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Media Arts and Creative Technology

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

The core emphasis of this research cluster focuses on redefining and developing digital and electronic technologies and concepts for creative arts, applications and solutions that will enhance our human interaction and cultural engagement. Ranging from interactive media arts and performance to virtual environments and artificial life experiments, this research cluster locates itself at the forefront of its specific fields. Current research activities in the areas of:·      

  • Telematics
  • Telepresence
  • Ludic Interfaces
  • Serious Games
  • Interactive Arts
  • New Media Narratives
  • Digital Performance
  • Sonic Arts

The Creative Technology & Communications cluster have secured research and development funding from sources such as The Arts Council of England, The Arts and Humanities Research Council, The Leverhulme Trust and The National Lottery Fund. They support projects that have been disseminated through participation in international exhibitions, symposiums, conferences, theatre productions and publications. This includes The Ars Electronica Centre Linz, The MIT Press, Siggraph USA, The ISEA International Symposium of Electronic Arts, The ZKM Centre for Arts and Media Karlsruhe, The InterCommunication Centre Tokyo and The MACBA Museum of Contemporary Arts Barcelona. The broad range of Creative Technology and Communications members ensures a high level of inquiry and debate that creates both research synergies and interdisciplinary collaboration across the University.

Projects resulting from these links have included an Arts Council England funded symposium and Artist-in-Residence programme at the Salford Centre for Virtual Environments in collaboration with Prof. David Roberts, and a Leverhulme Trust funded Fellowship programme in partnership with the Centre for Robotics Research.

The Creative Technology and Communications research cluster has hosted two AHRC Fellowships in the Creative and Performing Arts in Location Based Arts, Tapio Makela 2008 to 2011 and in Locative and Pervasive Media, Dr Drew Hemment 2003 to 2006. Further external collaborations include the FutureEverything international festival of electronic media arts and lead partner in the European Ludic Interface Research Network and European Masters in Ludic Interfaces programme, funded by the European Commission, in partnership with the University of Applied Arts Linz, Austria and the University of Valencia, Spain.


The University of Salford development at MediaCityUK has provided the creative practice based research and teaching in the areas of digital media, creative technology, games design and ludic interfaces with a new leading research environment alongside a range of media research partners including the BBC.

By recognising the radically changing media scene through social networking, interactive digital interfaces and networked audiences, this cluster bridges art and design with new creative industry partners and departments from across the University to embrace this unique opportunity. This development is reflected in recent research and postgraduate course developments, fostering innovation and synergy between the School of Arts & Media and MediaCityUK. The new facilities for performances, exhibitions and studio practice at MediaCityUK are of specific relevance to activities and successes of the Creative Technology & Communications research cluster and have already provided a state of the art showcase for research projects, practice-based PhD students and research fellows.

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. 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 & Media 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: 

Pete Wardle – 4th year PhD part-time student

Project: Second Selves; An Investigation into Identity Development in Second Life

Pete Wardle is employed as a full time lecturer in Interactive Media at Trafford College, he was awarded a Distinction grade in his MA in Creative Technology from the University of Salford. Using Second Life as a medium for his artwork he has presented his work internationally including speaking at the University of Nevada, and collaborating with Alan Hook on an interactive installation at the Tech Museum, San Jose. He is currently working on a PhD studying Identity Development in Virtual Worlds and is being supervised by Prof. Paul Sermon and Dr. Mathias Fuchs.

GTA Student Profiles

David Hancock – 2nd year PhD student

Project: The Manifestations of Romanticism in Virtual Reality and how the Romantic spirit prevails in the work of Contemporary Artists?

David Hancock is currently undertaking a practice-based PhD. David’s final PhD submission will include a significant proportion of creative practice together with his thesis of approximately 35000 words.  David is a painter whose work focuses on the subject of computer game players and cosplay subculture in his research question “The Manifestations of Romanticism in Virtual Reality and how the Romantic spirit prevails in the work of Contemporary Artists?” David Hancock is also a Graduate Teaching Assistant and contributes to the MA Creative Technology and BA Visual Arts programmes, and is currently being supervised by Prof. Paul Sermon and Dr. Mathias Fuchs.

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 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, 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 you in touch with specialist staff with which they can explore your research ideas and the opportunities we offer.

With over 30 research-active members of staff in 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’. This work 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. Also 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 Allan Walker

Allan Walker, Head of School of Arts and Media, is an artist with an established record of senior research leadership. His current series ‘If Kurosawa Made Westerns’, based on plastic toys from the 1970s, references cultural syncretism from the traditions of East Asia. His work is included in the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York;Machida Museum of Graphic Arts, Tokyo; and Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Collaborations include exhibitions in China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam, Co-founder of Croindene Press with Denis Masi and EYECON: Digital Print Research Publishing with Prof. Naren Barfield of the RCA. Other research interests include cross-cultural pedagogy and policy and he was specialist advisor to British Council Scotland, a co-applicant with Creative Scotland for a successful £600k Paul Hamlyn Foundation bid (2011) and a member of several national committees. He is a member of the AHRC Peer Review College and Strategic Review Group.

T: 0161 295 6300


Professor Allan Walker's research profile

Professor Paul Sermon

Paul Sermon has developed a series of celebrated interactive art installations that have received international acclaim. Through a sustained research funding income he has continued to produce, exhibit and discuss his work extensively at an international level. Since 2001 he has produced eleven new gallery installation artworks and exhibited both new and existing installations on eighteen occasion, visit Paul Sermon's website for more information. Paul Sermon was a nominee at the World Technology Awards 2005 and holds a number of external appointments that influence research policy. Since 2004 he has been an AHRC Peer Review College member, member of the NWDA funded North West Art & Design Research Group, executive member of and advises on various international journal and conference editorials. External collaborations include the AHRC funded REACT (Research Engine for Art and Creative Technology) research community and collaborative postgraduate training with MMU.

Read Paul's website

T: 0161 295 6149


Professor Paul Sermon's research profile

Dr Mathias Fuchs

Mathias Fuchs is an electronic artist, musician and media critic who utilises computer game engines to creatively deconstruct game stereotypes and to translate images, texts and sound objects into spatial structures and navigable virtual environments. From feminist cities to virtual knowledge-spaces to an arena of metamorphosing identities. Mathias Fuchs has been widely exhibited at galleries and festivals including Ars Electronica Linz, Kiasma Helsinki and London’s Millennium Dome and is a member of IGNM (Internationale Gesellschaft Neuer Musik) , the IGDA (International Games Developers' Association) and the Ludic Society.

T: 0161 295 6157


Dr Mathias Fuchs' 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

Media, 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 the 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. 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.