Studio PhD Program
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Transart Institute, in cooperation with the School of Art & Media and the Graduate School at University of Plymouth is offering a low-residency PhD degree for advanced studio art.
A three to four year full time degree program with an average work commitment of 30 hours per week. Registration is initially for the MPhil stage, with students transferring to PhD registration at the end of the first year. The Degree is only offered for practice-based research (creative work) accompanied by a written thesis.
Transart is particularly keen on encouraging proposals that in the widest sense explore space and inhabitation of space, the archive, documentary art making, language/image, diaspora and post-colonialism, software studies, network culture, performance, land and sea, and the role of art in peace, mediation and international relations. The proposal should demonstrate systematic study, independence, critical competence and originality. It should include a record of the ‘practice’ element and also serve to contextualize the practice intellectually.
The PhD program at Transart Institute aims to create a space for students of all disciplines to interact with a wide range of artists, scientists, theorists, media practitioners and visionaries. Candidates investigate their work independently in a cultural and studio context. PhD projects are expected to contribute to the current creative cultural dialogue through informed, published, exhibited or performed work and documentation thereof.
PhD Project and Thesis
The thesis will show systematic study, independence, critical competence, originality and will be capable of publication in whole or in part. It will include a record of the ‘practice’ element and also serve to contextualise the practice intellectually while demonstrating its contribution to knowledge. The relationship between the studio-based work and the written work as practice-based research activities share a common set of resources. Therefore studio and written components of the PhD project are to be conceived of as a whole.
Research and results
Research is defined as a process of investigation leading to new insights, effectively shared. Students experiment with the presentation of research outcomes at the fall/winter residencies in preparation for the research results at the summer Transartfest. As appropriate to the nature of the PhD project, students have the option to exhibit, perform, curate or document their work.
Transart Institute is an international program. Summer residencies take place in cooperation with arts organizations in Europe. Fall/winter residencies take place in New York at various arts initiatives and galleries or University of Plymouth. Transart Institute provides a range of accommodation listings and arranges a special group rate at a student hotel each summer as well as student travel and city guides. Most students prefer to stay together but students make their own arrangements for travel, accommodations and meals during the residencies so many options are available. Travel info can be found here.
The on-site part of the program takes place in English. Many languages are spoken but courses, critiques and lectures all take place in English. Students must have excellent command of spoken English. Student off-site semester work can take place in any language that the student and his/her advisors have in common. Research projects must include a synopsis in English. All administrative paper work (including student and faculty evaluations) must be in English. If English is not a first language, students may be required to provide a TOEFL with a score (iBT) of 88 or better.
The summer residencies are both milestones and resources, taking place every summer. Residency begins with an examination of the research proposal or research progress, through oral presentation, critique and input. Workshops, seminars, guest lectures, faculty lectures, artist and curator talks as well as individual meetings with advisors take place each week in support of the student’s research. The thesis presentation (exhibition, performance, etc.) with vernissage, submission of the thesis, and vive voce take place in the final summer.
Week-long residencies take place at the end of each fall semester. The focus is on presentations, critiques, input and the sharing of resources mid-way through each year. In the first year research proposals are presented and discussed. In the second year research presentation, input and assessment take place.
Students exhibit and perform work in conjunction with the project presentation in order to test and explore exhibition and documentation possibilities in anticipation of the final thesis presentation in the third fall/winter residency. Guest artist talks, screenings and professional development workshops complete the residency.
Students participate in presentations and critiques in three formats: in the plenum with advisors and summer faculty, in year-long peer groups, and in individual advisor sessions, getting the benefits of many different perspectives on their work. Issues of delivery, content, aesthetics, technique, audience, media, genre, gender, culture and process are discussed, resources are shared. 30 minute presentations are followed by 30 minute student lead discussion periods. The viva voce is attended by the two advisors, a Program Leader, the External Examiner and the UoP liaison.
Students begin to prepare their research proposals with input from advisors, students and summer faculty in meetings throughout their first residency as their ideas develop, submitting a PhD proposal plan for approval at the end of the second summer residency.
Students partake in one elected topical cultural studies seminar in the first summer residency. Students learn to put their work in context and find ways to inform their research while also getting practice articulating new ideas, exploring new ways of thinking and making connections through discussions and critiques. Topics are viewed through the lens of media studies, literature, sociology, philosophy and art history demonstrating new ways for students to explore their own topics. Advanced writing and research seminars offering academic enrichment, wider research possibilities and opening up new approaches to the traditional thesis take place in the second summer residency. A pedagogy seminar challenges students to consider their future contribution to the educational landscape, analyzing contemporary approaches and models in the third summer.
Students partake in several MPhil-seminars each residency. These short (one to two-day) seminars comprise the MARE 500 Research Training Module. A complete list and short descriptions of each seminar can be found here.
Participants will explore concepts and test new ideas and working methods through a series of creative exercises and assignments (realized in their media of choice and completed either alone or in collaboration), in addition to lectures, presentations and debates. Workshop goals are to equip participants with expanded conceptual and aesthetic toolsets and for the time together to conclude with everyone feeling invigorated and inventive about applying the workshop process to their respective practices and locales. Workshops are not intended to further technical virtuosity but to enhance creativity by exposing students to new approaches to working in various genres. It is recommended that students work with what they are technically familiar with for these sessions. Students should bring their own tools, whatever they like to work with i.e. cameras, powerbooks, sketch pads. Scanners, video projectors and printers will be available.
Off-site Critique Groups
Student critique groups formed at the summer residency continue through the semesters either in person or through virtual channels. Each student receives a thirty minute critique twice a semester from their group and participates in four thirty minute group critique every first Sunday of the month. Students rotate as facilitators. In addition to the individual critique sessions with their advisors, students receive two faculty-lead critiques in their summer student critique groups. Together with a range of views from a geographically and culturally diverse group of artists, curators, and theorists, as well as the varied dynamics created by the different size, format and make up of the critique participants, students gain essential perspectives for assessing their work’s communicative effectiveness with regard to audience and intent.
Alumni continue to have the opportunity to participate in residencies after finishing the program as program advisors, by giving and receiving critiques, exhibiting, and as members of the Transart International Exhibition Collective.