Postgraduate study

Design PhD, MPhil

Awards: PhD, MPhil

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Design

We provide a highly dynamic and supportive research environment for our large and diverse graduate community as demonstrated in our 100 percent score in the research environment category of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.

Our research students can benefit from ECA’s interdisciplinary research environment, which attracts postgraduate researchers across a number of fields, and is further informed by collaborative exchanges with colleagues elsewhere in the University. This approach has attracted funding from major providers, including the UK Research Councils and institutions from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors in the arts, humanities, science and medicine.

Areas of expertise within design include: animation, design ethnography, design history and theory, design informatics, fashion, film and television, glass, graphic design, illustration, interior design, jewellery, performance costume, product design, screen studies (film and animation), silversmithing and textiles.

All of our research students benefit from ECA’s interdisciplinary approach and all are assigned two research supervisors. The second supervisor may be from another discipline within ECA, or from somewhere else within the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences or elsewhere within the University, according to the expertise required. On occasion more than two supervisors will be assigned, particularly where the degree brings together multiple disciplines.

You will benefit from opportunities within the thriving studios in ECA's historic Lauriston Place campus, along with the exhibitions and events associated with a vibrant art college and wider University. Together there is an extensive range of student support facilities provided including libraries, student societies, support services and accommodation.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent. We will also take any professional experience into account.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 22/03/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDDesign3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhDDesign6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
MPhilDesign2 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
MPhilDesign4 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Postgraduate Research Director, Design, Dr Glyn Davis
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5772
  • Contact: Glyn.Davis@ed.ac.uk
  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Office
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Evolution House, Grassmarket
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH1 2LE

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit two references with your application.

You should submit a research proposal that outlines your project's aims, context, process and product/outcome. Read the application guidance before you apply:

Your project can be fully theoretical, however, when appropriate, we encourage you to submit a proposal that challenges and expands traditional approaches to research in creative practice and design, through innovative theoretical and/or practice-led methodologies.

If you wish to undertake research that involves practice, please also provide a portfolio with examples of your previous practical work.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Postgraduate Research Director, Design, Dr Glyn Davis
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5772
  • Contact: Glyn.Davis@ed.ac.uk
  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Office
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Evolution House, Grassmarket
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH1 2LE