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Doing a Doctorate! Research Study Day hosted at University College Falmouth

Doing a Doctorate
Friday 16 May,
Woodlane Rosehill Garden Seminar A
University College Falmouth

This research study day, hosted by the staff and students of MA Twentieth Century Art & Design: Histories & Theories and supported by the Department of Learning & Teaching at University College Falmouth (UCF), aims to explore what doing doctoral research means from the student’s ‘point of view.’

Involving five case-study presentations from students working in a range of disciplines (from the arts to the sciences), at different institutions, and at different stages of the research and writing process, it will provide insights both into specific research projects, and the experience of doing doctoral work.

Additional information about this day can be found here.

The day will open with a presentation from Dr John Butcher, Director of Learning & Teaching, who will talk about the tricky business of forming a research question. This will be followed by Dr Robin Kirby, who will provide information and ideas about how to fund doctoral research, a particularly important subject for those committing to post-graduate study.

Student presentations will begin with Mark Hobbs, a graduate from MA Twentieth Century Art & Design who is currently in his second year of study in the art history department at the University of Glasgow, who will talk about visual representations of Berlin’s working-class districts in the 1920s and ‘30s. This will be followed by Isabelle Risner, a practice-based research student at UCF, talking about the integration of digital technologies in designer-maker practice. In the afternoon two other graduates from the art and design history course, Peter Kwee and Jason Bate, who are in the first years of art history PhDs, will speak about their projects: the illustrated book in Surrealist practice, and First World War photographs of facial injury. To round up Jake Boex from University of Exeter will talk about his research on ice sheet dynamics in South America.

The study day aims to foreground students’ doctoral research, share good practice and establish links across disciplines. It is open to students and staff at UCF and Exeter, as well as others not currently registered for study but who are interested in doing doctoral work. University College Falmouth has a vibrant graduate community and encourages doctoral proposals on a wide range of research topics within the arts.


Mark Hobbs

Title and talk: Visual representations of Berlin’s working-class districts, 1924–30

In his PhD, Mark is exploring how artists and architects from across the political spectrum engaged with the often grim realities of proletarian day-to-day existence in Weimarian Berlin, thus offering an alternative impression of a city and a period usually associated with decadence, glamour and modernity.

Biography: Currently residing in Glasgow, Mark began his PhD in 2006 after two stints at Falmouth. Having originally trained as a graphic designer at Falmouth College of Arts in the mid-1990s, Mark went on to spend several successful years working in design agencies in London, before returning to Falmouth to study on the MA Twentieth Century Art & Design: Histories and Theories course in 2003. This summer, Mark will be embarking on a year-long research scholarship in Berlin, supported by the German Academic Exchange Service.

Isabelle Risner

Title and talk: The Integration of Digital Technologies in Designer-Maker Practice: a Study of Access, Attitudes and Implications

‘My PhD subject is the integration of digital technology into designer-maker practice and I’m looking forward to integrating my previous journalistic experience with a practice-based element and hopefully elevating my research skills to the level of academic theorising and knowledge creation. I am particularly interested in the receptiveness or otherwise of craft practitioners to digital technology, how access to equipment and skills are negotiated and theories around new possibilities for distributed object making. In the five months so far of my PhD studies I have undergone quite a lot of training, both with the University of Exeter and UAL, kicked off some case study research, finally got my RF3 in shape and had some mixed experiences with trying to conduct a literature review of my field. I am happy to talk about any or all of these areas.’

Biography: Isabelle Risner is a recent addition to the Falmouth PhD students. She learnt her craft skills on the BA(Hons) Contemporary Crafts at UCF from which she graduated with a first in 2007. As a mature student Isabelle has come to practice after a first career in research and journalism including gaining an MSC, passed with distinction, from Imperial College in 1992 in Environmental Technology and a degree in History and Politics from York in 1985.

Peter Kwee

Title and talk: The illustrated book as object in Surrealist practice, Paris 1919-1939

My project aims to expand our understanding of illustrated books as a practice through which Surrealist experiential, social and cultural meanings were created, disseminated and contested during the period between the two World Wars. It investigates the part played by the relationships of object, image and text in shaping the meanings of these works for both their producers and their audiences.

Biography: Peter graduated from Keele University (History, Economics and Politics) in 1972. After a career in commercial management, he moved to Cornwall and retrained for a change of direction, graduating from Plymouth University (ESAD) in 2000 with a BA in Design:Photography. Since then, he has been lecturing part-time in Photography at Cornwall College.

Peter gained his MA in Twentieth Century Art & Design from University College Falmouth in 2006, and commenced his PhD studies at Essex University in October 2007.

Jason Bate

Title and talk: Plastic Surgery Photographs of Facial Injury Cases from World War One: Paradigm Shifts in Modes of Viewing

My PhD research focuses on medical photographs of World War One British soldiers with facial injuries and their plastic surgery reconstruction, through before and after pre and post-operative images that were rarely visible to the public. These medical photographs were intended only for a private medical gaze, but, from within the archives, they can also present points of fracture and an opening out to a wider, public audience. I will explore their value in the present compared with their original context of production, and ask what such images represent to the non-medical viewer. My research also aims to focus on the importance of the archives as it allows for shifting contexts of viewing, and opens up new histories and interpretations within the photographs. In the first year of my PhD I have visited several medical and photographic archives, collected material from official military sources, and attended lectures from UAL. Regular meetings with my supervisors to discuss my aims and objectives and work in progress has helped to keep on track and stop me reading too widely, and I recently finished my RF3 form (version 5), and currently in the process of writing my introductory chapter and a literature review of my main texts.

Biography: I studied fine art and practice based image-making before moving into the history and theory of photography. After graduating from the University of East London in 1998 with a
BA(Hons) in Visual Communication – drawing and photography, I focused on making and exhibiting photographs using Victorian printing processes as a way of outputting my work. In 2001 I started teaching photography part-time at Cornwall College sites and in 2004 completed an MA in Twentieth Century Art & Design: Histories and Theories at UCF, initially as a way of applying theory to my practical work in photography, but I gradually moved away from image-making and became more interested in the theoretical aspects of photographic communication.

Jake Boex
University of Exeter

This PhD research project aims to identify and map the location of former glaciers originating from the World’s lowest latitude ice sheet, the North Patagonian Ice Sheet in Southern Chile. Previous work in the area has focused on dating sediment deposited at the end of glaciers, a glacial feature known as a moraine, this has shown that the ice sheet changed significantly in the past and extended east into Argentina several times over the last million years. It is the aim of this project to map and date the upper limit, or vertical extent, of the former North Patagonian Ice sheet in a valley 60 miles east of the current ice limit. From initial field work carried out in February of this year it is hoped that by establishing the vertical extent of former ice advances it will be possible to measure the change in ice volume with time – this will provide a means with which to infer changes in the climate locally and help answer questions about how the Earth responds during periods of rapid climate change.


For more information about doing M/Phil or PhD with iRes, please contact Kate Southworth for an informal chat at kate.southworth@falmouth.ac.uk or call her on 0044-(0)1326 370733.