Caseroom, Reid building.


The GSA is home to a vibrant and collegiate community of research staff and students, founded on the principles of integrity, partnership and inclusivity. Grounded in peer mentoring and support, we foster an inclusive culture where we learn together and from one another. We are also committed to developing leadership at every career stage, to make sure this research environment remains sustainable well into the future. Our research spans the disciplines of creative practice and theory. Much of our staff and student research is interdisciplinary and connected to our themes of excellence: Sustainable Environment and Economies; Cultural Landscape and Identity; History Heritage, Archives and Collections; and Health and Care.  At the heart of everything we do is a desire to connect through partnership. As a small specialist institution, we value and cultivate our networks, regularly working with others to develop research with impact. We have a long history of successful collaborations with many national and international higher education institutions, as well as organisations in the public, private and third sectors – from housing providers and V&A Dundee to the NHS and Scottish Government. We also actively engage the GSA student body and the public with our research through a dynamic, participatory programme of exhibitions, outreach, talks and events.

Strategic Research Themes 
Our four interdisciplinary strategic research themes build on the existing strengths and specialist interests of our research community. The aim of the themes is to consolidate learning across the GSA, to support the cross-fertilisation of knowledge, and to generate opportunities for new partnerships. Each theme is underpinned by high-quality research, produced by a critical mass of our research staff and students. All themes are attached to projects with external funding, as well as aligning with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, allowing us to produce research that is truly impactful in the here and now.

Sustainable Environment and Economies 
Shaping more sustainable futures is the most important project of our age, and researchers across GSA are exploring what role the creative disciplines will have when working towards it.  Based within the Mackintosh School of Architecture (MSA), the Mackintosh Environmental Architecture Research Unit (MEARU), has an extensive track record of research and knowledge exchange in the field of low energy building design and performance, much of which is undertaken in partnership with architecture practices, housing providers and policymakers.  Also within MSA, the Glasgow Urban Lab partners with Glasgow City Council to address the ecological, social and economic dimensions of local urbanism and placemaking, including through researcher Professor Brian Evan’s membership of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. Other research within this theme includes the School of Innovation and Technology partnership in One Ocean Hub, which addresses the urgent challenges facing our oceans, the Innovation School’s research on creative economies in cities and the Scottish islands, and GSA-wide work interrogating inequalities and social injustice.

Cultural Landscape and Identity 
Responding to our personal and cultural relationships to place, this theme encompasses a range of distinctive research in which creative practice plays a central role. It embraces the Reading Landscape group based in the School of Fine Art, and also includes research at the intersection of this field and Sustainable Environment and Economies, such as Amanda Thomson’s book A Scots Dictionary of Nature. Questions around contested social and political landscapes, migration, human displacement and explorations of self are also addressed in this theme.

History, Heritage, Archives and Collections 
Research within this theme draws extensively on archives and collections – including the GSA’s own – to unlock new knowledge on diverse subjects, from Scotland’s textile design heritage to feminist perspectives on museum collections.  Our research community’s work in this field also includes the collaborative conservation of archaeological heritage assets, and individually led explorations of public heritage ranging in focus from architectural taxonomies and historic monuments to street furniture and shipbuilding. Our contribution to this field is often unlocked thanks to scholarly networks and partnerships.

Health and Care 
GSA’s leading research in health and care is focused on the user experience of the healthcare ecosystem, encompassing carers, clinicians and patients. Characterised by an interdisciplinary, team-based approach, the research is often carried out by deploying co-design methods in clinical and community settings – as with the Innovation School’s key role in the DigitalHealth & Care Innovation Centre, in partnership with University ofStrathclyde. In 2018, School of Design researcher Professor Alastair Macdonald received an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)/Wellcome Health Humanities Award for his work in this field, including a series ofAHRC-funded projects addressing hospital-acquired infections and resistance through design. In the field of Medical Visualisation, researchers at the School of innovation and Technology developed the pioneering Definitive Human: a highly accurate, 3D digital interactive model of the entire human anatomy for use in anatomy teaching.

Collaborate with GSA
The GSA has an excellent track record of working in collaboration and partnership with others to undertake impactful research, facilitate knowledge exchange and stimulate innovation. We are particular interested in contributing our creative expertise to interdisciplinary research teams. If you have a collaborative project or idea that you would like to discuss, please contact our Research office team at If you represent a company or other non-academic organisation and would like to enquire about potential projects involving students, please contact

Research Repository

RADAR is the GSA’s research repository, providing a digital archive of research produced by staff and postgraduate students. A wide range of output is publicly available to explore – from books and journal articles, to exhibitions and artefacts.

Shweta Mistry. Traditional process of making gold pigment. MRes, 2014

REF 2021

The GSA consistently excels in the Research Excellence Framework (REF), the UK's system for assessing research in higher education. In the last REF in 2021, 82% of the GSA’s research was assessed to be world-leading and internationally excellent.

Izzie Menzies, Communication Design, 2023.

More information

Further reading on GSA Archives and Collections, our Library and How to Apply to our Research Programmes.

Archive & Collections

GSA Archives and Collections, Whisky Bond.

Doctoral Study

Tanya White, Doctoral study, 2023.