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As our main application deadlines have now passed, new applications will be subject to the availability of places.

RCA graduate show 2019

Before you start

Before you start your application you should:

Identify the School or Centre most appropriate to your proposed area of study

In order for us to be able to fully review your application, please look at the Schools' research areas and the Centres' research areas before selecting which you are applying to.  When making your application, in the first line of the ‘Research Proposal’ section, please indicate clearly which of the School's research area(s) your research proposal fits within.

Decide which degree is most appropriate for you, as well as the exact focus of your studies

Applications can be made for MPhil or PhD study. All PhD students will need to undertake and pass Annual Progress Reviews and a Confirmation Examination (midway through their registration period) in order to progress to the subsequent year of study. We currently offer two modes of study: part-time and full-time. Participation in the Doctoral Training Programme is an essential part of progression requirements; this includes three one-week intensives in each year of study (or equivalent for part-time students) and a short Methods & Methodologies Course (Year 1, term 1 only)

Please note, we do not currently offer a distance-learning mode or any of our programmes of study; students are expected to attend College-wide and School-based Research Training. All annual exams are to be taken in person in one of our London campuses.

Consider registration periods

Full-time study

MPhil

  • Minimum registration period: 2 academic years
  • Maximum registration period: 3 academic years

PhD

  • Minimum registration period: 3 academic years, of which at least one year should be post-Confirmation
  • Maximum registration period: 4 academic years, of which at least two years should be post-Confirmation

Part-time study

MPhil

  • Minimum registration period: 4 academic years
  • Maximum registration period: 6 academic years

PhD

  • Minimum registration period: 6 academic years, of which at least 2 years should be post-Confirmation
  • Maximum registration period: 7 academic years, of which at least 3 years should be post-Confirmation

This includes time taken by the student in Continuation Status (also known as writing-up, up to a maximum of one year for both full-time and part-time students). Where a candidate is prevented because of ill-health or other circumstances from making progress with the programme of research, the registration may be suspended with the agreement of the Academic Board for Concessions and Discipline but not usually for more than a total of one year across the period of study.

Additional requirements

The online application portal will guide you through all required elements; please remember to upload both your research proposal and portfolio of practice (for 'by project' route). In addition to the information outlined above, you will need to include the following in your MPhil/PhD application.

Research proposal

The research proposal is central to your application to undertake a research degree. As a description of your proposed topic, it should enable the selection panel to evaluate the scope and importance of your project. You should read the following guidelines carefully to ensure that your proposal includes the information we need to assess your application. The proposal should be up to 1,000 words in length, including a short bibliography.

The aim of the research proposal is to demonstrate that you have a project worth doing and that this is manageable within the timescale of the degree for which you are applying. To be worth doing, your project must be well-founded, and must also make a significant contribution to understanding in its field. To make clear that your project is manageable within the relevant period, you need to show that you understand the scale of the issues and problems you are addressing.

Your proposal should include:

Title

A title summarising the proposed research. (This will be provisional at this point, and can change).

Introduction 

Identify the field of study in broad terms and indicate how you expect your research to contribute to the field. Use this section to introduce the questions and issues central to your research.

Research background and questions 

Use this section to expand your introduction. What are the key texts and approaches in the field, and how does your proposal differ from existing lines of argument?

  • What does your project contribute to existing work in the field?
  • How does it extend our understanding of particular questions or topics?

You need to set out your research questions as clearly as possible, explain problems that you want to explore and say why it is important to do so. In other words, think about how to situate your project in the context of your discipline.

Research methods

This section should set out how you will achieve what you propose. This will depend very much on your research topic.

  • What resources will you use or need? 
  • Is your study interdisciplinary? 
  • What theoretical resources do you intend to use and why? 
  • What forms of textual, historical or visual analysis are relevant to your topic/field? 
  • What forms of practice will you use and why?
  • How will you set about answering your research questions?

Schedule of work 

Use this section to show that you have a realistic plan for completion of the study within three to four years (full time).

You might want to think here about dividing the proposal into sections (not necessarily chapters at this stage) and giving an indication of how you plan to research and write up each section.

Bibliography 

Include a bibliography, in a standard format such as Harvard, listing the books and articles to which you refer in the proposal.  

Some of these sections will be easier to write than others at this very preliminary stage. The selectors who read your proposal know that it is a provisional statement and that your ideas, questions and approaches will change during the course of your research. You should treat the proposal as an opportunity to show that you have begun to explore an important area of study and that you have a question, or questions, that challenge and develop that area. It is also necessary to demonstrate that you can express your ideas in clear and precise English, accessible to a non-specialist.

Referees

When you make an online application, you will need to name a suitable referee who is able to support your proposal.  They should be someone who can reasonably affirm that you have the ability and skills to undertake a degree at this level.  A request for a reference will be automatically emailed to your referee. Please make sure that you provide your referee’s full contact details when you make your application. Applicants who wish to be considered for AHRC funding require two references.

What happens next

All applications are reviewed by a team of academics with experience of supervising research degrees within the School. Your application will be reviewed as follows:

  1. Review of the application and portfolio of work (where appropriate). Selection panels assess applications in terms of quality of proposal, readiness for study at this level, the feasibility of the project and supervisory capacity.
  2. Candidates are notified that they will be called for interview or that their application has been unsuccessful (please be aware that we do not usually offer feedback at this stage).
  3. Interview: either in person or online.

Application outcome

Once your application has been reviewed and interview completed, you will receive one of the following application outcomes:

  • a formal offer of a place
  • a place on the waiting list, if the programme is already full
  • an offer of a place on our MRes programme, which is designed especially to help transition students to full MPhil/PhD programmes
  • an unsuccessful notification

All decisions are communicated by email.

If you do receive an offer, we encourage all successful applicants to secure their place and supervisors by returning their acceptance notification and deposit as soon as possible.  

Contact us

Get in touch if you'd like to find out more about studying at the RCA.

Register your interest with us here
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