City scape

Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film & Screen Studies - Research

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 associated theoretical/contextual studies), Creative Technologies, Drama, Museum and Heritage Studies and Music.

We are a research–intensive unit, with staff working in a wide range of areas within and across these disciplines. In REF2014, within 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. In addition to our work within the individual subjects above, the following interdisciplinary themes also support collaborative research:

- Creative Arts and Health/Wellbeing
- Creative Arts, Emergent Technologies and the Digital
- Creative Arts and Engaging with the Past
- Creative Practice-as-Research

Doctoral researchers within this unit will have opportunities to develop their profiles both within their own subject areas and disciplines and within broader academic and professional spheres.

Staff are prominent in their disciplines nationally and internationally, taking leadership roles in subject associations, networks and organisations such as Cinesonika, SCUDD (Standing Committee of University Drama Departments), TaPRA (Theatre and Performance Research Association) and ISSTA (Irish Sound, Science and Technology Association). A number also serve on the Peer Review College for the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and as assessors for the Europe-wide Horizon 2020 programme.

In addition to our collaborations across disciplines, our unit benefits from its connections with a range of partnerships with key arts and cultural organisations across the UK and Ireland, including the BBC, RTÉ, National Museums Northern Ireland, the Contemporary Music Centre (IE), Sound and Music (UK), Nesta, the Abbey Theatre, the Playhouse Theatre, Cultúrlann uí Chanáin, Void Gallery, the Nerve Centre, FabLab NI, the Walled City Music Festival and City of Derry Jazz Festival. The majority of our researchers are based at Magee campus in Derry/Londonderry, the inaugural UK City of Culture (2013).

A significant proportion of our research students have been awarded scholarships from Northern Ireland's Department for the Economy (DfE) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

As a full time student, the expectation is that you will work on your project on a daily basis, either on or off campus as agreed with your supervisor. You will be entitled to 40 days holiday per annum.

Part time students are expected to meet with their supervisors on a regular basis, most usually this would be monthly but this is dependent on the project area.

Entry requirements

Entry conditions
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University's General Entrance Requirements.

Entry Requirements
You will need to hold a First of Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) in an area relevant to your chosen project to be able to apply.

If you have obtained an undergraduate degree from a non-UK institution, we can advise you on how it compares to the UK system.

English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for research degree programmes is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. This is the only acceptable certificate for those requiring to obtain a Tier 4 visa.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.


PhD Research
You can study for a PhD on a full (3 years) or part-time (6 years) basis and by the end of your programme, you will have produced a body of work that makes a contribution to knowledge in your chosen field.

We have various routes to obtaining a PhD - for example, in some areas you can submit a practical element as part of your submission, such as a piece of art or a musical composition.

The MPhil programme is studied over a 2 year period on a full-time basis or 4 years on a part-time basis.

We would recommend that you contact one of our academic staff whose interests align with your own to discuss your intended research prior to submitting an application.

Careers or further progression

Career options
Although academia is considered to be the most obvious path for any PhD holder, with around two thirds of our graduates remaining in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the degree also paves way for a career in industries centred on research and innovation.

PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.

The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015).

Further enquiries

Cinematic Arts
Dr Murat Akser (

Creative Technologies
Dr Brian Bridges ( )

Dr Lisa Fitzpatrick (

Heritage and Museum Studies
Prof. Elizabeth Crooke (

Dr Brian Bridges (


Research facilities and groups
Doctoral researchers are provided with designated office facilities within the Foyle Arts Building on the Magee campus, alongside students on other doctoral programmes.

Additional technical and performance resources include:

2 computer labs, each featuring 25 Apple Intel iMacs (upgraded in 2015 and 2017 respectively) for a range of media and music technology applications: Avid, Adobe Creative Suite, Logic Pro, Max, etc.

2 drama studios and 1 dance/physical theatre studio. The bigger drama studio is a 'black box' space, 18m x 6m , and is a fully equipped performance venue with moving truss, a broad range of stage lanterns with 512 DMX Channel Lighting Control and a 16 Channel Sound desk, with an audience capacity of 100 (tiered). The second drama studio is 12m x 6m, also fully equipped, and has a capacity of 50.

1 colour grading suite for Cinematic Arts.

2 recording studios: one 'traditional' stereo studio (Genelec monitoring, Quad Core Mac Pro, Logic Pro, Mackie Control, with outboard from TC Electronics, Focusrite, TL Audio, Drawmer; microphones from DPA, Neumann, AKG, Soundfield, Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser, Rode, Sure); one spatial audio studio (monitoring based on KRK speakers and subs).

Electronic instruments: a vintage EMS Synthi (classic semi-modular from 1971); Patchblocks (modular audio devices), various MIDI controllers.

A chamber music recital room.

Our instrument collection includes a harpsichord, chamber organ, and 2 grand pianos.

2 3D printers and various physical computing devices (multiple Arduino boards, sensors, etc.)

Campus facilities include an extensive library stock (including a large CD and DVD collection), with well-developed collections of books and electronic resources. The University libraries also have extensive specialist resources, including the TransGender Archive, CAIN (materials relating to the NI Troubles period), and the John Hewitt Collection, amongst others. A new £11million teaching block will also house the Doctoral College on the campus. The campus is also a train or bus journey from the Linenhall Archives and PRONI in Belfast, and the National Library and National Archives in Dublin, and research students are able to avail of the SCONUL library access scheme to gain access to other UK and Irish research libraries.

Application date

Application is through the University's online application system.

Research areas

Please see College website for detailed Staff Research Areas.

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!