Research Degrees for the Ruskin School of Art

  • [Until MT 2015: 1. Admission

    Candidates may elect to pursue research by thesis alone, or by a combination of thesis and studio practice; where the latter course is proposed, the studio work produced must be original work developed and realised in respect of the stated aims of the research programme, exemplifying and locating the ideas that have been developed in conjunction with the written part of the thesis. Fine Art candidates are initially admitted as Probationer Research Students. Depending on whether they wish to pursue research by thesis alone, or through a combination of thesis and studio practice, candidates should support their application with:

    EITHER

    • (A) 1. a sample of recent written work (4,000–6,000 words), preferably but not necessarily related to the proposed topic or area of research, such as an undergraduate or Master's dissertation (or part of it) or a substantial essay;

    • 2. a proposal for a research topic or area (about 1,000 words), which should include a statement why this work should be carried out at Oxford.

    • OR
    • (B) (For those intending to offer studio practice as part of the final submission)

      • 1. a sample of written work (2,000–3,000 words);

      • 2. a portfolio of recently completed studio work with slides or other documentation of work not available for inclusion;

      • 3. a plan of work to be completed in Oxford.

        All candidates should expect to attend for interview.

  • Part-time study

    In assessing applications from candidates seeking to undertake a research degree through part-time study, the Committee for the Ruskin School of Art shall have regard to evidence that:

    • (i) the candidate is suitable to undertake research at doctoral level;

    • (ii) the candidate's personal and professional circumstances are such that it is both practicable for him or her to fulfil the requirements of the course, and necessary for him or her to study on a part-time basis;

    • (iii) if appropriate, the candidate has the written support of his or her present employer for his or her proposed course of study and its obligations;

    • (iv) the candidate's proposed topic of research is suitable for part-time study;

    • (v) the candidate can meet the attendance requirements relating to part-time study.

  • Attendance requirements for part-time study

    Part-time students are required to attend for a minimum of thirty days of university-based work each year, to be arranged with the agreement of their supervisor, for the period that their names remain on the Register of Graduate Students unless individually dispensed by the committee.

  • 2. Transfer of status to M.Litt. or D.Phil.

    During the first year of study, Probationer Research Students are required to attend lectures, seminars, and classes within the University as directed by their supervisor(s). Students will also undertake foundation work related to their research area.

    Applications for transfer to M.Litt. or D.Phil. status should normally be made by the end of the third term, and must be made by the end of the sixth term. Students must satisfy the committee that (a) they have followed and completed their prescribed courses of study, (b) they have undertaken preparatory research (and, where applicable, studio work) to the satisfaction of their supervisor(s), (c) the proposed research topic is acceptable, and that they are competent to undertake it, (d) (in the case of those intending to offer studio practice as part of the final submission) the proposed work to be undertaken is of sufficient substance.

    In the case of part-time students, applications for transfer should normally be made by the end of the sixth term, and must be made by the end of the twelfth term.

    Candidates for transfer should submit a brief statement (1,000 words) on the topic of their research and the manner in which they propose to treat it. This should be accompanied by:

    EITHER

    • (A) an essay of about 5,000 words relevant to the topic proposed for the thesis.

  • OR

    • (B) (for those intending to offer studio practice as part of the final submission) a portfolio or exhibition of studio work with slides or other documentation of work not available for inclusion and a related essay of 3,000 words.

      Application for transfer (including all the submitted material) should be submitted no later than the third week of the third term and accompanied by a report from the student's supervisor(s). (Upon the recommendation of the supervisor(s), a student may be permitted to submit no later than Monday of the week before full term in the fourth term.) On receiving the submissions the committee shall appoint two assessors, both of whom shall consider the submitted material, and conduct the oral examination. Transfer to D.Phil. student status is dependent on satisfactory reports from assessors and confirmation of (a)–(d) above.

  • 3. Confirmation of D.Phil. status

    Applications for confirmation of D.Phil. status should normally be made by the end of the eighth term as a research student at Oxford, and must be made by the end of the ninth term; or, in the case of part-time students, normally by the end of the eighteenth term (and must be made by the end of the twenty-fourth term).

    Every student seeking confirmation of status should make a submission consisting of:

    EITHER

    • (A) 1. a thesis title, together with an outline of the thesis, and an essay of about 6,000 words on the current state of the student's research, or a portion of the thesis of comparable length.

  • OR

    • (B) 1. a portfolio or exhibition of studio work, accompanied by a statement of future plans;

    • 2. an essay on a related topic (3,000 words).

      All candidates will be examined orally by two assessors. In the case of those intending to offer studio practice as part of the final submission, both assessors will view the portfolio or exhibition of studio work prior to the oral examination. Confirmation of status may take place only when the committee has received satisfactory reports from the assessors, and from the student's supervisor(s).

  • 4. Final submission

    EITHER

    • (A) For the Degree of M.Litt. a thesis not exceeding 40,000 words, or for the Degree of D.Phil., a thesis not exceeding 80,000 words, including notes, bibliography, glossary, appendices, etc.

  • OR

    • (B) For the Degree of M.Litt. an exhibition of studio work and a written thesis of up to 20,000 words. For the Degree of D.Phil. an exhibition of studio work and a written thesis of up to 40,000 words.

      In the case of those offering studio practice as part of the final submission, both assessors will view the portfolio or exhibition of studio work prior to the oral examination. The supervisor will ensure that the assessors view the studio work. This may take place in a different venue from, and on a day prior to the oral examination. There should normally be no more than three months between the dates of the viewing and the oral examination. In conducting the oral examination, the assessors will be concerned to establish that the studio work has been clearly presented in relation to the argument of the written thesis, and that it has been set in its relevant theoretical, historical, or critical context.]

