Art projects laid out on a table

Design, Discourse and Practice

Course fees (2018/19 entry)

Option / fee Value
Home/EU full-time annual tuition fee: £4,525
Home/EU part-time tuition fee: £2,265 per annum
International full time annual tuition fee: £14,450

Course type



Liverpool School of Art and Design

Study mode

Full Time

About your course

The Master of Philosophy in Design Discourse at Liverpool John Moores University is a unique research degree for researchers, designers, writers, curators, historians and interdisciplinary cultural studies practitioners. Through supervised research it will develop your knowledge and understanding of your chosen focused field of research relating to design.

  • 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
  • Study full-time only over 18 months
  • Work in a unique collaborative environment for postgraduate students
  • Benefit from the School of Art and Design's unique facilities for design research and practice

Until the end of July 2018, MPhil fees for this programme will be:
Home full-time annual tuition fee: £4,300
Home part-time annual tuition fee: £2,150
International full-time annual tution fee: £12,660
Quoted fees for 2018/2019 relate to programmes starting from 1st August 2018.

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

​ Undertake advanced research in areas relating to a wide range of design practices, design discourse and critical writing.

Introduction to the School

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

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

You will be offered a range of research opportunities to develop design discourse and theory research ideas, methods, skills, and practice. You will work under the supervision of our staff whose distinguished expertise and practice covers a range of 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.

A teaching schedule is individually tailored to each student, but is through academic supervision and workshops (when relevant) to support the development and submission of an original written thesis.


Why study this course at LJMU?

This nationally and internationally distinctive programme supports practice-based research in a design history and related field.

The programme 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, in particular popular culture studies.

Located at the School of Art and Design - the oldest art school in the UK outside of London (established 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.

​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.

The areas of research of particular theoretical interest include:

  • 19th - 21st century design ethics and principles
  • Vernacular design
  • Sustainability, social responsibility and product lifespan
  • Urban cultures and design
  • Cultural significance of Fashion
  • Popular culture and design
  • Co-design and Design cultures
  • Curation and exhibition practices
  • Design thinking
  • Design theory
  • Archival usage and focus

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 advanced research in areas relating to a wide range of design practices, design discourse, critical writing.

​It is possible for the MPhil to be solely critical theory resulting in a written thesis OR 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 programme also benefits from the context of 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 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.

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 Lee Wright.

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 (including 2:1 for the written component of a practice-based programme). If you are applying you must:

  • have an undergraduate degree with a research dissertation in a relevant subject
  • have undertaken research directly or indirectly related to the proposed MPhil 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 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

Entry requirements (International)

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 You 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 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.

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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