School of Art, Design and Architecture

PhD Codex

CODEX is a full-time practice-driven interdisciplinary PhD programme in the emergent fields of art, design, and technology. It is an internationally networked postgraduate research community under the governance of the University of Plymouth in collaboration with collaborating institutions. It builds on world-class research excellence of the School of Art, Design and Architecture in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business and the University Doctoral College.

The full-time PhD consists of an 18-month residency period in the UK followed by a mobility period in a collaborating institution.

Course details

  • Overview

  • CODEX focuses on art and design practices that engage with social, cultural, economic, and environmental challenges and the new behaviours generated through the catalyst of technological innovation.
    Sourced from an international community of designers and artists CODEX provides a critical, experimental and provocative environment for exploring material and immaterial influence on potential futures.
    CODEX actively seeks to establish art and design practices that cultivate new transcultural, transdisciplinary perspectives on a complex world. It does this by nurturing innovation through practice-driven research and a synthesis of conventional and emergent methodologies
    The collaborative research framework cultivates a critical engagement with emergent art and design forms, practices and behaviours. It fosters a beneficial entanglement and reciprocity with other disciplines, communities and ecologies. In an attempt to unpick the easy rhetoric that surrounds ‘cross’, ‘inter’ and ‘trans’ disciplinarity it explores the difficulties of these marriages of inconvenience.
    The impact of CODEX reaches far beyond the comfort zone of the creative and cultural industries to actively engage with science and technology agendas. It encourages entrepreneurial aspirations and supports industrial, commercial and community engagements through work placements, collaborations and residencies.
    This full-time doctoral programme is suitable for people who have a particular research question or topic in mind, and wish to explore this through independent study in order to produce an original contribution to the subject. If you aspire to a research career this is the most appropriate research degree to undertake.
    You will be guided by a small supervisory team of academic experts under the direction of a Director of Studies. 
    If you do not already have a masters degree, you may be interested in one of our masters level research degrees (which enables a transfer directly into the PhD programme if you are making excellent progress), or else an MPhil degree. Further details about the University’s research degree awards
    You will be expected to fully engage with skills development and training and to present your research in a range of scholarly contexts.
    Your PhD will be assessed via submission of either a written thesis (approximately 80,000 words), or one that combines critical writing with artistic, creative and/or professional practice, and a viva voce (an oral examination).
    For full details of what doing a PhD entails at the University of Plymouth, please visit our Postgraduate research degrees pages.

    Core modules

    • Research Codex (GSRCODE1)

    • Research Skills in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (DRTS800)

      This module provides research students the opportunity to explore the creation and interpretation of new knowledge within their field; develop the students’ ability to conceptualise, design and present their theses to merit publication; advance the students’ academic enquiry skills and techniques; and to generate and share the new knowledge within their academic discipline and professional practice.

  • Year 2

  • Core modules

    • Research Codex (GSRCODE2)

    Optional modules

    • Research Skills in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (DRTS800)

      This module provides research students the opportunity to explore the creation and interpretation of new knowledge within their field; develop the students’ ability to conceptualise, design and present their theses to merit publication; advance the students’ academic enquiry skills and techniques; and to generate and share the new knowledge within their academic discipline and professional practice.

  • Year 3

  • Core modules

    • Research Codex (GSRCODE3)

  • Year 4

  • Core modules

    • Research Codex (GSRCODE4)

  • Year 5

  • Core modules

    • Research Codex (GSRCODE5)

  • Final year

  • Core modules

    • Research Codex (GSRCODE6)

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected to have completed a masters level qualification to a high standard (e.g. at 'merit' or 'distinction' level) as well as either a good 2:1 or first class honours undergraduate degree in an area of study appropriate to your project proposal (e.g. theatre and performance, drama, dance, live or fine art, performance writing, etc.). We are happy to consider equivalent qualifications (for instance, you may have studied different subjects at undergraduate and masters level but have established an artistic practice since then).
Students who are making exceptional progress in a ResM programme, may progress directly into our PhD programme without having to complete the masters.
You will also need to provide evidence that you are ready to pursue the project you propose in your application. This will take the form of a sample of critical writing, and if relevant, documentation of relevant creative or professional practice.
If English is not your first language, you must have proficiency in written and spoken English (normally a minimum test score of 6.5 for IELTS, or equivalent). Given the nature of the programme, you’ll be expected to read and engage with complex theoretical texts and debates for which fluency in English is essential.
For more general guidelines and application requirements, please visit the research degrees applicants page.

Fees, costs and funding

Please visit tuition fees for postgraduate research for information about fees. PhD Codex is in Band 1 for fees purposes.
As a full time student you will pay full time fees for three years. If you have not submitted your thesis by the end of this period, then you may pay for an optional one year writing up period.
You are responsible for meeting all of the costs related to your own research project, beyond the resources available in the department.
Please visit our postgraduate research money matters page to find out more about issues related to fees, funding, loans and paying for your programme of study.

