PhD and MPhil


Faculty of Graduate Studies​ University of the Visual & Performing Arts 21, Albert Crescent, Colombo 07.   View map

About the Programme

Research Higher Degrees offered by the FGS-UVPA are designed to provide research training in a manner that fosters the development of independent research skills in candidates. The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programmes are advanced postgraduate degrees undertaken by research only, and lead to advanced academic and theoretical knowledge in a specialist area. Both programmes are available in full modes.

Research higher degree candidates are required to make an original contribution to knowledge or understanding in their fields of study, and meet recognised international standards for such work. Research should be conducted with a high level of skill in analysis and critical evaluation, and should provide evidence that the candidate is familiar with and has employed the most suitable research methods and other procedures in their studies. The FGS also encourages postgraduate students to conduct practice-based-research and produce high quality research outcomes.

After finalizing an MPhil or a PhD higher research degree, students will be able to demonstrate following Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs):

  1. Engage in critical and intellectual research enquiry

    • Critically evaluate ideas and information pertaining to research projects

    • Compare and contrasts existing knowledge in visual and Performing arts research

  2.Demonstrate thorough understanding of new and existing research methodologies

  • Design and develop research projects in the relevant fields of interests

  • Tailoring appropriate methods and methodologies for research inquiries

  3.Conduct high quality and innovative research projects pertaining to Visual and performing arts

  • Demonstrate theoretical and philosophical underpinning of research works

  • Apply relevant and appropriate techniques and technologies to evaluate data

  4. Provide innovative and novel solutions to complex problems

  • Identify and analyze existing and futuristic problems

  • Hypothesis  and offer solutions for novel situations

  5. Demonstrate ability to comply with professional norms and ethics

  • Identify and apply existing norms and ethics in research

  • Apply and perform appropriate ethical frameworks for research projects

  6. Demonstrate leadership qualities and advocacy skills

  • Conceptualize and conduct new research projects generating new knowledge

  • Demonstrate leadership to resolve problems pertaining to research projects

  7. Communal skills and constructive contribution

  • Demonstrate abilities to communicate research findings to specialist and non-specialists

  • Communicate findings and disseminate them in diverse communication modes

  8. Evaluate, review and comment on one’s own work and ability to comply with new trends and demands

  • Demonstrate self-reflection and critically engage with one’s own work

  • Demonstrate the flexibility and absorption in new thoughts, ideas and arguments

Areas of Concentration

Researchers who are interested in pursuing a research degree (MPhil/PhD) can adhere to following subject areas but not limited to visual and performing arts. If you wish to submit a research proposal for an MPhil or a PhD, first you need to contact a possible supervisor (internal) listed in the website and develop your research proposal. Finalized proposal needs to be submitted in hand to the Faculty of Graduate Studies during week Days (8.30 – 4.00) adhering to the proposal submission guidelines. The evaluation and the acceptance of the proposal process will take at least 4 weeks and the FGS will contact you to inform the outcomes of your proposal. Please note that the soft copy of the research proposal should be sent to the following email:

