PHD in Studio Art

Applicants for the PhD in Studio Art should have a masters degree in fine art (MFA or MA) or an MPhil (Fine Art). Applicants with an MFA or MPhil (Fine Art) degree may apply directly for the PhD programme.

Applicants who do not have an MFA or an MPhil (Fine Art) may apply for the MFA or the MPhil (Fine Art) with the possibility of progression to PhD.

To apply for the MFA applicants must hold a Bachelors degree with Honours in Fine Art (First class or 2:1, or a GPA of 3.50 or above). Enrolled MFA students have two options at the end of Year One:

  • Research for three more years leading to the award of the PhD
  • Research for one more year leading to the award of an MFA

To apply for the MPhil (Fine Art) applicants should have a Bachelors degree with Honours in Fine Art (First class or 2:1, or a GPA of 3.50 or above), or a Masters degree in Fine Art (or relevant subject area). Applicants may also be considered if their degree is in an unrelated field but have relevant experience and can demonstrate an ability to work at postgraduate level. Enrolled MPhil (Fine Art) students have two options in Year Two:

  • Research for the remainder of the MPhil leading to the award of the MPhil (Fine Art)
  • Application to transfer to the PhD programme, comprising of two more years research, leading to the award of the PhD

Applications for the PhD are in two stages:

Stage 1- Submit a Research Proposal and Application

  • Online Application form (see below)
  • An outline of your research proposal, including your proposed methodology and reading list (See guidelines below).
  • Portfolio (10-15 jpeg images or 3-4 links to video).  Your portfolio may be submitted electronically through GoogleDocs or 
  • 2 letters of recommendation sent by your referees
  • Official transcripts demonstrating evidence of previous degrees.  These must be either official hard copies in envelopes stamped and sealed by the university or sent as password-protected e-transcripts.
  • Copy of your passport or birth certificate.
  • Non-refundable application fee of €50 payable online here.

Note: We request official copies of transcripts to be sent to Admissions, Burren College of Art, Newtown Castle, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare, Ireland, as either hard copies or sent by the university/college via password protected email. Portfolio images can be submitted electronically via GoogleDocs or All other application materials can be emailed to the Director of Admissions, Lisa Newman, at


All eligible applicants are then interviewed.

Research Proposal

For full consideration, research proposals must adhere to the following guidelines. Please note that we are unable to consider proposals that do not adhere to this format.

PhD Studio Art: Practice Based Research Proposal

Content Guidelines for Submitting a Research Proposal

Project Abstract (200 words)

  • Summarize your research proposal by answering the following questions:
  1. What is your research project? What is it that you want to know, and that you feel others should know?
  2. Why are you pursuing this research project?
  3. How will you carry out this project through artistic practice? What methods will you use?
  4. How will you know that you have answered the question that you wish to pursue?

Research Question

  • Please list a Research Question that frames your field of enquiry.

(An effective way to do this is to firstly summarise your research proposal in three to four sentences. Now take this proposal and reframe it as an enquiry. For example: This project will investigate… will examine…. will enquire into…. will challenge…)

Detailed Project Description

Context & Objectives of your Research Project (300 words)

  • What are you attempting to do with this research project?
  • What gaps in current knowledge do you hope to fill with this project?

Research Methods (300 words)

  • Outline your proposed research methods. What activities will you undertake to find out what you want to know?
  • Provide evidence of a high level of artistic practice and the practical and critical skills required to undertake your project (please refer to the portfolio submitted with your application).
  • Provide a year by year overview of how you anticipate your research process to unfold.

Research Outcomes and Contributions to New Knowledge (200 words)

  • Indicate how you plan to consolidate the results of your practice based research.
  • Describe the proposed contribution to new knowledge that you will make through your research. How will your project expand or develop existing knowledge?
  • Describe how you plan to disseminate the impact of your findings in the wider arts and research communities.

Literature Review

What are the main theoretical resources underpinning your research project and why? Please list literature (books, journals, articles, websites) relevant to your research project and include full bibliographical details.

PhD Application Form

Apply Here


PLEASE NOTE: Once you’ve submitted your application, you should immediately see an acknowledgement page confirming the submission.  If you do not see this, please contact Lisa Newman at to make sure your application has been received by the College.

Stage 2 - Shortlisted Applicants

Shortlisted applicants submit a revised research proposal for discussion and further revision until it is suitable for registration, at which time the applicant is admitted with effect from either September or January.

Offers of a place are made by NUI Galway on the recommendation of Burren College of Art.  They are subject to the applicant submitting a satisfactory PhD project proposal for registration with the university within the university’s time scale. Should the proposal not be accepted on first submission, registration will be delayed without defrayal of fees.

Non-discrimination Policy

Burren College of Art does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability, or veteran status in any phase of its employment process, in any phase of its admission or scholarship programs, or other aspects of its educational programs or activities.

Coronavirus Information for PhD Students

The risk of catching coronavirus in Ireland is still low to moderate. Burren College of Art’s top priority is the safety and wellbeing of our community.  We are closely monitoring the evolving situation and will respond as needed following the information given by Health Service Executive, Ireland and travel advice from the World Health Organization.

We want to assure you that in the unlikely event that there are any restrictions on travel at the start of the Fall semester in September, our faculty would be able to work with you temporarily online for teaching and advising sessions until the restrictions are removed and you are able to be here with us in Ireland.

Should you have any questions, please contact Lisa Newman, Director of Admissions, at

Academic Calendar 2021-2022


Spring 2021

January 11 – Spring Semester begins/Orientation Week

January 18 – Classes begin

March 1 – Midterm Critiques for all students

March 29-April 2 – Last week of studio time for Postgraduates

April 5 – 13 – Postgraduate final exhibition installation

April 12 – 16 – Final examinations and critiques

April 17 – Opening reception for Exhibition

April 19-23 – Final week of Spring Semester

April 29 – Graduation Ceremony


Fall 2021

September 6  – Autumn Semester begins/Orientation Week

September 13 – Classes begin

October 26-27 Midterm Critiques for all students

December 13 – Final Week of Autumn Semester


Spring 2022

January 10 – Spring Semester begins/Orientation Week

January 17 – Classes begin

February 28 – Midterm Critiques for all students

March 28-April 1 – Last week of studio time for Postgraduates

April 4 – 12 – Postgraduate final exhibition installation

April 11 – 15 – Final examinations and critiques

April 16 – Opening reception for Exhibition

April 18-22 – Final week of Spring Semester

April 28 – Graduation Ceremony


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