Digital Media Arts PhD

The art challenges technology. Technology inspires the art.

John Lasseter Pixar Co-founder

Why choose this course?

Research in the Dept of Music and Media is conducted in the disciplines of Film and Digital Media, Music, Sound Recording and Performance. Our research within these areas is particularly distinguished by strategic emphasis and the development of innovative relationships between theory, analysis and creative practice in the arts from the late nineteenth century to the present day.

Some of our research explores new interdisciplinary or multi‐disciplinary methods and topics. We support and value both the work of the individual scholar and collaborative research projects. Examples of the latter include those involving other areas of expertise in the University (with particular interests in Art‐Technology interactions), and those which are based in relationships with external partners in the creative and sound recording industries, at regional, national and international level.

The existing programme in Digital Media Arts integrates the study of contemporary film‐making and game design, as well as film history and games studies into the broader study of culture and the mass media. We also consider a wider context of contemporary screen‐ and digital media‐related activity, including digital culture and multimedia production.

What you will study

Structure and training

Research training in generic skills will be provided as part of the suite of research training currently offered to PhD candidates within the Dept of Music and Media. This will include the provision provided and required as part of the TECHNE consortium. University‐wide training currently offered by the Researcher Development Programme will also be available to enhance and consolidate students’ general skill set related to personal effectiveness, research management and engagement with stakeholders/impact. Training provision in subject specific skills, particularly subject specific research methods will enable students to develop the skills set out in the Researcher Development Framework.

The Dept of Music and Media runs a wide‐ranging programme of research and PGR training events throughout the year, including conferences, visiting speaker sessions and training workshops. These sessions are led by academics from particular programmes within the dept, but often cover subjects of general interest to PGR students. For example, Music runs seminars on such topics as ‘originality in research’, ‘integrity in research’, ‘publishing work of all kinds’, etc. Research meetings are run regularly as part of the PhD programme which all students are advised to attend.

PhD students in the Dept of Music and Media are required to present on their research to their peers and staff at least twice during their studies, normally once around the time of the confirmation and again around the time of their viva.

The primary aim of these meetings (or seminars) is to create a research community for all, students and staff, and to make opportunities for students and staff to meet (this is particularly important for students who are studying part time or from a distance and are rarely in touch with other researchers).

Supporting the research student

Students registered for the proposed PhD in Digital Media Arts would have a supervisory team of academics with the requisite experience to guide them in the programme of research. Each PhD student will have 2 supervisors. There is no requirement for the PhD supervisor to be a Digital Media Artist, but the supervisor must have relevant experience with creative visual media and the student’s research questions must address creative practices and/or the creation of new digital media content.
At least one member of the supervisory team must be a researcher in Digital Media Arts. Newly hired Digital Media Arts staff and/or staff who have not‐yet successfully supervised a PhD to completion will be partnered with a more experienced member of staff from within the Department of Music and Media

The School of Arts is part of the AHRC‐funded TECHNE Doctoral Consortium.

Students in a PhD in Digital Media Arts programme would also be supported through research links with the Digital World Research Centre (DWRC), Institute of Sound Recording (IoSR), Centre for Vision Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP), and other research groups in the University of Surrey.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate the ability to conceive, design, implement and adapt a substantial process of research with scholarly integrity
  2. Make a contribution through original research that extends the frontier of knowledge by developing a substantial body of work, some of which merits national or international refereed publication
  3. Critically analyse, evaluate and synthesise new and complex ideas
  4. Generate ideas independently and/or collaboratively as self‐initiated activity
  5. Demonstrate proficiency in observation, investigation, enquiry, and visualisation
  6. Develop ideas through to outcomes by selecting and using a range of digital media production skills, equipment, materials, processes and environments
  7. Make clearly informed connections between intention, process, outcome, context, and methods of dissemination
  8. Engage intelligently with major developments in current and emerging media and technologies
  9. Demonstrate an awareness of the significance of the work of practitioners in digital media arts


Related research areas

Related departments/schools

Course facts

Qualification Study mode Course length Start date
PhD Full-time 30-48 months October, January, April, July
PhD Part-time 60-98 months October, January, April, July

Entry Requirements

Entry is on the basis of a good honours degree and usually a 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.

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English language requirements

Non-native speakers of English will normally be required to have IELTS 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category. 

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time £4195 £16,000
Part-time £2100 £8,000

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2017/18 only. All fees are subject to annual review.

Overseas students applying for 2017 entry should please note that annual fees will rise by four per cent (rounded up to the nearest £100) for each year of study.

A complete list of all fees for our research programmes

Doctoral College

Our Doctoral College supports researcher excellence and employability across the doctoral and early career stages of the researcher journey.

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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).

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