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More in this section Practice-based PhD Programme

Practice-based PhD Programme

The Practice-based PhD Programme consists of a core curriculum of six Skills Workshops as well as a Seminar, Lectures and an annual Student-Led Conference. The aim of the programme is to bring together researchers from across different disciplines, opening up a space to share and present work as a community of practice and learning.

Originally developed for practice-based doctoral students in the arts at Royal Holloway, this year the programme extends to include all practice-based research students and academics across the AHRC TECHNE Doctoral Training Partnership. This includes Royal Holloway, Brighton, Kingston, Roehampton, Surrey, Royal College of Art and University of Arts London.

All are welcome! Please see specific details about this year's activities below, including information on how to get involved.

The Programme Director is Dr Libby Worth

Skills workshops

Co-presented by Royal Holloway academics from arts departments and/or another TECHNE institution, a series of Skills Workshops run across Terms 1 & 2. All workshops are held in Central London.

Topics covered in Term 1 are both common and central to all academic research, and here we look at these specifically in relation to practice-based research. In Term 2 we look at key elements of practice-based research, continuing to situating it within the wider academic context while exploring its uniqueness and transformative potential.

Students interested in attending any of the the Skills Workshops should email  pgrtraining@royalholloway.ac.uk, including your:

  • Name
  • Institution
  • Full list of workshops you plan to attend

** Please note that there is a cap on student numbers for the workshops, but not for any of the other events listed below. **

'Contribution to Knowledge' - Wed 11 Oct 2017, 2pm-4pm

Workshop Leaders: 

Dr Will Montgomery (Royal Holloway)

Date: Wednesday 11 October 2017
Time: 2.00pm-4.00pm
Venue: Bedford Square,  Room 1-03, 11 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3RA

This workshop will comprise a preliminary discussion of the notion of how ‘knowledge’ is conceived within academic research, generally, and practice-based research, specifically. Different types of knowledge will be examined, and the means whereby such knowledge is constituted and embodied in a research project. Participants will be invited to identify the contribution to knowledge that their research aims to make, the fields to which it will contribute, and the originality of the contribution.

Reading Preparation

Nelson, Robin. ‘Conceptual Frameworks for PaR and Related Pedagogy: From Hard Facts to Liquid Knowing.’ Nelson, R. (ed.) Practice as Research in the Arts: Principles, Protocols, Pedagogies, Resistances. Basingstoke, HANTS.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, pp 48 – 70.

Available from Royal Holloway library as an ebook - sign in here with your College username and password.

'The Research Question' - Wed 25 Oct 2017, 2pm-4pm

Workshop Leaders: 

Reader Adam Ganz (Royal Holloway) & Professor Katie Normington (Royal Holloway)  

Date: Wednesday 25 October 2017
Time: 2.00pm-4.00pm
Venue: Bedford Square,  Room 1-03, 11 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3RA

What is the relationship between the ‘question’ and research? How do questions frame and drive the research process? To what extent do particular kinds of questions call for corresponding methods? How do we go about formulating questions, and what kind of language do we use to do so?

Reading Preparation

Nelson, Robin. ‘Introduction: The What, Where, When and Why of ‘Practice as Research’. Nelson, R. (ed.) Practice as Research in the Arts: Principles, Protocols, Pedagogies, Resistances. Basingstoke, HANTS.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, pp 3 – 19.

Available from Royal Holloway library as an ebook - sign in here with your College username and password.

‘Methodology & the Role of Practice’ - Wed 15 Nov 2017, 2pm-4pm

Workshop Leaders: 
Dr Bryce Lease (Royal Holloway) and Johanna Linsley (Roehampton, artist, researcher and producer of performance)

Date: Wednesday 15 November 2017
Time: 2.00pm-4.00pm
Venue: Bedford Square, Room 1-03, 11 Bedford Square, WC1B 3RA

This workshop will examine the relationship between research methods and methodologies. Participants will describe their methodological intentions, identifying the different modes of research they are or will be using, and how these will contribute to a coherent process. They will explicitly refer to the role of practice and of theory in their research.

