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PhD and MPhil degrees

Join UAL's vibrant community of researchers. We offer theoretical and practice-based research programmes, leading to an MPhil or PhD.

There are currently over 250 research students at UAL who enjoy full access to all our College resources as well as student training and support.

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Degree overview


A programme of self-directed independent study with the support of an experienced supervisory team.

PhD degrees are doctoral level awards which are the highest level of academic degree. A PhD is awarded following successful completion of a research project and thesis which offers a significant new contribution to knowledge in the chosen subject area.

An MPhil is a postgraduate research master's degree which is awarded following completion of a research project and thesis.

Length of study

Full-time

  • PhD: 2-4 years
  • MPhil: 15 months - 3 years

Part-time

  • PhD: 3-8 years
  • MPhil: 2-6 years

For full details of our research degrees programme, read the Research Handbook and Regulations 2019/20 (PDF 831KB).

Facilities and support

Photo of the Search room at University Archives and Special Collections Centre, London College of Communication
Image courtesy of UAL

Archives and special collections

Explore our archives and special collections dedicated to renowned graphic artists, filmmakers and designers.

Girl walking past animation posters
Image courtesy of UAL

Research Network UAL (RNUAL)

Take part in training and support activities designed to help you become an effective researcher.

Visitor during the Summer Show
Image taken by Alys Tomlinson

Post-Grad Community

Get access to exciting opportunities, events and networking at UAL.

Choose a College

You will have a home UAL College or Institute that supports your programme. Take a look at our College research interests to help you decide which one to apply to:

Camberwell College of Arts

Research interests include:

  • Craft
  • Design curation
  • Design theory and practice
  • Illustration
  • Drawing

Central Saint Martins

Research interests include:

  • Graphic narratives
  • Museum studies
  • Popular music
  • Art collection
  • Production
  • Philosophy

Chelsea College of Arts

Research interests include:

  • Graphic design communication
  • History of art and design
  • Archival studies
  • Museology
  • Curating
  • Fine art

London College of Communication

Research interests include:

  • Graphic design and graphic communication
  • Media and communications
  • Film and moving image
  • Service design
  • Sound art
  • Photography and photojournalism

London College of Fashion

Research interests include:

  • Digital production
  • Sustainability
  • Psychology
  • Curation
  • Design

Wimbledon College of Arts

Research interests include:

  • Theatre archives
  • Costume design
  • Scenography
  • Performance
  • Theatre

Creative Computing Institute

The UAL Creative Computing Institute (CCI) offers research opportunities and a public platform to explore computer science and creative computing.

Research centres

Finding a reasearch centre may help you decide on a College. They operate across UAL and provide a focus for excellent research in areas of strength.

How to apply


Step 1: Check entry requirements

Qualifications

Minimum entry requirement is an upper second class honours (2:1) degree or equivalent from a recognised higher education institution.

However, a master's degree in an appropriate subject is considered to be a particularly valuable preparation for the academic and intellectual demands of an MPhil or PhD.

In some instances, applicants without the minimum academic requirement may be considered for a place if they can demonstrate appropriate alternative qualifications, relevant professional experience, or previous research.

English language

If English is not your first language, you will need to meet our English language requirements by providing one of the following:

  • A recent UAL-approved English Language Test (ELT) - such as IELTS 7.0 with a 7.0 in writing and with no other component score lower than 6.0, or an equivalent test score;
  • Recent MA degree (Distinction only) in a majority English-speaking country;
  • Successful completion of UAL's Presessional Academic English Programme.

Your qualification needs to have been awarded no more than 2 years prior to your enrolment date.

You can apply before you receive your English Language Test or MA certificate. If you're offered a place, you will need to show your qualification before enrolment.

Depending on your level of English as demonstrated through your application form and interview, we will inform you whether we would require a new IELTS result before you can begin your PhD studies. Please note that we can no longer accept TOEFL test results for this purpose.

Step 2: Find a supervisor

If you already know the name of a supervisor you want to work with, you're welcome to discuss your proposal with them – find their contact details on our A-Z of UAL Staff Researchers. Explore research at UAL to learn about our themes and projects before applying.

If you know which College or Institute you wish to apply to, but don't yet have a particular supervisor in mind, then contact our team for advice:

Dr Athanasios Velios

Dr Athanasios Velios

For help and advice on finding a supervisor at Camberwell, Chelsea, Wimbledon Colleges of Arts.

James Swinson

James Swinson

For help and advice on finding a supervisor at Central Saint Martins.

Russell Bestley

Russ Bestley

For help and advice on finding a supervisor at London College of Communication.

Felicity Colman

Professor Felicity Colman

For help and advice on finding a supervisor at London College of Fashion.

Profile picture of Professor Mick Grierson, Research Leader at the UAL Creative Computing Institute

Professor Mick Grierson

For help and advice on finding a supervisor at Creative Computing Institute.

Step 3: Draft a research proposal

Step 4: Apply for a PhD or MPhil

Start an application by selecting the College or Institute and research programme you would like to enter. You may only apply to 1 research degree.


Application deadlines

There are 2 deadlines for applications, one for those wishing to be considered for Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funding, and one for all other applicants:

  • 9am on Monday 11 November 2019 (AHRC funding applicants)
    Interviews for applicants to this deadline will be during the week 2 – 6 December 2019
  • 9am on Tuesday 14 April 2020 

Applications are only processed after each deadline has passed and it may take a few weeks for your application to be assessed by the Colleges.

Other application routes

Transfer MPhil/PhD from another institution

If you are currently registered on a degree programme at another university and would like to discuss transferring to UAL, please get in touch with our research degree team at researchdegrees@arts.ac.uk.

Research degree by published work

We will consider applications for a programme of research degree by published work where applicants can demonstrate research outputs that make a substantial contribution to knowledge. For further information please get in touch with our research degrees team at researchdegrees@arts.ac.uk.

Visiting students

UAL offers opportunities for research students currently studying for an MPhil/PhD outside of the UK to visit UAL for a period of up to 12 months as part of their studies. For further details contact us at researchdegrees@arts.ac.uk.

Fees and funding


Your tuition fee status (Home/EU or International) is determined by your residency history, visa status and nationality. We will let you know what your tuition fee status will be after your application has been assessed.

Please be aware that tuition fees are payable each academic year and are subject to change each academic year in line with inflation.

2019/20

  • Home/EU full-time £5,450
  • Home/EU part-time £2,725
  • International full-time (new) £19,930
  • Visiting Students £1,610 (per 3 months)

2020/21

  • Home/EU full-time £5,610
  • Home/EU part-time £2,805
  • International full-time (new) £22,920
  • Visiting Students £1,660 (per 3 months)

Studentships

You can apply to UAL to pursue fully funded doctoral-level research studentships in arts and humanities subject areas.

Find out more about funding opportunities.

Loans

Doctoral loans of up to £25,700 are now available for some students. Find out about doctoral loans and funding advice.

Careers and alumni


A PhD in Art and Design develops skills that can be applied to both professional and academic practice. It demonstrates the ability to develop new insights through a process of investigation and extensive knowledge in a particular area. Our MPhil and PhD graduates have followed career paths in the creative industries, academia and beyond.

Tom Corby

Tom Corby

Artist and writer interested in issues around climate, data and systems. His artwork has been exhibited worldwide at numerous festivals, galleries and museums. Discover more on Tom Corby's research profile.