Design MPhil/PhD/PhD by Published works

Key Facts

  • Level


  • Duration

    MPhil: Full Time 12 months - 3 years or Part Time 30 months - 5 years

    PhD: Full Time 2 years - 4 years or Part Time 3 years - 6 years

    PhD by Published Works: Part Time 1 year - 2 years

  • Starting

    October and March

  • Fees UK

    Full Time: £5,500
    Part Time: £2,775

  • Location

    Distance Learning

Get in touch

For questions regarding study and admissions please contact us:

UK/EU Students enquiries
0300 303 2772

International Students enquiries
+44 (0)1604 893981


A PhD is the highest academic credential that a student may pursue and provides a fantastic opportunity to advance into higher managerial positions within the sector. If you have a degree in design, arts and humanities, or a related field, such as architecture, engineering, entrepreneurship, or marketing, our Design MPhil, PhD, and PhD by Published Works programme is an ideal way to broaden your design knowledge and research abilities.

This programme permits you to investigate and develop a research topic centered on a large piece of work that must provide evidence of unique contribution to knowledge. Completing a PhD may provide you with a fantastic sense of personal accomplishment as well as help you gain a high degree of transferrable abilities that will be beneficial in the future. Our research degrees are available in full-time, part-time, and off-site study formats (subject to approval). You must adhere to an authorised work schedule, which may include conferences, seminars, masterclasses, guided reading, or a mix of study approaches. This research programme concludes with the creation of a large-scale piece of written work in the form of a research thesis. You will be assigned a primary supervisor who will be part of a supervisory team of up to three people who will advise and support you on your project.

Visit our Centre for Sustainable Futures and Centre for Art and Design to learn more about our ongoing research efforts.

Closing dates:
  • 1 August for October intake
  • 11 December for March intake

Updated 16/04/2024


  • Research expertise covering British and Global Design from the 3rd industrial revolution to the present information age and current developments, including user experience (UI/UX), internet of things (IOT) and sustainable development goals (SDG)
  • Research topics range from those which are strongly user-focused to those which are more experimental. We particularly encourage application in areas including:
    • Industrial & Product Design
    • Design Management
    • Design Pedagogy
    • Material Innovation
    • Prototyping Systems
    • User Centred Design
    • Circular Economy
    • Sustainable Architecture & Buildings Design
    • Productivity and Cognitive Performance of Occupants in the Built Environment
    • Building Performance & Energy Efficiency in Buildings
    • Building Information Modelling
    • Low Carbon Buildings (earthen architecture & sustainable housing)
    • Vernacular Architecture and Conservation
    • Sustainable Settlement (architecture and migration, informal settlements, climate resilient communities)
  • Strong links with industry and a range of local and national organisations
  • Study in a support environment with staff who want to see you succeed.
  • Regular research seminars, conferences and activities led by the Centre for Sustainable Futures and Art and Design Research Centre; access to the Osbourne Robinson Poster Collection; specialist training in areas such as teaching in Higher Education and how to get your work published.

Course Content

  • This Design PhD programme is a way for you to absorb yourself in a topic you are passionate about, develop a deep understanding of your chosen specialism and improve your research, written and presentation skills.

    While developing and setting up a research project, you will initially receive general, discipline based and project specific training so that you can go on to conduct your research work effectively and independently.

    As a research student in the Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology at the University of Northampton, you may be designing an innovative object or system.

    The Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology, is home to internationally significant research, including practice – based. The teaching and research areas of the faculty include Industrial & Product Design, Sustainable Settlement, Material Innovation, User Centred Design, Building Performance and Energy Efficiency in Buildings and many more, these represent a wide range of approaches to design research.

    Throughout your project, you will be supervised by tutors who are experts in their fields of study, have experience overseeing PhD level projects, and will advise you on what extra tasks you need to do to meet your objectives.

    Your supervisors will walk you through the procedure on a regular basis, either in person or online. After completing this course, you will be able to seek research and development positions in sectors connected to your topic, such as the design industry, advance into an academic career, or enter business at a managerial level.

  • The programme welcomes applications from candidates from across the world and of all ages, including those with academic and professional backgrounds.

    We generally expect applicants to hold a Masters degree or an Honours degree (2:1 or above) or equivalent, in a discipline appropriate to the proposed programme to be followed, or appropriate research or professional experience at postgraduate level, which has resulted in published work, written reports or other appropriate evidence of accomplishment.

    Students with lower-level qualifications or qualifications in a different subject area, but relevant experience will also be considered on an individual basis.

    All applications are considered in terms of quality of proposal, quality of practice (where appropriate), readiness to undertake a research degree at this level and supervisory capacity.

    All suitable candidates will be required to attend an interview as part of the selection process.

    English Language Requirements

    If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country or English is not your first language, you will need to meet the minimum requirements of an English Language qualification. The minimum for IELTS Academic Score is 7.0 overall with no element lower than 6.5, or equivalent.  Applications with IELTS lower than 5.5 in all components will not be considered.

    If you need a Student Visa to study at UON, you will also need to meet the Home Office’s minimum requirements for entry clearance.

    All offers of a place on the programme are subject to:

    • Successful interview by the University.
    • Suitable Research Supervision Support.

    For additional information on how to apply to study with us, how to find a potential Supervisor, and what documents are required as part of the application process, please see our How to Apply page.

    More detailed information about the research degrees is available on our Postgraduate Research Information page.

    As part of your application, you will be asked to provide a 1,000 word research proposal –  please view our guidance notes on how to write a proposal for a research degree for further details.

    Please also contact a potential supervisor to advise on your application.

  • 2024/25 Tuition Fees

    Fees quoted relate to study in the Academic Year 24/25 only and may be subject to inflationary increases in future years.

    Doctor Of Philosophy Degrees

    Including: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) practice based in the Arts, Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

    • UK – Full Time: £5,500
    • UK – Part Time: £2,775
    • International – Full Time: £15,950
    • International – Part Time: £7,450
    Doctor of Philosophy Degrees by Means of Published Works
    • UK – Part Time: £3,500
    • International – Part Time: £7,650

    2023/24 Tuition Fees

    Fees quoted relate to study in the Academic Year 23/24 only and may be subject to inflationary increases in future years.

    Doctor Of Philosophy Degrees

    Including: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) practice based in the Arts, Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

    • UK – Full Time: £5,340
    • UK – Part Time: £2,695
    • International – Full Time: £15,480
    • International – Part Time: £7,245
    Doctor of Philosophy Degrees by Means of Published Works
    • UK – Part Time: £3,400
    • International – Part Time: £7,460


    Please visit the funding pages and our scholarship pages for more details on how to fund your study.


Riham Ahmed, Senior Lecturer in Architectural Technology
Riham Ahmed

Senior Lecturer in Architectural Technology

Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology


Careers and Employability

PhD study leads to a range of opportunities. You might become a researcher in industry or government or an academic in an international institution.  It is an opportunity for you to investigate a research question or issue in depth, enabling you to take a more reflective, more innovative role in design.  Our students have progressed to a wide range of areas. Several have moved into design practice related to their topic, while others have gone on to take up roles in design research and development, teaching and consultancy. Some have engaged in research for toys, games and artefacts, graphic user interfaces (GUIs) and earthquake resilient architecture, proposing a revision of the building regulations to make European buildings more resilient.


Access to the Osbourne Robinson Poster Collection; regular research seminars, conferences, and events organised by the Centre for Sustainable Futures and the Art and Design Research Centre; specialised training in subjects including teaching in higher education and how to get your work published.