Information Studies MPhil/PhD

London, Bloomsbury

UCL Information Studies is one of the only departments in the UK with research programmes in library and information studies, information science, archives and records management, publishing, and digital humanities. We can also offer unparalleled opportunities for cross-domain research, such as user studies and usability, metadata, the management of electronic resources, information governance, data science and semantic technologies for the humanities.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
3 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
Research degrees may start at any time of the year, but typically start in September.
Applications accepted
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Entry requirements

A minimum of an upper-second class UK Bachelor’s degree in an appropriate subject, or a recognised taught Master’s degree. Overseas qualifications of an equivalent standard from a recognised higher education institution are also accepted.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 2

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level.

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

UCL Information Studies undertakes research in fields including Librarianship, Archives and Records Management, Publishing, Information and Data Science, Machine Learning, Knowledge-based Artificial Intelligence and Digital Humanities, and offers doctoral study in these fields. Our research aims to develop the understanding and insight needed to shape the emerging information environment, while elucidating and building on the historical developments that have created it. We are the country's largest department of Information Studies located within one of the world's top ten universities and our teaching is built upon an international research reputation.

Who this course is for

This MPhil/PhD is for applicants with a strong interest or background in librarianship, archives and records management, publishing, information and data science, machine learning, knowledge-based artificial intelligence, and/or digital humanities. It is suitable for both recent masters graduates as well as early or mid-career professionals.

What this course will give you

The department has strong links with a wide variety of organisations including the National Archives, the Turing Institute, the British Museum and other major museums and galleries, and with various publishing houses. We are located close to the British Library and other major research libraries. Our central London location makes it easy for collaborative work with other nearby institutions and groups to take place.

The department's research is organised around four research centres and groups. These facilitate interaction between established researchers, and offer research training and career development opportunities for early stage researchers and research students. Importantly, they provide coherence and a critical mass of researchers in key areas.

The foundation of your career

Our doctoral students go on to do a wide variety of interesting jobs after they graduate from UCL. Many go into senior posts in the information professions, both in the UK and abroad. Examples include: Head, Curation and Preservation Services, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Libraries, USA; Chief of Archives at the United Nations; and Head of Research, The National Archives, UK. Others continue their academic career in universities around the world, in departments of library science, computer science, information management, archive studies, digital humanities and publishing.


Some of our research students have already worked as information professionals in the public and private sectors or in academia in the UK and worldwide. Other research students have recently completed masters programmes and have yet to start a professional career. The successful completion of a research degree has enabled many of our students to achieve high positions in fields including information and technical professions, cultural heritage/GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) professions, and policy, both in the UK and around the world.


The department has a strong culture of collaborative research and brings together researchers, whether staff or students, from across UCL as well as other institutions and organisations. Crucial to this are our research groups and centres, which provide a focus for our research activity, including doctoral students, post-docs and staff with specific research interests. Most doctoral students are attached to one or more of these groups and will be encouraged to get involved in research seminars, visiting speakers, annual lectures, visits and other activities which these centres organise regularly. The centres also facilitate online interaction through blogs and twitter feeds.

Teaching and learning

During your first year you will attend the DIS Doctoral Studies Research Seminar module (a weekly seminar based programme). You will work with supervisors to develop your research proposal and research questions, undertake an extended literature review and identify your research approach and methods.

All doctoral students are expected to take full advantage of the skills development programme available through the UCL Doctoral School. Research students should accrue 20 points per year (60 points over 3 years, or 80 points over 4 years).

All research students are initially registered for an MPhil. Upgrade to PhD status is dependent on satisfactory progress and takes place between months 9 and 18 for full-time students (15 and 30 for part-time students). The upgrade examination involves a written upgrade report and viva examination. A total of 20 training points are also required to Upgrade. Final PhD examination is by thesis submission and an oral viva examination.

Contact hours and hours of self-study are agreed between the student and the supervisor at the beginning of their research degree and should be reviewed on a regular basis. Full-time postgraduate research (PGR) students are expected to work a minimum of 36.5 hours per week on their project. With agreement of their supervisors, contact time can be on-site or remote working depending upon the nature and stage of the project. PGR students can have the opportunity to access UCL facilities ‘out of hours’ including weekends and holidays during their period of registration, and will have research meetings with their supervisors at least once per month. Full-time PGR students can take 27 days of annual leave, plus eight days of bank holidays and six UCL closure days.

