PhD with creative practice component

Information on combining practice with theory as part of your doctoral study.

Creative practice

A PhD with a creative practice component recognises a creative arts or design output as a contribution towards advancing knowledge in a particular field. Integrated alongside a thesis of up to 60,000 words, students can present an exhibition, design or performance as examinable work towards their qualification. Creative components can be presented as part of the printed thesis, as a digital recording or as a live performance or exhibition.

The PhD with creative practice shares the same regulations as the University of Auckland PhD, with some guidelines specific to admission requirements and the timing of the examination of the creative work. Students who undertake a PhD with creative practice must outline their intention to do so at the application stage. Within the Statement of Research Intent, it is important to give a brief description of the expected creative outputs of the research, and an indication of how the theoretical and practical components will be related throughout the research process and in the final presentation.

This form of doctoral study is available in architecture, urban planning, urban design, dance studies, music and fine arts. 

What's it like to do a PhD with creative practice component?

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Becca Wood (left) pictured here with her supervisor Dr Carol Brown at the site of her final test event in central Auckland.

Becca Wood has recently completed her PhD with creative practice component and shares her experience. 

"I position myself as an interdisciplinary artist. I have trained in visual design, have a deep fascination for the mechanics of the body, for choreographic thinking and performance-based practice.

"I love facilitating learning with others through practice-led methodologies, and I wouldn’t have contemplated a PhD in any other way. Creative practice is what I do; it is a research process in itself. Writing is also a creative practice, and the two methods of going about research meet in a rigorous dialogue with each other, enabling enquiry, reflection, processing and refining.

"My PhD research centred around a new term, choreoauratics. Choreographic scores were listened to on headphones, bringing participants together, tuning them into one another and the sites they occupied. The practice led the research process; incorporating participants’ reflections, photographic documentation and choreoauratic scores. My supervisor’s experience was invaluable. Her understanding of contemporary performance practice in both a scholarly and research-based context supported me through the difficulties of bringing writing and doing together in the creative research process. She was involved equally as a colleague, friend, mentor, participant and supervisor.

"For those thinking of undertaking a PhD, particularly with a creative practice component, my advice is to establish your practice and know your field before tackling a doctorate. The combination of my life and professional experience gave me the discipline and perspective required to achieve what I wanted."

Important information

Before you make a formal doctoral application, we recommend you first consult with the postgraduate adviser for the discipline you are interested in. These staff members can be found on the Study Options page of the relevant programme.

All PhD students must be approved by the relevant department and faculty, as well as the School for Graduate Studies. This is to ascertain your suitability for doctoral study by assessing your current level of training or experience in your selected field. 

You may also like to review the University's formal procedures for the PhD with creative practice component for further understanding of the requirements of this form of study: 

PhD with creative practice component procedures

For further guidance and information, please contact the Creative Arts and Industries Student Centre