Doctoral studies at the Academy of Fine Arts

The doctoral studies at the Academy of Fine Arts emphasise artistic work of high quality and artistic research in an associated field.

Happening now


The purpose and goals of the Doctoral Programme in Fine Arts


Doctoral studies pursued at the Academy of Fine Arts, Uniarts Helsinki provide the means and opportunity to engage in the independent and creative activity of artistic research. Artistic research is multidisciplinary research grounded in the artists and their art. The doctoral programme at KuvA produces artist-researchers specialised in fine art.


Artist-researchers develop and renew the arts and their practice, research and instruction. They engage in pluralistic and critical dialogue with the various actors in society. As specialists in their respective fields they practice art and produce knowledge, skills and comprehension based on art practise that can be utilised and applied in both the arts and other areas of society. Doctoral studies at Uniarts Helsinki develop the artist-researchers' ability to apply the proficiency he or she has obtained as an artist, researcher, pedagogue and specialist. 

Doctoral degree

The doctoral programme's degree objective at the Academy of Fine Arts, Uniarts Helsinki is doctorate in fine arts (DFA). The degree extends to 240 ECTS which corresponds to four years of full-time studies. The doctoral degree in fine arts consists of the Doctoral Thesis in Fine Art (170 ECTS) and Postgraduate Studies in Fine Art (70 ECTS).




Instructions and regulations


Degree proficiency objectives


Persons who have completed a doctoral degree in fine art are specialists in their field of research who can:


  • conduct independent artistic research
  • realise an artistic research project based on a sound plan
  • critically evaluate the various phases and end result of an artistic research project as well as

    engage in academic dialogue related to their research subject

  • document artistic research processes and talk about their research in various contexts
  • identify important current developments and evaluate them critically
  • apply assimilated knowledge and engage in art and the research of art in an organized,

    informed and creative manner

  • co-operate with actors in their own field as well as specialists in other fields
  • understand the ethical implications of their research and activity and act in a fair and

    responsible way

Doctoral Thesis in Fine Art

Doctoral Thesis in Fine Art

Doctoral Thesis in Fine Art

The doctoral thesis in fine art can include art exhibitions, exhibition curating, individual artworks, artistic processes, experimental arrangements and their articulation, conceptualisation and theorisation.  Typically a doctoral thesis consists of one or several visual art components (a maximum total of 140 ECTS) and a written component (30-170 ECTS). In addition, the thesis must be documented and electronically archivable. The artistic components are public artistic research findings. The written component runs parallel to the visual art components and justifies the research approach and goals in relation to other research and practices within the field. On a discretionary basis the dissertation can also consist exclusively of a written study. 


The doctoral thesis must demonstrate that the student has a profound understanding of their field and the ability to analyse, articulate and contextualise research questions critically. If the doctoral thesis consists of a separate pre-examined visual component and a written component then the recommended scope of the written component is 50-250 pages (Page = 2000 characters with spaces). If the thesis is entirely theoretical then the recommended length is 150-250 pages. The written component can be realised in various ways: as a monograph, web publication or other multimedia whole. It can also be article-based in which case it must consist of at least three peer-reviewed journal articles and a summarising chapter (15-30 pages).


The doctoral thesis can also consist of co-authored publications and projects provided that the doctoral student's contribution can be clearly identified. The aim, methods, structure and findings of the research must also be clearly apparent in the doctoral thesis as a whole. The thesis can be published in Finnish, Swedish or English and by decision of the Academic Council in some other language. The language of the thesis submitted for pre-examination must be the same as in the final examined publication. This language must also be the main language at the public examination.


The credits awarded to the visual and written components are to be evaluated on a case by case basis in relation to coverage of the subject and number of components and scope in such a way that the written component comprises 30-170 ECTS while the artistic component corresponds to 140 ECTS at most.       


Curriculum for Academic Year

Curriculum for Academic Year

Doctoral programme in Fine Arts Course offerings

See the KuvA doctoral studies Course Catalogue in Weboodi.

Students have to register themselves in Weboodi which requires signing in.

The schedules and places may be updated throughout the academic year when needed. It´s worthwhile to  check the info in Weboodi or links in the course PDF.


Courses published in Weboodi


Enrollment and registration for courses


2017 Autumn Term  
Week 36: 4.-8.9.2017 

Uniarts Doctoral Studies

Week 37: 11.-15.9.2017.

 First KuvA +TeaK seminar week

Week  43. 23.-27.10.

Second KuvA +TeaK seminar week

Week 46: 13.-17.11.2017.

 Third KuvA +TeaK seminar week

Week 50

 11.-13.12. KuvA Research Days

2018 Spring Term  
Week 2: 8.-12.1.2018 

Uniarts Doctoral Studies

Week 4: 22.-26.1.2018 

Fourth KuvA +TeaK seminar week

Week 7: 12.-16.2.2018. 

Fifth KuvA +TeaK seminar week

Week 11: 12.-16.3.2018. 

Sixth KuvA +TeaK seminar week

Week 16: 16.-20.4.2018. 

