PhD in creation

The ENSP has offered the «Practice and theory in literary and artistic creation» PhD since 2013, in conjunction with Aix-Marseille University (AMU). This multidisciplinary project aims to allow PhD students to develop a research project in photography and to combine theoretical and epistemological reflection with their artistic practice.

The ENSP is a higher education institution under the supervision of the French Ministry of Culture. The school’s principal mission is to provide creative training and expertise in the artistic, technical, historical and theoretical domains related to images. The ENSP benefits from a broad international network of professionals, structures and partner institutions specialized in the above areas.

Aix-Marseille, with 75 000 students, 1 100 national and university diplomas and 13 federated structures with links to the most important research organisations in France (the CNRS, INSERM etc) offers considerable resources in the service of doctoral projects.

Jointly supervised by an artist practitioner and an academic, the doctoral students enrolled on the ‘Practice and theory of artistic and literary creation’ PhD programme must meet both artistic and academic requirements. Through the three years, the ENSP-AMU doctoral students are engaged in bilateral research leading to the production of both creative work and a defense of their thesis.
→ Artistic work related to photography or the area of images more generally, problematizing the completed research.
→ A written thesis of a minimum of 200 000 characters (including spaces, not including the bibliography) developing rigorous problematized thinking in close relation to their artistic practice.

Doctorate students are able to integrate the ENSP and one of the eight research units of the Doctorate School 354 of the Aix-Marseille University. During the research period, the PhD student is autonomous in the conduct of his/her/their research but is in regular contact with his/her/their co-supervisors who have shared responsibility for the programme.

At the ENSP doctoral supervision is personalized and takes the form of regular individual sessions with the artist/teacher co-supervising the thesis. The doctoral student also participates in a number of doctoral seminars organized throughout the year to which they are closely associated in terms of  organisation.

For information regarding research directors at the AMU:

→ « Ecole Doctorale », rubrique « directeurs et directrices de recherche »

→« futur doctorant », followed by « trouver un directeur ou une directrice »


Doctoral students at the ENSP benefit from a research grant of ten thousand euros per year, for a maximum of three years, on condition that the enrollment procedures and commitments are met with regard to the two structures concerned – the ENSP and the AMU.

Enrollment on the «Practice and theory in literary and artistic creation» programme is not a given : candidates must present an application dossier which will be evaluated by the doctoral staff at the ENSP and a selection committee made up of academics empowered to conduct research (HDR) alongside personalities from literary and artistic domains.

Since its creation, they obtained their PhD :
Lila Neutre
Mezli Vega Osorno
Nina Ferrer Gleize
Sergio Valenzuela-Escobedo

How to register

The doctoral programme is open to artist practitioners holding a Master 2 diploma (or equivalent) for at least two years. There is no age limit. The candidates project must place artistic creation at the forefront and particular attention will be given to those candidates who can demonstrate recognition as an artist in France and/or internationally. In applying, candidates should express their desire to examine their practice around images with theoretical and epistemological insight.

Applications for the PhD programme are initially made through the dedicated application platform of the ENSP:

up to the 14th of May 2023 and should include :

a portfolio of previous artistic projects and works
a written PhD proposal, written and illustrated where necessary. This proposal must meet university academic standards and be accompanied by bibliographic notes. (approximately 6,000 characters including spaces)
a short text outlining the candidate’s interest in obtaining a PhD and its relevance to their artistic career
a detailed CV summarizing education, training, professional and artistic experiences and any publications
a letter of support signed by the thesis director (HDR, rang A) member of one of the eight research units of the ED 354 at AMU

Application dossiers are evaluated according to the following criteria: singularity of artistic approach, capacity to situate this within contemporary artistic practices, relevance of artistic references, clarity and precision of written work in relation to the research methodology that should be carefully defined, contextualization of the link established between the artistic theory and the practice, structuring of a research and artistic questioning, highlighting of the originality of the research and what it brings to contemporary artistic production.

Suitable candidates will be interviewed – in person or by videoconference – by the doctoral staff of the ENSP and the results will be announced at the end of June.

Candidates agree to complete their «Practice and theory in literary and artistic creation» specific pre-registration dossier in parallel, before the September 2022


Dossiers that are supported by the ENSP will then be examined and definitively validated where appropriate by a committee made up of professionals from artistic and academic domains.

Where the PhD project is accepted by both structures, ENSP and AMU, the candidat agrees to proceed to an administrative enrollment at both institutions. Doctoral students therefore benefit from documentary and technical ressources at both establishments.

Shared workspaces are made available at the ENSP and at the Maison de la recherche (MDR) in Aix-en-Provence. Final inscriptions are made with the University administrative services (Madame Isabelle Fine or Madame Jeannine Pottiez-Ronceray in the educational services department for enrollment fees and social security) then with the ENSP (Laurence Canaux).

The contribution to student and campus life (CVCE) is paid only once, to either of the two partner institutions. Doctoral students agree to complete their enrollment with the two institutions according to the current academic calendar.