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PhD MPhil MSc by research

School - School of Arts & Media

Start Date(s): September, January, May


Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
One year full-time
Two years part-time

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Three years full-time
Five years part-time

In Brief:

  • Part-time study option
  • Distance Learning
  • Based at MediaCityUK
  • Work/industrial placement opportunity
  • International students can apply

Subject Overview

This research cluster brings together current contemporary arts practice with critical theory and contextual studies researchers. This established cluster of practitioners and theorists participate in a broad range of process and practice, curatorship, critical writing and arts administration, with a belief that contemporary arts practice and its allied theory are key cultural drivers of social and economic importance. Research focuses on 3 core themes, which are explored in a lateral and inter-disciplinary manner:

  • Science and industry partnerships
  • Environment and site-responsiveness
  • Social inclusion and multi-cultural collaborations

Members of this cluster are actively involved in exhibitions, public art commissions, curation and consultancy, critical writing for publications, conferences, performances, residencies and workshops, regionally, nationally and internationally.

Science and industry partnerships

Exploring manufacturing and engineering technologies, and scientific ideas to extend and expand the field of fine art practices. Medical and Psychiatric Arts collaborations and Residencies exploring how contemporary art practice can reinterpret industrial heritage. Researchers are transcribing methods of practice for dissemination, and are collaborating with other discipline areas to provide case studies for cross-institutional research programmes.

Environment and site responsiveness

Members address contemporary debates in the realm of site-specific public art, placing artists at the core of planning and critical thinking in urban design thinking and the built environment, and facilitating regional growth and cultural development. The cluster has a unique and diverse approach to the exploration and navigation of places and spaces, through critical writing, visual arts and sound art. Members of the cluster are involved with social and physical regeneration processes; extending education, activating derelict spaces, re-interpreting social space, and causing audience interaction in public sites.

Social inclusion and multi-cultural collaborations

The cluster promotes critical discourse on diversity of practice and contemporary hierarchies of fine art, folk and craft practices, with international collaborations with musicians, performers and filmmakers. Many projects involve widening participation, social inclusion and projects, which unite disenchanted communities through creative community engagement.

Entry Requirements

Relevant undergraduate degree, normally at 2:1 or above, and supporting portfolio of practice. Applicants with an undergraduate degree of 2:2 will be considered where a high quality portfolio of practice is presented. A Masters degree is preferred but not essential. However, applicants without a Masters degree should provide evidence of previous research methods training.

APEL – We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.
The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

English requirement for non-UK/ EU students

Overall IELTS score of at least 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any one element.

We offer four entry points – October, January, April and July. Applications can be submitted at any point within the year.

Applicant Profile

You should have a first degree that provides a foundation in the principles of art and design practice and theory. This could include an Arts &Design degree but also science, technology and other humanities degrees.  Evidence of ability to study and critically appraise literature independently is essential and candidates with Masters qualification are preferred. Experience of experimental and practice based research is also preferable but is not essential.

As a student embarking on a postgraduate research degree you will be assigned a supervisory team, to help guide and mentor you throughout your time at the University. However, you are ultimately expected to take responsibility for managing your learning and will be expected to initiate discussions, ask for the help that you need and be proactive in your approach to study.

All students will be required to attend for an interview.

International Students - Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

International Students are required by the Home Office and/or the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) to apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) Certificate before they begin studying their course. You may need to obtain an ATAS Certificate before you come to the UK in order for you to comply with Home Office regulations. Please refer to your offer conditions.

