The doctor of philosophy (PhD) in contemporary arts, offered through the Faculty of Communication, Art, and Technology, is a research-intensive program focused on interdisciplinary approaches to the fine and performing arts. Students will be given the option to undertake comparative approaches to visual culture, media arts, sound studies, and performance studies, culminating in a substantial written thesis, or to pursue a mix of studio, curatorial, and community-based research, resulting in the creation of an original artwork or a public presentation supplemented by a substantial written body of work incorporating students’ reflection and commentary.
Applicants must satisfy the University admission requirements as stated in Graduate General Regulation 1.3 in the SFU Calendar. Students will normally hold a master of arts (MA), master of fine arts (MFA), or equivalent degree, with high standing, from a recognized university and a solid grounding in studies of contemporary art and/or an established professional artistic, curatorial, or programming practice. To fill any academic gaps, extra undergraduate or graduate courses may be required. Before accepting a student into the program, the department will consider the proposed research in relation to faculty resources in the field.
The program consists of course work, qualifying examinations, a thesis prospectus, and a thesis, for a minimum of 38 units.
A non-credit course for graduate students working in contemporary arts that foregrounds professional aspects of the discipline. Includes workshops on academic writing, research skills development, pedagogy, proposal and grant writing, peer critique, artistic production and management, academic and public dissemination of work, and presentations of works in progress. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.
A non-credit course for graduate students working in contemporary arts that foregrounds professional aspects of the discipline. Includes workshops on academic writing, research skills development, pedagogy, proposal and grant writing, peer critique, artistic production and management, academic and public dissemination of work, and presentations of works in progress. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. Prerequisite: CA 890.
Develops thinking across the media arts in a comparative perspective, synthesizing the historical and theoretical approaches of art history, cinema studies, performance studies, and computer-based media studies. Establishes bases for understanding the relationships among art forms that incorporate reproducible and digital media. Investigates some of the useful emergent methods for making comparisons among media, across history, and across cultures. Students with credit for FPA 821 may not take this course for further credit.
and at least three additional CA or other graduate courses selected in consultation with the supervisor or graduate program chair
and qualifying examinations
Qualifying examinations. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.
and a thesis prospectus
and a thesis
Students are expected to complete the program requirements in 12-15 terms (4-5 years).
Each student is matched with a potential supervisor, normally upon admission, and the supervisory committee should be formed during the first year and no later than the beginning of the qualifying examinations. Student and supervisor are encouraged to meet regularly throughout the duration of the program.
Students enroll in their qualifying examinations following the completion of their course work, at the start of their third doctoral term, normally coinciding with their first summer term in the program. They will complete their second qualifying examination by the end of their sixth doctoral term (normally their second summer term in the program).
Examinations will be graded “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory”. A student who receives a grade of “unsatisfactory” on any part of the examinations will be permitted to rewrite or resubmit work, normally within the following academic term. A second grade of “unsatisfactory” will require a review of the student’s progress and likely withdrawal from the program, as per Graduate General Regulations 1.8.2.
Students will submit to their supervisory committee a thesis prospectus that outlines: their research topic and methodology; a timeline to completion; the proposed form for their completed research (e.g. chapter breakdowns, a description of the artwork(s) or public presentation and supplementary written documentation); and any anticipated required resources from the School, including access to equipment and/or studio space.
After the completion of the thesis prospectus, candidates will complete a thesis that is written and/or presented by artistic methodologies. For more information, see program website. Both completed thesis options are defended in an oral exam as per GGR 1.10.1, and are submitted to the library along with relevant supplementary documentation.
Academic Requirements within the Graduate General Regulations
All graduate students must satisfy the academic requirements that are specified in the Graduate General Regulations, as well as the specific requirements for the program in which they are enrolled.