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Research Degrees

Join a thriving community of more than 250 MPhil and PhD students pursuing cutting-edge research at the world's leading postgraduate university for art & design

What is a Research Degree?

A postgraduate research degree challenges you to independently complete a research project that pushes the boundaries of our understanding. 

Unlike a taught degree, a research degree emphasises independence of learning and increased specialisation. You will manage your own research project in order to investigate your topic in depth and to produce new ideas, arguments and solutions.

A research degree will give you the subject matter expertise and transferable skills necessary for a wide range of senior roles in research and academia, as well as in business, industry and the cultural and creative sectors.

Support and Development

A research degree requires independent study. Depending on your project, you will spend much of your time reading, experimenting, designing, analysing, writing, and re-writing.

But you won’t work alone. You will have a supervisory team of expert academics and practitioners who will guide your research. You will also build networks among your fellow researchers, and take part in rigorous skills training and development opportunities to ensure that you have the subject-specific and generic skills required to complete your project and to prosper in your chosen career.

Postgraduate Training

At the RCA, research students undertake training both at a cross-College level and within their Schools or Research Centres.

First-year doctoral students attend compulsory training courses in a range of research methods and methodologies in the first term of study, as well as regular Doctoral Training Weeks throughout the year.  These intensive weeks include a range of professional development seminars, training and advice in writing, getting published, achieving impact, entering the academic job market and more, and opportunities for students to develop and present their research to one another and to staff.  

We are committed to ensuring that you are well equipped, not only to complete your studies but also to develop your future careers.

Our Degrees

A PhD is awarded to students who produce a substantial piece of original research that makes a contribution to research in the field.  This can take the form of a thesis (60,000–80,000 words) or by project (a body of work and thesis 25,000–40,000 words). PhD candidates are normally registered for three years full-time, with submission within four years, or four to seven years part-time. Students must remain registered and pay an appropriate fee until submission. We do not currently offer distance learning modes, nor PhD by publication.

An MPhil is awarded for original research and submission of a thesis.Candidates must normally be registered for two years (full-time) or four years (part-time).

We also offer Masters of Research (MRes), a one year, full-time taught degree that provides effective preparation for PhD study, but can also offer vital career development opportunities.

Open Days

Our Open Days are a great opportunity to find out more about research at the RCA, meet academic staff and students, and visit our facilities, workshops and studios. Find out more.

Research Student Applicants

Research Degrees