Course summary

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

ACI'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.

You will have access to industry quality production and IT facilities - from our EmotionUX user experience testing facility to 11 audiovisual edit suites, music studios and contemporary live performance spaces.

We also have specialised workshops for fashion and textiles, photography, prints, sculpture, woodwork - plus our Digital Output Lab and Immersive Environment for computer-controlled virtual spaces.

New facilities

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

Docklands Campus Library

    An impressive 50% of ACI research in the category of Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts was judged 'world-leading' in the REF 2014 review.


    62% of UEL's research was rated 'World-leading' or 'Internationally excellent', according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.


    Students score our academic staff highly in terms of support and quality of teaching. 82% felt their research skills developed during their course.

    What we're researching

    Major areas of research within ACI include: cultural and media studies; film, fine art and illustration; literature, history and heritage studies; and applied performing arts. To find out more, see 'Research supervision areas' on this page. 

    What you'll study

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

    PhD Direct

    A PhD direct is aimed at postgraduate students who already have an MPhil, MRes qualification, or and ESRC approved MA or MSc, and takes a minimum of three years of full-time study to complete.

    Group of people working and studying with laptops

    Expert staff

    ACI 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.

    Entry requirements

    To apply for a PhD course, you should have an MPhil, MRes qualification, an ESRC approved MA or MSc, 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.

    English 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. 

    Fees and Funding

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

    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 25 per cent discount of your fees. You don't need to apply for this - if you are eligible, it will apply automatically.

    Your research proposal

    Research proposals give us a better understanding of the area you want to study for any research degree. 

    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.

    Career Coach

    Explore the different career options you can pursue with this degree and see the median salaries of the sector on our Career Coach portal.

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