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DPhil Programme

The Ruskin DPhil programme includes two strands: the practice-led DPhil (which includes a substantial written component) and the contemporary art history and theory DPhil (by written thesis only).

courtesy Damian Taylor

Jaimini Patel, An Inventory of Small Acts, 2018 / The Artist

Tombs of Thought II / Brook Andrew

In the case of the contemporary art history and theory DPhil, the Ruskin can offer supervision across a wide range of research projects. These may include aspects of exhibition curating and organisation, as well as the historiography of twentieth-century art and the theorisation of contemporary artistic practices. In the case of the practice-led DPhil, studio work will be undertaken as a central component of the registered research programme, and will be presented in relation to the argument of a written thesis that engages with the relevant theoretical, historical, or critical context. 

The two strands of the DPhil programme are brought into a productive dialogue, both in a structured way at the weekly research seminar and informally in the studios.  For an indication of the range of practical, historical and theoretical topics that are addressed in the School, please have a look at the programme of the Ruskin research seminars, which take place every term.

The Ruskin School of Art provides an exceptional research environment that enables artists, art historians and art theorists to work closely together in a world-leading, research-intensive university. 

Its intimate size and its dedication to contemporary art practice and theory within a stimulating and dynamic interdisciplinary structure allows it to sustain close relations with other academic departments and faculties, distinguishing it from other, larger art schools, and allowing for a wide range of interdisciplinary and collaborative work at DPhil level.

Applicants would normally be expected to have completed, or to be about to complete, a Master’s course or equivalent, either in Fine Art or in a theoretical discipline related to the research project. It is worth noting, however, that both the practice-led and the history/theory DPhil are demanding academic degrees that presuppose a high level of academic ability.

For enquiries relating to the admissions process, please contact the Ruskin’s Graduate Studies Administrator via email at: graduate@rsa.ox.ac.uk 

Full details on the DPhil programme and requirements for admission specific to the Ruskin DPhil can be found on: http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/graduate/courses/dphil-fine-art


Part-time study

The Ruskin offers the possibility to pursue a DPhil on a part-time basis. In assessing applications from candidates seeking to undertake a research degree through part-time study, the Committee 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 their present employer for their 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.

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.


Attendance requirements  

Supervisors will normally require that attendance takes place during full-term rather than over the vacations so that students can benefit from seminars, lectures and the research activity of the School. All students, full-time or part-time, are required to attend the ‘research methodology’ seminar, which takes place every Michaelmas Term.

In addition, you may like to consult the DPhil Handbook, which gives further details on the structure of the course, supervisions arrangements, staff research interests, ongoing research projects, facilities etc.


  • Visiting doctoral students

  • Please note that we do not offer the possibility of a visiting or exchange period of study for PhD students currently enrolled in another University.


Previous DPhil students and their research topics


Chay Allen  Experience, Chance And Change: Allan Kaprow And The Tension Between Art And Life, 1948-1976 [2015]

Brook Andrew GABAN: ngarranga-birdyulang dhadharra ngawal murrungamirra (STRANGE: after-scar acting/post-traumatic theatre & powerful objects) [2022]

Helen Benigson Fattened Flattened Tongue Ties: Performing Maternality Online and Offline [2020]

Nicola Brandt Emerging Landscapes: Memory, Trauma and its Afterimage in Post-Apartheid Namibia and South Africa [2015]

Clare Carolin The Deployment of Art:  The Imperial War Museum's Artistic Records Committee 1968-1982 [2018]

Beatrice Cartwright Feminist Impolitics: Time, Pleasure and Labour in Art 1989-2000 [2023]

Sabrina Chou Constitutions [2022]

Shwanda Corbett Feminist Impolitics: Time, Pleasure and Labour in Art 1989-2000 [2023]

Diego de las Heras Pardo ATLAS OF THE HOLE/ HOUSE OF DEMENTIA: The Escutcheon, The Hearth, and The Floor-cloth as motifs for dwelling and storytelling [2020]

Jessica Draper  Being White Part I: A Self-portrait in the Third Person; Being White Part II: Whiteness in South African Visual Culture [2014]

