Contemporary Art - Liverpool John Moores University

Contemporary Art

Course fees (2018/19 entry)

Option / fee Value
Home/EU full-time annual tuition fee: £4,625
Home/EU part-time tuition fee: N/A
International full time annual tuition fee: £13,250

Course type



Liverpool School of Art and Design

Study mode

Full Time

About your course

The Master of Philosophy in Contemporary Art is a unique research degree for artists, writers, curators, and interdisciplinary cultural practitioners to develop their practice and contribute to the wider field of contemporary art through research-based critical work, in partnership with Liverpool Biennial.

  • Situated within the cutting-edge research of the Exhibition Research Lab (ERL) at Liverpool School of Art and Design and Liverpool Biennial
  • Supported by collaborative partnerships with cultural institutions in Liverpool including Tate Liverpool, FACT (Foundation for Creative Art and Technology) and Liverpool Biennial
  • Offering a unique opportunity for developing distinctive research-based practice
  • Supported by internationally distinguished interdisciplinary research expertise of staff, visiting professors and advisors
  • Offered Full Time over 18 months, with a possibility of transfer to PhD programme after 12 months
  • The School of Art and Design offers a unique collaborative environment for postgraduate students. VIDEO: Hear about postgraduate research from the Director of School

​Benefit from close partnerships with key cultural institutions in Liverpool including: Liverpool Biennial, Tate Liverpool, FACT and RIBA North.

This programme offers a unique opportunity to develop advanced and applied research through an active engagement with the wider research community at LJMU and working in collaboration with a high profile arts organisation in Liverpool that operates internationally.

​Professor Joasia Krysa, Director, Exhibition Research Lab at Liverpool School of Art and Design, and Head of Research at Liverpool Biennial

Introduction to the School

​Liverpool School of Art and Design is the perfect environment in which to develop your research.

The School is organised around strong disciplinary cultures within a dynamic environment that supports interaction and debate between staff and students within and across subject areas.

You will be offered a range of research opportunities to develop contemporary art research ideas, methods, skills, and practice under the supervision of our international staff in the School, with distinguished expertise and practice in specific fields.

​Our programmes are directed towards combining research-based practice, critical engagement, with work-related learning with practical knowledge, enabling you to succeed in your chosen career beyond graduation.

Teaching is individually tailored to each student, with lectures, seminars, tutorials, studio supervisions and workshops, to support the development and submission of an original practice/written thesis).

Why study this course at LJMU?

This nationally and internationally distinctive programme supports practice-based research in partnership with Liverpool Biennial in parallel to its biannual cycle.

​The programme also benefits from collaborations with key cultural institutions in Liverpool, including Tate Liverpool, FACT (Foundation for Creative Art and Technology) and RIBA North (Royal Institute of British Architects) through collaborative posts held by staff and joint projects and activities. Research students have the potential to collaborate on artistic, curatorial or theoretical modes of and benefit from opportunities to develop public presentations, curatorial projects, and exhibitions.

The programme is led by Joasia Krysa, Professor in Exhibition Research and Director of Exhibition Research Lab in the School of Art and Design, who holds a collaborative post with Liverpool Biennial, and is supported by a team of internationally distinguished staff, visiting staff and advisors at the forefront of contemporary art field worldwide.

Located at the School of Art and Design, the oldest art school in the UK outside of London established originally in 1825 as the Liverpool Mechanics’ School of Art Institute, the programme is housed in the RIBA award-winning John Lennon Art and Design Building. It offers an access to extensive studio spaces, lecture theatres, workshop facilities, and dedicated public exhibition space of Exhibition Research Lab.

​Research in the School is organised thematically to bring disciplines together and exploit their methods, addressing issues with broader cultural significance. All of our staff, including Readers and Professors, are involved in the day-to-day delivery of our programmes, and we are particularly interested in interdisciplinary methodologies.

