Dancing Doctorates Down-Under? Defining and Assessing 'Doctorateness' When Embodiment Enters the Thesis

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Australian Dance Council—Ausdance Inc. and Queensland University of Technology, Faculty of Creative Industries


Faculty of Education and Arts


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts,Technology, Education and Communications




Phillips, M. J., Stock, C., & Vincs, K. (2009). Dancing doctorates down-under? Defining and assessing 'doctorateness' when embodiment enters the thesis . Proceedings of World Dance Alliance Global Summit. (pp. 1-14). Brisbane. Australian Dance Council Ausdance Inc. and Queensland University of Technology, Faculty of Creative Industries. Available here


There is little argument when excellence, independent critical thought, and most particularly, originality are held as the assessment criteria of doctoral studies (Denicolo 2003; Pakes 2003, Powell & Green 2003; Cantwell & Scevak 2004, Brooks 2005, Piccini 2005, Barrett 2007). Ambiguity and agitation only emerge when those terms and their competency benchmarks are thrown into question and when examiners, often from discrete disciplinary and indeed institutional systems, are asked to state their judgements clearly. The determination of value or assessment at doctoral and research masters’ levels is the crucial feature of a collaborative project, Dancing Between Diversity and Consistency: Refining Assessment in Postgraduate Degrees in Dance, funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) and conducted by the authors over a two year period. The primary challenge prompting this research is to address issues of assessment legitimacy raised by the recent entry of practice-orientated dance studies into Australian higher degrees. Examining literal embodiment and presence, as opposed to cultural studies about states of embodiment, unsettles academic conventions, prompting questions of subjectivity and generating suspicion about corporeal intelligence/s and the reliability of artistic/aesthetic communications generally. Scrutiny of assessment in practice-based dance studies may provide a litmus test for standards and protocols across academic environments because dance research presents an exacerbated perspective on tensions already evident in academic examination processes. The story, as such, does not begin with dance but with questions of the status of knowledge and its principal conveyer, scriptural language

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