Research at Ulster in subjects related to performing arts, creative technologies, museum and heritage studies and associated cultural contexts is combined within this unit. PhD research can be pursued in the following individual subject areas: Cinematic Arts (film/moving image practice and film and screen studies), Drama, Heritage and Museum Studies and Music.
We are a research–intensive unit combining these subject areas, with staff working in a wide range of areas within and across these disciplines. In our REF 2014 submission for this unit, nearly 60% of our research outputs and 100% of the impact of our work on policy and creative practice was rated 4* (world- leading) and 3* (internationally excellent). The impact of our research was judged to be 90% 4*, jointly ranked second in the UK, and one of only a handful of Units of Assessment to achieve this score across the whole sector.
The range of subjects within this grouping contributes to a vibrant research culture which encompasses both individual subject areas and interdisciplinary opportunities.
Applicants are encouraged to contact potential supervisors in good time to discuss draft research proposals. For general enquiries please contact the Research Director, Dr Brian Bridges.
Cinematic Arts at Ulster University is a new and vibrant area of research that combines theory and practice of moving image arts in the new digital media age. Applicants can propose practice-based research topics, cinema studies related research questions or focus on the uses of alternative media practices that involve moving image. Proposals are welcomed in a wide range of areas relating to staff research interests. Current priority topics are listed below:
Contemporary Filmmaking Practice
Modern and Contemporary Cinema
Alternative, Amateur and Resistance Media
Horror: Theory, Practices and Cultures
Supervisors in Cinematic Arts:
Dr Murat Akser
Mr Lee Cadieux
Dr Victoria McCollum
Research interests in Drama focus collectively on performance in a post-conflict environment, particularly applied performance, and gender, conflict and performance; methodologies of theatre practice, and Irish drama. Individual specialisms are indicated below, but recent staff research projects include: Theatre for Young Audiences; Rape and Performance; Applied Theatre and Post-Conflict Societies; Theatre and Ritual; Storytelling.
Applications for practice-based research are especially welcome, as are interdisciplinary projects. The MA in Contemporary Performance Practice is available for students wishing to undertake a preparatory year before commencing the doctoral programme.
Current and most recent research theses supervised in Drama:
Interactive online dramaturgy / Digital Storytelling and Border Areas;
Storytelling and Conflict in Contemporary Northern Ireland;
Community theatre in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday agreement;
Actor training in Ireland;
Liminal space on the contemporary Northern Irish stage;
Working class theatre in Ulster;
The role of the dramaturg in new writing in contemporary British theatre;
Theatre and Children's Rights in Northern Ireland;
Site-Specific Performance and Community Performance in Post-Conflict Northern Ireland
Supervisors in Drama:
Dr Giuliano Campo
Dr Lisa Fitzpatrick
Dr Jennifer Goddard
Dr Matthew Jennings
Dr Tom Maguire
Heritage and Museum Studies
The heritage and museum studies subject at Ulster University has been established since 2001 and has maintained a vibrant research culture ever since. Current research focuses around the theme Engaging the Past, which considers issues of memory, interpretation, representation, identity and political context of notions of heritage. We take an interdisciplinary approach and, depending on the research topic, the supervisory team is drawn from individuals with specialisms in museum and heritage studies, performance, sociology, policy studies, cultural geography, education, art and design, and history.
We support researchers in developing their academic interests in teaching and publication. Phd researchers with professional experience of the heritage, museums or arts sector have opportunity to run seminars on the Master's courses in heritage and museum studies at Ulster.
Current and most recent research theses supervised in this area include:
Collections interpretation and collection history
Conflict testimony in museum interpretation
Interculturalism and the museum
Museums and the everyday
Digital heritage interpretation
Supervisors in Heritage and Museum Studies:
Professor Elizabeth Crooke (as this is an interdisciplinary area, Professor Crooke co-supervises with colleagues from across the research unit and faculty)
Music at Ulster is firmly committed to creative practice as an integral part of its research activity. Recently submitted and ongoing doctoral studies include:
the music of Rachmaninov
contemporary jazz piano, percussion and guitar performance
techniques in musical theatre
creative applications of technology in solo electric guitar performance
interaction design for electronic music applications
technological interfaces for disabled musicians
contemporary works for prepared piano
Highland piping traditions
rhythmic perception in language-impaired children
music in film
sound art practices and auditory cultures in Northern Ireland
the history of show bands
issues of cultural heritage in opera
Priority topics include:
Music and the Visual
Proposals are sought for practice-based (composition, performance) or musicological projects that investigate the relationship between music and the visual world e.g. visual arts, visual media, visual/visualized objects and environments. Of particular interest are project proposals exploring interdisciplinarity and collaborative practice, music and moving image, site-specificity and music and architecture.
Music Composition for Instruments and Live Electronics
Projects may focus on the investigation of solo and/or ensemble interaction with a wide range of compositional methodologies using live electronics in the production of a portfolio of original music.
Electroacoustic and Experimental Music Composition
Proposals are sought for projects which address contemporary music composition through an exploration of perceptual, structural, aesthetic and/or stylistic issues in the incorporation of a broad range of contemporary approaches to sonic materials. Areas of creative exploration may include one or more of the following genres/approaches: noise music, glitch/post-digital music, electroacoustic music, drone music, sound-based installations, spectral music, microtonal/alternate tunings.
Design of Music Performance Systems/Digital Musical Instruments
Proposals are sought for a project which focuses on design, technological development and theoretical aspects underpinning the creation of digital musical instruments (DMI) or performance systems. Potential topics could encompass either technologically augmented instruments in combination with digital systems or the design of purely digital musical instrument systems.
Proposals are sought for a project which covers an aspect of microtonal music in the domains of music theory, composition or the development of performance strategies and practices. Projects which examine the use of just intonation approaches to tuning and scale construction are particularly welcome.
New York 'Downtown' Music/American Experimental Music
Proposals are sought for a project which engages with theoretical/contextual studies or creative practice based on experimental/exploratory musics in New York's 'Downtown' scene or in the wider American contemporary music scene.
Proposals may consider the development of original improvisatory concepts and/or innovative technical approaches in jazz instrumental or vocal performance.
Supervisors in Music:
Dr Brian Bridges
Dr Rob Casey
Dr Liz Doherty
Dr Linley Hamilton
Professor Brian Irvine
Professor Frank Lyons
Dr Adam Melvin