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3rd Cycle in the Arts

This is an international database of 3rd cycle awards in the European Higher Arts Education Area, developed within the Creator Doctus project (2018-2021), to identify possible examples of practice in developing and supporting artistic research.


Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki/ University of the Arts, Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland




Research Policy & Strategy

The university fosters different forms of research in the arts. University level research activities are focused on postdoc level. All three academies (music, theatre, fine art) have their own doctoral programmes.

Mission Statement

The University of the Arts Helsinki (Uniarts Helsinki) provides the highest level of education in music, fine arts, theatre and dance in Finland. Uniarts Helsinki is an international forerunner in education and research in the field of arts and strengthens the role of art as a force that reforms society. Established in 2013, Uniarts Helsinki consists of the Academy of Fine Arts, Sibelius Academy and Theatre Academy.

Key research themes


Awards Offered

  • DFA – validated by the Academic Board
  • There is no strictly calculated time frame. Full time studies would theoretically take 4 years, but the average study time tends to be circa 8 years


Public defence

According to the Finnish university tradition both artistic and scientific dissertations are first pre-examined, then published and then defended publicly. Additionally, at our programme artistic productions are pre-examined during the doctoral project (when they are publicly on show, for example).

There are normally 2 pre-examiners and 1-2 external examiners.

Forms of Output

Dissertation and Practice

Publication + Contextual review

Exposition/Exhibition (including performance)

50-250 pages (2000 characters per page)

Programme Structure

The programme structure includes methods training (8 ECTS credits) and an introduction to ethics in the 1st year of study (2 ECTS credits). The programme and peer learning are also supported by group research seminars, symposia, group supervision, public engagement activity and collaborative/live projects. There is no progress review.

Undergraduate & Masters Research

  • There is no research training at Masters level study.
  • There is no research training at BA level study.

Qualification Framework

  • National Framework
  • The whole university participates in the national (process) quality assessments ca. every 4th year. An international research quality assessment takes place on the initiative of the university itself.

Quality Assurance & Enhancement

International research assessment exercise.


Main supervisor belongs to the staff of the academy and is appointed by the head of the programme. External supervisors are selected together with the doctoral student. Additionally, there is a tradition of consulting external advisors if needed at some point of the doctoral project.

1 internal, 1 external + possible advisors

This is optimal in relation to the financial resources available for the external supervisors’ and advisors’ fees.

10-20 hours per year: external supervisor.

The amount of supervision hours of the internal supervisor is not formally defined.

A supervisors’ seminar is organised annually.


Eight out of twenty-two (36%) of arts academic staff hold 3rd cycle awards. Six members of staff (31% of the total staff profile) are research active (However, it depends how one defines “research”, the estimated % here excludes activity in art contexts from research).

The institution provides training for supervisors through annual meetings with staff.

Overall responsibility for managing your 3rd cycle programme resides with:

  • Head of the Doctoral Programme
  • Vice Dean for Research

Student Admissions

The doctoral programme is advertised internationally.

Applications consist of:

  • Institutional application form
  • Research proposal
  • Portfolio
  • CV
  • Interview
  • A language certificate (English) or Mother Tongue (Finnish/Swedish) is required.

Approximately 5 students join the programme biannually.

Currently there are 30 registered students in the PhD programme in artistic research.

To date 25 students have graduated from the programme.

Student Funding

40% of the new doctoral students are offered salaried positions for the 2 first years based on an internal application process. More than 95% of the doctoral students manage to find external funding after the start of their studies.

There are no fees for studying, the university is mainly funded by the state.


Student Support

There is no systematic policy regarding facilities offered. Basically doctoral students have access to all facilities at the academy and they can apply for an exhibition time in our gallery.

  • Support for realisation of projects/artworks/publications
  • Travel in support of research, conference attendance/presentation

Many doctoral students teach at BA/MA levels, but there is no systematic process for this.


3rd Cycle in the Arts

This is an international database of 3rd cycle awards in the European Higher Arts Education Area, developed within the Creator Doctus project (2018-2021), to identify possible examples of practice in developing and supporting artistic research.