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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.


LUCA School of Arts – KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium




Research Policy & Strategy

Research and Innovation play a prominent role at Luca School of Arts. LUCA stimulates and facilitates inspiring research across a wide variety of disciplines, from visual and audio-visual arts to performing arts and design. Drawing from both practise and theory, our research is cultivated in the creative environments of our 5 campuses (Genk, Ghent, Leuven and two in Brussels), enriching the creative practise and overall knowledge of our students. LUCA collaborates with KU Leuven for its PhD programme in the arts, further demonstrating its leading status as a centre of excellence for research in the fields of art and design.

Key research themes

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Awards Offered



Dissertation and practice

Exposition / Exhibition (including performance)

The PhD in the Arts consists of a thesis as well as (a) creation(s) in arts or design. Both parts are considered equal and function as a unity: together they evidence the ability to create new knowledge. There are no rules regarding the form and content of the submission except for the quality requirements.

The examination panel comprises 3 external examiners and 3 internal examiners.

During the public defense, the PhD researcher gives a short presentation about the doctoral research followed by a discussion with the examination committee. At the end, the public is given the opportunity to ask questions.

Programme Structure

Full time: 4 years

Part time: 6 years

Progress review is carried out annually.

Ethics training is provided on the 1st year. Training on research methods is dependent on the research unit.

Students interact with their peers through group seminars, symposia, research and ethics training. At institutional level, students are involved in research seminars, and symposia. Students engage with the professional world through collaborative and live projects, public engagement activities, and collaborative supervision.

Undergraduate & Masters Research

  • Research training is embedded at BA and Masters level study.

Qualification Framework

National Framework

Quality Assurance & Enhancement

  • Each PhD program at KU Leuven is part of one the three doctoral schools. The responsibilities of the doctoral school include:
    • attracting research talent
    • organising and assuring the quality of the doctoral programme in partnership with the doctoral committees
    • ensuring doctoral efficiency
    • assessing the interdisciplinary nature of the doctoral research in the application stage for an interdisciplinary degree
    • securing partnership agreements in the context of joint degrees and double degrees
    • monitoring the activities of the doctoral ombuds
    • increasing the visibility and recognisability of doctoral research at the KU Leuven
  • The doctoral programme is assessed yearly. There is a set of indicators with short- and long-term goals.


The PhD researcher is supervised by one or more supervisors, one of whom is appointed as corresponding supervisor. One or more co-supervisors can also be assigned. The corresponding supervisor of a PhD in the Arts is a lecturer at LUCA School of Arts with a PhD and either holds the status “special guest professor in the arts” or belongs to the ZAP of the KU Leuven. Besides the (co)- supervisors, the supervisory committee consists of at least two other members. These members are often international artists, designers, or curators.

A supervisory committee often consists of four members (supervisor, co-supervisor and two additional members). It is generally deemed important that there is both a substantial artistic as well as academic expertise in the supervisory committee.

There is no fixed time allocated for the supervision. In terms of supervisory training, KU Leuven foresees a masterclass for supervisors, which includes training on the challenges one might experience as a supervisor.


19 academic staff members hold an PhD in arts, which is 5,3% of the total staff.

53 academic staff are currently pursuing a PhD, which is 14,7% of the total staff.

Senior researchers (supervisor) are allocated 40% of their time for research time.

35% of the staff is research active (126 researchers).

The Doctoral committee has responsibility for managing the 3rd cycle programme. The Doctoral committee consists of members of the senior academic staff and representatives of PhD researchers. The membership represents the various research domains within the faculty.

Student Admissions

The doctoral programme is not advertised.

Applications consist of:

  • Portfolio
  • Research proposal
  • CV
  • Institutional Application form
  • Interview
  • Recommendation letter from supervisor and head of the research unit’s diploma

20 students join the programme annually.

Currently there are 96 registered students in the PhD programme.

39 students have graduated to date.

Student Funding

Students do not receive a stipend or grant. Student fees are funded through self-funding, project-funding, institutional funding, and state-funding.

Student Support

Doctoral students have access too:

  • Specialist technical facilities
  • Specialist archive / library facilities
  • Professional development (ex, grant writing)
  • Gallery / Exhibition space
  • Digital resources
  • Workshops

Additional financial support is provided for conference attendance and presentations, travel in support of the research, support for realisation of projects / artworks / publications.

Students with a PhD scholarship gain teaching experience.

Additional Information

The PhD programme is validated by KU Leuven.


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.