Reading Preparation

Sounding the Event: Escapades in dialogue and matters of art, nature and time - Yve Lomax
Art of Silence: A Woman Descends the Stairs (A Sinister Resonance) - David Toop

‘Mobilising Theory / Theorising Mobility’ - Wed 17 Jan 2018, 2pm-4pm 

Workshop Leaders: 
Dr David Overend (Royal Holloway) &  Dr Fiona Wilkie (University of Roehampton)

Date: Wednesday 17 January 2018
Time: 2.00pm-4.00pm
Venue: 11 Bedford Square Room 1-01, London WC1B 3RF

This workshop examines inter-relation between theory and practice in practice-based research. Participants will be invited to think about how their practice is informed by – and informs – their theoretical concerns. Emphasis will be placed on the ‘doing’ of both theory and practice. Using the workshop leaders’ research into the relationship between performance and contemporary mobility as a case-study, the workshop will explore how practice can inform the development of research questions, and the generation of specific types of knowledge.

Please prepare for this workshop by reading the following, which should be accessible via your institutions library catalogue or via the open access links below:

Nelson, R. 'Practice-as-research and the Problem of Knowledge’, Performance Research. Vol.11(4), 2006. pp.105-116 (URL:  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13528160701363556)

Sheller, M. and Urry, J. 'The new mobilities paradigm’, Environment and Planning A. Vol.38, 2006. pp.207-226 (URL:  http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1068/a37268?id=a37268)

Additional recommended reading:

Bissell, L. and Overend, D. 'Regular Routes: Deep Mapping a Performative Counterpractice for the Daily Commute’, Humanities. Vol.4(3), 2015. pp.476-499 (URL:  http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0787/4/3/476)

Wilkie, F. 'Site-specific Performance and the Mobility Turn’, Contemporary Theatre Review. Vol.22(2), 2012. pp.203-212 (URL:  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10486801.2012.666738)

‘Modes of Critical Writing’ - Wed 7 Feb 2018, 2pm-4pm 

Workshop Leaders: 
Nina Gardner (Royal Holloway; ninamariegardner.com) with two practice-based researchers from Media Arts (TBC)

Date: Wednesday 7 February 2018
Time: 2.00pm-4.00pm
Venue: 11 Bedford Square Room 1-03, London WC1B 3RF

This workshop explores different modes of critical writing practice. Here we will look at the different kinds of writing one engages with as part of a practice-based research project. We will also examine the role and formal conventions of standard academic writing.  And we will explore more creative forms of critical writing practice including performance-writing, art-writing, site-writing and lyric essay. Participants will engage in writing throughout the workshop and will be invited to think about critical writing as, itself, an element of practice.

Reading Preparation

Hughes, Rolf. “The Poetics of Practice-Based Research Writing.” The Journal of Architecture, vol. 11, no. 3, 2006, pp. 283–301. 

Rendle-Short, Francesca. “How the How: The Question of Form in Writing Creative Scholarly Works.” New Writing, 2014, pp. 1–10.

Sempert, Mattie, et al. “Methodologically Speaking: Innovative Approaches to Knowledge and Text in Creative Writing Research.” New Writing, vol. 14, no. 2, 2017, pp. 205–222.

‘Documenting Practice' - Wed 7 Mar 2018, 2pm-4pm 

Workshop Leaders: Helen Pritchard (Goldsmiths)

Date: Wednesday 7 March 2018
Time: 2.00pm-4.00pm
Venue: 11 Bedford Square Room 1-03, London WC1B 3RF

In this hands-on workshop, we invite participants to trace the threads, sites and entanglements of their theory-making and practice research. During the workshop, we will explore the imploded knots of our fieldwork, labwork or art-making research from which many threads might be untangled. Through thinking with Donna Haraway’s game of “cat’s cradle” the workshop will explore the relationships between practice based research and feminist queer technoscience, through which new world making practices might emerge.

Reading Preparation

Haraway, Donna. "Playing String Figures with Companion Species." Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Cthulucence (2016): 9-29.

Lykke, Nina, M. Randi, and O. Finn. "There are always more things going on than you thought." Bits of life: Feminism at the intersections of media, bioscience, and technology (2008): 32-41.