Seventh KuvA +TeaK seminar week


JOO studies (flexible)

Information and instructions:
Apply for JOO studies:

JOO means flexible study right (joustava opinto-oikeus) which enables students to apply for the right to study at another Finnish university for the purpose of taking a specific module or individual courses. The JOO right can be applied for by bachelor and master's students in Finnish universities, provided that the home university approves the courses the student is intending to take. Upon the approval, the home university agrees to pay the student's JOO courses (€50/credit). The flexible study right can be granted for a maximum of two academic years.

The student must be registered for attendance at his or her home university in order to apply for the flexible study right and take the approved JOO courses. Students on JOO courses are not entitled to a degree from the host university. The JOO courses must be included in the student's degree studies and contribute to his or her professional, theoretical and practical competencies.



Doctoral Students and Graduates

Since 1997, it has been possible to complete a postgraduate degree, Doctor of Fine Arts (DFA), at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts.

The Academy of Fine Arts seeks to create and provide the necessary framework for conducting and developing research in the fine arts that follows the above aims and principles. It offers doctoral students and researchers a network that supports their research and career in many ways. It creates conditions for discussing, comparing and interaction between different research configurations. The Academy of Fine Arts is an international artistic and academic expert community that enables critical evaluation and unbiased development of artistic research. It is a community of discourse in which divergent informational, social and artistic frameworks can be developed to respond to the challenges and problems arising in the field of contemporary art. The Academy of Fine Arts is a collegial community of artists and researchers, the operating principles of which are transparency, critical thinking, democracy, equality, pedagogy, and respect and support of the work of others.

Doctoral Students

Doctoral Students

A visualization of the doctoral research at the Academy of Fine Arts, including doctoral student projects and finished theses, has been published in the Research Catalogue. The page also contains links to research descriptions.

Doctoral students of the Academy of Fine Arts and their research topics

Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Screen Surface and Narrative Space: Narration and Construction of Meaning in Moving Image Installations (Valkokankaan pinta ja kertova tila: kerronta ja merkityksen rakentaminen liikkuvan kuvan installaatioissa).

Simo Alitalo: Mitä kuulemalla tietää? Taiteellinen tutkimus äänitaiteesta.

Niran Baibulat: Kävellen kuvailtu, koettu paikka.

Erick Beltrán Flores: The reading machine as model of edition. Laocoön and the Katabasis as an engine of ideological social psyche in image flux.

Bruno Caldas: The poetics of autopoiesis: Artificial intelligence and art.

Matthew Cowan: The lessons of folklore. Utilising the carnivalesque origins of folk ritual in contemporary art practice.

Jack Faber: Asymmetrical Cinema: Filmmaking, Art Activism and Public Spaces in the Drone Age.

Miklos Gaál: Dialectics of Contradiction Reflected upon Jena Romanticism.

Terike Haapoja: Kohtaamisen mediat – teknologia suhteena tuntemattomaan.

Henna-Riikka Halonen: Throws of Dice: Between Experience and Explanation.

Minna Heikinaho: Saa sanoa! Kohtaamisia kaupunkitilassa.

Flis Holland: Surface Attachment Devices.

Leena Kela: Dialogues: The Language of Performance Art in the Interaction of Materiality and Corporeality.

Anni Laakso: Yhteiskunnallisten teemojen esiintuominen työssäni.

Henna Laininen: Kokeellisen elämän käsikirja – luova yhteisöllinen kirjoittaminen vastauksena ympäristökriisiin.

Liisa Lounila: Oh! You Pretty Things – On Rebellion and Alternative Youth Culture as Elements of Art.

Susanna Majuri: Valokuvallinen fiktio tunteiden kohtaamisen paikkana.

Orla Mc Hardy: Nifeedz – instants of animation / the art of interval.

Stephanie Misa: Of Bastard Tongues and Ghosts in the Archive.

Salla Myllylä: Paikan rajaus ja rajauksen paikka.

Maija Närhinen: Kokeita kuvaamisen tavoista.

Christoph Oeschger: How to take a picture of wind?

Lauren O'Neal: Assembling a Praxis: Choreographic Thinking and Curatorial Agency.

Ilya Orlov: Artwork: Its Definition, Concept and Subject.

Kukka Paavilainen: Through Painting – Painting as Research.

Pilvari Pirtola: Demoskene – luova digitaalinen alakulttuuri. (Demoscene – Creative Digital Subculture).

Anssi Pulkkinen: Tilanteen syntyminen tilallisessa teoksessa.

Merja Puustinen: Plug In – Action. Down and Out in the Institutional Framework with Interactive Art.

Heli Rekula: Poissaoleva ruumis – tekijän näkökulmia esitettyyn ja lavastettuun valokuvaan.

Juha Rouhikoski: Valotaiteen aika – ajan ja paikan näkemisen arvoitus.

Jaakko Rustanius: The Makings of Meanings in Painted Pictures. A reconstruction project in contemporary painting towards the beyond of the representation / non-representation dichotomy.

Jaakko Ruuska: Tunnistamaton toiseus – Valtasuhteet ja empatia.

Mireia Saladrigues: BUGS – Behaving Unconventionally in Gallery Settings.

