Research degrees

Research degrees
at UCA

Studying a creative research degree at UCA means joining a vibrant and progressive top ten research community with a wealth of specialist resources for creative research and practice.

Joining us for your creative PhD will give you an unparalleled opportunity to delve deep into an area of research that is relevant to your personal ambitions and aspirations. In our imaginative, supportive research community, you’ll design your own studies, explore your chosen field, make academic connections and develop unique and impressive doctoral work.

PhDs at UCA

A PhD is an advanced postgraduate qualification that will require you to plan and complete your own focused investigation into a subject you have chosen, and produce a piece of original research that contributes new knowledge to the academic community. Before making the decision to do a PhD, it is important to understand the nature of this programme and how this differs from Masters’-level study.

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As a research student at UCA, you’ll have the option to choose a traditional or practice-based route for your studies. Whichever you choose, you’ll develop an original written thesis, and practice-based candidates will need to produce accompanying creative work. 

You can choose to study either full-time or part-time.

Throughout your studies, you will be supervised by creative research staff who have experience in the general area of your research. Your supervisors will not ‘teach’ you, but will act in a mentoring role, providing feedback and encouragement and helping you to develop the elements required for a PhD qualification .

Many students go on to collaborate with their supervisors, and the wider UCA research community, both during and after their studies.

View our Research Staff Profiles

  • Animation
  • Architecture
  • Business for the Creative Industries
  • Crafts
  • Fashion
  • Film, Media, and Performing Arts
  • Fine Art and Photography
  • Music
  • Video Games
  • Visual Communications and Design.

Academic requirements
A recognised master’s degree (or equivalent) relevant to the proposed programme of study.


A first- or second-class honours degree (or recognised equivalent) with appropriate research or professional experience.

English Language requirements for international candidates
IELTS 7.0 overall, with 7.0 for writing and other elements not less than 6. 5 (or equivalent qualification).

How to

The first steps to apply for a UCA research degree are:

1. Register to apply here.
2. Within one day, we will send you an online application form.
3. Complete the form, including your CV, research proposal and bibliography (for guidance on writing  a research proposal, see the video and FAQs below).

When we receive your application, our panel will review it. They may ask you to develop your proposal further, refer it to a relevant academic Supervisor or School, invite you to an online interview or let you know if we can’t progress your application.

When to apply:
All of our PhD students begin their studies in October, so we recommend that you submit your application by 25 April. We will consider applications after this date, but early applications are more likely to be successful, as supervisors’ capacity is limited. The deadline to apply is the end of July. However, please note that applications received in July are likely to take longer to consider due to summer vacations. 

More information

If you are successful in gaining a place on the PhD programme, the University will appoint a supervisory team for your project. However, if there is a member of staff who you would particularly like to work with you can let us know in your proposal. If you wish, you may also contact a potential supervisor directly.

In Stage 1, the Research Degree leader and at least two relevant supervisors will look at your Research Proposal Form, supporting bibliography and CV to assess the strength of your proposal, your relevant experience, and the resources, supervision and equipment we have available to support your project. The panel will complete a feedback form and make a recommendation: reject, resubmit or interview. If the recommendation is to interview, the interview panel will usually include the prospective supervisor(s).

Stage 2 of the process is a formal interview. This will explore your relevant qualifications, motivation for undertaking a PhD, your past experience of research, the clarity of your research objectives, the feasibility of your study, how well you re able to articulate your proposal, your awareness of other researchers’ work within your field of study, the strength of your own practice, and your references. If the panel recommends you for a place, the decision will need to be approved by the Head of School, who will agree a supervisory team before offering you a place.

We know that, at this stage, your research proposal can only be a first draft of your ideas and plans for your research project, but it should be well enough constructed for the assessment panel to judge your application fairly and systematically.

All PhDs include a substantial written component. In your draft proposal you are required to supply enough written material here to indicate the significance of the project and how you will seek to develop it with your supervisors. Each required section has a word length attached and you are very strongly advised to write to this full length – this will give your proposal its best chance of success.

In total you are expected to provide 2000 words of explanation.

Your proposal MUST include the following elements:

Title of project 

A clear, succinct description of your proposed research project. 300 words

Background and context
This section should explain the background and context of your research, outline the contribution to knowledge that you wish to make, and explain why this is an important area for research. 500 words

Objectives and Impact
What do you hope to have achieved by the successful completion of your PhD project? How might it have an impact in the world? This section should show what you want to achieve by spelling out four objectives for your research. Each objective should be expressed in 100 words.

Related texts
This section should outline the most important written research that has already been carried out in your research area. Explain the value of these sources. You should discuss at least three books or journal essays: 300 words in total.

Research method
This section should outline the method you plan to use, including:

  • The broad approach - qualitative, quantitative, etc.;
  • How you will gather research materials, and how you expect to deal with and analyse them;
  • An outline of the broad theoretical framework you wish to use;
  • Your response to ethical considerations where the research involves interaction with humans or animals and, where necessary, details of how consent would be obtained. 500 words in total

Visual and other sources of research activity relevant to your project

Many of our doctoral students make art or design artefacts as part of their PhD research. You are invited to include a visual portfolio of related works, of whatever kinds, and to submit it with your written draft proposal. Please title and caption these images individually, indicating their relevance to your proposal. No word limit requirement

For more details about fees and how to pay them, please see the fees & finance pages.

There are several routes open to candidates seeking PhD funding, including:

Student Loans
If you’re from the UK or the EU, you may be eligible to take out a PhD loan from the UK government. For more information about this loan see:

Our PhD Studentships
We have a number of Vice Chancellor PhD Studentships available for exceptional Home, EU or International candidates looking to pursue practice-based or thesis-only research projects. The package includes a fee waiver for three years’ full-time study, and a stipend of £15,285 each year for three years. If you would like to be considered for a Vice-Chancellor’s Studentship or other funding, you will need to apply by 25 April. There is no separate application process for this – funding will be awarded after interview, with the decision based on the quality of your application.

Our student support fund
UCA runs an additional student support fund for research degree students, providing up to £300 per student per year to support research costs such as specialist external training, attendance at conferences, or the cost of staging an exhibition of practice work for your Final Examination.

Innovative Practice-Based Creative Research

Explore the rich and diverse range of approaches to practice research across all areas of creativity and the many ways in which it may be realised


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