You can find out if your programme requires an ATAS by checking the FCO website at with your JACS code which will be on your offer letter should you choose to make an application. If you cannot find it please contact International Conversion team at If you have any queries relating directly to ATAS please contact the ATAS team on

You can apply for your ATAS Certificate via this link:

Current Student Research

Research Topics

There are currently 20 Postgraduate Research Students in the Centre for Media, Art & Design Research and Engagement (MADRE)  focused on a range of practice-based and theoretically led research topics encompassing the wide scope of research activity in the centre which include:

Sylvia Theuri – 2nd year PhD student

Project: Art and Design in Education at Secondary School level and in Higher Education
Sylvia Theuri is a PhD candidate and a Graduate Teaching Student. Her research interests include: African and Caribbean visual arts, Capacity building and widening participation strategies for the Black and Minority Ethnic community in the Visual Arts ; Race, History, Identity and the African Diaspora. She holds a BA Hons (First Class) degree in the History of Art and Design, a PGCE in Art and Design and a Masters in Art and Design in Education. She has taught Art and Design at Secondary School, worked in book and magazine publishing as well as reviewing art exhibitions for The Voice Newspaper (newspaper aimed at the Black community in the UK).

GTA Student Profiles

Antonio Benitez – 2nd year PhD student and GTA

Project: the impact of the ageing of the population on museum audiences
Antonio Benitez is one of six Graduate Teaching Assistants currently in the School of Art and Media. GTAs undertake PhD, receive a bursary and carry out teaching duties. Antonio began a full-time PhD in October 2011 and is looking at the impact of museum policy on the aging population in the UK. He is supervised by Dr Anna Catalani and Dr Andrew Clark, from the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences.

‘The Graduate Teaching Assistantships are a great opportunity to gain experience working in the Higher Education Sector. I have learnt a lot from both, the academic staff that I have been working with but also from the students. The scheme also makes the PhD experience less stressful financially: the University pays for your tuition fees and you also receive a stipend so you can focus on your research and teaching activities. I have also enjoyed working closely with the other GTAs at the University. GTAs are a very supportive community within the University.’ Antonio Benitez 2013

Training and Skills

All postgraduate research students are expected to attend the College’s research methods seminars during your first year of study, covering subjects such as conducting a literature review, methods of data collection, research governance and ethics, and analysis, presentation, interpretation and rigour in qualitative research.

In addition, the University offers all postgraduate research students an extensive range of free training activities to help develop your research and transferable skills. The Salford Postgraduate Research Training Programme (SPoRT) has been designed to equip researchers both for your university studies, and for your future careers whether in academia, elsewhere in the public sector, or in industry and the private sector.

Assessment Links

As a postgraduate research student at the University of Salford, you are required to meet a number of milestones in order to re-register for each year of study. These ‘progression points’ are an important aid for both you and your supervisory team and it is essential that you complete them on time.

Learning Agreement:  this is completed by you and your supervisor collaboratively in the first 3 months of your research programme. It encourages both of you to develop a thorough and consistent understanding of your individual and shared roles and responsibilities in your research partnership.

Annual Progress Report:  this report is completed by your supervisor at the end of each year of study, and reports on your achievements in the past year, the likelihood that you will submit on time, confirmation of the Learning Agreement and relevant training undertaken.

Self Evaluation Report: this is completed by you at the end of each year of study. It asks you to comment on your academic progress, supervisory arrangements, research environment, research training, and relevant training undertaken.

Interim Assessment: this is an assessment of your progress by a panel. It takes place towards the end of your first year, and is designed to ensure you have reached a threshold of academic performance, by assessing your general progress. The assessment comprises a written report, presentation and oral examination by a Panel. You must successfully complete it in order to register for your second year.

Internal Evaluation: this will take place towards the end of the second year and successful completion is required in order to continue onto your third year of study. You will be expected to show strong progress in your PhD study reflected in the submission of a substantial piece of work.

Research Profile

Research Excellence

The Centre for Media, Art & Design Research and Engagement (MADRE) has full-time, part-time UK/EU and overseas students studying for PhDs in a wide variety of subjects. These include visual arts, digital technology, creative media, design issues, heritage and art education. The approaches range from theory driven enquiry, through case-studies and other techniques, to practice based research. Research students are supported by a supervisory team, made up of a main supervisor and co-supervisor, and assisted by a personal tutor. Seminar and training programmes offered by the School, College and wider University enable students to develop a disciplinary understanding alongside more transferable research skills. They also have access to extensive digital, media, information and workshop facilities. We encourage prospective students to contact us so that we can put them in touch with specialist staff with whom they can explore their research ideas and the opportunities we offer.

