The 1960’s saw significant changes in art and design education within the UK with the Coldstream reports of 1961 & 1962 .The fraught relationship between art theory /historical studies and art practices emanates from Coldstream. Since the art and design sector was subsumed into the university system in the early 1990s, art and design educationists have had to explore, articulate and develop distinctive research methodologies for this sector. This has led to purposeful discussion on the inter- relationship of theory to practice and the nature of knowledge as encoded in the art and design object, image and experience. An important part of this innovation has been the recent introduction of practice – based /led PhD programmes. These new doctorate degrees usually comprise a combination (of differing ratios) of studio-based practice and a written component either historical, theoretical or technical . This paper analyses this development and the tensions located in the theory/practice dyad. The paper is part of a general pedagogical interest by the author in the developing nature of research in art and design and building upon an earlier version ‘It works in theory, will it work in practice?,Session: Teaching Methods and Criteria, AICA Congress, Paris, 2007 pub. AICA website. It also was developed out of a recent book authored by Kelly, ‘The School of Art and Design, 1960 – 2009’, pub. by Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast, 2009. 98 pages, ISBN No. 978-0-9540086-8-0. Here the principles and methods of art and design education are related nationally and internationally to the shifts in the development generally of art and design practices; government values and policies on art and design education and the perceived needs of trade and industry. It registers the school’s development within a national and international framework of developing ideas on the nature of art and design.