‘Widening Participation’ in the Fine Art Ph.D.: expanding research and practice

Mary Anne Francis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article reflects upon a qualitative research project that sought to understand the factors that encourage and deter working-class students in progressing to the Fine Art Ph.D. With the project framed by the ‘Widening Participation’ (WP) agenda, the article addresses problems surrounding class-specific definitions of the term, before reporting on the paucity of WP-related research at doctoral level and at the level of the Fine Art Ph.D. specifically. It notes the impact this had on the project’s method, as a grounded theory element to generate essential data was required. The form that the grounded theory takes – focus group research involving 28 participants – is rationalized, and the data that is generated is analyzed and referred to the undergraduate-centred literature on WP. The article concludes that access to the Fine Art Ph.D. may foremost be restricted by failures to publicize the opportunity. It also suggests that, for several reasons, WP may require definitions tailored to different levels of Higher Education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-182
Number of pages16
JournalArt, Design and Communication in Higher Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2010


  • class identity in Higher Education
  • practice-based Fine Art research
  • the Ph.D.
  • fair access
  • social inclusion
  • Widening Participation


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