Research at the Michaelis School of Fine Art is undertaken across a wide range of inquiry range including contemporary art, curatorship and the history and theory of art. Academic staff and research students contribute to the research culture of the School, through both individual and interdisciplinary research projects in collaboration with other disciplines in the humanities. A number of research themes focus on particular areas such as art, culture and society, curatorship, location and history, and photography.
Research projects at the School are underpinned by experimentation, creative enquiry, analytical scholarship and development of innovative contemporary art within the social, political and cultural context of South Africa. Most of the academic staff at Michaelis realise their research through practice. However, many are also writers who produce books, catalogues, reviews and articles in peer reviewed journals. The School is also home to the Centre for Curating the Archive, which is a pioneering interdisciplinary centre for curatorial research through practice. Postgraduate degrees offered at the School other than Honours are by research and not by coursework.