This paper examines the changing relationship of art practice to academic research in higher education since 1960. Whereas art practice was often conceived of as divorced from any notion of academic or theoretical work in the post 1960 art school, by the 1990s the ground had changed to such a degree that it was possible to pursue doctoral study in art practice. This emergence of practice-based PhDs can be considered as part of a larger shift in art education and its acceptance of theory.\ud On the one hand, the practice-based PhD could be interpreted as the logical consequence of critical, politically aware practices. On the other hand, the founding of the practice-based PhD can be connected to a series of educational reforms, particularly the introduction of the RAE, and the increasing need for departments to develop strategies for economic survival. \ud In addition to tracing both the pedagogical, institutional and artistic legacy of practice based PhDs this paper focuses on the way in which a predominantly socialist commitment to integrated theory and practice meets with conservative educational reforms over the ground of the PhDs. I argue that this both highlights the institutional input into what art practice or indeed research is acknowledged to be and raises questions concerning the possibility of maintaining a critical art agenda
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