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Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (ACPA)


Research in the arts at the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (ACPA)  

At ACPA, musicians, visual artists and designers work on research in relation to their own artistic practice. Artist-researchers develop in making and doing new insights, methods and products. At the same time they are working on the theoretical foundation of their work, which often results in new works of art. The aim of the artistic research is to contribute to what we know, understand and experience. 


An important part of the working of ACPA is the doctoral programme: for artists it is possible to conduct PhD research at Leiden University.

The Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (ACPA)

The Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (ACPA) is a research institute within the Faculty of Humanities at Leiden University. The connection with the three founding institutes (Leiden University, Royal Conservatoire and the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague) makes it a unique collaboration and offers its researchers the best of both worlds: expertise in both artistic and academic fields, a broad network of specialists thanks to Leiden University and University of the Arts The Hague, and strongly connected to international developments (e.g. through the Society of Artistic Research).

Research Projects

If you would like to know a bit more about ACPA's research projects, please go to the PhD Project-page of Leiden University. Here you can read short summaries of the different kinds of research of ACPA's PhD candidates.

Current and Prospective PhD candidates

The Graduate School of the Leiden University Faculty of Humanities offers advanced degrees spanning the humanities, including the creative and performing arts. On their website the Graduate School offers a wide range of information for both prospective as well as current PhD candidates. There you will find information a.o. how to start your PhD at Humanities in Leiden but also how to prepare for the defence ceremony

PhD trajectory

At ACPA you are an external self-funded PhD candidate, working part-time (or if possible, full-time) on your research and are not employed by the University. Every PhD candidate is enrolled by the Graduate School of the Faculty of Humanities. A PhD track consists of original academic research under the supervision of a professor and a supervising team, which takes on average 4 to 5 years.

After starting a PhD trajectory a supervision plan is drawn up by the PhD candidate in collaboration with the main supervisor. After one year, at the Qualifying Hurdle,  specific individual adjustments and alterations may be determined in agreement with the PhD candidate’s main supervisor. During the trajectory every year a Progress Evaluation will take place.


To obtain the PhD in arts we expect your research project to be formed around a specific issue that is embedded in or related to your practice. Your research should be academic but should also add to the artistic value of your work. 

Once promoted through the ancient traditions of the Leiden University you will receive your doctoral degree in Creative and Performing Arts. This prestigious degree enhances your chances on for instance a teaching position in the academic world but also enriches your own artistic practice.


Promoting within ACPA is twofold as it consists of a public defense at Leiden University and an artistic event, such as a recital, exhibition or workshop to artistically articulate the thesis.

The Graduate School and the ACPA-office are responsible for the provision of information on courses, the organization of seminars, and the (administrative) support in preparation for the PhD defence. The entire procedure leading up to the defence has been extensively described. For a description you can download the Procedure document. For more information and questions about the preparation for the PhD defence, please contact our office at acpa@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

Doctoral programmes

In collaboration with a number of institutions for higher education in the arts, the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts offers two doctoral programmes in both music (docARTES), and visual arts and design (PhDArts).

Supporting courses

Leiden University offers, next to the education ACPA provides, a programme of courses intended to assist you in your development as a researcher.

Courses in career development, personal development, communication, working effectively and research skills are taught throughout the year.

Please discuss with your supervisor which courses will work best for you.

PhD Council

The PhD Council represents all PhD candidates affiliated with the Leiden University Academy for Creative and Performing Arts (ACPA) and promote their interest.

What is the Council?

The PhD Council aims to stay informed of the PhD candidates’ concerns and any relevant matters and to play an active role in developments that may concern PhD candidates, within ACPA and/or the university at large. The Council can operate as an intermediary between PhD candidates and the ACPA management team, discussing opportunities and issues.

Another Council's objective is to increase and maintain the social cohesion and collaboration within the institute's PhD student community. To this end, the Council can organise activities that promote the exchange of knowledge, skills, experiences and ideas among the PhD candidates.

The Council members are Alexander Cromer, Emma Williams, Carlos Campello Pereira Porto Soares, and Jonty Coy.

You can contact the PhD council at phdcouncilacpa@gmail.com.

PhD Confidential Advisor

If as a PhD candidate you experience problems in your relationship with your supervisor or co-supervisor or other PhD candidates, the Leiden University candidates at ACPA can turn to the Humanities Faculty’s confidential advisor for PhD candidates. You can directly approach her. ACPA's confidential advisor for PhDs is Marije BedauxFor more information, please visit the website about this topic.

Academic integrity

Academic integrity is also an important element in the PhD track of our doctoral candidates.

PhD candidates are offered courses at both university and faculty level. When they are appointed, PhD candidates sign the  Code of Conduct on Academic Integrity  and at the PhD defence the supervisor draws their attention to the obligations to society and to science that a doctor’s title entails. Furthermore, all PhD dissertations are checked for plagiasm before they are submitted to the doctorate committee.

Read more about Academic Integrity.

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