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Facing the final hurdle : creative arts PhD programs and examination standards
conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 authored by J Webb, Donna BrienDonna Brien, Sandra BurrSandra Burr
The creative arts are firmly established within the Australian academy, as is evidenced by the increasing enrolments at research masters and PhD levels, and by the fact that these disciplines – creative writing, visual and performing arts, design – are sufficiently established for their practices and standards to be scrutinised and reviewed. Recent ALTC projects on this topic include: Webb and Brien 2008 (writing); Phillips, Stock and Vincs 2009 (dance); and Baker 2009 (visual art). The number of significantly funded research projects into this issue indicates that how the academy manages the transition of creative arts HDR candidates from apprentice to peer is (perceived to be) less transparent, and less consistent, than it might be. This paper draws on findings to date from our current OLT-funded project Examination of doctoral degrees in the creative arts (2010) and, in particular, the ways in which creative arts academics have responded to the diversity of HDR policies and practices in Australian universities. The most frequent response has been the expression of a desire for better and more consistent policies and agreed standards to ensure rigour in creative arts examination. Simultaneously, however, creative arts academics want to preserve each discipline’s particularity and their individual institution’s practices. With a focus on the discipline of writing, this paper raises questions about whether it is possible, or even desirable, to produce a framework to guide creative arts examination in the Australian academy. We suggest that such anxieties can be addressed and, indeed, overcome in ways that will enhance the quality and standing of postgraduate creative arts HDR in Australia.