PhD opportunities

PhD Studentships

The Birmingham School of Art has a vibrant community of Postgraduate Researchers (PGRs) studying for PhDs in subjects aligned to our research clusters.

Our PGRs have been successful in securing funding from AHRC-funded doctoral training partnerships, university studentships and the prestigious Gertrude Aston Bowater Bequest studentship.

Gertrude Aston Bowater Bursary (GABB) PhD Award

As part of a generous bequest to Birmingham School of Art, we are delighted to offer a three-year bursary for full-time PhD study starting in February 2022. We are particularly interested to receive applications relating to the work and interests of our research clusters:

And with the following supervisors:

We encourage interdisciplinary practice and can enable co-supervision from other disciplines, however given the specific focus of this bequest on supporting doctoral study in the School of Art your main supervisor must be a School of Art staff member.

The GABB PhD award will be under our “PhD Classic” funding model, which provides a tax-free doctoral stipend at UKRI rates (£15,609 per year for 2021-22) and a Home fees scholarship for three years. This opportunity is open to UK and International applicants. All applicants will receive the same stipend irrespective of fee status, however, international applicants will be required to meet the difference in fee costs from their own funds. Please see the course page for the PhD Art and Design programme [] for more details.

Application process:
  1. Identify a potential PhD supervisor and contact them to discuss your research ideas. 
  2. Request a GABB PhD Award application form by email from
  3. You must apply through the standard BCU online application process for a place on the PhD Art and Design programme [ ] by the end of October 2021.You also need to submit your application for the Gertrude Aston Bowater Bursary PhD Award by midday (12noon) Monday 1 November 2021 by emailing your completed GABB PhD Award application form to
  4. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview on 18 November. Interviews will be held online or in person at the School of Art in Birmingham as appropriate and in accordance with COVID guidelines.

For further information or any queries please contact the Research Degrees Coordinator for Birmingham Institute of Creative Art, Dr Sian Vaughan via


The AHRC-funded Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership (M4C) brings together eight leading universities across the Midlands to support the professional and personal development of the next generation of arts and humanities doctoral researchers. M4C is awarding up to 80 doctoral studentships for UK/EU applicants for 2019 through an open competition as well as 11 Collaborative Doctoral Awards.

PGRs funded through the predecessor to Midlands4Cities which was Midlands3Cities have studied with us for PhDs in painting, queer art practice and art and landscape. Current Midlands3Cities funded PGRs are researching painting, the visual arts in regeneration, Middle Eastern visual arts, Chinese contemporary art, new materialism in contemporary media arts and the Conservator as Artist.

Find out more about applying to Midland4Cities

Gertrude Aston Bowater PhD Award

As part of the generous Gertrude Aston Bowater bequest to Birmingham School of Art, a PhD studentship is made available every three years. In 2018 this studentship was joined with our exciting partnership with Tate Liverpool.

BCU PhD studentships and STEAM studentships

Students studying with researchers at the School of Art have been successful in attracting funding through Birmingham City University’s prestigious STEAM scholarships. 

Read more about applying for a PhD

Our PGRs

The Birmingham School of Art has a vibrant community of Postgraduate Researchers (PGRs) studying for PhDs in subjects aligned to our research clusters. As well as expert supervision, our PGRs are supported via a fortnightly seminar series, an annual Studio Takeover! and the activities of the Arts, Design and Media Faculty’s PGR Studio.

Our PGRs have been successful in securing funding from Midlands3Cities (an AHRC-funded doctoral training partnership), university studentships and the prestigious Gertrude Aston Bowater Bequest studentship.