With over 30 research-active members of staff in the Centre for Media, Art & Design Research and Engagement (MADRE), including both embryonic and early career researchers, art and design research is engaged in theory and practice based investigations in creative technology, design innovation, socially responsible design, issues in contemporary fine art and public engagement.

Recent research activities and achievements in the field of design innovation and public engagement include the work resulting from Andrew Wootton and Caroline Davey’s partnership with Catch 22, the national young people's charity, to develop and deliver Youth Design Against Crime (YDAC), a creative community engagement programme empowering young people to design out crime. This innovative project was awarded a Manchester Beacons for Public Engagement Recognition Award in November 2011. Other research in this area includes the work of Paul Haywood and Sam Ingleson with the AHRC funded Knowledge Transfer Fellowship ‘Supporting Arts and Enterprise Skills in Communities through Creative Engagement with the Local Area’ which has resulted in the highly successful ‘Guns into Goods’ project in partnership with the charity CARISMA and the Greater Manchester Police.

Practice based research in the areas of fine art and creative media includes ‘Golden Venture’ an exhibition by Jill Randall, at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, which attracted 75,000 visitors. Charlotte Gould and Paul Sermon have recently presented their interactive videoconference art installation ‘Picnic on the Screen’ between Shanghai University and the Liverpool Biennial. And Jonathan Carson and Rosie Miller presented ‘The Other Child’ at MediaCityUK, exploring cultural representations of childhood, featuring Rhian Harris, Director of the V&A Museum of Childhood.

In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), staff from the Centre for Media, Art & Design Research and Engagement (MADRE)  made their first submission to a national assessment of research and secured an impressive national power ranking, positioning them in the top half of UK Higher Education Art & Design institutions. With the approaching Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014 the Centre are building on the platform provided by their initial submission through the impact of longstanding research projects such as ‘Design Against Crime’. The focus is on achieving high quality research outputs, making use of the world leading research facilities at MediaCityUK particularly the Digital Performance Lab and the EGG media exhibition space.

In addition to practice based research outputs, including installations, performances and exhibitions, art and design research is also disseminated via refereed journal articles, books, reviews and international conference papers. Much of the School’s work has an excellent record of high social and cultural impact. The Centre for Media, Art & Design Research and Engagement (MADRE) is also exploring the relationships between research in its disciplines with teaching and learning and how this should influence the curriculum. With the arrival of Professor Allan Walker as Head of School of Arts & Medias in November 2011, the School is building on the strong links with the creative economy and its distinctive provision with a renewed commitment to high quality specialist and interdisciplinary programmes which are closely informed by research and are increasingly international. The School is exploring closer relationships between fine art and design disciplines, which have traditionally adopted different ideological positions, to inform a distinctive new teaching and research culture.

Staff Profiles

Jonathan Carson

My creative practice explores the 'stuff' that surrounds us. I'm interested in the everyday things that form an increasingly complex part of our lives, objects that are as much an expression of taste and choice as they are a backdrop to our existence. Harvested from the glut of popular culture, I'm interested in narrating an alternative life for the, often decorative, ephemera I find. For me, the language of decorative styles is inherently married to the complex psychology of our relationships - a chandelier becomes a vehicle for its owners dissatisfaction with life, a curtain serves as a thin veil over the darkness of a relationship gone bad. In changing an existing article or creating something new, I undertake a re-examination of things we feel we know, courting my audience's engagement with the familiar, but sometimes sinister, sometimes absurd, etiquette that structures our lives.