​Visual Arts

  1. Art History and Philosophy

  2. Arts and Design

  3. Arts and Performance

  4. Image and Image Studies

  5. Sculpture and Architecture

  6. Arts and Curatorial Studies

  7. Digital Arts and Animation

  8. Textile and Ceramic Arts

  9. Drawings and Illustrations

Theatre Studies

  1. Theatre, Dance and Performer Training

  2. Acting and Performance Practice

  3. Body and Somaesthetics

  4. Theatre Historiography and Archival Studies

  5. Theatre and Intermediality

  6. Theatre, Pedagogy and Philosophy

  7. Theatre and Therapy

  8. Theatre Ritual and Culture

  9. Performance Studies

  10. Theatre, Cultural and Gender Studies

  11. Theatre and Semiology

  12. Theatre and Interculturalism

  13. Theatre and Postcoloniality

  14.  Postdramatic Theatre

  15. Performance and Reception

  16. Theatre and Cognition


  1. Dance and Movement Therapy

  2. Dance and Pedagogy

  3. Dance and Ritual Practices

  4. Dance and Dance Historiography

  5. Dance and Choreography

  6. Dance and Philosophy

  7. Dance body, Identity and Gender

  8. Dance and Postcolonialism

  9. Dance Movement, Perception and Cognition

Film Studies

  1. Film History and Archival Studies

  2. Film and Stardom Studies

  3. Film Theory and Philosophy

  4. Film and Digital Culture

  5. Visual Methodologies

  6. Photography and Image studies

  7. Film and Communication Studies

  8. Film, Gender and Cultural Studies

  9. Film Genres and Narratives

  10. Film, Visuality and Perception

  11. Film, Semiology

  12. Film and Literature

Music Studies

  1. Music and Music Therapy

  2. Music and Music Pedagogy

  3. Musicology and Traditional Music

  4. Folklore and Folk Music

  5. Music and Sound Technology

  6. Ethnomusicology

  7. Music Performance and Instruments

  8. Music and Performance

  9. Music Writing and Notation Methods

  10. Music and Human Voice Production


Applications with the following supporting documents are accepted throughout the year.

1. Degree Qualifications:

  • A Master’s Degree with a research component (SLQF Level 10) with a minimum 60 credits from recognized University*


  • First or Second Class (upper division) of following Bachelor of Honors Degree of SLQF Level 6 with a minimum GPA of 3.30 and 30 credits from recognized University*.

  • A Master’s Degree of SLQF Level 9 with a minimum of 30 credits OR Second Class (lower division) of following Bachelor of Honors Degree of SLQF Level 6 with a minimum GPA of 3.00 and 30 credits from recognized University SHOULD submit the certification of the Short Course on Research in Visual and Performing Arts offered by the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the UVPA

  • Under special circumstances, an applicant without an institutional qualification but with outstanding research, artistic and professional qualifications may be considered for admission. The candidate should submit a portfolio along with a full resume and other relevant certificates and awards to the FGS for the consideration. The Board of Study will evaluate the applicant’s eligibility and forward the application to the Board of Graduate Studies for recommendation and to the Senate for final approval. In addition, the candidate should meet all the requirements below (Except Degree certificates).

*All the degrees should obtained from the Universities/ Higher Education Institutes recognized by the University Grants Commission, Sri Lanka.

2. Proposal

  • The MPhil applicants should submit a 2000 word proposal and the PhD candidates a 3000 word proposal.

  • The research proposal should include following details:

    1.  Topic of the research

    2. Abstract

    3. Introduction

    4. Literature Review

    5. Research Problem and/or Hypothesis

    6. Objectives of the research

    7. Research Methodology

    8. Implications

    9. Research Plan/ Chapter Breakdown

    10. Bibliography

  • The proposal should be accompanied with an Ethical Clearance Certificate (where applicable) obtained from the Ethics Review Committee of FGS or any other recognized committee.

Writing a Research Proposal for MPhil/PhD Degree Programs

Writing a research proposal is a challenging task for new students who pursue a research higher degree in the University sector. There are many ways that one can prepare a research proposal. It depends on the subject matter and also the discipline you are focused on. Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of the Visual and Performing Arts promote research in visual and performing arts and also encourage researchers to pursue interdisciplinary and practice based research. Submitting a good Research proposal is crucial for the institution to determine whether you have the capacity and potential to pursue a full time research degree. In this regard following points will be considered once you submit your research proposal to the Faculty of Graduate Studies:

Proposal Assessment Criteria


Capacity to manage an MPhil/PhD research degree and its contribution to the existing knowledge


Ability to cohesively gather existing literature related to the topic area chosen and ability to critically analyze them


Wider theoretical understanding about philosophies and cultural theories related to the chosen field of study and demonstrate the skill of applying them appropriately


Demonstrate competence in application of appropriate research methods and methodologies and critically comment on them


Ability to use accepted language and writing skills through using academic writing approaches

Aligning the research topics and areas relevant to Faculty’s available supervisors and their research interests


Correct use of in-text citation and bibliographical data.

The following pages provide a preliminary guidelines or pathway to prepare your research proposal. Please note that MPhil or a PhD is a full item research and it requires a great deal of reading, research and writing ability to communicate your research findings to a wider community of your field of interest. Hence the first thing that you should think of is whether you are in the right time and space to pursue a research degree. If you are a probationary lecturer pursuing a research degree or a professional working in the creative Industry, you may need a full time dedication to conduct a research degree required by the by laws and regulations pertaining to a higher research degree.

