Pre-Doctorate: Research Degree Preparation*

Online - 2021

Length of study:

16 weeks, part-time



Entry requirements:

Masters’ degree and/or relevant research or professional experience

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Course entry options:

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Course overview

Our fully online Pre-Doctorate Research Degree Preparation course has been designed to support students with a Masters’ degree or relevant research/professional experience who want to apply for a research degree at UCA.

Before undertaking a research degree, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the nature of this level of study and expectations. As well as preparing students for making an application, this course aims to support students in ensuring this level of study is right for them. It gives students time to discover whether they will take on a practice-based or written research degree, connect with the existing PhD community and to identify a suitable PhD supervisor/s to compliment their research focus.

During the course, students will be trained in understanding and applying key research and academic skills for pre-doctoral study, with five hours of learning per week. Guided on funnelling down and refining research interests, writing a draft literature review and research proposal. Composing an application form, research proposal and bibliography. And finally preparing for a formal interview. 

There is also an optional module of English for Academic Study – an additional two hours of learning per week - which focuses on developing Academic English skills to support learning across all modules.

*Course subject to validation.

Course details

  • Pre-doctorate course modules

    The pre-doctorate course consists of 4 core modules and 1 optional module. These will be undertaken over a 16-week period with certain modules being taught concurrently. 

    Research Skills and Training
    Turning an idea into a research project requires the development of a research framework. This module will begin by understanding the basics of research philosophies, research approaches and research methods. It also explores methods of data organisation and formal analysis, research ethics and project feasibility. Predominately a theory-based module, it will give students initial training in key research skills for pre-doctoral study.

    Confirming Research Project
    This module will start by exploring the research centres and communities within UCA, liaising with lecturers, PhD supervisors and students to find out more about the PhD experience, hear about existing PhD students research and discuss research proposal ideas. Alongside this student’s will be supported through tutorials and group critiques in defining and funnelling down their research topic by developing a draft literature review and research proposal.

    PhD Application
    The purpose of this module is to support students in writing and submitting a successful PhD application. During this module you will be mentored through tutorials and meetings in order to refine and hone your application, research proposal and bibliography and to find a suitable PhD supervisor/s.  

    Preparing for Interview
    This final module will focus on preparing you for formal interview, develop your communication skills and offer further opportunity to ensure your research proposal is SMART – Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Interview techniques, communication skills and clarity in presentation will be practiced through one to one personalised tutorial’s and a series of mock interviews.


  • Optional Module: English for Academic Study

    The English for Academic Study optional module runs for 16 weeks concurrently with the other four modules and focuses on developing Academic English skills to support learning across all modules. It will aid in developing student’s academic and reflective writing skills necessary for research, proposal writing, developing a research project and compiling original work at PhD level.  

  • Fees and additional course costs

    Tuition fees
    The course fees for 2021 entry are:

    • £4,800 (Pre-doctorate preparation course)
    • £6,000 (Pre-doctorate preparation course plus English for Academic Study module)

    Additional course costs
    In addition to the tuition fees there may be some additional costs for this course and details of these will be published shortly.

    Further information
    Find out more about our course fees and any financial support you may be entitled to:

    These fees are correct for the stated academic year only. Costs may increase each year during a student’s period of continued registration on course in line with inflation (subject to any maximum regulated tuition fee limit). Any adjustment for continuing students will be at or below the RPI-X forecast rate.

Programme Director

Dates & fees


Start date

End date

Cost (Pre-doctorate course only)

Cost (Pre-doctorate course plus English module)

Pre-doctorate: Research Degree Preparation
(Online course)

Mar 2021

Jun 2021



Pre-doctorate: Research Degree Preparation
(Online course)

Nov 2021

Feb 2022



For full details about the term dates please see:

How to apply

Apply online

All applications for this course should be made direct to UCA, using the online relevant application form:

Apply now for Pre-doctorate course

Apply now for Pre-doctorate course plus English module

Already applied to UCA?

If you have already applied for a research degree course with us and would now like to apply for the Pre-doctorate course, please email us with the following information:

  • Your full name
  • Your student number or date of birth
  • The name of the course: Pre-doctorate: Research Degree Preparation course.

Entry requirements

Minimum entry requirements

A recognised master’s degree or equivalent relevant; or an honours degree (or recognised equivalent relevant) with appropriate research or professional experience. 

All non-native English-speaking applicants English language requirements

IELTS 6.0 or equivalent (The proof of English is not required for applicants who have studied a BA or MA programme taught in English).

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