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PhD MPhil

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 reflects a well established synergy of research interests, and encourages new research relationships and directions, including a focus on:

  • Design management
  • Design strategy
  • Design against crime
  • Design for the built and human environment
  • Product and fashion design
  • Environmental design
  • Socially responsible design
  • Design pedagogy

With further research synergies within the creative industries, in the development of public services, in health and with the built environment via both the design of urban spaces and design against crime.

Funding has been obtained from sources such as the EPSRC, AHRC, British Council, Momenta (Knowledge Transfer Partnerships), AGIS and the European Commission. Members of the Design Innovation and Socially Responsible Design research cluster include both senior proactive researchers and emerging embryonic researchers with multi-disciplinary backgrounds. All are engaged in both theory and practice, in a wide ranging spectrum of activity across design research.

Key researchers in this cluster were returned successfully to the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, and will continue to contribute towards the Research Excellence Framework 2014. A good proportion of our output is case-based and therefore more easily captured and already incorporates evaluation and impact analyses for the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework return. Much of the work in this cluster focuses on generating such research outcomes from enterprise activity.

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 Art & 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:

Angharad Thomas – Completed PhD student

Project: The role of design within sustainable development of Welsh textile producers.       

Angharad Thomas is a Lecturer in the School of Arts and Media, who started a part-time PhD in 2006, which she successfully completed in 2011. She investigated the role of design within sustainable development through a series of case studies of Welsh textile producers. She was supervised by Professor Pat Sterry, Dr Chris Rivlin and Professor John Langrish, a visiting professor.

Training and Skills

All postgraduate research students are expected to attend the College’s research methods seminars during their first year of study. These would cover subjects such as conducting a literature review, methods of data collection, research governance and ethics, 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 you 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, comprising 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 you in touch with specialist staff with whom they can explore your 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 and 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 & Media 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

Professor Alex Williams

Prof. Alex Williams has worked extensively across three key areas related to design and new product development (and in collaboration with Chinese organisations) including implementing change within organisations, with particular reference to new product development and design, design management and market segmentation and consumer analysis. The recipient of a recent AHRC award ‘Design for the 21st Century’ and in collaboration with the University of Lancaster researching the challenges facing UK design consultancy and the design industry over the next decade. The project will establish potential scenarios, strategic directions, and a blueprint for the shape of the sector in 2020.

T: 0161 295 7165


Professor Alex Williams' research profile

Andrew Wootton

Andrew Wootton is a Senior Research Fellow and Co-Director of the Design Against Crime Solution Centre and a Principal Investigator in the EPSRC Sustainable Urban Environments consortium VivaCity 2020 ( He has produced practical guidance material for industry on equality and diversity (Mix Matters, 2006) and Design Against Crime (The Crime Lifecycle, 2005; Guidance for the Design of Residential Areas, 2003; Design Against Crime Evaluation Framework, 2005). Andrew focuses on Socially Responsible Design—the use of design and ‘design thinking’ to address social problems and benefit society and has initiated a creative design consultancy DesignThinking.

T: 0161 295 2693


Andrew Wootton's research profile

Dr Caroline Davey

Caroline Davey a Reader in Design, Innovation and Society is Associate Director of Adelphi Research Institute. She is Co-Director of the Design Against Crime Solution Centre and a Principal Investigator in the EPSRC Sustainable Urban Environments consortium VivaCity 2020. Caroline was a partner in the AHRB Doctoral Research Training project (2004 -06) with University of Sunderland and Manchester Metropolitan University, and also in the EPSRC (2006) InSITU project. Caroline’s research has examined Socially Responsible Design—the use of design and ‘design thinking’ to address social problems and benefit society, and she initiated (with Andrew Wootton) an international conference track on this subject at the European Academy of Management conference, Munich, 2005.
Reader in Design, Innovation & Society

T: 0161 295 3577


Dr Caroline Davey's research profile

Dr Qian Sun (PGR Coordinator)

Dr. Qian Sun is currently course leader for the MSc. Design Management programme in the School of Arts and Media. She is actively involved in research in design management and has worked on a broad range of projects, including an AHRC-funded "Design 2020" project which explores the future of the UK design industry in coping with the uncertainties of 2020; an EU-funded "Asia Link" programme which aims to develop collaborative curriculum in design management; the British Council's "Prime Minister's Initiative for International Education" (PMI2) concerning student employability and entrepreneurship; and the School's "D2B" (Design to Business) International Design Management Conferences. Before commencing her academic career, she worked as an in-house product designer, and for a number of design consultancies in China.
Course Leader

T: 0161 295 6169


Dr Qian Sun'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

Fangbin Guo

Project: A Comparative Study of Industrial Design Education     

Fangbin Guo started his PhD in 2004 as a full-time student. He successfully completed it in 2009.  His PhD investigated the differences of Industrial Design curriculum between China and the UK.  He was supervised by Professor Alex Williams. His PhD has lent him the knowledge, skills and network for an academic career in HE sector.  He is now lecturing Product Design in a University in Liverpool.

Links with Industry

The Centre for Media, Art & Design Research and Engagement (MADRE) has an impressive record in achieving research grants and funding which amounts to £3.5 million since 2001. The Centre 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

The Digital Performance Lab 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. In the future we hope to be trailing some of the latest touch table software solutions produced by our researchers.  

Watch our video

DecodeRecode - Celebrating 100 Years of Alan Turing. A globally networked interactive event celebrating the centenary of Alan Turing's birth.