Yuval Etgar The Ends of Collage [2020]

Hilary Floe The Museum Of Modern Art, Oxford, (1965-1982): Exhibitions, Spectatorship and Social Change [2016]

Patrick Goddard Shit House to Penthouse: An autoethnographic investigation into the interface between artists and East London [2019]

Una Henry The Politics of Knowledge That Leads Elsewhere [2017]

Jessyca Hutchens A Gift of Time: The Contemporary Artist-in-Residency Programme [2022]

Sohin Hwang Vitality of Systems [2018]

Hannah Jones The Oweds [2021]

Natasha Kidd The undoing of an object: communicating the complexities of making an artwork [2019]

Minae Kim The Afterlife of Site-specific Sculpture: A Self-referential Study through Practice [2022]

Jinjoon Lee Empty Garden : A Liminoid Journey to Nowhere in Somewhere [2021]

Mariah Lookman Looking to Draw: Picturing the Molecular Body in Art and Science [2014]

Matthew Mason The Independent Curator in the Era of Globalisation [2023]

Dorota Michalska The Other Side of the Elbe River. Interventions in Art, Modernity , and Coloniality in Poland [2024]

Vichaya Mukdamanee (De)contextualising Buddhist Aesthetics [2016]

Saul Nelson Going on From Picasso? Late Modernism and the Dynamics of History [2022]

Chelsea Nichols Human Curiosities in Contemporary Art and Their Relationship to the History of Exhibiting Monstrous Bodies [2014]

Joseph Noonan-Ganley The Contagion of Desire: Two Case Studies of Appropriation Art [2018]

Kirsten Norrie Cloth, Cull and Cocktail; Anatomizing the Performer Body of 'Alba' [2012]

Tamarin Norwood Drawing: The Point Of Contact [2019]

Charles Ogilvie Outsider Cosmologies and Studio Practice [2017]

Francis Oktech Art and Conversation: Disturbation in Public Space [2013]

Jaimini Patel Modes Of Presence In The Contemporary Sculptural Encounter [2013]

Anita Paz Against Indexicality: Photography as a Formation of Thought [2018]

Simon Pope Who else takes part? Admitting the more-than-human into participatory art [2016]

Robert Rapoport The Iterative Frame: Algorithmic Video Editing, Participant Observation & The Black Box [2016]

Vid Simoniti The Epistemic Value of Contemporary Art [2015]

Flora Skivington  Tacita Dean's Representation Of Time In The British Rural Landscape [2012]

Eiko Soga Felt Knowledge: Ecologising Art and Samani Ainu Cooking [2023]

Arturo Soto Gutierrez Affective Vision: Urban Landscape Photographs and their Paratexts [2021]

Inbal Strauss Form Unfollows Function: Subversions of Functionality [2022]

Babar Suleman (I) LOVE (DICK) ISLAND: The Lifeworld of KhudiMagic [2022]

Brandon Taylor After Constructivism [2012]

Damian Taylor 'Busy Working with Materials' Transposing Form, Re-exposing Medardo Rosso [2015]

Christian Thompson Creative Responses to Australian Material Culture in the Pitt Rivers Museum Collection: Parallels between 'We Bury Our Own' and 'Mining The Museum' [2016]

Oraib Toukan Two Seconds, One Frame: On the Afterlife of Cruel Images [2019]

Naomi Vogt Inventing Ritual: Moving Images of Social Reality in Contemporary Art [2018]

Jason Waite Michi no Oku/The End of the Land: Contemporary Art in Japan and the Catastrophic Condition [2022]

Nina Wakeford NOW, SAY THIS, NOW: the re-amplification of political energies [2017]

Ruobing Wang Green Instruments: A Critical Evaluation Of Environmental Concerns In Contemporary Chinese Art [2010]

Curtis Winter The Recollections: The Works and Days (of Tayoko Shiojiri in the Shiotani Basin) [2020]

Farniyaz Zaker Allegories of the Veil [2015]

last edited: January 16th 2024