Read more about applying for a PhD

Current postgraduate researchers

  • Ana Rutter: “Gathering the everyday; towards a new understanding of affect and embodied encounters in non-narrative sound installation”
  • Emily Scarrott: “Producing the unfertilised egg”
  • Federica Mirra: “Fictional reality: Chinese Contemporary Art and Urban Transformation”
  • Fred Hubble: “Phenology out of joint: An investigation into seasonality as a model for arts practice”
  • Gay Place: “Gay Place: A quiet piece of work in progress. An investigation onto the precarious nature of bodily identity as experienced in the production of contemporary art”
  • Harriet Carter: “Beyond Transposition? An exploration of painting and the metaphysical through birdsong and Messiaen's compositions”
  • Jacob Koster: “Changing Nature of critical practices in contemporary art”
  • Joanna Fursman: “Performing on the surface of school, pedagogic art practice and the re-imaging of education”
  • Jonnie Turpie: “The Drawn Portrait in Contemporary Printmaking: A journey between analogue and digital”
  • Kristian Gath: “The Visual Arts in Urban Regeneration. A Tale of Two Cities: A Comparative Analysis of Birmingham and Liverpool”
  • Laura Cooper: “Grid, Net, Snare, Screen: Translating Multispecies Worlds through Artist Moving Image”
  • Lisa Deml: “Towards Citizen Spectatorship: Visual Culture and Shifting Perceptions of Documentary Media since the Arab Uprisings.”
  • Lucy Lopez: “What role can the artist - run space play in addressing and forming publics?”
  • Melanie Woodhead: “Co-creating Common Ground: How can bordering suburban and woodland areas be sympoietically reimagined with communities as transitional spaces which activate ecological awareness and generative change?”
  • Nat Muller: “Lost Futurities: Science Fiction in Visual and Media Art from the Middle East”
  • Niamh Meehan: “Performativity, Embodiment and Encounter: Devising a new performance art language through the work of Samuel Beckett”
  • Pierre d’Alancaisez: “A skills gap in political and social art: evaluating and shaping the agency and impact of contemporary visual arts practices through non arts competences”
  • Roo Dhissou: “Cultural Dysphoria: Exploring British Asian Female Identities Through Arts Practices”
  • Sally Bailey: “Locating a space of exchange: re-imagining the liminal in contemporary painting practice”
  • Sarah Walden: “The Sensuousness of Error: Investigating glitch, complexity, synesthesia and new materialism in contemporary media arts”
  • Sean Wilson: “Situating Queer Modes of Sharing within Curatorial Practice”
  • Simon Fleury: “Conservator as Artist: Re-thinking intra-objectivity for contemporary art practice via the Raphael Tapestry Cartoons”
  • Sophie Hedderwick: “Beyond sensors, de-coding the curve of the young female body: feminism and polymorphous performance art in the age of the digital transformation”
  • Su Yin Jennifer Ng: “A Practice-Led Research on the Re-imagination of the Peranakan Objects”
  • Sun Wen: “Masochism: Performance Art in China from 1989 to the present”
  • Yan Chao: “The Contemporary Chinese Art Market in a Post-COVID-19 Era”
  • Yasmin Boyle: “Unknowing, becoming and in/betweenness: towards new material space(s) for womxn in sculptural art practice”
  • Ying Sun: “Chinese square dance: exploring the relationship among sound, residents and urban square”
PhDs awarded since 2014
  • Dr Lin Nuo (2021): “Art in the Urban Transformation: Private Art Museum and Real Estate Development in China since 2000”
  • Dr Lily Mitchell (2020): “The Other Stage: Curating Chinese Contemporary Art in the UK”
  • Dr Rawan Sharaf (2020): “The Role Played by Palestinian Cultural Institution in the Formation and Transformation of Palestinian Visual / Cultural Identity”
  • Dr Vivianne Barsky (2020): “The Creation of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem”
  • Dr Khulod Albugami (2019): “Al-Sadu as a Way of Understanding the Sociospatial Practices of Contemporary Art by Saudi Women”
  • Dr Sheridan Horn (2019): “Living with Loss: An Enquiry into the Expression of Grief and Mourning in Contemporary Art Practice”
  • Dr Guy Osherov (2019): “The Poetic Mechanics of Erasure: Practicing the Minor Politics of Sound
  • Dr Jakub Celgarz (2018): “Materializing Palimpsest: interrogation into palimpsestuousness as a queer enactment in artistic research”
  • Dr Sijing Chen (2018): “The Creative Beings: The Visual Culture of ‘Guai’ in China from 1949 to 1978”
  • Dr Alberto Condotta (2018): “Diffracting Painting: 'Mattering' as reconfiguration of its making understanding and encountering”
  • Dr Stuart Mugridge (2018): “-and-being-of-the-#Britishlangscape-[fold here]exploring the malleability of landscape, language and the creative act”
  • Dr Peipei Yu (2018): “Seeking the Cultural Originality: a critical study on product design in contemporary China”
  • Dr Samantha Hughes-Johnson (2017): “The Fresco Decoration of the Oratorio dei Buonomini di San Martino: Piety and charity in late fifteenth century Florence”
  • Dr Rachel Marsden (2017): “The Transcultural Curator: Interpreting Contemporary Chinese Art in the West since 1980”
  • Dr Mattia Paganelli (2017): “The Image of Time: Emergence and irreversibility in the making of sense in contemporary art practices”
  • Dr Yanyan Wang (2017): “Creating a New Urban Culture: a critical study on the educational significance of the Shanghai Biennale”
  • Dr Grace Williams (2017): “The Supernatural Sex: Women, Magick and Mediumship Assembling a Field of Fascination within Contemporary Art”
  • Dr Roger Gill (2015): “Pinturicchio’s Frescoes in the Sala dei Santi in the Vatican Palace: Authorship and a new iconological interpretation of the 'Egyptian' theme”
  • Dr Jian Leng (2015): “Gatekeeping the arts: National policy, student perception and the art and design entrance examination in China”
  • Dr Quimei Yu (2015): “Contemporary Chinese Art and Design University Students' Internal Mobility”
  • Dr Amy Bourbon (2014): “Towards a new Way of Thinking in Painting through the Application of Analogous Notions of Listening and Analysis in Acousmatic Music”
  • Dr Lisa Metherell (2014): “Glittering orientations: towards a non-figurative queer art practice”
  • Dr Jacqueline Taylor (2014): “Writing // Painting; l’écriture féminine and difference in the making”