Pre-doctorate: Research Degree Preparation Lecturer

  • Academic
  • Research
Dr Susan Ryland

Dr Susan Ryland supports prospective UCA research students in the development of their research proposals, building their knowledge, skills and confidence. Her extensive experience in arts-based research emerged from her own practice-based interdisciplinary PhD ‘Resisting Metaphors’ which tested and extended linguistic theories of creative thought to make them useful within creative practice and art analysis.


Susan’s expertise embraces creative practice, critical thinking, and academic research. Prior to working with pre-doctorate students, she prepared international students for their master’s and degree courses across arts disciplines. She also taught Creativity, Innovation and Invention to science, technology, engineering and medical (STEM) students at Imperial College, London, and Critical Thinking to business students at St. Mary’s University Twickenham and at UCA Epsom.

Susan is a practicing artist exploring sensory experiences, language, and the environment. She creates community-based site and event-specific interventions, inviting participants to shift their attention to otherwise overlooked or unseeable sensory elements, such as sound, temperature, and air flow. In 2017, she was artist-in-residence at Gatton Park, a National Trust managed parkland designed by Capability Brown. Her project ‘Taking the Air’, encouraged visitors to experience the parkland through its micro-climate, contextualised within a poetic interpretation of the meteorological weather warning system, the ‘Beaufort Scale for Land and Sea.’

Susan graduated with a BA Hons in Fine Art Painting, an MA in Fine Art Printmaking, a PGCert in Research Methods, a PGCert in Creative Education and a practice-based PhD in Creativity and Cognition (UCA).

Susan is a director of Community Orchard Project South East which plants and nurtures community orchards, providing outdoor spaces for health, wellbeing and biodiversity. She is a core member of South West Surrey Compass, an organisation working for a more equal, democratic and sustainable society.


Research statement

Susan Ryland’s research interest is in the dynamic relationship between creative practice and theory (thinking through making) within higher education. She has drawn on cognitive linguistic theories to provide a lens through which to consider creative thought in art practice. While Lakoff and Johnson (1980) claimed our conceptual system was fundamentally metaphorical, that ‘what we experience and what we do every day is very much a matter of metaphor’, Susan turned her attention to two thought processes closely related to metaphor, namely ‘metonymy’ and ‘synecdoche’ (pronounced: suh-nek-duh-kee) to reveal a useful tool for developing ideas within creative practice, art analysis, and pedagogy.

Conference papers
  • Democratic Practices in the Creative University, A cross-disciplinary symposium on democracy and the university. Department of Architecture, University for the Creative Arts, Canterbury. Online. 29/06/2021.
  • Drawing Dialogues. Themed panel. In: Metaphor in the Arts, in Media and Communication. 11th International Conference Researching and Applying Metaphor (RaAM). Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. 01-04/07/2016.
  • Thoughtbites: Transdisciplinary cuts, folds and collage in thought and practice. International Visual Methods Conference. University of Brighton, UK. 16-18/09/2015.
  • Deep in Thought: some tools for self-regulated learning in Higher Education. Storyville: 2nd Annual HEA Arts and Humanities Conference, Brighton, East Sussex, UK.29-30/05/2013.
  • A Cognitive Approach to Contemporary Art. Themed Panel: Approaches to Art, Visual Culture & Performance. In: Cognitive Futures in the Humanities International Conference. Bangor University, Wales. 04-06/04/2013. 
  • Distinguishing Metonymy from Synecdoche in Creative Thought. Themed Panel. In: The Stockholm Metaphor Festival, Stockholm University, Sweden. 08-10/09/2011.

Professional Membership, Affiliation and Consultancy

  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

  • Heritage Lottery and Surrey Hills Arts (2017). Artist-in-Residence and site-specific art commission: Taking the Air, Gatton Park, Surrey.
  • RaAM International Association (2012-15). Conference performance and exhibition commission: Soundings: thought over time, touring to Lancaster, Cardiff, Canterbury and London.
  • Arts Council and Surrey Hills Arts (2005-6). Commission: Nun’s Walk, landscape sound installation, Polesden Lacey National Trust Property.
  • Arts Council (2004). Light and Breath, site-specific video installation in Beyond Belief, St Mary’s Church, Surrey.
  • University for the Creative Arts (2003-2006). Resisting Metaphors. PhD Studentship.
  • Tate Britain, Department of Interpretation (2001). Commission: Global Positioning, with artist Clare Ajenusi for: James Gillray - The Art of Caricature, Tate Britain, London.
  • Courtauld Gallery, Department of Prints and Drawings (1999). Commission: Europa - Man on Cow, in response to Piranesi, Canaletto, Tiepolo: etchings from the Courtauld Collection, London.
  • Courtauld Gallery, Department of Prints and Drawings (1997). Commission:
    The Art of Etching, London.
Dr Susan Ryland