University Grants commission in Sri Lanka provides learning outcomes and graduate profile of an MPhil and PhD level candidature and it is vital for you to consider what skills, knowledge and attitudinal changes that may require for you to fulfil a higher degree research (see Sri Lanka Qualification Framework). This manual explains level 11 and 12 as highest academic achievements in MPhil and PhD studies. Please read followings:


to conduct advanced research

to further embark on higher degree and specialized professional employment

to enhance professional, managerial, administrative and technological capacities


high quality, original and independent research, and contribute to scholarship or

enhancing professional, managerial, administrative research and technological capacities to enable specialized professional employment at the higher level

If you are willing to pursue a research degree, first you should contact a potential supervisor listed in this FGS website and write about your willingness to start a research journey. You may discuss about your selected topics and research areas with your supervisor and learn how to prepare your research proposal. Once you finalize your proposal, you should submit it to the FGS for further approval. The FGS will send the proposal to two members of Board of Study and get their reviews of how your proposal is fit for the above criteria. This reviewing process is double blind process and you will be contacted by the FGS to inform you whether your proposal is approved by the FGS Board of study and the Board of Graduate Studies. It should be noted that this process is a time consuming task and may be a painstaking task for some applicants. Do not expect quick and speedy process of developing a proposal and getting the approval as your proposal should be rewrite, edit or altered with comments provided by reviewers and others. Therefore be ready to be opened to accept criticisms and suggestions. FGS MPhil and PhD course guidelines will provide useful information about the preliminaries of a research candidature and how you should go through each step in your research career. Following information further will help you to form and write a successful research proposal:

Writing your Proposal

First and foremost your research proposal should demonstrate that you have the capacity to:

  • undertake a larger research project
  • clear idea about the larger context of the field of interest
  • identify an original and interesting research question/s
  • read and identify key authorities of the said field and their contributions
  • manage and use accepted citation system and compiling bibliography


  • First page (Title of the Research Project/Degree undertaken / index number / your name/year
  • Table of contents
  • Introduction and Context

Introduce the research proposal by outlining the research topic. Here the author should introduce the background to the research and how this research is vital and important for the development of the field of interest.

Research question/s and objectives

You should formulate a solid research question/s and introduce it in the proposal while writing the objectives or aims of the research. There are differences between a research problem and research question. Therefore you need to make sure that you are providing clear research question/s

Research Hypothesis

In simple definition, hypothesis is your assumption/s or the answer to your research question. There is a link between the research question and the hypothesis.In most instances a hypothesis is a variable which is influenced by certain elements similar to course and effect. The simplest way to understand this concept is that it is your assumption or a projected answer to your research question.

Literature and Theoretical understanding

Literature review is a major part of your proposal and the examiners expect to read the literature review within which you contextualize your research gap and research question. A good literature review is consisted of not just a list of books and papers but a critical analysis, comparison, or contrast of existing literature and their argumental relevance to your research question.

Research Methods and Methodological Understanding

Research methods and methodologies are two different things. You need a thorough understanding and how to apply these tools in your research project.

Limitations of the research project

Limitation of a research indicates the influences that may affect the final outcomes of the research. But for many researchers, limitation indicates the scope of the research. There are certain limitations that cannot be controlled or handle by the research and these limitation influence in the methodology and conclusion. This is a problematic issue in many proposals. Therefore, you clearly need to define the difference between research limitations and research scope.

Chapter Breakdown

Students always confused with writing a Chapter breakdown because they are experiencing difficulties in formulating a chapter outline. What the FGS expect from this is to write a tentative chapter breakdown and show to your reader how you are planning to write your thesis and its key components. In this sense, this is not a concrete or unstable thing. This can be changed or altered during your research candidature. What we expect from you is to project your thoughts into the future and draft a tentative chapter structure which explains the key elements of your thesis.


