MPhil Design, Discourse and Practice

Study mode

Full-time (2 years)

Part-time (4 years)

Start date(s)

January 2019

June 2019

September 2019

Tuition fees 18/19 19/20
Home (full-time, per year): £4,525 £5,000
Home (part-time, per year): £2,265 £2,500
International (full-time, per year): £14,450 £14,450
International (part-time, per year): £7,225 £7,225

General enquiries:

0151 231 5090

Arts, Professional and Social Studies:

0151 231 5175

International admissions

+44(0)151 904 6499

Got a question? Fill out our form

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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
  • Each programme of study must be approved by Faculty and University Research Degrees Committees

​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

Art in Sci

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

Additional costs

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)

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  • 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 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 2017) 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.

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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.

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Liverpool School of Art and Design Research

Explore the possibilities

Discover excellent postgraduate research opportunities at the Liverpool School of Art and Design where practice-led research enables you to articulate your own practice and explore contemporary developments.

Liverpool School of Art and Design is organised around strong disciplinary cultures, within a dynamic environment that supports interaction and debate between staff and students within and across subject areas.

The School conducts internationally important research which informs student learning. 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 have an opportunity to study alongside leading experts.

Individual research project proposals will be agreed by the Faculty Research Committee before being approved.

Biennial event


An insight into teaching on your course

Teaching methods

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.

Applied learning

The programme benefits from the context of a wider community of international researchers, staff, and visiting staff in the School and the University.


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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.

Course tutors

Our staff are committed to the highest standards of teaching and learning

Lee Wright

Lee Wright

Programme Leader

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.

School facilities

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.

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Entry requirements

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
Additional information:
  • 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

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

View country specific entry requirements

Contact LJMU's International Admissions Team for guidance on visa information. Further information is also available from our international web pages.

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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:

  1. 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
  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

Research degrees have three intake periods throughout the academic year:

  • 28 January – 8 February 2019 
  • 17 June – 28 June 2019
  • September/October 2019 - to be confirmed

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.