    [From MT 2015: 1. Admission

    Fine Art candidates are initially admitted as Probationer Research Students. Candidates may apply for admission on a full-time or part-time basis. In assessing applications from candidates seeking to undertake a research degree through part-time study, the Committee of the Ruskin School of Art shall have regard to evidence that the candidate can meet the following attendance requirements for their period of part-time study: attendance for a minimum of thirty days of university-based work each year, normally coinciding with the full terms of the academic year, to be arranged with the agreement of their supervisor, for the period that their names remain on the Register of Graduate Students unless individually dispensed by the Committee.

    Candidates may elect to pursue research by thesis alone, or by a combination of thesis and studio practice; where the latter course is proposed, the studio work produced must be original work developed and realised in respect of the stated aims of the research programme, exemplifying and locating the ideas that have been developed in conjunction with the written part of the thesis.

    2. Transfer of status to M.Litt. or D.Phil.

    During the first year of study, Probationer Research Students are required to attend lectures, seminars, and classes within the University as directed by their supervisor(s). Students will also undertake foundation work related to their research area. Students must satisfy the committee that (a) they have followed and completed their prescribed courses of study, (b) they have undertaken preparatory research (and, where applicable, studio work) to the satisfaction of their supervisor(s), (c) the proposed research topic is acceptable, and that they are competent to undertake it, (d) (in the case of those intending to offer studio practice as part of the final submission) the proposed work to be undertaken is of sufficient substance. Candidates for transfer should submit a brief statement (1,000 words) on the topic of their research and the manner in which they propose to treat it. This should be accompanied by:

    EITHER

    • (A) an essay of about 5,000 words relevant to the topic proposed for the thesis.

  • OR

    • (B) (for those intending to offer studio practice as part of the final submission) a portfolio or exhibition of studio work with slides or other documentation of work not available for inclusion and a related essay of 3,000 words. Application for transfer (including all the submitted material) should be submitted no later than the third week of the third term and accompanied by a report from the student's supervisor(s). (Upon the recommendation of the supervisor(s), a student may be permitted to submit no later than Monday of the week before full term in the fourth term.)

  • 3. Confirmation of D.Phil. status

    Every student seeking confirmation of status should make a submission consisting of:

    EITHER

    • (A)

      1. a thesis title, together with an outline of the thesis, and an essay of about 6,000 words on the current state of the student's research, or a portion of the thesis of comparable length.

  • OR

    • (B)

      1. a portfolio or exhibition of studio work, accompanied by a statement of future plans;

      2. an essay on a related topic (3,000 words). All candidates will be examined orally by two assessors. In the case of those intending to offer studio practice as part of the final submission, both assessors will view the portfolio or exhibition of studio work prior to the oral examination. Confirmation of status may take place only when the committee has received satisfactory reports from the assessors, and from the student's supervisor(s).

  • 4. Final submission

    EITHER

    • (A) For the Degree of D.Phil., a thesis of up to 80,000 words, including notes and appendices, but excluding acknowledgements, bibliography, glossary, image captions and table of contents; or for the Degree of M.Litt. a thesis of up to 40,000 words, including notes and appendices, but excluding acknowledgements, bibliography, glossary, image captions and table of contents.

  • OR

    • (B)  Subject to points (i-iv) below, for the Degree of D.Phil., a thesis of art practice that makes an original contribution to knowledge and comprises (a) a portfolio of artwork that is documented by textual material and photographic and/or other images including labels or notes of explanation, and (b) a written component of up to 20,000 words that includes all such textual documentation, labels and notes of explanation, as well as footnotes, endnotes and appendices, but excludes acknowledgements, bibliography, glossary, image captions and table of contents; or for the Degree of M.Litt. a thesis of art practice that makes an original contribution to knowledge and comprises (a) a portfolio of artwork that is documented by textual material and photographic and/or other images including labels or notes of explanation, and (b) a written component of up to 10,000 words that includes all such textual documentation, labels and notes of explanation, as well as footnotes, endnotes and appendices, but excludes acknowledgements, bibliography, glossary, image captions and table of contents.

  • In the case of those candidates offering a thesis of art practice:

    • (i) For the purpose of these regulations, “portfolio” means a body of original artwork that may take the form of one or more objects, images, environments, performances, texts, virtual or conceptual works, or any comparable form as agreed between the candidate and his/her supervisor.

      (ii) This body of work should be accompanied by documentation of high technical standards and theoretical sophistication that is sufficiently comprehensive as to fully record and communicate all aspects of the artwork where it is not possible to include the artwork itself within the written dissertation.  

      (iii) The candidate will also prepare a presentation of the body of original artwork, which the assessors will view in situ in advance of the oral examination, or in exceptional cases review on the basis of the documentation provided. This presentation may take the form of an exhibition, performance, screening, demonstration or any comparable form as agreed between the candidate and his/her supervisor. The supervisor will ensure that the assessors view this presentation, which may take place in a different venue from, and on a day prior to, the oral examination. There should normally be no more than three months between the dates of the viewing and the oral examination.

      (iv) In conducting the oral examination, the assessors will be concerned to establish that the argument of the additional written component has been clearly presented in relation to the artwork, and that the artwork has been set in its relevant theoretical, historical, technical and/or critical context.

  • In exceptional circumstances, candidates may apply for permission to submit a written component that exceeds the specified word limit. An application for permission to exceed the limit should be submitted to the Ruskin School of Art’s Director of Graduate Studies with a detailed explanation and statement of the amount of excess length requested, and with a covering letter from the supervisor.]