Course overview

This course is currently only available to International applications. Please only apply if you are an overseas applicant, or invited by UCA to make an application.

If you want to apply for a creative research degree at UCA, our fully online Pre-Doctorate Research Degree Preparation course will help you get there.

You will already have a Master’s degree or relevant research/professional experience. This course will develop your skills further in a supportive and stimulating environment so you can create a tightly focused research proposal that addresses a gap in knowledge or an under-researched area. We will help you decide whether to opt for a practice-based or written research degree and connect you with the existing UCA PhD community.

During the course, you will:

  • Spend five hours each week being trained in understanding and applying key research and academic skills for pre-doctoral study.
  • Learn how to refine your research interests and draft your literature review and research proposal
  • Write your application, research proposal and bibliography
  • Prepare for a formal interview.

We also offer an optional English for Academic Study module that focuses on developing academic English skills during an additional two hours' study per week.


Course entry options

Select from the options below to find out more about the different study options available for this course:


The content of the course may be subject to change. Curriculum content is provided as a guide.

The pre-doctorate course consists of four core modules and one optional module. These will be undertaken over a 16-week period with certain modules being taught concurrently. 

Research Skills and Training
Turning an idea into a research project requires the development of a research framework. This module will begin by understanding the basics of research philosophies, research approaches and research methods. It also explores methods of data organisation and formal analysis, research ethics and project feasibility. Predominately a theory-based module, it will give students initial training in key research skills for pre-doctoral study.

Confirming Research Project
This module will start by exploring the research centres and communities within UCA, liaising with staff and students to find out more about the PhD experience, hear about existing PhD students research and discuss research proposal ideas. Alongside this, students will be supported through tutorials and group critiques in defining and funnelling down their research topic by developing a draft literature review and research proposal.

PhD Application
The purpose of this module is to support students in writing and submitting a successful PhD application. During this module you will be mentored through tutorials and meetings in order to refine and hone your application, research proposal and bibliography.

Preparing for Interview
This final module will focus on preparing you for formal interview, develop your communication skills and offer further opportunity to ensure your research proposal is SMART – Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Interview techniques, communication skills and clarity in presentation will be practiced through one to one personalised tutorial’s and a series of mock interviews.

The English for Academic Study optional module runs for 16 weeks concurrently with the other four modules and focuses on developing Academic English skills to support learning across all modules. It will aid in developing student’s academic and reflective writing skills necessary for research and provide support in meeting the prescribed word count for each part of the research proposal. We strongly encourage international students who may struggle to reach the IELTS 7.0 level required for research degrees to take this option.

Tuition fees
The course fees for 2023 entry are:

  • £4,800 (Pre-doctorate preparation course)
  • £6,000 (Pre-doctorate preparation course plus English for Academic Study module)

Additional course costs
In addition to the tuition fees there may be other costs for your course. You should expect to budget for books, occasional study trips and/or project materials. These costs will vary according to the nature of your research proposal.

Further information
For more detailed information about our course fees and any financial support you may be entitled to please see our fees and finance pages.

The fees listed here are correct for the stated academic year only. Costs may increase each year during a student’s period of continued registration on course in line with inflation (subject to any maximum regulated tuition fee limit). Any adjustment for continuing students will be at or below the RPI-X forecast rate.

See our Student regulations

Please note, syllabus content indicated is provided as a guide. The content of the course may be subject to change in line with our Student Terms and Conditions for example, as required by external professional bodies or to improve the quality of the course.

Dates & fees


Start date

End date

Cost (Pre-doctorate course only)

Cost (Pre-doctorate course plus English module)

Pre-doctorate: Research Degree Preparation
(Online course)

18 Sept 2023  2 Feb 2024  £4,800  £6,000

Pre-doctorate: Research Degree Preparation
(Online course)

19 Feb 2024  28 June 2024 £4,800  £6,000

For full details about the term dates please see:

Entry requirements

Minimum entry requirements

A recognised master’s degree or equivalent relevant; or an honours degree (or recognised equivalent relevant) with appropriate research or professional experience. 

All non-native English-speaking applicants English language requirements

IELTS 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each category, or equivalent (The proof of English is not required for applicants who have studied a BA or MA programme taught in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UKVI).

How to apply

Apply online

All applications for this course should be made direct to UCA, using the online relevant application form:

Apply now for Pre-doctorate course - starting September 2023

Apply now for Pre-doctorate course - starting February 2024

Apply now for Pre-doctorate with English course  - starting September 2023

Apply now for Pre-doctorate with English course - starting February 2024

Already applied to UCA?

If you have already applied for a research degree course with us and would now like to apply for the Pre-doctorate course, please email us with the following information:

  • Your full name
  • Your student number or date of birth
  • The name of the course: Pre-doctorate: Research Degree Preparation course.

Get in touch