How to apply

For further information about CODEX please contact our CODEX agent, Anna Huang. To discuss your research proposal please contact CODEX Director Professor Mike Phillips, or Network Coordinator Dr Gianni Corino with an outline research proposal. We will work with you to develop a final research project proposal which will typically be no longer than four A4 pages (Arial 11 point font), and include:
  • Research project title.
  • Outline of the general topic or area of research.
  • Explanation of key terms and references.
  • Indicative research questions or identification of the problem.
  • The context and disciplinary field(s) in which the research sits and will contribute to.
  • The significance and potential impact of the research.
  • Proposed research methodology and why (i.e., how this will answer your research questions).
  • References and identification of relevant literature, practitioners, and influential works.
  • Ethical and intellectual property issues.
  • A portfolio representing relevant creative skills and practice.
Interview and full application
Interviews will be held by video conference or in person in China.
Your outline research proposal will then be discussed to define a final version and full application through the University of Plymouth postgraduate research application process .
Your supervisory team will also be organised for an enrolment in October of each academic year.
Submitting your application
Complete your application and upload supporting documents to the Doctoral College by completing our online application form.
Questions on the application process?
We're here to help. Please contact the Doctoral College team and we'll be happy to assist you.
 More information and advice for applicants can be referenced in our admissions policy which can be found on the student regulations, policies and procedures page. Prospective students are advised to read the policy before making an application to the University.
If you have a disability and would like further information on the support available, please visit Disability Services.
Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office
Find more information about how to apply for a research degree.
The Doctoral College works with staff and students across the entire University to ensure that our diverse community of postgraduate and postdoctoral early career researchers is offered the best possible experience.
Find out more about becoming a research student and the University's Researcher Development Programme on the Doctoral College webpages.

CODEX research network: 

The Network comprises each research laboratory or university that joins the CODEX programme to provide supervision and research facilities to support students during the mobility period.
The School of Design, Jiangnan University, is the first link in the CODEX research network. Benefiting from a long history of Chinese modern design education it offered one of the earliest design programs in China, and is currently ranked fourth in China within the Design discipline (2012 evaluation by the Chinese Ministry of Education). 
CODEX draws on the research expertise and resources of two National Research Centres:
  • China National Light Industry Key Laboratory of Industrial Design.
  • Experience Design Frontier Methodology and Technology Innovation Research Centre.

Supporting your studies:

Each CODEX student will have a first supervisor (the Director of Studies), a mandatory second supervisor and a third supervisor. Two supervisors will be from the University of Plymouth, including the Director of Studies, and one supervisor will be from the CODEX research network. The two or three supervisors will comprise the your supervisory team.
Plymouth based CODEX supervisors are drawn from across the established research clusters in the School of Art, Design and Architecture.
Inside i-DAT's Tate Modern installation This Is Where We Are (TIWWA) - an immersive and interactive algorithmic sculpture fuelled by the data we collectively generate.
CODEX logo
Tate Modern installation
CODEX QR code for We Chat


CODEX is sustained by a temporal, physical and virtual infrastructure that spans the network of institutional sites. This infrastructure supports the delivery of research training, career development, individual and collaborative research, tutorials, peer review, seminars and research updates. It consists of:
  • CODEX residency: This is the period In which students will be situated at each of the two institutions, comprising 50 per cent of the PhD in the University of Plymouth (or satellite sites) and 50 per cent in the collaborating University in China (or satellite sites). This period in residence will be augmented by participation in other research cluster activities and cultural visits.
  • CODEX lab: The lab or studio space that CODEX research students will work in during their residency. This space requires access to and support of collaborative and individual design and fabrication activates.
  • CODEX composite sessions: Sessions provide an intensive period where CODEX cohorts overlap and share their research and experiences. The sessions ensure that new knowledge is shared across the separate years of the community and provide a vehicle to support the workshops and symposia.
  • CODEX tutorials: Tutorials are regular individual meetings between students and their supervisors.
  • CODEX symposium: The annual public research conference/exhibition to support research dissemination to the wider research community, the public and for industrial engagement. The symposium will make use of a variety of spaces and sites, including networked and virtual environments. The symposium also provides routes for further dissemination through a variety of digital and traditional publishing models.
  • CODEX workshops: Focused experimental design and production activates that adopt a variety of fabrication and technological methods to support experimentation and making, combined with critical theory to nurture reflexive praxis.
  • CODEX link: The link supports communication across the research community through a variety of technologies, such as video conferencing, social media and virtual environments. This supports the management and supervisory meetings as well as collaborative projects and workshops between the UK and China. The link also puts in place the framework to support a highly connected and interactive alumni involvement with the CODEX community.
  • CODEX research network: The network comprises each research laboratory or university that joins the CODEX programme to provide supervision and research facilities to support students during the mobility period.

University of Plymouth supervisors