Helen Pritchard is an artist and researcher. Her current work on “Animal Hackers” brings together the fields of Feminist TechnoScience, Computational Aesthetics and Geography to consider the effect of computational practices on nonhuman animals and environments. She is co-editor of Data Browser 06: Executing Practices, published by Autonomedia (2017). Helen is the Head of Digital Arts Computing and Lecturer in Computing at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Helen’s workshop will be followed by a guest lecture by Prof. Redell Olsen and student seminar presentations from 5-7pm in BSQ 1-03. Please scroll down to “Lecture and Symposia Series” for more information.


Seminar series 

Providing a forum for the presentation and discussion of research, each seminar session is focused around a particular theme. The themes are chosen by an established researcher/creative practitioner who, invited to discuss his/her work, will present for 30 minutes at the start of each session. This initial presentation will be followed by 2-3 student presentations of 15 minutes each. All of this will then become the basis for a group discussion lasting the remainder of the seminar. All seminars will be held in Central London.

Students interested in doing a 15 minute seminar presentation of your research in relation to the themes listed below should email Dr Libby Worth, including your:

  • Name
  • Institution
  • Name of the seminar you wish to present at

** Presentation slots will be allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.**

Below are the details of workshops during 2017/2018. Save these dates; the material will be revealed in due course.

Wed 15 Nov 2017

Invited Guest: Dr Sofie Narbed (Royal Holloway)
Date: Wednesday 15 November 2017
Time: 5.00pm-7.00pm
Venue: Room 1-03, 11 Bedford Square, WC1B 3RA

This short talk will give an overview of a community dance exchange project undertaken in Quito, Ecuador, in collaboration with local artists working in contemporary dance and the traditional Afro-Ecuadorian dance la bomba. It will think particularly about the building and narrating of bodily skill and knowledge in the exchange, and consider the place of these danced dialogues in making and remaking wider imaginaries of their practice in the city. We will have a go at learning some key skills of la bomba as a way of thinking about these bodily negotiations through practice. 

Facilitated by Dr Sofie Narbed, Social Cultural Geographer from Royal Holloway, with Dr Libby Worth from the Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance. Sofie will present from her ethnographic research on dance in a northern barrio of Quito, Ecuador.

This will include a small practical element for which everyone needs to bring a large water bottle! The bottles should: 

  • be made of plastic
  • contain 1.5 or 2 litres (no less than 1.5)
  • have a 'dip'-shaped and NOT a 'rose'-shaped base (this is critical as rose-shaped bases are not suitable for balancing on your head) 
  • as a general rule, shorter fatter bottles are preferable to tall thin ones


Call for Contributions (Research Seminar)
We would like to welcome two current PhD students to contribute a 10 minute presentation on their work to this research seminar (15th November). Please let Libby or Emilia know if you would like to do this. The talk and mini-presentations will be followed by Q&A, general discussion with drinks provided.


Sofie is a Lecturer in Cultural Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her work explores the geographies of dance and bodily practice with a particular focus on Latin America, and engages with ideas of creativity, contemporaneity, and decolonial thinking. 

'Granular Geography: Thirst for Sand' - William Jamieson (Royal Holloway)

Singapore has been continuously expanding geographically for five decades through land reclamation, with 25% of its current land-mass consisting of reclaimed land. This project will interrogate how this twinned mode of resource extraction and geographic expansion forms an infrastructure of Singaporean nationbuilding, spatially and cognitively. Building on Cultural Geography’s existing development of creative methods for understanding place and space, the project will adapt geographic practices of writing landscape to the fragmented and dispersed sites of sand extraction and reclamation.

William Jamieson is a PhD candidate in Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. His work is concerned with the integration of political geography and literary theory through critical creative writing methods to enhance our understanding of how space is 'read' and 'written' by capital. His work has been published in the journal GeoHumanities, and his fiction has appeared in Ambit and Myths of the Near Future. His fiction pamphlet, Thirst for Sand, will be published in Spring 2018 by Goldsmiths Press.


