Digital Media Arts PhD

Key information

Full-time - 4 years

Start dates:
April 2024
July 2024
October 2024
January 2025

Part-time - 8 years

Start dates:
April 2024
July 2024
October 2024
January 2025

Why choose this programme

On our vibrant and expanding Digital Media Arts PhD programme, we embrace subjects that include:

  • Film, animation
  • Visual effects, computational arts
  • Video games
  • Immersive media
  • Digital acting
  • Mediatised theatre
  • Motion graphics
  • Movement interfaces
  • Performance capture
  • Machine vision
  • Interactive cinema.

This provides you with an opportunity to undertake profound and meaningful practice-based and theoretical postgraduate research in these fields, where creativity and technology collide. Your skills and talents as a media practitioner, alongside intellectual curiosity, collaborative spirit, technical proficiency and sense of adventure, all come into play as you make use of the state-of-the-art facilities, great workspaces and dedicated multi-disciplinary supervision. You will also benefit from our extensive connections to the creative industries through our wide range of partners within film production companies, animation houses, VFX facilities and studios.

Our Guildford location is a short train journey from central London, and a town which is home to some of the most well-regarded games developers, immersive media producers and web design agencies, including:

  • Supermassive
  • MediaMolecule
  • Electronic Arts
  • Figment Productions
  • BlueGFX
  • Criterion.

We regularly enjoy visits and engagements with the London production and VFX community, which include:

  • Framestore
  • Moving Picture Company
  • Blue Zoo
  • Nexus
  • Milk VFX
  • KeyFrame Studios.

We also maintain close links with the British Film Institute, BAFTA, Animation UK, Visual Effects Society, London ACM SIGGRAPH, Ukie and plenty of other industry networks crucial for you to connect with.

On campus, we share a building and collaborate on a daily basis with the prestigious Guildford School of Acting. We also work closely with colleagues from Surrey’s Engineering programmes and have found touchpoints in nearly every other department Surrey has to offer. In addition to this, we are actively building relationships with other institutions close at hand and around the world: collaboration and sharing is the only way forward for our precious arts, culture and technology communities.

We belong to TECHNE, an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded doctoral training partnership, which provides access to comprehensive academic and professional training programmes, as well as the possibility of funding for your studies.

Surrey’s multi-disciplinary Doctoral College will cater to your academic and institutional needs and is a great way of linking you with fellow postgraduate researchers from Surrey’s wide variety of other disciplines.

Postgraduate Research at Surrey

Frequently asked questions about doing a PhD

What you will study

This is a programme which will take you beyond the bounds of mere study. You will develop your own ground-breaking artistic practice into exciting and emerging fields such as virtual production, digital performance, pervasive filmmaking, contemporary animation, immersive audio-visual, experiential installation, digital art, creative computing and AI-based media production.

We will also help you deepen your contextual and theoretical knowledge in these and related fields. As a contemporary media practitioner and theorist, you will be fully encouraged to engage with topical research on current artistic and media practices, diversity, accessibility and cultural impacts.

We will also facilitate training in the latest tools and technologies to assist your creative development and enable you to create profound outputs that have impact.

If you have a proposal which you feel may match our supervision capabilities and expertise, or you are interested in the general areas we cover, please get in touch with us for an informal discussion by contacting in the first instance.


Your final assessment will be based on the presentation of your research in a written thesis, which will be discussed in a viva examination with at least two examiners. You have the option of preparing your thesis as a monograph (one large volume in chapter form) or in publication format (including chapters written for publication), subject to the approval of your supervisors.

Research support

The professional development of postgraduate researchers is supported by the Doctoral College, which provides training in essential skills through its Researcher Development Programme of workshops, mentoring and coaching. A dedicated postgraduate careers and employability team will help you prepare for a successful career after the completion of your PhD.

Research themes

  • Emerging media
  • Practice research
  • Creative production
  • Art, science and technology interactions
  • Virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality
  • New immersive experiences
  • Visualisation and serious games
  • Interactive storytelling
  • Virtual cinematography
  • Spectatorship, participation and play
  • Interactive cinema
  • Digital poetry
  • Narrative and character portrayal in video games and interactive media
  • Acting and performance for animation, games and film
  • Embodied media
  • Digital aesthetics
  • Post-narrative theory
  • Media psychology
  • Generativity.

Our academic staff

Research facilities

As a Digital Media Arts PhD student, you’ll gain access to a wide range of professional film, audio, video, and interactive production facilities, including:

  • High performance GPU-based computing facilities
  • Fibre connected film and television studios
  • Motion/performance capture
  • 4K cine cameras and lenses
  • Lighting, sound and grip equipment
  • Set-building facilities
  • Photogrammetry
  • Film and sound editing
  • State of the art production software
  • Extensive fast media storage
  • VR/AR/MR/XR head mounted displays
  • Projection
  • Multiple GPU compute.

We have doubled the facilities space in the Department of Music and Media. Our Performing Arts Technology Studios have been upgraded and complemented by a £1.7m investment in state-of-the-art production and media suites.

All studios, edit rooms and acoustic rooms in the new space are linked by a new Dante digital audio network, providing audio interconnection between each room, plus video interconnects for flexible configurations of the recording spaces and studios.

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to hold a minimum of upper second-class (2:1) UK degree and usually an MA in a relevant arts subject or appropriate professional experience.

Candidates submitting proposals that include practice-based research will be required to provide evidence of appropriate experience and expertise.

International entry requirements by country

English language requirements

IELTS Academic: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category.

View the other English language qualifications that we accept.

If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.

Application requirements

Before you submit your formal application form, please take a look at our list of Department of Music and Media supervisors.

Once you have found an appropriate supervisor, please contact them to discuss your proposal. You should then proceed to complete and submit your formal application form.

After registration

Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.

Selection process

Selection is based on applicants:

  • Meeting the expected entry requirements
  • Being shortlisted through the application screening process
  • Completing a successful interview
  • Providing suitable references.


Start date: April 2024





Start date: July 2024





Start date: October 2024


To be confirmed


To be confirmed

Start date: January 2025


To be confirmed


To be confirmed

For fees payable in 2023/24, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than September will attract a pro-rata fee for that year of entry (75 per cent for January, 50 per cent for April and 25 per cent for July).

Overseas students applying for 2023 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4 per cent rounded up to the nearest £100.

View a complete list of all fees for our research programmes.

Additional costs

There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey.


A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.

Apply online

If you are applying for a studentship to work on a particular project, you should enter the details of the specific project that you wish to apply for rather than your own research proposal.

Read our application guidance for further information on the application process.

Code of practice for research degrees

Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees. The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.

Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).

Terms and conditions

When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and procedures, and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View our offer terms and conditions and our registration terms and conditions (PDF) for the 2023/24 academic year, as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course.


This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read our full disclaimer.

Course location and contact details

Campus location

Stag Hill

Stag Hill is the University's main campus and where the majority of our courses are taught. 

University of Surrey Admissions

Contact Admissions Team


University of Surrey
Surrey GU2 7XH