Our specialist areas include:

  • Contemporary Art and Design Practice
  • International Art
  • Sound and the Visual Arts
  • Art History
  • Curatorial Practice
  • Art and Creative Technologies
  • Environmental Art
  • Contemporary Printmaking
  • Illustration
  • Urban Architecture

In the 2014 REF, 85% of research submitted by Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory at LJMU was recognised internationally or considered internationally excellent. This research helps ensure our learning is positioned at the leading edge of developments in the field and that you can study alongside leading experts.

Programme outline and structure

This programme offers the opportunity to undertake advance research in areas relating to a wide range of artistic practices, critical writing, exhibition studies, and curating, including periodic art exhibitions such as biennials.

​You will work alongside dedicated supervisors, get involved in training workshops and seminars, actively participate in our research environment and public events, and engage with our external cultural partner institutions.

In addition, the programme benefits from the context of our own Exhibition Research Lab activities, public art gallery, and a wider community of international researchers, staff, and visiting staff in the School and the University. Researchers will have access to the extensive resources at LJMU Library, Special Collections and Archives (including archives of Liverpool Biennial, Punk, Situationist International, Everyman Theatre, Cybernetics and Stafford Beer, amongst others), as well as a range of international collaborations and partnerships developed by staff.

Research is supported by staff with the range of research interests and expertize in the the following areas: contemporary art, exhibition studies, contemporary curatorial practice, socially engaged art practice, creative labour in the cultural industries, archival practices, digital culture, and critical theory.

What you will study on this degree

Please see guidance below on areas of study to support your research

Specific research-related training needs are identified on an individual basis.

Key topics include:

  • Research methods for arts and related interdisciplinary fields
  • Research project

  • Research proposition and development

  • Professional development for researchers in arts and related fields

Further guidance on modules

The information listed in the section entitled 'What you will study' is an overview of the academic content of the programme that will take the form of either core or option modules. Modules are designated as core or option in accordance with professional body requirements and internal Academic Framework review, so may be subject to change. Students will be required to undertake modules that the University designates as core and will have a choice of designated option modules. Additionally, option modules may be offered subject to meeting minimum student numbers.

Academic Framework reviews are conducted by LJMU from time to time to ensure that academic standards continue to be maintained.

Please email if you require further guidance or clarification.

How will I be assessed?

​Following the completion of your research, the final examination of your MPhil will be via thesis and oral examination.

​You may be able progress from MPhil to PhD, via a written and oral assessment at the end of the programme.

Staff research interests

​Research in the Liverpool School of Art and Design is conducted under the ART LABS research centre.

​ART LABS comprises four research labs focused on the following themes: contemporary art; 3D digital art and applications in the real world; the uses of art and cultural enrichment; exhibitions and curatorship and design discourse and practice.

This MPhil programme is led by Dr Joasia Krysa, who works in partnership with Liverpool Biennial and manages the Exhibition Research Lab. Academic expertise on the programme includes: Dr Mark Wright, the academic partner with FACT; Dr Aliki Perysinaki, the academic partner with RIBA North, and Michael Birchall, the academic partner with Tate Liverpool.

Current Visiting Staff include:

  • Professor Francesco Manacorda, Artistic Director, Tate Liverpool
  • Sally Tallant, Director, Liverpool Biennial
  • Professor Mike Stubs, Director FACT
  • Jacob Lund and Geoff Cox, Associate Professors, MA Curating, Aarhus University, Denmark

  • ​Juliana Engberg, Artistic Director, European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017, Denmark
  • Koyo Kouoh, Director Raw Material Company, Dakar
  • Lars Bang Larsen, Paolo Biennial 2016

For more information on ART LABS, visit its web pages.

Entry requirements (Home)

To study for an MPhil or MPhil/PhD you should have, or expect to obtain, a minimum 2:1 Honours degree in a relevant subject. If you are applying for a PhD direct you must:

  • have a Masters degree with a research dissertation in a relevant subject
  • have undertaken research training directly related to the PhD project

If you have alternative qualifications, your application will be considered on merit. Appropriate research and previous experience will be taken into account.