Associate Head (Academic)
T: 0161 295 6712
Jonathan Carson's Research Profile

Dr Jacques Rangasamy

The following inform my research interests: (a) the political and cultural impacts of foreign influences on indigenous European, Asian and African cultures (b) the ensuing influence-processing and adjustment in human, cultural and aesthetic terms, (c) the ways the same influence-processing and adjustment manifest in contemporary art-making. Broad Research outcome: (a) an informed understanding of the varieties of sensibilities, perspectives and cultural beings and cultural activities that thrive and struggle under the umbrella of globalisation, and that inform and make diasporic existence possible/tolerable. (b) the evolving of pedagogical materials and teaching strategies that enable students to see the world in their cultural beings and find their places in the world (c) develop the cultural and spiritual competencies for living with diversity meaningfully.

Senior Lecturer
T: 0161 295 2625
Dr Jacques Rangasamy's research profile

Jill Randall

Makes sculpture and installations investigating the stories and histories behind objects. Much of the work is site-specific, and has included large-scale public art projects involving collaborations with architects, landscape architects and engineers. The work investigates the nature of time through the dual preoccupations of archaeology and alchemy, and recent projects have involved collaborations with scientists and industrial processes, for example the Irwell Sculpture Trail Residency at the Magnesium Elektron factory and a Residency at Wollaton Hall Natural History Museum in 2005. Practice addresses the 'charged' object, and the continued relevance and significance of objects in the 21st Century. Personal research investigates the notion of the sublime in contemporary sculpture, and artists as alchemists. The work is conceptually driven, but exploits specific qualities and associations of materials, currently metals and found objects, and often involves the recycling of materials invested with history through their past use. Exploration of the nature of time is frequently expressed through the evidence of process acting on material; both applied and natural processes invested through exposure to the elements, burial and immersion. Work also explores ideas about value; the notion that a saints relic, for example, is valuable, irrespective of its monetary worth, but because of its associations, carrying the 'cargo' of its journey, be it real or metaphorical. Work also explores and exposes 'secrecy', and the reinventing and reinvesting of lost and forgotten objects, places and eras in history. Randall's practice as an Artist has recently shifted from gallery exhibitions to Residencies in industry and heritage sites as the starting-point and driver of the work. The research process itself has sometimes become the work, and collusion with scientists and new materials and technologies have opened up new directions and possibilities.

Course Leader
T: 0161 295 2618
Jill Randall's research profile

Robert Shadbolt

Robert Shadbolt graduated from the RCA in 1984. Since then he has sustained a diverse and varied career working for clients in editorial, advertising, design, the web, publishing, textiles and ceramics. Over the past ten years the computer has added to range of materials he can use in that he is able to draw together the many strands of his work combining painting, drawing and photography and his archive of found material. He also runs the Illustration Pathway. Here he is able to explore with the students the potential of illustration and drawing in the world today; a recent project examining the way we draw the human head produced almost 6000 images, you can see some of the results on his flickr stream. His work still predominantly relies on drawing. He currently works on a project which explores the Fornasetti Themes and Variations as inspiration. Replacing the face of Lina Cavalieri with the face he draws on an reoccurring basis, the smiling contented face with eyes closed; which probably derives more from illustrators like Savignac, Paul Rand and Saul Bass, although the more he looks the more he sees the face almost everywhere.

T: 0161 295 6426
Robert Shadbolt's research profile

Rosie Miller

Rosie Miller’s art practice is focused on her interest in narrative. Early work experimented with handicraft, modeling and play as a way of both creating tableaux and tapping into the adult and childhood emotions that sparked the narratives. Her current work blurs the boundaries between drawing and writing, exploring the tension between revealing and concealing stories.  
Rosie Miller also works collaboratively with fellow artist Jonathan Carson as Carson & Miller. Their practice is also driven by an interest in narrative, particularly their need to tell and re-tell stories. Carson & Miller work in a variety of contexts– including working with museum collections, creating books, maps and games.  Recent work has explored life writing. Carson & Miller also reflect on their art practice; writing and speaking about their work in national and international contexts.