Wed 17 Jan 2018

Invited Guest: TBC
Date: Wednesday 17 January 2018
Time: 5.00pm-7.00pm
Venue: 11 Bedford Square Room 1-03, London WC1B 3RF)

We are delighted to welcome Student Presenters:

  • Elena Alekseeva, PhD candidate at Royal Holloway, University of London, Music Department. She is doing a practice-based research in composition in which she composes music for screendance and video games.
  • Anna Meadmore, PhD candidate at Royal Holloway, University of London, Drama, Theatre and Dance Department. She will be presenting on her current research into Ninette de Valois’ choreography (founder of the Royal Ballet School, dancer and dance writer) with focus on her planned practical project to explore a little known dance that she choreographed.

Each presentation will be for maximum 15 minutes with a discussion on all during the final part of the seminar. We have room for one or two more student presentations for this session. Please let me know if you would like to offer a full 15 mins or a shorter provocation – libby.worth@rhul.ac.uk

Please come and support your fellow researchers with comments and questions on their work. We can timetable more sessions if lots of you would like to take up this opportunity for presenting in a friendly and multi-disciplinary environment.

Wed 7 Mar 2018

Invited Guest: TBC
Date: Wednesday 7 March 2018
Time: 5.00pm-7.00pm
Venue: TBC

More info coming soon!


Lecture and Symposia series

A series of lectures and practice-based research lectures and symposia are being prepared across the year. Please watch out for more information on this as speakers and artists are confirmed.

SYMPOSIUM - Wed 22 Nov 2017

Date: Wednesday 22 November 2017
Time: 4.30-7.30pm
Venue: Rehearsal Studio 2, Caryl Churchill Theatre (directions)

Dissolution or Division: Conscious Uncouplings and Collaborative Collapse

This symposium brings together researchers and practitioners who wish to share ideas relating to the problems particular to working in groups: the challenges of collaboration, the disagreements and community-led conflict resolutions, the difficulties with acting professionally, and the desires to keep working together, despite it all.

What are the strategies that art, science, politics and theory might offer each other for navigating - possibly circumventing - the demise of relationships? If the working relationship breaks down, could the end of the group be considered a constitutive aspect of that group? These are questions about institutions as much as they are about interdependence on personal and planetary scales.

In response to the ecstatic energy of contemporary power to maintain a sense of constantly deepening crises, this event seeks to imagine a position where the discourse of crisis is overcome by an incorporation of difficulty into a different world. This confrontation with difficulty, neither positive nor negative, would circumnavigate pressing trends that avoid what is most important by pretending it does not exist, and worse, inventing new problems that prevent whatever group might still exist from being able to problem-solve. A way forward might be to consider, in a new group of people put together for this event, new perspectives on how division and dissolution, perhaps even non-alignment, might build solidarity. The event will include a discussion about the work that has been shown, with a hope to develop new strands of research and practice and end with a wine reception.

Nadira Wallace will present Defeated, Sea-wandering City-State & the Epic Poem, on attempting to write an epic poem using Virgil's Aeneid as a launch-pad and framing-device.

Aimee Le will present ‘A Left critique of the Männerbund’, a performance of critical reflections on neofascist theories of group formation and dissolution, introducing them as problems for the left problems of cultural difference, of the need for structure in order to coordinate effectively, and of the potential negative impacts of sexual relationships and sexual violence upon organising.

Libby Worth and Julie Brixey-Williams will show their recent film made with Film Maker Bucy McDonald, Passing Between Folds (2017). They will talk briefly about their collaborative relationship and the challenges of working across the disciplines of dance, sculpture and, more recently, film.

Generative Constraints will show Break Up Variations, a work-in-progress performance of collaborative experiments. This performance considers the possibility that an end to a dream of symbiotic life is exactly what makes that dream possible and important.

This event is organised by Generative Constraints, a group of practice-based researchers

researchers – Diana Damian, Kate Potts, Nisha Ramayya, Nik Wakefield and Eley Williams.

Libby Worth is Reader in the Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance at Royal Holloway.

Julie Brixley-Williams is a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors and has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally, with pieces in public and private collections. Alongside her collaborative relationship with Libby Worth, she is also a founder member of the collective point and place (put in italics please)  www.juliebrixey-williams.co.uk

Nadira Wallace is PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway.

