Designing a new design PhD?

Emma Murphy, Naomi Jacobs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPublished conference contribution


The higher education sector in the UK is currently undergoing rapid change,
and design education is no exception. Higher fee levels, limited grants and
self-funding PhD study is becoming more common. Furthermore, there is
increased demand for non-traditional modes of study such as part-time
provision and flexible learning – especially relevant to designer-practitioners.
A greater number of mature students are also entering higher education,
many of whom will have significant industry experience. But the design
student dynamic isn’t the only change we are seeing – the remit of design
academics is changing too. There is now an increased emphasis on the
economic and social benefits that academia can contribute, and the ‘impact
agenda’ requires research councils (and therefore academic researchers) to
show that their work has a wider societal impact in order to sustain funding.
Furthermore, design is an ever expanding and changing interdiscipline, and so
the make up and shape of the Design PhD is frequently in question.
But what do all these changes mean for doctoral design education? Is the
traditional PhD model still fit for purpose, or are we changing this beyond
recognition to accommodate design? Do we need a new Design PhD? In this
paper, we examine approaches in both mainstream design research training
(adaptations of the traditional model) and more novel PhD programmes,
which could form the grounding for curriculum design experts to further
question and develop the notion of the new Design PhD.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 19th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference
Subtitle of host publicationDesign Management in an Era of Disruption
EditorsErik Bohemia, Alison Rieple, Jeanne Liedtka, Rachel Cooper
PublisherDesign Management Institute
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9780615991528
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2014
Event19th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference: Design Management in an Era of Disruption - London, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Sept 20144 Sept 2014


Conference19th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

Bibliographical note

The Authors would like to thank the
AHRC and EPSRC for their support in our programmes, and the
students of Highwire and the Creative Exchange for their
enthusiasm and participation.


  • design education
  • doctoral education
  • Design PhD
  • research
  • curriculum
  • agile
  • hybrid academics
  • industry


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