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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.


Royal Conservatoire Antwerp (AP University College), Antwerp, Belgium

Research Policy & Strategy

The Royal Conservatoire Antwerp’s mission statement states that its pedagogical vision focuses the importance of embedding research in all of its progammes of study, with 4 key aims: to train professional musicians with an outspoken personality; to offer and excellent customised education focused on the individual; the pursuit of critical reflection, and the importance of being embedded within an international context. It is within this context that the RCA actively engages in the development of 3rd cycle provision in the arts. There are 4 research groups that cluster all research activities of the Royal Conservatoire.

The Royal Conservatoire Antwerp is part of the Antwerp Research Institute for the Arts (ARIA) alongside St Lucas Antwerp, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp and the University of Antwerp. At the policy level, ARIA represents the unique scientific and societal position of arts research in platforms such as Research Foundation – Flanders, the European Research Council and the Flemish government. ARIA encourages research that: is founded on artistic practice; is rooted in the unique character of the arts; seeks to achieve both disciplinary depth and interdisciplinary breadth; puts research on a centre stage in education; makes a meaningful contribution to professional art practice; and takes a critical stance towards society.

Awards Offered

PhD in the Arts

(validated through the University of Antwerp as part of the ARIA Faculty)

The Royal Conservatoire Antwerp does not have the authority to grant 3rd cycle awards. All 3rd cycle projects are carried out with partners in ARIA and in collaboration with the University of Antwerp and therefore must meet the requirements of the university’s regulations for doctoral study.


Practice-based/practice-led submissions

Thesis only submissions

Viva – PhD defence

Annual progress reports

The defence of the work presented takes place in front of a doctoral jury comprising the doctoral committee with invited specialists and external examiners.

Forms of Output

Exhibition, paper, dissertation, lecture performance, performance.

The criteria are the communication of the research process.

Programme Structure

PhDs require 4 to 6 years of study.

Research methods are embedded in undergraduate and postgraduate levels therefore there is no distinct research methods training at doctoral level study.

In order to foster quality in arts research, the institute organises research seminars, symposiums, publications and other artistic-scientific activities. It also ensures broader dissemination of its research findings in society through the media and through private and public institutions.

Annual research progress report evaluated by the doctoral committee of each PhD student. Doctoral programme progress report evaluated by a peer review committee.

Undergraduate & Masters Research

Undergraduate and postgraduate courses introduce research methods. Ethics training is part of M level research training and in their 3rd cycle proposals students have to elaborate on how they will deal with ethics during their research.

Qualification Framework


Reference is made to ‘The Florence Principles on the Doctorates in the Arts’.

Quality Assurance & Enhancement

The Royal Conservatoire is funded by the Flemish Government for research.

The ARIA consortium organises and supervises research and PhDs in, with and for
the arts. As a part of ARIA the institute safeguards the special character of research
in the arts and fosters collaboration and knowledge exchange with other artistic and
scientific disciplines. It achieves this through unique partnerships among the
Antwerp Schools of Arts and the University of Antwerp, in which the partners’
autonomy and integrity come first. ARIA creates local, national and international
collaborations with artists, professionals, research institutes and artistic


Students work with 2 internal supervisors (promoters) two advisors and one chair person.


There are no separate training methods for PhD supervisors. Research is an integral part of both the undergraduate and postgraduate curricula of the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp. 13 members of staff (5.2%) hold 3rd cycle qualifications in our institution and 91 members of staff (36.4%) are engaged in research. There are no institution wide regulations defining the time allocation (hours) given to staff involved in 3rd cycle supervision. 

Student Admissions

Candidates can apply for a PhD in the Arts via at the ARIA Faculty (University of Antwerp). More information here. The Faculty decides on the selection of the candidates. Each PhD in Music and Performing Arts is promoted by a member of the University and a member of the Royal Conservatoire. The PhD project needs to have a strong research orientation, and needs to be embedded strongly in the Conservatoire. The Royal Conservatory of Antwerp collaborates in docARTES. Prospective students submit a proposal as part of a dossier of work. The dossier is subject to peer review and evaluation. Candidates are interviewed by a committee of experts. There are currently 21 PhD students studying in the arts per programme.Over the past 5 years, 5 students have successfully achieved 3rd cycle awards.

Student Funding

Annually, 3 scholarships for doctoral students are available for students studying part-time (50%) over 4 years. More information.

Music PhD students via docARTES. More information.

Other PhD students: flexible programme via the Antwerp Doctoral School. More information.


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.