Bibliography and the in-text citation are vital components of a research proposal. You need to refer other scholars’ work and ideas in your literature review section and you need to cite what you refer in the body of your writing. In addition, all the references that you use in the body of your writing should be included in the bibliography according to an accepted reference style. The FGS prefers APA or Harvard referencing style. If you fail to provide a correct accepted referencing style may result in rejecting your research proposal. Please note that do not include book list which are not cited in the body of your proposal.

Reviewers consider about how you submit your research proposal. Language accuracy and structuring your writing matter. Therefore you need to pay a close attention to what you submit as a research proposal. Poorly articulated arguments, language and typological errors and poor formatting of a proposal may result in rejecting your proposal because reviewers look at your potential and skill level whether you are prepared enough for a high level of research degree. Therefore it is worth to spend some time on your proposal and correct language and other structural errors before you submit your proposal. Our reviewers and supervisors know that in the course of your candidature your proposal will change and take different directions. But submitting a precise and good quality proposal is the responsibility of the researcher.

3  Supervision

  • The candidate should contact a supervisor at UVPA beforehand and get his/her consent to supervise the research project.

  • If needed, the candidate can nominate an external academic as his/her second supervisor with the academic levels of MPhil /PhD/DLitt

4 Recommendations

  • Recommendations from two academics practicing or teaching in the relevant field attesting the applicant’s research competence in the field.

  • Recommendations are considered confidential and therefore, it should be sent to the FGS office () via email by the relevant academic.

5 Degree Certificates/ Academic Transcripts

  • Copies of the relevant degree certificate must be submitted along with the application.

  • The official academic transcripts should be sent to the Faculty of Graduate Studies through the respective Universities/ Higher Education Institutes.

6 Writing Sample

  • Submission of a writing sample not exceeding more than 20 pages. The writing sample can be either a thesis chapter, journal article, book chapter or academic publications that can be accepted by the Board of Study.

7 Curriculum Vitae/ Portfolio

  • A Curriculum Vitae (maximum 6 pages) or a Portfolio (maximum 15 pages) should be submitted. This should highlight the applicants key achievements in the field of research and/or creative practice.

8 Financial Proposal

  • If necessary financial proposal for the research (funding agencies or self) should be submitted.

9 Application

  • Applicant should submit the completed application form together with documents mentioned above to the Faculty of Graduate Studies of the University of the Visual & Performing Arts.

Work Plan for MPhil / PhD Candidates


Becoming a postgraduate student is a challenging and a difficult journey. It is challenging because you need to change your life style. It is difficult because you need to manage work – life balance. You may be a lecturer at a particular institute or a University and you have many administrative and teaching assignments to fulfill. Further if you have a family, your work could be more difficult than you think. You need to take care of your family matters and at the same time your teaching and administration tasks to be taken care of in a timely manner. In the meantime, you are expected to fulfill certain career goals which allow you to step up in your professional career. Amidst all these activities and commitments, you need to be a researcher and write a thesis and submit it to the relevant community of scholars to be an accepted scholar in your respected field of study

In this document, I am providing you some tips and strategies to get rid of your difficulties and achieve your academic goals with a minimum stress. But one thing is certain. You need to follow these instructions. This needs your continual dedication and commitment towards your work. At the end of the day, I am sure that you will see the light at the end of the tunnel

Things to know before you go

  • You may have been in your field for a long time and you may have been teaching and doing a lot of creative works. But that does not ensure that you can become a good researcher

  • To become a good researcher, you need more research skills and other competencies.

  • You need to cultivate RESEARCH, WRITING and ANALYTICAL SKILLS to become a good researcher.

  • Further, you need to be well aware of what other scholars and writers have written about your filed of interest.

  • Do not think that you are the first one to research on your topic area. As Karl Marks once said, ‘philosophers have explored the world. Our task is to find how to change it’.

Therefore, as a researcher, your task is to see what others have already done in your research area and how you could contribute to your filed of interest.

  • There are many researchers who have already done many research in your field of interest. So, you need to know what they have done.

  • You need to find out what they have written, argued and debated on this particular topic area.

  • Then you will get a clear idea about what you have to do and what is the lack or the GAP in your field.

  • You cannot find a proper research question if you cannot have a clear idea about what have already been explored.

  • If you can find out what others have explored in your field of interest, then you would know what you need to contribute.

  • Finding a research question is a painful and a time consuming task. You cannot formulate a proper research question in a vacuum.

