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Mphil Phd School of Arts and Digital Industries

Course overview

Start date

September 2018

Subject area






On campus

Course summary

Studying for a PhD with UEL’s School of Arts and Digital Industries (ADI) will push you to the limit - but you’ll be supported all the way.

ADI’s research students and staff are actively researching and creating in areas from film studies to cultural theory, the performing arts, and art and design.

Many members of our large research community – supervisors, teachers, writers, academics and cultural practitioners – are creating internationally significant work, such as two-time Turner Prize nominee and Visiting UEL Research Professor Richard Wilson.

If you're interested in applying for an Excellence Scholarship please look at the Research Centres that reflect the diverse research activity in the school.

To apply for the Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) funded studentships visit the UBEL Doctoral Training Partnership page for further information.

Contact us

If you have any questions, talk to a member of our Applicant Enquiries team on +44 (0) 20 8223 3333 or email

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Specialist equipment

We’ve invested £170 million in new buildings and facilities, including our £14 million new library in Stratford.

Industry experts

ADI researcher Dr Jonathan Hardy, an expert in UK and European media policy, submitted evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into the press, after the News International phone-hacking scandal.

Turner Prize nominee

Visiting Research Professor Richard Wilson - a two-time Turner Prize nominee - exhibited a hydraulically teetering replica coach from the film The Italian Job on the roof of Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion during the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

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What we're researching

Major areas of research within ADI include: cultural and media studies; film, fine art and illustration; literature, history and heritage studies; and applied performing arts.

Making a difference

UEL is one of the UK’s leading modern research universities. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), 17 per cent of our overall research submission was classified as ‘world-leading’ for its quality and impact – almost double our previous REF score. A further 45 per cent of our work was considered ‘internationally excellent’.

What you'll study

UEL offers two main research degrees: the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). 

The most popular course is the PhD via MPhil. A PhD is an original and distinct contribution to the knowledge of the field of study. It is often essential for those wishing to follow an academic or research career in industry or commerce. PhD research can be carried out in all subject areas - normally over three years.

PhD and MPhil students are supervised by one or more research-active staff. Your supervisors will support your programme of research through regular meetings and reviews.
At the end of your PhD, you’ll write an 80,000-word thesis, summarising your research. You will then have to undergo an oral examination (a viva) on your thesis.
The PhD via MPhil course normally takes a minimum of 33 months to complete. It involves two years of study, followed by an application to transfer from the MPhil to a PhD, when the quality of your research is assessed. You can then go on to do a full PhD.

MPhil is a Master's level research degree programme which typically requires two or more years’ full-time study.
A PhD direct is aimed at postgraduate students who already have an MPhil or MRes qualification, and takes a minimum of two years’ full-time study to complete.
The publication route to a PhD is mainly intended for UEL postgraduate students or staff, based on their published academic output. Each application is considered separately on its own merits.

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Fees and funding

UEL postgraduate research programmes attract the same fees per year, across all Schools.

Some postgraduate research programmes may charge additional ‘bench fees’ of up to £6,000 - mainly for laboratory based programmes.

There is a write-up fee of £900 (with £450 rebate for handing in thesis within first 6 months of write-up phase).

If you are a UEL alumnus enrolling on an MPhil or PhD programme, you are eligible for up to 15 per cent discount of your fees. You don’t need to apply for this - if you are eligible, it will apply automatically.

Entry requirements

To apply for a PhD course, you should have an MPhil, or MRes qualification or an overseas qualification rated as equivalent. 
Applicants for a PhD via MPhil should have either a first class or upper second class honours degree from a UK Higher Education Institution, or an overseas qualification rated as equivalent. 

Work experience

If you have relevant research or work experience, but no degree, you can still be considered for admission. You will need to discuss your experience with the relevant School, and provide the names of two academic referees familiar with your academic work.

Split-site study

If you are applying for a research course from outside the UK, you may be able to apply for split-site study arrangements, where you carry out part or all of your research outside the UK. To find out more about split-site study, contact the Graduate School at 

Language requirements

If English is not your first language, you will have to satisfy our English language requirements for postgraduate research study. The minimum requirement for a research degree is an IELTS Academic English score of 7.0 overall (minimum of 6.5 in all components). This should normally have been gained within the past two years. 

Your research proposal

Research proposals give us a better understanding of the area you want to study for an MPhil, PhD via MPhil or PhD Direct course.

You don’t have to follow a predetermined structure when writing your proposal, but it’s a good idea to include a title that describes the aims and scope of your research, and information on how your ideas fit in with the research interests of UEL.

Other important elements include: relevant academic literature, how your research will advance knowledge in this area, and a possible methodology. You should also include a timescale for your research.

To find out more about how to write your research proposal, see our research proposal guidance.

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