MPhil/PhD Application Process

Applications for 2018/19 entry are now open.

Applicants wishing to be considered for TECHNE or LDoc scholarships must apply by 28 November 2017. Applications not linked to these scholarships are welcome after this deadline.

Timetable for Applications 2018/17

Applications open: 16 October 2017

Deadline for applications for TECHNE or LDoc Scholarships: 28 November 2017

Application Process

1. Check you are eligible

Check you are eligible as a candidate by reading the Research section. 

2. Check you meet the English language requirements

  • You will be expected to demonstrate that you have a good knowledge of the English language.
  • PhD candidates must achieve an IELTS score of 7.0 including 7.0 in writing, a Pearson Academic (PTE) score of 68 overall with 68 in the writing, or an alternative acceptable to the College. Tests must be no older than two years.
  • MPhil candidates must achieve at least an IELTS examination score of 6.5 with 6.5 in writing, Pearson Academic (PTE) score of 62 overall with 62 in the writing or an equivalent acceptable to the College; please see the College’s Admissions Policy.
  • If English is not your first language, you will be asked to take an external language test. 
  • Although your English may improve dramatically once here – thinking, listening, speaking and reading English every day – it is important that you are able to participate fully from the start of the course. Those students who develop these abilities late in the programme may be disadvantaged. If your English is not fluent you should consider delaying your application to the College until your language ability has been developed to a higher level.
  • Students who need a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK should note that if they are offered a place at the RCA, they will be required to take an external test (IELTS UKVI only) as a condition of their offer in order to meet the Home Office’s English Language requirements. For more information, please see English Language Requirements

3. Identify the School most appropriate to your proposed area of study

  • When making your application, in the first line, please indicate clearly which of the School's research area(s) your research proposal fits within.

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

Most students are initially registered as MPhil candidates, undertaking a transfer examination to PhD before the end of their second year of study (full-time) or fourth year (part-time).  Exceptionally, if an applicant already holds an MPhil or equivalent degree in a related subject, they would be considered for direct entry to PhD study.

We currently offer two modes of study: part-time and full-time.  Participation in, and successful completion of, the Research Methods Course is an essential part of completing RCA doctoral training and part of the progression requirements.  We do not currently offer a distance-learning mode of study for any of our programmes of study.

5. Consider registration periods


The maximum registration periods with the possibility of transfer to PhD:

MPhil, full-time – two academic years

MPhil, part-time – four academic years

MPhil/PhD, full-time – four academic years

MPhil/PhD, part-time – eight academic years


The maximum registration periods (including time in MPhil mode):

Full-time – four academic years
Part-time – eight academic years

*Please note that only those applicants who have already completed a research degree in the same field of study will be accepted directly onto the PhD register.

If you are 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 one year at a time.

6. Contact us

  • Email to let the Research Office know that you are interested in applying.

  • Contact the Research Coordinator of the relevant programme to establish whether your subject is appropriate and whether a suitable supervisor is available. Research students are recruited to existing areas of strength or expertise and we can’t accept a research project that we are unable to supervise.
  • After discussions with the relevant programme, submit your application and research proposal.

7. Complete and submit your application

Go to Online Applications to start your application. You will be able to save your work and retrieve it later, so you do not have to complete it all in one go. Once you have registered with the application system, you will be given an Application Reference Number. This number should be quoted in all further correspondence and on any papers that you wish to submit separately.

You will need to provide the following:

  • Personal and Contact Details
  • Previous Education Details and Previous Experience
    Details should be entered in the online form and a copy of your degree or diploma (if you have graduated) should be uploaded to the online form. If this is not possible, a photocopy can be sent directly to the Admissions Office. It must be clearly marked with your name, course and Application Reference Number. All candidates with overseas undergraduate degrees must also include a full transcript of their first degree course covering each year of their studies and stating subjects taken and marks obtained. The offer of a place to a candidate who is undertaking a degree at the time of application will be dependent upon the candidate producing proof of having fulfilled the College’s criteria for admission. Transcripts may be sent separately to the Admissions Office and must be clearly marked with your name, course and Application Reference Number.

  • Additional Information
  • Financial Support
    Please indicate how you will support yourself financially if you are offered a place.

  • Disability or Learning Difference
    The RCA welcomes you if you have a physical disability or learning difference. You are required to present a portfolio or other evidence of creative work on a level with other candidates, but the entry requirements may be varied. The Academic Board for Concessions and Discipline (ABCD) can make judgements about the extent to which qualifications or experience gained elsewhere may be accepted in partial fulfilment of its requirements for a given award. You are advised to visit the College in advance of your application to ensure that the study environment will suit your needs or can be reasonably adapted to do so. The assessment of a disabled applicant’s needs is coordinated by the Student Adviser and you are encouraged to make contact to arrange a visit and discuss any concerns with Student Support on the telephone +44 (0)20 7590 4140 or via email.

  • Course Details
  • Research Proposal:
    In the first line of your application please state the programme you wish to apply for. You will need to give the title of your Research and state whether it will be by Thesis or Project. You will also need to describe the programme of study, answering the following questions (1,000 words maximum). Describe the programme of work, identifying stages and content with estimated duration and completion dates of each phase. Also include the duration and mode of study for the complete project. It is essential that a detailed bibliography and reference to other work is included with your application in order to give further contextual information about your proposal.

    1. What is your particular research question, argument or hypothesis?
    2. How do you propose to address these questions and find out the answer (what is your methodology?)
    3. How do you see your work in the wider context of the discipline? Who else’s work might be relevant to your project?
    4. What skills, knowledge and experience do you have which are relevant to this study?
    5. At the RCA it is possible to pursue a research degree through thesis only study or through a combination of studio-based and thesis study. If you are proposing to undertake a studio-based research degree, how will the studio and written work relate to each other? 
    6. If you are proposing to undertake a PhD, what is the original contribution to knowledge and understanding? 
    7. How do you propose to reflect upon or analyse critically your approach to the project?

    • Resources and Supervision Required
      You will also need to describe the resources you require (space, equipment, materials, etc.) and information services needs (library, computing, etc.) You are advised to contact the programme that you wish to join in order to discuss your research proposal and supervision arrangements before you make your application. Please try to contact the potential chosen supervisor once your application has been submitted. Email addresses and profiles can be found on our RCA webpage
    • Reference
      When you make an online application, a request for a reference will be automatically be 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.

    • Application Fee
      Please note that there is no application fee in 2018/19.

    Any queries about the application process should be addressed to:

    Royal College of Art
    Kensington Gore
    London SW7 2EU

    +44 (0)20 7590 4444

    8. Submit your digital portfolio

    Not all programmes require portfolios therefore only submit a portfolio if applicable. For details about the Entrance Examination and portfolio requirements see MA Entrance Requirements

    9. Assessment

    The first part of the Entrance Examination consists of a review of the application and, in some cases, a portfolio of work. If you are not successful a letter notifying you of this decision will be sent out as soon as possible.

    10. Interview

    Applicants for MPhil and PhD who are selected will be invited to attend an interview at the College. 

    11. Results letter

    Results letters sent out.

    Students who are accepted to the College will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit in order to secure their place, offset against the 2018/19 tuition fees.


    +44 (0)20 7590 4444

    Research Office

    Student Support
    +44 (0)20 7590 4140