Employability for Artistic Research Doctorates

Engaging with employability is critical to develop a strong programme, especially in diversifying the potential paid employment Artistic Research PhD students can aspire to and realistically achieve. An Artistic Research doctorate requires a more distinct set of skills than traditional PhDs, particularly related to artwork production and project management. Some students begin their studies with significant professional experience and well-honed skills in multiple aspects of creative practice. Other students have significantly less. Developing skills can be a serendipitous process for each student, dependent on supervisors’ networks and on how the student finds opportunities for themselves. Whilst generic skills modules are helpful in providing support with academic processes, the specific needs of each candidate means that often students would benefit from unique training opportunities, which can be articulated in discussion between the candidate and the supervisor. 

And if you have a good supervisor, you will often find that the supervisor will seek out the unique training opportunities, for example, say a PhD student is completing a project in amateur film, they need access to archive and they want film handling skills which are very specialist – that would be about the supervisor setting up the partnership with the archive to allow the student to get that very specialist training, and that is so tailored to the unique project. (staff member, 2020)

Consider how you can offer:

  • Resources and strategies for students to apply their knowledge and skills beyond academia. Consider how the skills that students are developing can be applied within industry, in near fields, and in alternative careers to help students explore career opportunities outside the academy. 

Maybe just some resources on other types of ways we can apply what we do to different types of work in the world, I do still have to work, how can we take this arts practice degree and experience and training and apply it to other types of disciplines, or field or careers besides teaching at higher education? (Miriam Phillips, PhD student, 2020)

  • Field-specific employability training. Institutions provide a good offer of generic skills training, however, specific training to navigate the creative professional environment could be enhanced. For example, targeted grant writing seminars and fostering more involvement with industry partners. This is particularly relevant for international students and those with short professional experience. In addition, skills learned in the field can often be embedded into academic training. A common lack of skillset in film is grant writing, funding pitching and budgeting, which could, for example, be taught in partnership with a screen training organisation. 

There could be some really useful employability training, specific employability training, done with PhDs. And by specific I mean how to get an arts grant in Ireland. What the Irish theatre scene looks like and sign up with Theatre forum and all of those things that are very specific to the community in which we work. (PhD student, 2020)



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