Research areas and structure

At the heart of our research activities lie the following centres and groups hosted by the department:

  • Centre for Digital Humanities
  • Centre for Publishing
  • Centre for Archives and Records Research
  • Forum for information literacy Research
  • Knowledge, Information and Data Science group

Research environment

We are one of the only university departments in the United Kingdom with postgraduate programmes in Library and Information Studies, Knowledge, Information and Data Science, Archives and Records Management, Publishing, and Digital Humanities. As well as topics within these specific areas, we can offer unparalleled opportunities for cross-domain research, for example in user studies and usability, metadata, the management of electronic resources, data visualisation, and applications of machine learning to natural language processing.

You will benefit from conducting research at one of the world’s top universities and will be supervised by experienced and internationally known researchers.

Year 1 Full-time

During your first year, you will attend the DIS Doctoral Studies Research Seminar module (a weekly seminar based programme which continues for 3 terms in Year 1).

Typically in the first year of study, you will work with supervisors to develop your research proposal and research questions, undertake an extended literature review, identify your broad research approach and appropriate research methods. By the end of Year 1, you should have a clearly articulated research proposal and associated research method, an initial bibliography appropriately referenced, have read a range of relevant literature, and developed a provisional timetable for the next two to three years. You will have done sufficient initial research to prepare for upgrade to full PhD candidate status.

Year 2 Full-time

If progress has been sufficient in Year 1, an upgrade to doctoral student status is made. If you are a full-time student, you should undertake the PhD upgrade after 9-18 months of registration. The exact timing will depend on when you are ready to meet the requirements.

Your activities in your second year will depend on your research area and methodology. Some students focus on primary data collection, others on experimentation, computer coding, or development of formal models or theories. You may focus on training in specific software packages or other tools that you wish to use to conduct analysis or experiments. Throughout your PhD, you will continue to meet your supervisor regularly to reassess your skills development and training needs and maintain the Log progress record.

Year 3 Full-time

In your third year, you will typically continue with the research activities undertaken in the previous year but with an increasing emphasis on analysis of the results accumulated using your chosen methodologies. During this year, you will also increasingly spend time on structuring and writing your final thesis, revising and improving earlier written material as necessary. Some students also begin to publish parts of their work and/or present their research at academic venues.

Completing Research Status (CRS)

The formal minimum length of the MPhil/PhD is three years. If you are not ready to submit your thesis after three years you will be required to apply for ‘Completing Research Status' (CRS). If agreed, it enables you to be registered with UCL for a fourth year of study without payment of any fees. Many full-time students complete and submit their thesis in this way

The milestones are spread over a longer timescale if you are part-time. You may have to take the DIS Doctoral Studies Research Seminar module over your first and second year and will not usually be ready to upgrade until your second year. You will conduct your main research over several years and will plan to write up and submit in your fifth year. If you are not ready to submit by the end of your fifth year, you can have up to two years of CRS.

UCL Information Studies has a number of doctoral students who study part-time over a minimum of five years. Part-time study is typically undertaken in conjunction with other employment, for example within the information professions, or because you have significant other time-consuming commitments.

The milestones are spread over a longer timescale if you are part-time. You may have to take the DIS Doctoral Studies Research Seminar module over your first and second year and will not usually be ready to upgrade until your second year. You will conduct your main research over several years and will plan to write up and submit in your fifth year. If you are not ready to submit by the end of your fifth year, you can have up to two years of CRS.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £6,035 £3,015
Tuition fees (2024/25) £28,100 £14,050

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website:

Additional costs

The department strives to keep additional costs low. Books and journal articles are usually available via the UCL library (hard copies or via e-journal subscriptions).

The department has some funds which can be applied for, on a case by case basis, for research expenses.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

Please visit our Scholarships for doctoral students in DIS page for more information about our departmental funding opportunities.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Quirk PhD Scholarship

Deadline: 26 January 2024
Value: Fees and maintenance (3yrs)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: UK

Next steps

Applicants can identify and contact potential supervisors before making their application. If they do not, the research proposal will be used to identify any potential supervisors in the department. For more information, see our Applying for a PhD in the Department of Information Studies page.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2024-2025

Got questions? Get in touch

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.