Change and stability

examining the macrostructures of doctoral theses in the visual and performing arts

Brian Paltridge*, Sue Starfield, Louise J. Ravelli, Kathryn Tuckwell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)


This article describes an investigation into the practice-based doctorate in the visual and performing arts, a genre that is still in the process of development. A key feature of these doctorates is that they comprise two components: a visual or performance component, and a written text which accompanies it which in some ways is similar to, but in others, is quite different from a traditional doctoral dissertation. This article focuses on the overall organizational patterns, or macrostructures of the texts that students submit as part of the examination in these areas of study, and how these patterns of organization are related to those found in more established examples of the doctoral dissertation genre in other areas of study. The study found that there is a range of organizational possibilities for the written text that is part of a doctoral submission in the visual and performing arts, each at different points on a continuum. Our study shows how the genre we examined has both the capacity for change, while remaining 'stabilized for now' in terms of its social action and purpose.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-344
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of English for Academic Purposes
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Academic discourse
  • Academic literacies
  • Academic writing
  • EAP
  • Thesis and dissertation writing

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