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Research at UCA

Our purpose is to nurture extraordinary graduates, practitioners and projects across the creative arts. This is underpinned by our vision to be a powerhouse of learning and discovery, whose research excellence is recognised nationally and globally.

Research is one of our major strengths, and we have a vibrant and progressive research base. We believe that research is fundamental to the pursuit of academic excellence.

Research Excellence Framework

The latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) confirmed our position as one of the top ten research communities in art and design, with 93% of our research designated as internationally recognised for quality, and 64% of our research submissions classed as world leading and internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour.

Read more about REF 2014

REF 2021 for UCA staff

Our research centres

At UCA, we have a number of specialised and internationally acclaimed research centres. These centres bring researchers and academic staff together, often attracting external funding to undertake projects with industry, commerce and independent professionals.

  • ARC - Animation Research Centre

    Founded in 1998, the Animation Research Centre at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham is a centre for innovation, doctoral study, debate and dialogue, interdisciplinary and practice-based research into animation in all its most expanded forms. Our current work ranges from archival research, conference organization, exhibition curation and academic publication to investigations in immersive technology, block chain and movement capture.

    ARC - Animation Research Centre

    ARC - Animation Research Centre

  • Centre for Digital Scholarship

    As a research centre of the University, hosted by the Library & Student Services, the Centre for Digital Scholarship pursues new knowledge and interpretations to resolve the challenges facing digital infrastructure, curation and engagement with digital resources in the visual arts.

    As such it engages in institutional, disciplinary and cross-disciplinary, national and international collaborations and research projects that advance knowledge, secure resources and make a positive contribution to the University’s strategic objectives and operational needs.

    Building upon excellence in the field of digital collections, particularly, The Visual Arts Data Service (VADS), the Centre has expanded its role to include technology enhanced research and pedagogic practice. Within the University, the Centre explores the benefits and potential of new and emerging technologies to inform, enhance and embed innovative and outstanding practice within learning, teaching, research and knowledge transfer activities.

    Externally, the Centre supports the Library & Student Services and University in developing a national and international reputation for excellence in the infrastructure, curation and engagement of digital resources to enhance scholarship in the visual arts and beyond.

    The Visual Arts Data Service

    Visual Arts Data Service

  • Centre for Sustainable Design

    Established in 1995, the Centre for Sustainable Design (CfSD) leads and participates in a range of externally commissioned research projects. It has organised over 100 conferences, workshops and training programmes focused on sustainable innovation and product sustainability, including its own Sustainable Innovation conference.

    Working with business, policymaking and research communities in Europe, North America and Asia, the CfSD has considerable experience in global manufacturing industries, information and communication technologies and sustainable building products.

    The Centre for Sustainable Design 

    Centre for Sustainable Design

  • Crafts Study Centre

    The Crafts Study Centre (CSC) is an internationally recognised museum of contemporary craft and a hub of crafts research, making it a high-profile resource centre for UK and international craft practitioners, historians and theorists.

    The CSC has a unique collection of modern British craft that embraces calligraphy, ceramics, furniture, wood and textiles, with over 30,000 artefacts in total.

    The Crafts Study Centre 

    Crafts Study Centre

  • International Textile Research Centre

    The International Textile Research Centre at UCA builds on the work of The Anglo-Japanese Textile Research Centre, which was established at UCA in 2004 to develop networks within and between the UK and Japan. These networks embraced contemporary textile practice, educational establishments, funding organisations and exhibition venues in the two countries. As projects have developed, networks and connections have extended beyond the UK and Japan to those countries where textile practice occupies a corresponding position. 

    In 2014, UCA decided that the research outcomes and interest of The Anglo-Japanese Textile Research Centre now encompass many different cultures and approaches - and The International Textile Research Centre at UCA was established. The Centre currently has nine PhD students, and its outstanding work has been acknowledged as world leading (4*) in REF 2014.

    The International Textile Research Centre 

    Lost in Lace Lesley MillarInternational Textile Research Centre logo

  • Research Clusters

    Audio Research Cluster

    The Audio Research Cluster at the University for the Creative Arts, is a cross-disciplinary research group bringing together academic, technical and postgraduate researchers from many fields. It was founded in 2017 by Harry Whalley and Tom Northey. It hosts regular seminars, concerts and talks and supports projects.

    Where is the Body?

    Adrian Lovic, Mary-lou Barratt & Flora Parrott.
    The idea of the cluster is to explore the breadth of practices within (and in close proximity to) UCA that are concerned with or circulate around notions of the body. The website is a framework and is intended to grow as more people get involved.


