Royal College of Art: Fine Arts & Humanities (Doctor of Philosophy - PhD/MA (Res))

InstitutionRoyal College of Art View institution profile
Department School of Arts and Humanities
Telephone 020 7590 4444
Study type Research


The School welcomes applications for both full and part-time MPhil and PhD study, providing expert supervision across the spectrum of art and writing practice, art and design history and theory, curating and criticism. We welcome proposals for theoretical and practice-led projects, industrial collaborations and technologically focused research.

Research takes place within an environment that is ambitious to generate new methods and insights. We thrive on interaction across the broad areas of fine and applied arts and the humanities, through School-wide lectures, workshops and tutorials delivered by key contemporary artists, writers, curators and thinkers, many of whom form part of our permanent staff base. The broad base of expertise offered by the School means we can support research interests across a large range of disciplines; moving image and sound, painting, performance, photography, printmaking and sculpture as well as jewellery, metal, ceramics, glass, curating, critical and theoretical writing and design history. The School embraces its cross-disciplinary perspective and celebrates the deployment of diverse and original methods of research and production.

In addition to critical support from world-leading artists, academics, historians, theorists, curators and critics, the School’s MPhil/PhD community offers a rich and stimulating range of doctoral training, including the College-wide Research Methods Course (mandatory for all first-year research students), the School-based Research Groups (themed clusters that include seminars, workshops and crit sessions open to all Arts & Humanities research students) and opportunities for exhibiting and publishing research in student-led group exhibitions and symposia and in Prova (the School’sSoAH annual research journal). New student-led initiatives are encouraged and facilitated by the School. Public engagement is a vital part of our practice and we are keen to support interdisciplinary studies and dynamic and innovative projects that expand the potential for arts and humanities research both within the academic context and the wider cultural community.

3 course options

Qualification MA (Res)
Level RQF Level 7
Entry requirements

Candidates for all taught postgraduate courses are assessed on their existing qualities as demonstrated in their work and in their interview, as well as on their potential to benefit from the course and to achieve required standards overall. The assessment will consider: creativity, imagination and innovation evident in the work; ability to articulate the intentions of the work; intellectual engagement in relevant areas; appropriate technical skills; and overall interview performance, including oral use of English.

Candidates should have a good first degree in a related subject. We welcome applications from students of all ages, and view both prior academic and professional experience as valuable.

Candidates who do not speak English as their first language are required to produce evidence that within the previous two years they have achieved an IELTS exam score of 6.5 with 6 in writing.


Part 1: Postgraduate Certificate
(60 credits / 600 hours)

MRes RCA students will share College-wide units on Research Methods, and Research Cultures, which will serve as the foundation to the programme, equipping students with the necessary intellectual framework and practical tools to progress through the award. They will also take a pathway-specific Research in Practice unit that will focus on the process of research from a disciplinary perspective. It will use a case study approach that connects students with practising researchers and research teams, and encourages them to reflect on how research projects are developed, managed, evaluated and communicated.

Part 2: Postgraduate Diploma
(60 credits / 600 hours)

Students undertake pathway-specific units in Advanced Research Methods, a Group Research Project and a College-wide module on Research Identities.

Each pathway-specific unit enables students to extend the knowledge and understanding developed through the College-wide ‘Research Methods’ unit, enabling students to develop and demonstrate mastery of discipline-specific research methods. The pathway-specific Group Research Project will provide students with an opportunity to apply the intellectual and technical skills developed through prior units to a collaborative ‘live’ research project. This could take the form of a collaborative self-initiated project, participation in an existing research group, or a placement with one of the College’s network of research partners (such as a national museum).

The College-wide Research Identities unit will focus on professional development. It will enable students to define their professional identity as a researcher, and to develop the tools to establish and sustain their profile beyond graduation. This will encompass: confidence; leadership; negotiation; networking; communication and collaboration.

Part 3: MRes
(60 credits / 600 hours)

The MRes RCA concludes with a Personal Research Project, in which students apply the knowledge, skills and practices developed throughout the programme. The submission could take the form of an extended thesis or an original work of art, design or communication, along with a shorter thesis that defines the purpose, context and impact of the work.

Students will also complete a supporting statement that reflects on the process of developing, managing and communicating the outcomes of the research project, and provides an action plan that specifies on-going professional development goals.

Location Royal College of Art Battersea
Howie Street
Kensington and Chelsea
SW11 4AY


EU 12350 GBP for Whole course
England 12350 GBP for Whole course
Northern Ireland 12350 GBP for Whole course
Scotland 12350 GBP for Whole course
Wales 12350 GBP for Whole course
Channel Islands 12350 GBP for Whole course
International 32800 GBP for Whole course

Royal College of Art 


The World’s No. 1 University of Art & Design
Established in 1837, the Royal College of Art is the world’s oldest art and design university in continuous operation. With a unique balance of tradition and future-facing invention, of history and contemporaneity, the RCA has nurtured some of the greatest creative talents of the last two centuries and continues to be an inspirational factory of ideas for art and innovation. In 2018, the RCA was ranked as the number one Art and Design university in the world – for the fourth consecutive year – by the QS ...

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