Research ( full-time, part-time)
January, April, September
Distance-learning supervision available on this course.
This programme is located in Cambridge School of Art. Find out more about our research.
For application deadlines visit our how to apply page.
Our PhD research programmes will allow you to join one of our research projects or explore your own interests in Graphic Design and Typography, supported by the expertise of our staff.
Informed by your particular discipline, you’ll frame your research within the context of current critical debates, examining modern production and dissemination methods used both nationally and internationally. Your research can be practice-led and conducted primarily through design projects.
You’ll be allocated two supervisors, with additional staff members available if necessary. Our supervisors are experienced in most areas of graphic design and typography, with a focus on type design and type history.
At Cambridge School of Art, you’ll be part of a vibrant and growing community of researchers working in many different fields. We provide various research forums that accentuate the interdisciplinary nature of our research, including the Typographic Research Group, and have strong links with many professional organisations, including Atypi, Typographic Research Initiative, Typecon (USA) and various critical and professional journals. You’ll have the chance to participate in publications, exhibitions and conferences, gaining valuable research experience and contributing to Cambridge School of Art’s critical culture.
All your subject-specific studies will be enhanced and supported by our University-wide training sessions, where you’ll gain important research expertise in areas like ethics, presentations, intellectual property and digital scholarship.
MPhil: full-time 1-3 years, part-time 2-4 years.
PhD via progression from MPhil, including that period: full-time 2.5-5 years, part-time 3.5-6 years.
PhD: full-time 2-4 years, part-time 3-6 years.
For further guidance on the duration of research degrees please refer to the Research Degrees Regulations.
You’ll be supervised and supported by staff who have recognised expertise in both professional practice and research of graphic design and typography, at national and international level. Our staff include:
Jon Melton: categorising and contextualising of display and ornamented types of the nineteenth century; eighteenth- and nineteenth-century applied arts, furniture, interiors and architecture.
At Cambridge School of Art, we combine the traditions of our past with the possibilities afforded by the latest technologies.
Using our expertise and connections in Cambridge and beyond, we nurture creativity through experimentation and risk-taking to empower the makers and creators of the future.
Our academics excel at both practice and theory, making a real impact in their chosen fields, whether they are curating exhibitions, designing book covers or photographing communities in Africa. They are also regularly published in catalogues, books, journals and conference papers, their research classed as being of ‘international standing’, with some elements ‘world-leading’, in the most recent Research Excellence Framework.
Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.
You’ll have the chance to work in our industry-standard Mac suites, outstanding printmaking, letterpress, and 3D workshops, as well as access to the University of Cambridge Library, our own campus library and Ruskin Gallery, our professional digital art gallery, which shows touring exhibitions of international standing as well as student work.
Our Faculty has a dedicated PhD room, where our doctoral students can all meet up to work and take an active part in our postgraduate student community.
In some cases extra costs known as bench fees will be charged for a postgraduate research degree. These are to cover additional/exceptional costs directly related to a specific research project.
Some examples of these costs are (the list is not exhaustive): equipment hire, access costs to specialist equipment/workshops, volunteer expenses, specialist tissue/cell culture, specialist reagents or materials, specialist software, access to specialist databases, data collection costs, specialist media, recording or digital storage needs.
We charge bench fees in bands. They may apply for every year of your course. These bands are the same for full- and part-time students.
If you have to pay bench fees this will be made clear at your interview, and stated in your offer letter.
For 2021/22 the bench fee bands are:
Initial registration: £1,300
Full registration: £4,000
Part time: £1,000
Full time: £1,800
You can pay your fees upfront, in full or in instalments – though you won't need to pay until you've accepted an offer to study with us. Find out more about paying your fees.
For advice on the doctoral loan and other sources of funding, including ARU scholarships, visit our finance guide for postgraduate researchers.
You might also find The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding helpful.
ARU's academic excellence was recognised in 2021, as part of the Research Excellence Framework (REF), an exercise which assesses the quality of academic research. Sixteen areas of our work were classed as generating world-leading research. The results showed that we're making a significant impact on the societies we live in.
We’ll provide you with many opportunities for career development and training, and encourage you to get involved with external activities like conference organisation and giving papers. You might also be able to take on teaching responsibilities in Cambridge School of Art, or organise research events such as conferences and seminars.
In conjunction with University research support, you can request specific support for writing-up, conference papers, general research methods and other research skills if you need it.
If you're interested in finding out more about research study opportunities in this area, please email [email protected]
MPhil or PhD with progression from MPhil: You’ll need a Bachelors degree or equivalent with first or upper second class honours, in a related subject area.
PhD: You’ll need a Masters degree or equivalent in a related subject area.
Please note we consider candidates for PhD with progression from MPhil in the first instance. If you want to be considered for direct entry to the PhD route then this can be discussed at interview if you are shortlisted. Please note you’ll also need to provide academic justification for this request.
You'll be required to submit a portfolio of your practical work to date as part of your application.
If English is not your first language, you'll require a minimum IELTS score of 6.5, with a minimum of 5.5 in each component (or equivalent test). If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry.
Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the programme as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Contact our postgraduate research degree team for more information about studying a PhD, MPhil or Professional Doctorate at ARU.
You'll need a computer and reliable internet access to successfully engage with your research programme. Before starting, we recommend that you check our technical requirements for online learning.
Studying during COVID-19
Due to national restrictions all universities in England, including ARU, are only able to provide face to face access to research resources in limited circumstances where access can be justified under movement restrictions. Visit our restrictions page for details. All assessments and supervision are currently conducted online.
In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic and related Government guidance, your research programme will be framed, wherever possible, to be conducted away from campus and in line with movement restrictions. For some types of research attendance on campus will be essential for some activities, and these activities will need to be undertaken in a COVID-19 safe manner in line with our risk management procedures.
In the event that there are further changes to the current restrictions that are in place within the UK due to the pandemic, we may need all of our researchers to work online only at short notice to remain in line with Government guidelines and ensure the continued safety of our students and staff.
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