Tülay Schakir: Valo, havainto ja oleminen taiteena.

Mia Seppälä: Kokeelliset järjestelyt kauppakeskuksessa.

Katja Tukiainen: Tyttöarmeija – kerronnallinen maalaus tilassa.

Markus Tuormaa: Osallinen maisemasuhde nykytaiteessa.

Graduated doctors

Graduated doctors

Doctors of Fine Arts graduated from the Doctoral Studies Programme:

The Open access archive of the published doctoral theses can be found in HELDA.

2018 Johanna Lecklin: Esitettyä aitoutta. Osallistavasta taiteesta ja sen etiikasta. 

2017 Elina Saloranta: Laatukuvia ja kirjallisia kokeiluja

2017 Pekka Kantonen: Generational Filming. A Video Diary as Experimental and Participatory Research

2017 Markus Rissanen: Basic Forms and Nature. From Visual Simplicity to Conceptual Complexity.

2016 Timo Heino: Aineen olemuksesta materian muuntumiin.

2016 Tuula Närhinen: Kuvatiede ja luonnontaide. Tutkielma luonnonilmiöiden kuvallisuudesta.

2016 Paul Landon: Intersecting travelogues. Wandering through practices and archaeologies of space, place and time.

2016 Itay Ziv: Disabled Art. Escapism as Artistic Tactic.

2015 Stig Baumgartner: Virhe abstraktissa maalauksessa. Tekijän paikka maalauksen rakenteessa.

2015 Shoji Kato: Place of Geometry.

2014 Silja Rantanen: Ulos sulkeista. Nykytaiteen teosmuotojen tulkintaa.

2014 Pekka Niskanen: Taide identiteettien politiikan rakentajana.

2013 Jay Koh: Art Led Participatory Processes: Subject to Subject Communication within Performances in the Everyday.   

2012 Petri Kaverma: Tyhjä piha – häiriö ja hiljaisuus (nyky)taiteessa.

2012 Sami van Ingen: Moving Shadows – Experimental Film Practice in a Landscape of Change.

2011 Irene Kopelman: The Molyneux Problem Five backstage stories – and a map of why and how.

2011 Marjatta Oja: Kolmiulotteinen projisointi – tilanneveistos katsojan ja kokijan välissä.

2010 Denise Ziegler: Poeettisen piirteistä. Kuvataiteilijan mimeettinen työskentelytapa.

2008 Jan-Erik Andersson: Life on a Leaf – Tila ikonina. Taloni arkkitehtonisena taideteoksena.

2006 Tarja Pitkänen- Walter: Liian haurasta kuvaksi -– maalauksen aistisuudesta.

2005 Jan Kenneth Weckman: Seitsemän maalauksen katsominen ja Maalaus maailman osana.

2005 Teemu Mäki: Näkyvä pimeys – esseitä taiteesta, filosofiasta ja politiikasta.

2002 Jan Kaila: Valokuvallisuus ja esittäminen nykytaiteessa, teoksia vuosilta 1998-2000.

2001 Jyrki Siukonen: Uplifted Spirits, Earthbound Machines, Studies on Artists and Dream of Flight 1900–1935.


Research Days

The Doctoral Programme at the Academy of Fine Arts at Uniarts Helsinki arranges every year a public event called Research Days. During the days the public will have an opportunity to participate in discussions about art and research generated by talks and performances by KuvAs Researchers and Doctoral Students as well as guest speakers they have invited.


The Doctoral Studies Programme is the home of doctoral training and research in the Academy of Fine Arts at University of the Arts Helsinki. It delineates and implements the research-oriented basic function of the Academy, which is to train artists and artist-researchers working in the field of art, and to conduct research in the field of the fine arts. The term ‘fine arts’ here refers to the areas of contemporary art that are represented in the Academy of Fine Arts. The research community in the Academy of Fine Arts is an academic community that comprises the doctoral students, teachers and researchers involved in the programme, along with administrative personnel. The Academy of Fine Arts conducts artistic research as well as research of contemporary art. 

Contact information

Doctoral Programme in Fine Arts

Professor Mika Elo, Vice Dean, Head of Doctoral Programme
Professor Lea Kantonen
University lecturer Petri Kaverma
Postdoctoral researcher Denise Ziegler
Planning officer (doctoral studies) Jukka Tuominen, tel. +358 50 470 6996
Planning officer (research) Michaela Bränn, tel. +358 40 631 3553
Doctoral trainee Stephanie Misa (2017–2019)
Doctoral trainee Ilya Orlov (2017–2019)
Doctoral trainee Pilvari Pirtola (2018–2019)
Doctoral trainee Bruno Caldas (2019–2021)
Doctoral trainee Jack Faber (2019–2021)
Doctoral trainee Anni Laakso (2019)
Doctoral trainee Mia Seppälä (2019)
Doctoral trainee Mireia Saladrigues (2020–2021)
Visiting researcher Annette Arlander
Visiting researcher Tuula Närhinen
Visiting researcher Timo Heino
Visiting researcher Marjatta Oja
Visiting researcher Johanna Lecklin