  • The research question is germinated out of your thorough reading of the LITERATURE.

  • You need to admit the fact that you don’t read much. I think you agree with me.

  • As an MPhil or a PhD candidate, you need to read a lot. Reading is an essential part of your research career.

  • If you are a good reader, fifty percent of your research career is fulfilled.

  • Evaluate whether you are a good reader. If not, you need to start reading as a

Professional task:

  • You need to change your life style in order for you to focus on your research.

  • It is not only THINKING that may affect your research outcomes, but your BEHAVIORAL patterns also may need many changes.

  • Because you have not been able to read systematically, you are experiencing difficulties in formulating ideas. Your mind is going here and there.

  • Therefore you need to stop it and anchor on your research area.

Change your behavior:

  • Evaluate how your daily life is evolving. You may go to the University, cover your teaching assignments, do paper markings, attend meetings etc.

  • At the end of the day, you may get tired and exhausted because of your daily commitments and routines.

  • On top of that you may interact with your friends, attend parties and social activities, and do a lot of work at your home.

  • But on top of all these activities, in the back of your mind, you are being reminded that you need to write a thesis and submit it because the time is clicking.

  • In this sense, you are living in two world; not knowing how to manage two different activities to be integrated and successfully execute them in a timely manner.

  • This may need a BEHAVIORAL CHANGE and TIME MANAGEMENT skills to handle your professional and private activities.

  • If you really want to commit on your research, then you need a revision and change in your life style. This is a must. Then how do you change your life? This is the question.

  • If you can take leave from your job, get it and settle down. Discuss with your partner or family that you are pursuing a new journey.

  • You need your family to understand what you do and how you are going to change your life pattern. You need their support to get your behavioral patterns changed.

  • Limit your social interactions and functions at least for a short period of time.

  • If you can dedicate a couple of hours for your reading, research and writing, this would be more than enough to achieve your goals. But this needs commitment.

  • On a daily basis, you are being distracted by many other activities. Sometimes these distractions come through your own activities and sometimes they are coming from outside forces.

  • You need to learn how to manage these distractions and focus on your work.

  • The biggest enemy of a researcher is ‘PROCRASTINATION’. This means that you get distracted or diverted with many other activities and finally you do not achieve your set up goals.

  • Most of the time, this procrastination comes through your own psychological and physical activities.

  • The nature of this psychological state is that you know that you need to do a particular task in your research (for instance, writing a paper) but you cannot get into this activity but you do a lot of activities around it.

  • Your thinking leads you to procrastinate and leave your important task aside.

  • The most dangerous activity for a researcher is to think that ‘thinking’ is the key activity of a research life.

  • If you are a successful researcher, you need to keep the balance between your thinking and pragmatism. That means thinking itself does not help you to finish your task. If you need to write a paper, you need to sit and start writing. This is PRAGMATISM.

Research Life:

  • You need to read as a professional reader in order for you to develop systematic way of thinking.

  • Therefore, evaluate whether you read systematically and continually toward achieving your research goals.

  • You need to dedicate at least a couple of hours for your reading. This is mandatory.

  • Without these readings, you will not be able to develop your understanding towards your research area.

  • Select at least three (3) refereed research papers related to your subject and start reading.

  • You need to log on to your library e-portal or find hard copies of research journals and select your papers related to your topic.

  • Selecting relevant papers is a tricky job. You need to know what key words and phrases in your subject are more prominent for you to select relevant research papers.

  • Select those key words and use search engines to find out relevant, refereed journal articles.

  • If you do not know how to use search engines, meet your librarian and learn it. This is essential.

  • Download those articles, place them in a particular folder/ if you can, print them and start reading.

  • Underline or highlight interesting sentences, sections or keywords in your article.

  • Collect and file your research articles in a box file and manage your reading list systematically.

  • You need to read at least 3 journal articles in a week. Read them summarize them, paraphrase them or quote them in your NOTE TAKING TEMPLATE or in a research journal.

  • You can maintain a RESEARCH JOURNAL where you can write your thoughts and other ideas in a daily basis.

  • Carry your Research Journal anywhere you go and keep updating it with daily thoughts related to your research work.