Application and Selection

All research degree registrations are subject to approval by the Faculty and University’s Research Degrees Committee. The Applications process is as follows:

  1. Complete and submit your application using this online form (Apply for MPhil Liverpool School of Art & Design. Please state in the research topic overview section, the application is for the MPhil Contemporary Arts.
  2. You will receive an acknowledgement receipt
  3. Your application will be considered by the Admissions Tutor
  4. We will take up your academic references
  5. You may need to provide further information or attend an interview
  6. You will be informed if your application has been successful and will find out about any conditions of acceptance


Besides standard qualifications, international students must also have an IELTS score of at least 6.5 (or equivalent). Please check specific requirements with your School before applying.

Due to Visa restrictions, international students may only study in the UK on a full time basis. However, you may be able to undertake a part time research degree in your home country and travel to LJMU for campus-based research for a short period each year. Please contact LJMU's International Admissions Team for further details.To obtain a Tier 4 Visa for full time study in the UK, you will need to show evidence that the money to cover your tuition fees and living expenses has been in your bank account for at least 28 days prior to submitting your Visa application. For more details, see our international website.

Will I be interviewed?



6.5 (Minimum of 5.5 in each component)


58-64 (Min. 51 in each component for UKVI Purposes)

Is RPL accepted on this programme?


Please Note: All international qualifications are subject to a qualification equivalency check via NARIC.

Financial support

Securing funding can be one of the main hurdles you face when considering postgraduate research. However, help is available. LJMU has a team of fees and funding experts who can offer advice based on your personal circumstances. You can contact them on 0151 904 6056/6057 or via may also wish to contact the Liverpool School of Art and Design direct about locally available funding opportunities.​

Graduate employment

​Studying for a postgraduate research degree enhances your employability in a number of ways.

​This programme enables you to develop life-long transferable skills in research, analysis, interpretation, presentation, teamwork, and initiative as specifically applied to your investigation in your specific subject knowledge.

As well as enabling you to focus on your specific areas of interest and expand your subject knowledge ready for employment in your chosen sector, a postgraduate research qualification enables you to take charge of your career path by demonstrating your contribution to an area of knowledge.

​On completion, you will be able to embark on, or continue developing your career as a practicing Artist, Researcher, Teacher or Academic, Writer or Curator, working as part of institutions or independently.

Previous graduates from related research programmes have gone on to work with: Tate Liverpool, Homotopia, NML’s World Museum, Liverpool’s Independent Biennial, The Arts Council and the British Council, amongst others.

International Study

International applicants are required to demonstrate equivalent qualifications to the standard requirements for entry when applying for courses at LJMU.

Students must also demonstrate a proficiency in communicating through English, for example via an IELTS tests or equivalent.

Please note: UK visa restrictions mean that international students are only permitted to study on a full-time basis.

Please contact LJMU’s International Team by visiting for more information and advice.


LJMU has launched a range of generous international scholarships for students enrolling at the University.

These prestigious scholarships take the form of tuition fee waivers and are available for outstanding international students applying for taught postgraduate programmes and research degrees.

You will need to complete an additional application form in order to be considered for these scholarships. Full eligibility criteria and the online application form are available here:

Applications for these scholarships are welcomed from:

  • new international applicants
  • current LJMU international students hoping to progress onto postgraduate study at the University
  • LJMU international alumni

The University reserves the right to withdraw or make alterations to a course and facilities if necessary; this may be because such changes are deemed to be beneficial to students, are minor in nature and unlikely to impact negatively upon students or become necessary due to circumstances beyond the control of the University. Where this does happen, the University operates a policy of consultation, advice and support to all enrolled students affected by the proposed change to their course or module.
Further information on the terms and conditions of any offer made, our admissions policy and the complaints and appeals process.

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