About this course
LJMU's Design Discourse MPhil is a unique research degree for researchers, designers, writers, curators, historians and interdisciplinary cultural studies practitioners.
- Study at the Liverpool School of Art and Design
- Develop a distinctive research-based project
- Benefit from the internationally renowned, interdisciplinary research expertise of staff, professors and advisers
- Work in a unique collaborative environment for postgraduate students
- Benefit from unique facilities for design research and practice
This programme offers the opportunity to undertake advanced research in areas relating to a wide range of design practices, design discourse and critical writing. The programme can focus solely on critical theory, resulting in a written thesis OR comprise a written thesis with practice-based artefacts relating to the critical theory.
You will work alongside dedicated supervisors, get involved in training workshops and seminars, and actively participate in our research environment and public events.
The course is led by Dr Lee Wright, a specialist in Design History and Theory, who teaches the history and theory of fashion design & fashion communication, including fashion photography. Her field of expertise spans material and visual culture with a focus on popular culture studies.
You will be based in the RIBA award-winning John Lennon Art and Design Building within the School of Art and Design - the oldest art school in the UK outside of London. You will have access to extensive studio spaces, lecture theatres, workshop facilities and a dedicated public exhibition space.
As Liverpool’s international flagship for cultural and creative research, ART LABS is a supported and linked collective network of artistic research and
technologies laboratories, each with a team led by inspiring researchers.
Each specialist Lab pursues its specific research and ART LABS, directed by Professor John Hyatt, also develops transdisciplinary projects collected under the banner of the ART LABS Heterosis Projects and a series of more contingent Pop-up Labs.
We partner with Liverpool’s art organisations, businesses and communities and collaborate with exemplary international institutions.
ART LABS aims to:
- Develop useful knowledge through research and innovative creative practices
- Stretch technologies
- Imagine and realise visions
- Connect and define the future of disciplines
- Grow sustainable, emergent and regenerative social forms
- Play a proactive role in the enhancement of wealth and wellbeing
- Welcome civic and research collaborations
- Reflect, review and evolve
Fees and funding
There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students
The fees quoted at the top of this page cover registration, tuition, supervision, assessment and examinations as well as:
- Library membership with access to printed, multimedia and digital resources
- Access to programme-appropriate software
- Library and student IT support
- Free on-campus wifi via eduroam
Although not all of the following are compulsory/relevant, you should keep in mind the costs of:
- accommodation and living expenditure
- books (should you wish to have your own copies)
- printing, photocopying and stationery
- PC/laptop (should you prefer to use your own)
- mobile phone/tablet (to access online services)
- field trips (travel and activity costs)
- placements (travel expenses and living costs)
- student visas (international students only)
- study abroad opportunities (travel costs, accommodation, visas and immunisations)
- academic conferences (travel costs)
- professional-body membership
- graduation (gown hire etc)
There are many ways to fund postgraduate study for home and international students. From Postgraduate Masters Loans to International Scholarships and subject-specific funding, you’ll find all of the information you need on our specialist postgraduate funding pages.
Further your career prospects
LJMU has an excellent employability record with 96% (HESA 2016) of our postgraduates in work or further study six months after graduation. Our applied learning techniques and strong industry connections ensure our students are fully prepared for the workplace on graduation and understand how to apply their knowledge in a real world context.
This programme enables you to develop lifelong 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.
Discover the building blocks of your programme
Your programme is made up of a number of core modules which are part of the course framework. Some programmes also have optional modules that can be selected to enhance your learning in certain areas and many feature a dissertation, extended report or research project to demonstrate your advanced learning.