  • The School of Fine Art and Photography Research Centre

    Established in 2017 the School of Fine Art and Photography Research Centre (FAPRC) aims to support world leading research and pedagogy and to be at the forefront of critical dialogue through projects, exhibitions, symposia, conferences and lectures, that bring together artists and scholars in a research environment from fine art and photography. Its international research projects and initiatives encourage debate and scholarship around a series of specific research clusters, exhibitions and conferences. These include, ‘Fast Forward: Women in Photography’ with its international network and The BookRoom with  its publishing activities and an international exhibition and conference programme. Our initiatives capture and contribute  to the pressing debates in the constantly evolving Fine Art and Photography disciplines.

    The School of Fine Art & Photography website

  • Propose a Research Centres and Research Clusters at UCA

    Proposal for a new Research Centre

    Proposal for a new Research Cluster

    Definitions of Research Centres and Research Clusters at UCA (2020) 

    1. Research Centres

    A Research Centre generates and promotes enhanced knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of the academic nature of its specialist subject in the University’s academic programmes and in the wider field of the creative arts for the benefit of academic and general audiences and participants. The Research Centre takes an enterprising role within the life of UCA, initiating opportunities for research, enquiry, debate and reflection on a national and international stage. Research Centres will play a leading role in the wider work of the creative arts industry and help to influence national policy directions within their subject domains, thereby enhancing the reputation of UCA.

    The role and purpose of a Research Centre

    • to provide a focus for the development and encouragement of research at UCA
    • to encourage staff to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the disciplines concerned and thereby act as a forum for discussion on course and curriculum development
    • to raise and increase the profile of the University’s research and consultancy activities
    • to establish the quality of research as being of international standing
    • to increase the level of external income for research through funding applications to research councils or other appropriate organisations.
    • to increase the number of externally funded research students by ensuring high quality applications to research councils, charities or other appropriate organisations in support of research fellowships and studentships
    • to provide a suitable climate and environment for the training and successful progress of research students, who will be formally attached to the Centre and whose research will be aligned to the subject area of the Centre and its strategic priorities. 

    Defining characteristics

    To meet the definition of a Research Centre at UCA, a centre should demonstrate the following characteristics:

    • active promotion and dissemination of research through activities such as conferences, seminars and exhibitions
    • research leadership and management
    • alignment to research degree provision
    • a clear strategy for Research Centre development and management
    • annual reporting of the centre’s activities to the Research Committee
    • a website or dedicated pages on the UCA website, to establish an external profile
    • a record of successful bidding for external research funding
    • dedicated research staff

    New Research Centres must be approved by the Research Committee. A proposal outlining the Centre’s aims, a rationale for its disciplinary coverage, its proposed director, and an outline of how the Centre will meet the defining characteristics above should be submitted to any of RC’s four annual meetings for consideration and approval. The proposal must also be approved by the relevant Head of School. Newly-established Research Centres are not required to meet criteria 7 and 8, but should have a plan that sets out how they will meet them within 3 years.

    2. Research Clusters 

    A Research Cluster is a subject-led or theme-based initiative being undertaken by individual researchers based within UCA in a collaborative environment, seeking a variety of outcomes in debate, publication or discussion to further understanding of the specialist subject or thematic enquiry, and fostering the research culture of UCA.

    The role and purpose of a Research Cluster

    • to support and facilitate new and emerging areas of research or existing subject areas
    • to develop collaborative research within a positive and informal environment
    • to facilitate and encourage critical inquiry, debate and discussion within a particular field
    • to promote engagement with the wider research community.

    Defining characteristics

    It is noted that Clusters may take a number of forms which reflect their experimental and dynamic nature. Unlike Research Centres, they may or may not have any dedicated staff, physical resources or external funding. They are required to make a brief annual report.

    Research Clusters must remain active, and web pages may be removed or updated to show that the work is archived if no new activity is carried out.

    Research Clusters may develop into Research Centres, or may work on time-limited projects and disband when their objectives are met. New Research Clusters require approval from the Research Committee. A proposal outlining the Cluster’s aims and a rationale for its disciplinary coverage should be submitted to any of RC’s four annual meetings for consideration and approval. Proposals must also be approved by the relevant Head of School.

Academic staff & student profiles

Profiles for collaboration and study opportunities.

Staff research profiles

PhD research profiles

Past research students

Our research projects

At UCA, we provide targeted support for sustained research excellence whilst supporting the formulation and development of new research areas, and developing of early career and new staff. This scheme allows us to enhance the research culture and expertise across all disciplinary areas of the University, creating a platform for knowledge exchange.

Research support

At UCA, we are committed to maintaining high standards in all our research activity and offer targeted support to our research staff and students.

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