The Robert Gordon University

About the School
Gray's School of Art is one of four schools in the Faculty of Design and Technology, at the Robert Gordon University. It provides a highly challenging and stimulating place to undertake research and has a worldwide reputation for quality and distinctiveness. Situated in the beautiful parkland on the University's Garthdee Campus on the banks of the River Dee, the purpose-built facilities provides an exceptional environment in which to study.
The School offers a range of undergraduate courses in Art, Design and New Media, and at postgraduate level a Masters Programme with individual study routes leading to Master of Fine Art (MFA) or Master of Design (MDes) awards. All of the Masters routes are underpinned and informed by the research undertaken by the staff of the School.
Philosophy of Research Degrees
Gray's School of Art has played an important role in the development of doctoral research in Art and Design in the UK and beyond since 1988. Through the supervision and subsequent completion of PhDs along with the development of research papers, journal articles and books, the School has developed a clear position on a PhD framework which includes practice as a central element in the research process. However, advanced practice alone is not regarded as research in this context.
Doctoral proposals are welcomed from suitably experienced individuals who can demonstrate commitment and enthusiasm for their own practice, and a clear awareness of its critical context. We encourage an interdisciplinary approach to research. Proposals should be strategically focused (see Research Thematics). Candidates are required to produce a thesis - an argument which may comprise a written text, a new body of work/artefacts, and other relevant evidence in appropriate media.

Research Thematics in the School
Research foci currently include:
• Art and the Public Sphere
which has at its core a set of experimental,
aesthetic and formal research practices that explore 'public' as a construct through the creation of diverse intersecting 'publics'. This research is concerned with understanding the critical conditions and processes in art that lead to the development of cultural value and cultural meaning.
• Challenging Making
which captures the ethos of the 'makar', old Scots for 'poet' meaning the individual as maker. This research explores the poetics of form as defined and shaped by individual practices as these respond to change triggered by new technology or economic and ecological sustainability.
• Design Research
which aims to develop creative collaborations with SMEs and service organisations to help bring about ethical design-led change and innovation in processes and products, through research projects that encourage new thinking and test new approaches.


• Art and Design Pedagogy
which develops applied research in the teaching and learning of art and design. It places the autonomy of the learner at the centre of the experience of making art. This research develops philosophies and processes addressing the learner's needs in response to the changing nature of professional and academic practice.
These areas are not mutually exclusive and all impact on each other in various ways.
Recent/current initiatives include a major research programme On the Edge (, an international conference Challenging Craft (, research projects such as IDEAS in Public Space, refereed conference and journal publications, and books e.g. Visualizing Research (
The School has had many successfully completed PhD and MPhil research projects since 1992. Click here to see to see the full list - Completed Research for Higher Degrees.
The School has had a number of Research Council funded studentships (EPSRC, AHRC) involving collaborations with relevant industrial and commercial bodies, and other regional organisations. The School continues to welcome research proposals that seek to collaborate with external organisations where relevant.
The International Perspective
The School has links with art institutions throughout Europe and internationally, involving staff and student exchanges and joint projects. Staff are involved in some of the most important international creative and critical platforms and networks e.g. Venice Biennale, Sensuous Knowledge, Korean World Ceramics Biennale, European Academy of Design, Material Thinking. They are regularly invited to give keynote presentations/papers at conferences and seminars both nationally and internationally.
The Guests@Grays lecture programme hosts significant international speakers that contribute to shaping our research agenda, such as Fred Inglis (a leading exponent critical cultural studies), Stuart Walker (an authority on sustainable design and craft), Helen and Newton Harrison (founders of art and ecology). Selected lectures are recorded, transcribed and published on the School's web sites (e.g. Inglis on

Gray's School of Art
Faculty of Design and Technology
The Robert Gordon University
Garthdee Campus
Garthdee Road
Aberdeen, Scotland, UK
AB10 7QD
T: +44 (0)1224 263600 F: +44 (0)1224 263636 W: >>>