Critical & Contextual Studies Area Leader
T: 0161 295 7242
Rosie Miller's research profile

Professor Paul Haywood

As a practitioner Paul Haywood has diverse interests. He mostly collaborates with other artists, designers, educators and community governance professionals and volunteers. He has a continuing interest in 'live' performance and installation through a more regular engagement with social intervention, regeneration and public art projects. In recent years he has developed a range of approaches to the use of art processes to encourage pedagogic engagement. Over the past five years he has maintained a steady involvement in projects that employ creative research in public planning and development of the built environment. Since 2000 Paul Haywood has been working with various partners and individuals to extend their role as social facilitators and activists. One of his core interests is to question the logic and rationale of urban redevelopment. He shares an interest in hidden histories, social memories and 'derelict' landscapes that have resulted in a range of entirely 'process' led investigations of site or place. Paul Haywood's collaborations with Maxine Kennedy largely focus on outcomes that are funded as public art. They utilise creative survey and observational strategies to accrue knowledge and information from specific sites. The normal process is to build a portfolio of evidence; visuals, sound, stories, from a site in question. The usual outcome is one or a series of design briefs for products that will add to the identity of a site or specify a particular history. They have further collaborated with architects, manufacturers and engineering companies to evolve products that are very precisely located to the communities of physical spaces. Paul Haywood's performance and installation activities are similarly connected to site or setting. They attempt an improvised response to context and utilised either plagiarised or fictional narratives to extend the range of possible structures that frame the experience of the work. He has been working with ideas related to scale and composition, limiting the timeframe to short and concise phrases. He has been collaborating with sound artist Helmut Lemke since the late 80's and has started to experiment with film media. Most performance work is concerned with legacy and evidence of action.
T. 0161 295 6175
Professor Paul Haywood's research profile

Sam Ingleson

Sam Ingleson is a multi media visual artist whose art practice is centred in social engagement and participatory performances. Her core research themes are the exploration of creative space and engagement in the formation of artistic strategies that include makers and performers, her current interest is collaborating to developing board games that bring groups of people together to celebrate, learn or reflect. Sam has worked in the School of Art and Media since 2000 and is part of the Community Engagement team within the School. Her current role is as KTF Project Manager, responsible for management and co- delivery with Paul Haywood of an AHRC funded Knowledge Transfer Fellowship ‘Supporting Arts and Enterprise Skills in Communities through Creative Engagement with the Local Area’.  Guns to Goods is one of the projects she is currently working on; The Guns to Goods project brings together multiple agencies whose shared aim is to support young people in leading campaign initiatives that will improve their life experiences and opportunities.  Guns to Goods makes use of Art, Fashion, Design for Manufacture and Enterprise skills, transferred from the University of Salford and its students, to address and counter issues of gun ownership and gun related crime affecting communities in the Inner South Manchester Area. Sam has worked as an artist delivering workshops in schools and community settings since 1998, leading to working primarily as a project manager, trainer and consultant and also been an Artsmark Validator for Arts Council, North West for the last 3 years and an Arts Award Advisor. In response to working in Arts Education with Schools the Community Engagement Team have developed a new work based learning postgraduate course for teachers, MA Creative Education on which Sam is the course Leader.

T: 0161 295 2626
Sam Ingleson's research profile


Career Prospects

Students leaving the School with a postgraduate research degree are well placed to lead and manage research and development activities in a number of creative industries across the media, art and design sectors. Globally, a postgraduate research qualification is usually a prerequisite for an academic career and several of our alumni are now senior academics.

Previous students have taken their research expertise and knowledge into the creative sector helping to advance knowledge and practice in their professional discipline. Others have gone forward to academic positions or found industry positions. We encourage the maintenance of links between graduating research students and their host research group and supervisor. This means the University can become part of the developing professional network that students take forward into their future careers.

