Art and Design

Research in Art and Design takes place within and across five schools (Art, Architecture and Design, Fashion and Textiles, Jewellery, and Visual Communication), as well as through faculty-wide clusters.

Real-world relevance is key to our work, and this is reflected both in the types of research that we undertake and the external funding that is generated by our researchers. Our researchers are frequently invited to organise and curate major global events and to speak to international audiences (including policy-makers and funding bodies), as well as disseminating their work through publications, exhibitions and performances. We recruit Postgraduate Researchers to study for PhDs aligned with the following research clusters:

Art Activisms 

The increasingly political dimension of contemporary art has given rise to a number of important questions about the role it plays in today’s society. We focus on the political dimensions of cultural production and, specifically, the extent to which art as a form of activism reflects upon, intersects with and, invariably, seeks to define debates within civil society, political movements and social practices. In short, researchers in the Art Activisms cluster at Birmingham School of Art aim to challenge and extend the potential of contemporary art to change the world.

Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA)

As a leading research cluster in the UK, the CCVA aims to foster new understandings and perspectives of Chinese contemporary arts, design, media and visual culture through curating exhibitions, interdisciplinary practices and academic research. With extensive regional to international partnerships, CCVA brings together artists, designers, curators and researchers who are working with - or are interested in the contemporary contexts of - China, Hong Kong and Taiwan in order to share expertise, understanding, critiques and ideas of innovation. Using its unique position in the UK, CCVA continues its transcultural dialogues by questioning the existing histories of Chinese contemporary arts, design media and visual culture, while fostering new ways of thinking and modes of knowledge in relation to today’s global/Chinese situation. 

Centre for Printing History and Culture

The Centre for Printing History and Culture is a joint initiative between Birmingham City University and the University of Birmingham. It encourages research into all aspects and periods of printing history and culture, as well as providing education and training into the art and practice of printing. The Centre aims to provide a means of exchanging information, skills and expertise in printing history and culture, to engage in ground-breaking interdisciplinary research, forge partnerships in order to encourage the investigation and understanding of printing history and culture, and promote the transfer and exchange of knowledge of the subject among individuals, as well as within communities and institutions. For more information, visit

Dress in Context

Dress in Context is concerned with dress in all its manifestations, as well as its relationship to the individual and society. Dress is not restricted to clothing and fashion in the conventional sense, but encompasses all forms of personal adornment and self-presentation. We welcome doctoral projects that examine dress from a range of perspectives, including fashion theory and design, technology, psychology, sociology, literature, history and art. The cluster includes researchers from a variety of backgrounds and places emphasis on working collaboratively with academics from other institutions, as well as building bridges to those from outside the academy.

Material Encounters

Through the Material Encounters cluster our researchers extend and interrogate the boundaries of materiality within the context of contemporary art. The broad range of individual research concerns include interests in the collaborative idiom through co-creation, performance and participation, and ethico-aesthetics. Notions of the body both as a physical object, a vehicle for encounter, as an embodied subject in the environing natural world of objects tie the diverse practice of researchers together. The cluster provides a critical intellectual space for the exploration of embodiment, subjectivity and aesthetic practices as they are encountered through material and theoretical investigations. 

Performance Research Hub

Performance Research Hub is an approved interdisciplinary cluster working across the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media with concentrations at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and in Art and Design. It produces world-leading work in three strands, each led by a co- director: Aleksandar Dundjerovic (performing arts), Jamie Savan (music performance research) and Jonathan Day (trans/multimedia arts). Senior, mid-career and emerging researchers work alongside a large research student community in a constellation of areas contingent to performance.

Get in touch

For further information on the Art and Design PhD programme at Birmingham City University, please contact either Dr Sian Vaughan or Dr Jonathan Day, Research Degree Coordinators.