Aimee Le is a PhD candidate in English at Royal Holloway.

CALL FOR PRACTICE - Fri 13 Oct 2017

Work Processing - A Forum for the Sharing of Live Practice


Work Processing is a day-long event open to postgraduate/early-career artist-practitioners and independent artists working in the arts and humanities. The focus of Work Processing is practice itself. It offers a space in which to explore practice in process, stepping aside from the perceived obligation to qualify practice in terms of traditional academic discourse, and shifting focus away from product-based conceptions of artistic endeavour.

The event will showcase the work of artist-practitioners over the course of a day, encouraging practice to speak to practice, unmediated by verbal explication. It will conclude with a communal dinner in the performance space where food, ideas and responses can be shared, and we can explore the kinds of conversations a forum like this can generate without the formalities of an academic Q&A.

We are currently seeking proposals for 20 minute contributions in any live format, from any discipline. Incomplete and/or speculative works-in-progress are of particular interest, although any work that engages with the theme of “Work Processing” will be considered. The event will take place on the 1st of December 2017 at Chisenhale Dance Space, London. Chisenhale has a large performance space with lighting and sound rig, basic projection facilities, and the raw aesthetic appropriate to sharing all types of live work in development.

Participants are invited to submit a short description of their intended work, their institutional affiliation (if applicable) and projected technical requirements, as well as weblinks to any supporting materials (videos/recordings/text etc.) to workprocessing2017@gmail.com by the 13th of October 2017.

This event is being organised by five interdisciplinary practice-based PhD candidates, supported by the TECHNE AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership.

”thinking as well as making practices..." - Wed 7 March 2018

Professor Redell Olsen (Royal Holloway)'s ”Maya Deren / Carolee Schneeman / Donna Haraway: 'thinking as well as making practices...'"

Date: Wednesday 7 March 2018
Time: 5.00-7.00pm
Venue: 11 Bedford Square Room 1-03, London WC1B 3RF

In this lecture I will be considering work by the film maker Maya Deren and the live-art practitioner Carolee Schneemann alongside recent theories of subjectivity by Donna Haraway. I am interested in the ways in which their distinctive writings, films and performances offer useful examples of what Donna Haraway terms 'thinking as well as making practices' through the documentation of performance in practice. In order to extend this idea I will be discussing Schneemann and Deren's inclusion of forms of other than human consciousness in some of their work and comparing their distinct practices to that of Haraway's own approach to the 'companion species' that populate her own writing.

Reading Preparation

Goodeve, Thyrza Nichols. '"The Cat is My Medium": Notes on the Writing and Art of Carolee Schneemann' http://artjournal.collegeart.org/?p=6381

(note: the above article contains some distressing images)

Haraway, Donna. "Playing String Figures with Companion Species." Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Cthulucence (2016): 9-29 and / or her book When Species Meet (University of Minnesota Press, 2008).

Neiman, Catrina. “An Introduction to the Notebook of Maya Deren, 1947.” October, vol. 14, 1980, pp. 3–15. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/778527.

You can find examples of Schneemann's performances and Deren's films on YouTube ('At Land', 'Meshes of the Afternoon' are the most easily available of Deren's works). 

I will also be discussing Deren's  collaboration with her husband the film maker Alexander Hammid 'The Private Life of a Cat' (1944)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpR_UZz-BS4

I will be showing some clips of performance and film in the lecture so don't feel that you have to watch and read all of these references in advance of the lecture).

SYMPOSIUM - Thu 22 Mar 2018

Date: Thursday 22 March 2018
Time: TBC
Venue: Rehearsal Studio 2, Caryl Churchill Theatre ( directions)

Led by Dr Nik Wakefield (Royal Holloway) and the performance group Generative Constraints

There will be opportunities for students to offer contributions to this symposium, please keep a look out for information on the event and call for presentations.

Student-Led conference

An annual research conference is organised by practice-based doctoral students in the arts at Royal Holloway. This day-long, interdisciplinary event provides a space for creative dialogue between practitioners and academic researchers by foregrounding practice as a means of creative exploration and academic enquiry. 














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