  • Continue your reading and summarize those ideas in your research journal/template given. Keep them safely because you might need them in the future.

  • Collect books or chapters that may be relevant to your research area and read them systematically.

  • Meet your supervisor regularly and other friends who are interested in talking about your research and discuss about your issue and concerns.

  • Identify your research area, research topic, and your research questions and problem statement.

  • Send your note taking materials time to time to your supervisor for feed backs.

Reading and note taking:

  • What time you prefer to read and write? It may be in the morning or night. But you need to keep the consistency of your reading and note taking.

  • Prepare your room in the University where you can sit and read leisurely.

  • Because your reading is very much engaging, it may need a lot of time. You may highlight sections and take notes while you read. This is active reading.​
  • Select a particular time in the day that you can read and write.

  • Let’s suppose that you come to your room in the University in the morning. Do not check your email or social media. This may distract your thoughts and your line of action.

  • The first thing that you need to do is to read your paper or write your paragraph.

  • Open your empty word document. Put a title and start writing.

  • First, your writing may appear unpleasant and dissatisfied to you. This is normal. Do not be judgmental about your writing but keep writing.

  • Set up a daily target for your writing. Let’s say that you have a target of achieving 500 words per day. Then try to achieve this target. Don’t try to overestimate or under estimate your achievements. Be generous.

  • Continue your writing 5 days a week.

  • It is very rare that Sri Lankan Universities maintain good academic culture.

  • You don’t see that peers are actively reading in their rooms in the University. For most of them, a post of lecturer means teaching and covering designated hours.

  • Your peers won’t tell you what to read and how to read because they are not readers or researchers.

  • There are many drama and theatre Departments in the country. And there are many so called academics who are teaching drama and theatre. But we hardly see what they write or publish.

  • So, don’t end up been stagnated academics like them. You have a responsibility and you are accountable. Keep this in mind. The society wants you to do research and publish your written works/creative works.

  • Spend time with your family in the week end. But you need to continue your writing and reading.


  • Set up a writing task and start writing without procrastination.

  • If you continue your writing (500 words per day) / (5 days a week), at the end of the week you can achieve 2500 words. This is a great achievement.

  • If you continue this exercise for 4 weeks, you can achieve 10,000 words. WHAT A BIG ACHIEVEMENT!

  • So writing a thesis is not a mammoth task if you do it systematically.

  • Do not think that you are going to write a 50,000 words thesis. Set up a daily target and try to achieve it. In time, you will achieve your big target gradually.

As you can see, there are many things that you may need to cultivate to become a good researcher. Think and act immediately. You are not late. Change your life style that prepare for a big change if you need to become an effective researcher. There are communities around you that help you to achieve your goals. Ask help and discuss with them all the time. Don’t be isolated and become a mere ‘thinker’. Talk to your research community and share your thoughts and ideas.

Fee & Refund Policy

Master of Philosophy

Other Fees Applicable

Doctor of Philosophy

Other Fees Applicable

Refund Policy

  1. For local students the total tuition fee for the MPhil is LKR 140,000.00 and PhD is LKR 265,000.00.

  2. All fees are compulsory

  3. Students are required to pay registration fee, library fee and 50% of the academic fee at the time of registration

  4. Students are allowed to pay academic fee in two equal installments for MPhil Degree. 50% at the time of registration and 50% completing within next 3 months after completing year 1

  5. Academic fee applies during minimum time period of the Degree. If the candidature of a student extends beyond the minimum period, he/she is required to pay a half of the above annual fee for each additional year in addition to the rate for renewal of the registration.

  6. The Faculty maintain separate payment rates for renewal of registration, repeat examinations

Mode of payment

Fees are payable

  • In respect of the FGS Bank Account 7810034 at the Bank of Ceylon, 30/A, Independence Avenue, Colombo 07 using deposit slips of the bank; OR

  • To the Shroff counter of the University by cash using the payment voucher of the FGS; OR

  • Online payment can be made via

You are advised to submit original copy of the payment slip to the FGS while keeping the carbon copy or a photocopy of the slip with you for future reference.

**All the fees are subject to change annually

 International student fees

A new chart should be included for International students

  • Overseas student fees will be announced annually by the University.


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