Research Methods for Arts, Professional and Social Studies
This module introduces and develops generic research skills in arts, humanities and social science. It:
- introduces you to library, bibliographic, online and other facilities necessary for postgraduate research
- assists you in recognising and applying appropriate strategies for developing a research project – identifying research questions, theoretical problems, material for analysis and critical position
- develops your capacities for evaluating strengths and weaknesses in the methodologies of researchers in your field
- helps you to gain confidence in communicating your ideas verbally to your peers, and conform to postgraduate-level standards for the presentation of written work
Research Proposition and Development
Drawing on the expertise of established researchers in Art and Design, this module offers the subject-specific tools for an exploration and critical appraisal of theoretical and practice-led research in Art and Design. It:
- offers the support of a practical and critical environment within which you can develop the skills necessary to critically evaluate your research
- identifies and explores broad critical debates relating to Art and Design research
- extends awareness and analysis of research practices
- critically examines a range of advanced research methodologies
Professional Development for Researchers in Arts, Professional and Social Studies
This module provides a context to identify and explore opportunities for professional training and development. Through the examination of relevant professional bodies and systems, the module enhances professional knowledge, skills and understanding, and prepares you for further doctoral study.
This module will help you to:
- assess the feasibility of a proposed research project via a literature review including an investigation of primary and secondary source material
- establish parameters of research, set terminal dates and define terms
- formulate an appropriate methodology through the critique and application of appropriate research
- complete an advanced research project to deadline
- defend the project in a viva voce
An insight into teaching on your course
The MPhil is a research-led qualification and the emphasis is on developing effective research skills, use of resources and collaborative working.
Researchers will have access to the extensive resources at LJMU Library, Special Collections and Archives (including archives of Punk, Situationist International, the Liddell Hart book collection and Stafford Beer archive) amongst others.
Research is supported by staff with the range of research interests and expertise in the history of design and critical theory in design.
The programme benefits from the context of a wider community of international researchers, staff, and visiting staff in the School and the University.
How learning is monitored on your programme
To cater for the wide-ranging content of our courses and the varied learning preferences of our students, we offer a range of assessment methods on each programme. Assessment techniques vary from module to module to reflect relevant assessment approaches and the key learning points of each topic.
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.
Our staff are committed to the highest standards of teaching and learning
Lee has taught at universities in London, Bristol and Belfast and joined LJMU in 2014. She teaches a wide range of design-related historical and theoretical issues including research methodologies which encompass visual and material culture studies. She also supervises PhD students, is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy and co-director of the Design Research Lab. Lee’s research interests are concerned with the history and theory of design from the mid-19th century. She focuses on issues of gender, narrative constructions in photography and the popular cultural significances of fashion and dress.
Being part of the creative environment of the School of Art and Design makes my teaching role a dynamic and lively experience.
What you can expect from your School
Research in the Liverpool School of Art and Design is conducted under the ART LABS research centre in the Mount Pleasant Campus. 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.
For more information visit the ART LABS web pages.
Order your brochure Research
You will need:
- a minimum 2:1 honours degree in a relevant subject (including 2:1 for the written component of a practice-based programme)
- proof that you have undertaken research directly or indirectly related to the proposed MPhil project
- Alternative qualifications will be considered on merit with research and experience taken into consideration
- IELTS English language requirement: 6.5 (minimum 5.5 in each component)
- Pearson 58-64 (minimum 51 in each component for UKVI purposes)
- RPL is accepted on this programme
If you have any specific queries, please contact email@example.com
Application and selection
Securing your place at LJMU
You will apply for the majority of postgraduate courses using our online application form. You should complete the form thoroughly and provide a detailed personal statement which reflects your suitability and aptitude for the programme.
All research degree registrations are subject to approval by the Faculty and University’s Research Degrees Committee. The applications process is as follows:
- Complete and submit your application using the online application form (Apply for MPhil Liverpool School of Art & Design). Please state in the research topic overview section, the application is for the MPhil Design, Discourse and Practice
- You will receive an acknowledgement receipt
- Your application will be considered by the Admissions Tutor
- We will take up your academic references
- You may need to provide further information or attend an interview
- You will be informed if your application has been successful and will find out about any conditions of acceptance
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.