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School of Art, Design & Performance

Read more about the teaching and research that takes place within this School – one of 4 within our Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries

Art both reflects and inspires a creative society, by describing the world as it is and as it could be. The School of Art, Design and Performance believes in improving people's lives and our understanding of each other through thoughtful and challenging works.

We use new and traditional mediums to push the creativity of students, researchers and staff. We support all students, researchers and staff to explore and experiment as part of a community and to identify their strengths and individual style as artists and makers. Our collaborative, project-based approach to teaching and learning continues to give our students the skill sets to become highly employable graduates.

Many of our graduates have gone on to work in the public and private sector, or started their own companies – with 96% of our graduates being in work or further study within 6 months of graduating (DLHE, 2017). 

Our accolades

96% overall student satisfaction for our Fashion and Textiles Design course (NSS,2019)

98% overall student satisfaction for our Graphic Design course (NSS, 2019)


We place students at the centre of our work — developing practitioners, artists, makers, designers and research who'll be dynamic contributors to our local, national and global creative and cultural industries.

Live projects with clients and community participants are an important part of our curriculum, with students collaborating with organisations such as Queen Alexandria Hospital, Boots, Teatum Jones, Park Community School, the Historic Dockyard and Aspex Gallery. The experience we offer combines:

  • Emphasis on your own creative and personal development
  • Skills, knowledge and awareness enthusiastic staff with high levels of expertise
  • Integrated links with related industries to further your professional career
  • Opportunities to exhibit and perform externally, support to enter national and international competitions
  • Work on live projects
  • Development of transferable skills including: research, project management and communication skills

Based in the Eldon Building and the White Swan Building, our students and staff have access to:

  • rehearsal studios
  • a studio theatre
  • music practice rooms
  • computer suites with the latest industry standard and CGI modelling software
  • a dedicated Wacom suite
  • traditional wood workshop
  • laser cutting equipment
  • photography studios

Our teaching areas

Explore the undergraduate and postgraduate degrees we offer within the following areas.

Our graduates

We believe in supporting students to become independent, confident artists and practitioners. Our graduates are people with the courage and confidence to make a difference with their creativity.

We have built a strong entrepreneurial culture and the work that graduates produce is diverse and varied and reflects their strong creative identities. Many of our graduates have created start-up companies, including:

  • Neequaye Dreph Dsane – Dreph is a versatile visual artist working across a wide range of media. With a focus on portraiture, he is best known for his large-scale murals and oil paintings. His portraits and their accompanying backstories present an alternative narrative, often a tribute to living unsung heroes and heroines. He has painted in Asia, Africa, the UAE, Central, South and North America and throughout Europe. He is also a lecturer on our BA (Hons) Illustration degree course.
  • I Love Dust – A specialist visual design, 3D illustrations and branding studio, worked with Nike, Chevrolet and Sony.
  • Brightside Comedy – A theatre company making satirical comedies. Graduates of the BA (Hons) Drama & Performance, they are Associate Artists of Guildhall and their first show after graduating was shown at both the Guildhall Studio (Portsmouth) and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
  • Magictorch – A multi-disciplinary studio based in Brighton, UK founded by Illustration graduates Michael Chipperfield and Sam Williams in 1999. They make still and motion pieces for a diverse range of clients including BBC Focus magazine, TV show Top Gear and CD art for American rock band 311.
  • Strong Island – An art, design, lifestyle, and clothing brand centred around Portsmouth and everything it has to offer

We also have close relationships with employers and many of our students have taken on placement year work opportunities with places such as Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Debenhams, and Collective Apparel. Many of our placement year students go on to work with the professionals they've met during their placement year.

Our graduates have moved on to work in a range of fields including theatre making and event producing, using drama in education settings, performing,  fashion and textile design, graphic design, photography, and illustration, for organisations such as Aardman Digital, Saatchi and Saatchi, The Guardian and Penguin Random House. Many of our graduates work as a freelancers for clients including MTV, BBC, New Scientist, Sony Entertainment, The Commonwealth Games, and Marks and Spencer.



We've built a collegiate research community that supports the work our postgraduate students, researchers and academics through open collaboration and friendly discussion. We work collaboratively with public and private partners on research that challenges assumptions and uses modern technologies to solve societal problems.

Collaborative partnerships

We've engaged in collaborative research with the notable organisations including the BBC, Magic Leap, Royal Shakespeare Company, Goldsmiths, Manchester International Festival, Intel, Epic Games, University of Brighton, The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, Gendered Intelligence and the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands.

Our research areas

Recent project highlights

We're part of the Audience of the Future project, a £16 million and 15 organisation project that's combining theatre and performance, the music industry, video production and gaming to explore and shape how people experience live performance. Backed by the UK Government's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the project will roll out a multi-platform, immersive live performance in 2020.

We're also working with Gendered Intelligence and the University of Exeter on the Transformations: Encountering Gender and Science project. Transformations explores the history of gender and science with young trans and gender diverse people (aged 16-25) and asks questions about medicine, identity, and authority through creative workshops, oral history research, creative writing, and performance.

Members of our School are also working on DERMA as part of the Interreg 2 Seas project. They're investigating and developing new ways to manage and treat dermal ulcers and other chronic non-healing wounds through new technologies.

We've also received research funding from the Wellcome Trust, Technology Strategy Board, Henry Moore Foundation, Pfizer, Age UK, UK Research and Innovation, and Interreg.

Our staff

View all our staff

Image of Dr Catherine McNamara

Dr Catherine McNamara

  • Job Title Head – School of Art, Design and Performance
  • Email Address
  • Department School of Art Design and Performance
  • Faculty Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries
  • PhD Supervisor PhD Supervisor

Explore our faculty

Explore the other Schools and Departments that make up our Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries.

Contact us

To get in touch, please contact our Faculty office.

Phone: +44 (0)23 9284 5452


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