Master Degree in
Research Degrees (MPhil/PhD) in Creative Arts SOAS University of London
Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time
This MPhil/PhD Creative Arts programme provides advanced training and research experience at a doctoral level in the Creative Arts, broadly understood to encompass a range of expressive and performing arts (including dance and theatre), embodied traditions of knowledge (including oratory and artisanal techniques), and aesthetics. The programme recognises that certain established cultural forms fall between the conventional disciplinary boundaries of the Western academy (including dance-dramas, puppetry, fashion, perfumery, and digital artworks) and draws upon the collective expertise of members of the School of Arts to create a platform for critical engagement with these forms.
Members of the School of Arts cover a broad geographical area, across Asia and the Middle East, Africa, and diasporic cultures. We also have PhD students working on projects that fall outside of this geographical expanse, including research on Europe and the Americas. Staff often have research interests in issues that cross regional boundaries; our Department Staff page has a summary of their interests, research specialisms and activities.
Students in the School of Arts use a variety of research methods, including fieldwork, interview, archival research, recording and filming, performance, transcription and analysis, composition, and curatorial projects. A key feature of the degree in Creatve Arts is the scope for Practice Research, where relevant. This may include design portfolios, installations, and performance.
Most SOAS research students spend some time doing fieldwork in the regions of their research. Through SOAS’ various connections with individuals and institutions in the universities and governments of Asia and Africa, students may be able to benefit from personal contacts and introductions.
In Year one, students are required to follow a course of research training: core research training is shared across PhD programmes in the School of Arts, with the addition of tailored pathway-specific training in the relevant section. Creative Arts Students will be advised by their Supervisors to attend the training in the particular section most relevant to their training needs.
In addition, students may be required to take one or more postgraduate courses (eg, Theory and Method in Ethnomusicology or Theory and Method in Art History), depending on their prior qualifications and the requirements of their research project.
Students are also expected to attend departmental research seminars.
An annual training plan is to be agreed upon with the Lead Supervisor to help ensure students have the requisite skills to undertake their planned research and produce a thesis of the required academic standard.
Research proposal/upgrade paper
In Term 3 of Year 1 (full-time) or Term 3 or Year 2 (part-time), students submit a Research Proposal/Upgrade Paper of about 12,000 words, typically including the following elements:
- Research rationale and context of the proposed research
- Main research questions
- Literature review
- Theoretical and methodological framework & considerations
- Proposed research methods
- Ethical issues (where applicable)
- Work Plan and Budget
Adjustments to one or more of these sections, including additions or deletions where appropriate, are possible by prior arrangements between the student and the supervisory committee.
This research proposal/upgrade paper is assessed by the student's supervisory committee in an oral exam (viva voce), lasting up to one hour. Prior to the viva coce, the student will have presented an earlier version of the research proposal/upgrade paper in a departmental research seminar, involving a 20-minute oral presentation, followed by a discussion, also open to other staff and students.
Year 2, 3 and 4
On successful completion of the viva voce, students are formally upgraded to PhD and proceed to the second year (full-time) or third year (part-time).
If the assessors consider there to be shortcomings in the research proposal/upgrade paper, a student will be asked to revise it to their satisfaction before the upgrade to PhD status can be confirmed. Students are not permitted to proceed to the next year or to fieldwork until the upgrade process has been completed.
The thesis must be in English, not be more than 100,000 words, excluding bibliography and appendix, be reflective of the investigation carried out whilst a postgraduate research student and form a distinct contribution to the knowledge of the subject as set out in SOAS Postgraduate Research Degree Regulations.
Submission of the thesis is normally expected by the end of the third year, but when justified up to an additional three terms of enrolment may be agreed to enable the completion of the writing-up of the thesis.
Students may not submit their thesis after four years of full-time registration have elapsed (seven years for part-time).
The examination is by a minimum of two independent examiners at least one of whom is external to SOAS. The examination consists of an assessment of the thesis and a viva voce covering the thesis and the research upon which is based.
Students successfully completing the programme are awarded a PhD in Creative Arts.
Students who do not meet the requisite standard to achieve a PhD may, if they meet the requirements set out in SOAS Postgraduate Research Degree Regulations, be awarded an MPhil in Creative Arts.
The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session
Students in the School of Arts develop a critical and theoretically informed approach to global arts and culture. In addition to intercultural awareness and practical expertise, graduates gain a wide portfolio of transferable skills which are especially sought after in the creative and cultural industries.
Recent School of Arts graduates have been hired by:
- Christine Park Gallery
- Design Museum
- Hong Kong Museum Of Art
- India Foundation For The Arts
- Japanese Gallery
- Museum of East Asian Art
- Music in Detention
- National Gallery
- Pan Arts
- People Projects Culture & Change
- Roundhouse Trust
- Somerset House Trust
- Songlines Magazine
- South Asian Art UK
- Stratford Circus Arts Centre
- Taiwan Embassy
- The Alliance for Global Education
- The British Embassy
- The National Museum Of Korea
- The Royal Collection
- Victoria and Albert Museum
English Language Requirements
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