising of independent critical ability,
  • be satisfactory as regards literary presentation, and
  • contain a substantial amount of material which is suitable for publication.

Please refer to the Research Examination page for full details of the examination procedure and timeline.