Design Research and Innovation Lab

The Design Research Innovation Lab at Victoria University of Wellingtonʼs (NZ) School of Design is pleased to announce we are currently accepting applications for students interested in pursuing a PhD in Design. The three application deadlines are 1 March, 1 July and 1 November.

Call for candidates

Victoria University of Wellingtonʼs Design Research Innovation Lab invites applications for PhD candidates. Prospective candidates with exceptional analytical and creative skills seeking to study design from cultural, philosophical, and practice-led perspectives are encouraged to apply. Potential candidates are expected to make a substantial contribution to design knowledge by extending current understanding within the discipline and discourse of design research.

The DRIL PhD programme emphasises the advancement of interdisciplinary knowledge, and supports practice-based research through an emphasis on creativity as a process of critical investigation. A practice-based PhD is expected to culminate in an original design composition and substantial written exegesis that critically analyses the methodology, process, and documentation of the final creative composition.

The program has three areas of concentration: Culture+Context Design, Industrial Design and Media Design. Our current areas of research focus and expertise include:

  • Consumer cultures & the consumption of design
  • Data visualisation & data narratives
  • Design & emotion
  • Design ethnography & social design
  • Digital image industries & visual cultures of design
  • Experimental digital manufacturing
  • Social studies of science, technology & design
  • Speculative objects & interfaces
  • Sustainable systems of design

DRIL is a dynamic research group driven by the interests and expertise of outstanding research faculty as well as the research projects of participating PhD students. The DRIL programme fosters a vibrant and collaborative interdisciplinary research environment that cultivates respect for different perspectives and emphasises a willingness to explore new and challenging ways of thinking, doing and making. While particular research strands are identified above, innovative collaborations are encouraged and new researchers will be supported through the development of research partnerships both within the University and externally with industry and public organisations. To support a variety of research interests and activities, students have access to excellent facility resources including multimedia computers and software, an electronics lab, woodworking and metal workshops, laser cutters, CNC routers and 3D rapid-prototyping facilities.

Through the Design Research Innovation Lab students also have the opportunity to actively participate in professional academic life. Our diverse faculty provide collegial mentorship in research activities from reading groups and proposal writing workshops to preparing conference presentations, exhibitions and publications. DRIL also supports the School's research-led teaching efforts, and postgraduate students have the opportunity to deliver design-related courses as part of our Bachelor and Master of Design Innovation programmes. Doctoral scholarships are available to exceptional students on a competitive basis, and further funding opportunities may be available through faculty research projects.

For details on how to apply, please contact the Faculty of Graduate Research or visit their website.
For information on scholarships, please visit the Scholarships website.

For further information, please contact

Documents required for PhD application

  1. A portfolio of creative work demonstrating the breadth of the applicantʼs prior experience in design or related creative discipline.
  2. A statement of research interests.
  3. An example of academic writing.
  4. Two referees' reports provided on the correct VUW template, sent by the referee only from a verifiable institutional email address, or as a signed hard copy.
  5. Verified transcripts and certificates for each national and/or international degree earned and, if from an EU country, the Diploma Supplement. (International students must also include grade conversion tables.)

PhD at Victoria

The PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) is the highest degree offered by the Faculty of Architecture and Design. It is completed by thesis only and is restricted to areas where appropriate supervision is available.

The degree requires intelligence, an aptitude for research, and considerable dedication and tenacity. Students will build on their previous education, experience and training, to produce a thesis that will make a significant contribution to your discipline.

A PhD thesis is a major piece of original research. Word length varies according to the nature of each project. According to the University Calendar, a PhD thesis—demonstrates the candidate's ability to carry out independent research and must also be a significant contribution to the knowledge or understanding of a field of study.

Faculty of Graduate Research

The Faculty of Graduate Research (FGR) is the first port of call for all students interested in enrolling in a PhD at Victoria.

The FGR website provides detailed information on all aspects of PhD study, including the following:

  • how to apply
  • admission requirements
  • possible funding for prospective PhD students
  • services and resources for students
  • thesis guidelines
  • research ethics, and
  • supervision and responsibilities.

The FGR continue to provide support to PhD students throughout their studies at Victoria.


While supervision of a candidate is the responsibility of the particular School, the PhD degree is common to all Faculties. The University’s PhD Coordinator has responsibility for approving examination arrangements to ensure that they are conducted with appropriate consistency across the University.

Members of the Faculty of Architecture and Design have a wide variety of research interests in conjunction with whom students may choose a topic for PhD study.

Staff research areas and publications are listed at the bottom of each staff member’s web page.

Contact us

The Faculty of Architecture and Design Student Administration is located at:

Te Aro Campus
139 Vivian Street

Phone: 0-4-463 6200
Email: address