understanding creativity

Understanding Creativity in The Early Years

Project reference number: HLSPH027


Creativity has been identified as an essential element of learning and development and a key attribute for 21st century employment (Florida, 2002). In recent years international policy has promoted the embedding of creativity in school curricula and in Scotland this led to the development of the national Creative Learning Plan in 2013. At an international level the OECD are currently undertaking work, across 15 countries, to develop a toolkit that will support the promotion and assessment of creativity in primary and secondary education settings.

However, while there is acknowledgment that creativity needs to be promoted in the early years, and not just in schools (Care Inspectorate, 2017), our understanding of creativity in the context of young children is limited. To provide a fuller account of the ways in which creativity can be taught, learned and used across the lifespan there is a need for theoretical and empirical work to address the following questions:

  • How should creativity be conceptualised and defined in the context of the early years?
  • How should creativity and creativity skills be assessed in young children?
  • Can we intervene to promote the development of creativity and creativity skills in the early years?


The aims of this PhD are to:

  • Develop a theoretical framework of creativity in the early years.
  • Develop a meaningful assessment of creativity and creativity skills for use with young children.
  • Identify ways in which creativity and creativity skills can be promoted, through population-level intervention, in early years environments.

Application deadline

The application deadline for October intake is 1st of July.

Research supervisors

Candidates are encouraged to contact the following researchers for further details:

Modes of study

This project is available as a:

  • PhD: 3 years full-time or 4.5 years part-time.
  • 1 + 3 route to PhD: Undertaking MRes [1 year full-time or 2 years part-time] + PhD as above


Applicants will normally hold a UK honours degree 2:1 (or equivalent); or a Masters degree in a subject relevant to the research project. Equivalent professional qualifications and any appropriate research experience may be considered. A minimum English language level of IELTS score of 6.5 (or equivalent) with no element below 6.0 is required. Some research disciplines may require higher levels.

Specific requirements of the project

The successful applicant will demonstrate an understanding of developmental psychology and intervention/implementation science research. Previous experience of both qualitative and quantitative research methodology is essential.