Alumni Profile

Postgraduate Student: Miss Amani Al Halwachi
Research Programme: PhD “Investigating the Role of Internet Artworks in Formulating a New Communication Model in the Internet”
Supervisor: Prof Paul Sermon
Completion: June 2009, Full -Time

A Bahraini researcher has developed a first-of-its-kind communication model connecting the internet field with media to add by that a scientific record to the field of communication.
Dr. Amani Al Halwachi, is a faculty member in the Department of Media Tourism and Arts of the University of Bahrain (UoB). Dr. AL Halwaci has received her PhD through her thesis based on developing a new communication model that explains the mechanism of communication with the internet digital art works to compensate for the communication fields which lack modern communication models that go in line with the nature of the new interactive and multimedia communication field.

Dr. Al Halwachi said that developing a new communication model was not that easy since it had taken her four years of hard study and analysis of different communication models and studies. Furthermore, she had to employ different research methods to get accurate data in such a new area. Talking about her future ambitions, Dr. Al Halwachi would like to further develop the model into a common communication theory in her future studies.

Dr. Al Halwachi concluded by encouraging the creative students to develop their skills through being self-confident, raising their visual culture and keeping pace with the accelerating technology of media.

Links with Industry

Art and Design research has an impressive record in achieving research grants and funding which amounts to £3.5 million since 2001. The School has delivered several successful KTP’s (Knowledge Transfer Partnerships), including research projects in collaboration with regional businesses and international centres of creative excellence. Research grants come from a wide range of bodies, including the AHRC, EPSRC, the Arts Council, Home Office, Design Council and the British Council. Research is undertaken in collaboration with industry and other disciplines within the University and between universities. Collaborative partners currently include Greater Manchester Police, Catch 22, Xcalibre, Serious Crime Unit, Mines Advisory Group International, CARISMA, Peace FM, Salford City Council and leading museums and galleries such as the V&A, Tate, FACT and Imperial War Museum.


The Centre for Media, Art & Design Research and Engagement (MADRE) is uniquely placed to develop research-focused and research-led study opportunities within the context and environment of MediaCityUK, which offers significant scope for postgraduate growth at the interface of industry, media, flexible learning, and high quality research. MediaCityUK also provides the Centre with a context, profile, and ‘footprint’ to generate significant collaborations with major academic and industrial research partners.

Our facilities in MediaCityUK include:

Digital Performance Lab

This experimental performance space combines the technology of a TV Studio, the excitement of live theatre and visual immersive cinema – all in a double height space.
Its technical infrastructure is that of a black box theatre, hard-wired over a grid at floor and ceiling levels, controlled from a fully equipped flexible control room with verbal connection via a digital intercom system.
  • One of Largest HD Screens in Europe
  • A capacity of 150-theatre style
  • The extensive fibre optic and digital network infrastructure within      the DPL will allow for multiple high speed HD video and audio connections      throughout the space with access to multicast enabled video conferencing      technology

It can be used for computer gaming, animation, dance and accommodate specialist teaching, live performances and creative technology installations. It is particularly suited to research-led practice in creative media and new forms of digitally enhanced performance.
Adjacent is the ‘Green’ Room with full changing and shower facilities – all of which adds to a true working live environment and fully contained studio facility.

The Egg

The Egg consists of the open public place a dedicated theatre and provides the ability to engage with the interactive media technologies within the area.

  • Christie Micro-tile wall: Set up as a wall of 120 separate digital screens able display      extremely high resolution video as 1 large image or 120 separate images      across the screen. Unique to the system is the ability to configure the      screen to create various different shapes and compositions. The wall can      be fully immersive by utilising the three Microsoft Kinect sensors      attached to the wall, enabling interactive video and software through      movement. 
  • Ten interactive touch tables featuring the latest touch screen technology.