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PhD student Adrienne Bennie

Written by Emily Wood
Published date 11 August 2020

PhD student Adrienne Benny talks about her life as a research student and the influence which studying at UAL has had on her practice, her confidence to explore new ideas, and her passion for her subject.

Adrienne Bennie in the old library at Chelsea College of Arts
© Alys Tomlinson Caption

"My research degree is really an extension of my MA degree in Interior and Spatial Design, which I completed at UAL after studying for several years in New Zealand. I decided to return to Chelsea College of Arts because my research subject had already started its development here in London, and the entire project relates to London as a city in the present day!

Studying my MA was a critical part of my academic growth; the course allowed me to develop my critical understanding of space and further investigate theoretical elements which I had started looking into when I was an undergraduate.

My most recent work is called 'In The Margins', and it investigates how homelessness impacts communities on many levels. My aim is to emphasise the increased social justice needed when it comes to the fight against homelessness, and through it I respond – through the lens of a spatial designer –  to the issues of homelessness that are progressively forced to become less visible in public spaces.


A typical day as a UAL student for me always starts with a coffee in the canteen! It’s the quiet space where I think about what I want to achieve with my day. Then I usually set out for the library. The old library at Chelsea is the best thinking, motivational and aesthetically pleasing space for me; here I am surrounded by thousands of books, all containing knowledge which gives me the power to explore and investigate my ideas. After several hours of research I will move from the old library to the I.T centre and do some practical work on the computers, before heading back to the canteen for lunch.

As a PhD student, don’t be afraid to make new friends. Extend your social circle, join the various social groups offered at UAL so you are part of the wider University community, and take risks when completing work - this is the best time to explore! Be open to new cultural experiences and enjoy the journey. UAL offers so many support services too - if you ever feel alone, you just need to ask for help.

Being a student at UAL has afforded me the opportunity to go on a journey of critical discovery and engage with people from all over the world. I’ve also had the opportunity to refine my practice and learn from a wealth of specialist practitioners and academics! Studying in London has also really influenced my perspective on the world. I’ve learned to be more perceptive and more courageous, and I’ve experienced the vital importance of risk taking to generate new knowledge! I truly feel like I’m in the year that is defining my entire future."

Adrienne Bennie, PhD student

Chelsea College of Arts


You can find out more about studying on a PhD or MPhil course at UAL on the Research section of our website.