Research Degrees



The PhD qualification offer at UCA constitutes either a traditional research degree consisting of an original written thesis or for those in practice-based areas, an original written thesis and additional creative work. The nature of the PhD in Art and Design at UCA is that the project is explicitly student led, and arises primarily from a student’s ambitions and aspirations.

Your supervisors will have experience in the general area of your research and will help you to develop the elements required for a PhD qualification. Unlike a taught postgraduate programme your supervisor will not ‘teach’ you but will act in a mentoring role providing feedback and encouragement as you develop your research.

What is a PhD?

Before making the decision to do a PhD it is important to understand the nature of this programme and to understand how this differs from an MA programme.

Research areas

UCA offers postgraduate research supervision in the following areas.

  • Fine Art
  • Photography
  • Architecture
  • Design
  • Animation
  • Fashion
  • Business
  • Sustainable Design
  • Communication Design and Crafts (including Textiles and Ceramics)
  • Film, Media, Music and Performance.

When do I apply?

The university has only one entry point per academic year which starts in September. Whilst we will consider applications throughout the academic year, early applications may be more likely to be successful as supervisory capacity is limited. We therefore recommend that applications are submitted by 31 March but we will accept applications after this date. Please be aware that applications received in July and August are likely to take longer to be considered due to staff availability in the summer vacation and applications received in September do not usually allow sufficient time for you to make the necessary preparations to begin your study in October.

Entry requirements

The academic entry requirements for a research degrees at UCA is a recognised master’s degree or equivalent relevant to the proposed programme of study, or a first or second class honours degree (or recognised equivalent relevant) with appropriate research or professional experience. The English Language requirements are IELTS 7.0 overall, 7 for writing, and other elements not less than 6.5 (or equivalent qualification).

Assessment of your suitability to undertake a PhD qualification will be based on your research proposal, your CV and bibliography.

How to apply

There are two steps to the application process at UCA:

Step 1 - Register to apply
It takes less than 5 minutes. Once you have completed your registration, we will create your application form and let you know when it’s ready to be completed (please note that this can take up to 1 working day to create).

Register to apply

Step 2 - Complete your application form
We will email you log in details for your application form once your registration has been received and processed. On the application form please provide details of your education and employment history, along with your research proposal and bibliography. You can also provide a CV and/or portfolio to support your application. You can start an application and save it, so you don’t have to complete it all in one sitting. 

Once you have submitted your application, it will be considered by our Research Degrees Pre-selection Panel. We will then either: ask you to develop the application further; refer the application to a relevant Supervisor/School; invite you interview, or; let you know if we can’t progress your application.

More information

  • How do I find a supervisor?

    If 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 note this in your proposal form. If you wish, you may also contact a potential supervisor directly – see Research Staff Profiles.

  • How will my application be assessed?

    UCA operates a two-stage admissions system -

    Stage 1 Assessment:  In the first instance assessment of applications in undertaken by the Head of School (or representative) and at least two supervisors with appropriate expertise. This assessment is based on a Research Proposal Form, supporting bibliography and the applicant’s CV. The assessment takes account of the strength of the proposal, the experience of the applicant and the availability of supervision, resources and equipment to support the project. A Stage 1 assessment form is completed by the School panel, which includes feedback on the proposal, and recommendations to reject, resubmit or interview. If the recommendation is to interview the applicant the panel will usually include the prospective supervisor/s.

    Stage 2 Formal Interview: The interview assessment takes account of the candidates relevant qualification; motivation for undertaking PhD; past experience of research; clarity of the research aims and objectives; feasibility of study; level of articulation and presentation at interview; awareness of what other people have done/ are doing within the area of investigation; the strength of the candidate’s own practice and the references. (Applicants are required to submit copies of their qualification documents and their referee details prior to interview). Recommendations to offer a place are considered and approved by the Head of School, and formal offer of a place is made only when a supervisory team has been agreed by the Head of School/s.

  • What should my research proposal include?

    It is understood that your research proposal at admissions stage will be a rough draft of your ideas for the research project. However it should be well enough constructed in order for the assessment panel to judge your application. The draft research proposal for admissions assessment should include the following elements -

    Title of project
    This should be a clear description of your proposed research project.

    Background and context of project
    This section should explain the background and context of the proposed research work with an indication of the main contribution to knowledge which you wish to make. Indicate why this area is an important area for research.

    Aims and objectives
    This section should spell out three or four aims/objectives for your research to show what you want to achieve.

    Literature review
    This section is a review of the literature which should outline the most important research that has already been carried out in your research area.

    Research methodology
    This section is a broad outline of the methodology you plan to use including:

    • the broad approach?—?qualitative, quantitative etc
    • how data/information will be generated and gathered and how you expect to deal with and analyse that data
    • indication of any broad theoretical framework you may be using
    • ethical considerations where the research involves interaction with humans or animals and where applicable, how consent would be obtained.
  • Fees and funding


    UK applicants
    The fee for year 1, 2021 entry is £5,670 for full-time students and £2,840 for part-time students.

    International and EU applicants
    The fee for year 1, 2021 entry is £17,500 for full-time students, if you pay your fees in full before you enrol we offer a discounted fee of £16,800.

    All fees are currently correct, but may change as a result of changes in government policy on tuition fees, entitlement to fee reductions and tax or benefit rules. Please check for the latest information before you enrol.

    More details about fees, paying your fees and fees for previous years please see the fees & finance pages.

    How to fund your PhD?

    Charity Awards (Home and Overseas)
    The Alternative Guide to Grad Funding is the most popular postgraduate funding resource in the UK. It focuses on a major alternative but underutilised source of postgraduate funding: charities and trusts. UCA subscribes to this resource and you will need your applicant number and the University pin number to access the resource.

    Student Loan
    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:

    UCA fee bursary awards (Home/EU only)
    We offer a small number of PhD bursary awards to suitably qualified applicants to carry out research. These are awarded after interview and on a merit basis.There is no separate process for application. You just need to tick the funding section of the research proposal form to indicate that you wish to be considered for an award. The criteria for award is strictly on the quality of the applications received.

    *Validated by University of the Arts, London

Find out more

If you would like to find out about research degrees at UCA please contact us: