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MPhil/PhD History of Art

The UCL History of Art Department is top-rated for research; our staff are active researchers in a range of specialist fields and there is a thriving graduate community. Graduate students participate in our weekly graduate seminar, and research students also write, edit and produce the journal Object. We also offer opportunities for research students to work as Teaching Assistants in the department; these opportunities will be posted on our Job Opportunities page.

Our ongoing and extensive contact with other Art History departments in the University of London facilitates joint skills training, as well as interchanges and communication in shared seminars and public events.

Our proximity to and cordial relations with national museums and galleries, such as the British Museum, afford access to innumerable artefacts and artworks. UCL's own Art Collections hold many rare and important works. 

Key Facts

Degree Programme

History of Art MPhil/PhD

Duration

  • Full-time: 3 years
  • Part-time: 5 years

Subject area

History of Art

Faculty overview:

Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences

Current research student numbers:

45

Research Excellence Framework

85% rated 4* ('world-leading') or 3* ('internationally excellent')

What is the Research Excellence Framework?

Entry and Application

We welcome applications to our research programme from candidates wishing to pursue research in a wide range of fields covering the history of art and visual culture from the Middle Ages to contemporary art. Candidates interested in applying for an MPhil/PhD must present a proposal for the topic they are intending to pursue under the supervision of an individual member of staff. Please familiarise yourself with the research expertise of members of our academic staff by using their individual pages on our departmental website.

Your initial email to the Graduate Tutor and/or potential supervisor might be an informal email with a short sketch of the proposed project. If we consider your application, we will ask for a 1500-2000 word proposal that outlines the project and research questions, situates the project within the scholarly field and proposes a methodological approach.

Once candidates have officially applied, they will be interviewed either in person or online (via MS Teams or Zoom), typically by their future supervisor and the Graduate Tutor. During the interview, we will discuss your project with you, but there will also be time for your questions and to talk about funding opportunities and procedures.

Application deadlines

Research degrees may start any time of the year, but typically start with the beginning of the academic year at the end of September. Deadlines and start date are usually dictated by funding arrangements. Candidates who wish to be considered for funding should contact us no later than the beginning of December, and need to submit their applications to UCL no later than the first week of January.

For more information see our How to apply page.

Apply Now


Entry Requirements

Candidates for the MPhil/PhD are normally required to have obtained a first-class MA degree in the History of Art or related subject, or an equivalent overseas qualification. Candidates for the PhD register initially for an MPhil which can be upgraded to a PhD at the end of the first year on the successful presentation of a chapter to the Graduate Teaching Committee.

For further information on application procedures, please contact the departmental Graduate Tutor, Richard Taws, or the Graduate Teaching and Learning Administrator, Naomi Quinn-Friedman. The Application itself is submitted via UCL's electronic submission system.


English Language Requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

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


International students

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


 
Careers

Recent graduates have been awarded prestigious post-doctoral fellowship and secured academic positions at top universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, North America and Asia. Many have also pursued successful curatorial careers at major museums and collections in Britain, including Tate Modern, the Hayward Gallery, The Victoria and Albert Museum, the Barbican Art Gallery and many more including museum and galleries abroad. Others work as art journalists or in publishing.

Top career destinations for this degree

  • Lecturer, Courtauld Institute of Art (2011)
  • Curator, Tate Modern (2012)
  • Post-doctoral Fellowship, British Academy (2011)
  • Assistant Professor, McGill University (2011)
  • Lecturer, Edinburgh University (2012)

Employability

The PhD in the History of Art requires independent, self-motivated research and will teach students to formulate and convey their ideas both within specialised areas as well as within broader audiences. It will enable the student to develop original thinking on all aspects of visual culture, drawing on historical and contemporary cultural debates. Students gain experience of working in different kinds of archives and with different approaches to visual material. PhD students are trained to work as teaching assistants in the department, and the combination of research and teaching skills prepares them for the diverse demands of an academic career. 


Networking

A PhD in Art History also prepares students to take up senior curatorial or management positions in museums or the heritage industry. Our research students have the opportunity to participate in the editing of the journal Object, an experience particularly valuable for pursuing a career in art, academic and general culture-related publishing.


Careers

Recent graduates have been awarded prestigious post-doctoral fellowship and secured academic positions at top universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, North America and Asia. Many have also pursued successful curatorial careers at major museums and collections in Britain, including Tate Modern, the Hayward Gallery, The Victoria and Albert Museum, the Barbican Art Gallery and many more including museum and galleries abroad. Others work as art journalists or in publishing.

Top career destinations for this degree

  • Lecturer, Courtauld Institute of Art (2011)
  • Curator, Tate Modern (2012)
  • Post-doctoral Fellowship, British Academy (2011)
  • Assistant Professor, McGill University (2011)
  • Lecturer, Edinburgh University (2012)

Employability

The PhD in the History of Art requires independent, self-motivated research and will teach students to formulate and convey their ideas both within specialised areas as well as within broader audiences. It will enable the student to develop original thinking on all aspects of visual culture, drawing on historical and contemporary cultural debates. Students gain experience of working in different kinds of archives and with different approaches to visual material. PhD students are trained to work as teaching assistants in the department, and the combination of research and teaching skills prepares them for the diverse demands of an academic career. 


Networking

A PhD in Art History also prepares students to take up senior curatorial or management positions in museums or the heritage industry. Our research students have the opportunity to participate in the editing of the journal Object, an experience particularly valuable for pursuing a career in art, academic and general culture-related publishing.


Fees

Tuition Fees (2021/22)

UK/EU:

£5,525 (FT)
£2,765 (PT)

Overseas:

£22,230 (FT)
£11,190 (PT)


Funding

There are many opportunities to secure funding for your research degree and colleagues would be happy to support you with your application. Below is a list of some of the main sources of funding secured by our PhD students. For a more comprehensive list visit the Scholarships and Funding website. You may find the UCL Scholarships Finder of particular use.

Our students have also been successful in applying for sources of support from overseas funding agencies and educational charities, so we encourage you to investigate these where relevant.


AHRC Scholarships

The department has typically secured 2-4 AHRC scholarships for UK/EU students. AHRC scholarships are awarded and administered by the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP). Applicants for these scholarships must apply to the UCL History of Art research degree before applying for funding via LAHP. The 2021 competition opens in late November; please check the LAHP website for details.

Applicants will have ideally applied for a place to study at UCL by the middle of December but must have applied to UCL by Friday 15 January 2021 at the latest, and should then apply directly to LAHP for the studentship competition. Please ensure that you give your prospective supervisor and the Departmental Graduate Tutor plenty of notice of your intention to apply. The LAHP application deadline for 2021 funding is Friday 29 January 2021, 5pm GMT. 


Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarships (UK/Overseas)

For the 2021-22 academic year, up to four Postgraduate Scholarships funded by the Wolfson Foundation will be awarded by UCL to outstanding students from across the Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences, and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, who demonstrate the potential to make an impact on their chosen field. Wolfson Scholarships will be awarded solely on academic merit. Ideally, the successful students would aspire to an academic career. 

For 2021-22 entry both UK and Overseas applicants are eligible for this award. More details about these scholarships and information on how to apply can be found on this page.  

Applicants should have applied to the UCL History of Art research degree programme by Monday 4 January 2021. The departmental deadline for receipt of applications for the Wolfson Scholarship (including the supervisor’s letter of support) is Monday 11 January 2021, 12pm GMT. Please send your application email to Naomi Quinn-Friedman (naomi.quinn-friedman@ucl.ac.uk).


ORS/GRS Scholarships (UK/Overseas)

These studentships are aimed at attracting high-quality students from around the world to undertake research at UCL. Applicants should have applied for a place to study at UCL by Friday 8 January 2021.

After making an application to the programme please send the scholarship application documents outlined on the ORS/GRS webpages to Naomi Quinn-Friedman (naomi-quinn.friedman@ucl.ac.uk) by 13 January 2021. 

The UCL Overseas Graduate Bursary (ORS) offers fee funding to cover the difference between Overseas and UK tuition fees. It is open to Overseas applicants only. More information can be found here.

The UCL Graduate Research Scholarship (GRS) offers full UK fees, a stipend, plus research allowance. It is open to both UK and Overseas applicants. More information can be found here.


UCL Research Opportunities Scholarship 

This studentship is intended to support BME postgraduate research degree students. Applicants should have applied for a place to study at UCL and have notified the department they would like to be considered for a UCL-ROS by Wednesday 13 January 2021, 12pm GMT.

More details about this scholarship and its eligibility criteria can be found here


Departmental Funding 2021-22

Candidates who wish to be considered for departmental funding should first apply to the AHRC scholarships via LAHP, where eligible, and later for the departmental scholarships. The decisions over the departmental scholarship will be taken after we have learned about the outcome of the LAHP studentship competition, so no applications need be received until then.

**Please note: The application deadlines and value of these awards are currently provisional and will be confirmed later in the 2021-22 application cycle**

If you wish to be considered for one of the departmental scholarships, please send an informal request via email accompanied by your proposal (1500-2000 words) and a CV by the deadlines indicated below. If you wish you can also reuse the material submitted for your LAHP/AHRC application. Applications should be sent to Naomi Quinn-Friedman (naomi.quinn-friedman@ucl.ac.uk).

Award Value EligibilityApplication Deadline
Department Research StudentshipFees plus stipend (£16,000) for 3 yearsUK/EU PhD students onlyApril 26th 2021
Critical Histories of Art StudentshipFees plus stipend (£16,000) for 3 yearsUK/EU PhD students onlyApril 26th 2021
Departmental BursaryOne-off award of up to £15kUK/EU and Overseas MA and PhD studentsApril 26th 2021

UCL Graduate School

Through courses, inter-disciplinary programmes, and scholarships we encourage research students to look beyond the boundaries of their chosen discipline, as well as sharing and broadening knowledge across disciplines through societies and competitions. All of these activities are detailed on the UCL Graduate School website with links to all elements of the doctoral research training environment here at UCL.

Programme Contacts

Naomi Quinn-Friedman, Graduate Teaching and Learning Administrator, +44 (0)203 108 4011

PhD student teaching opportunities

As part of its commitment to providing opportunities for research students to gain teaching experience in the course of their doctoral studies, the History of Art Department offers a number of Postgraduate Teaching Assistant (PGTA) positions each year, in various subject areas covered by the Department at undergraduate level. The Postgraduate Teaching Scheme is designed to enable research students to contribute to teaching and marking/assessment activities within the Department, within a structure that also offers training and support. 

The PGTA positions are advertised on the Job Opportunities page. They are filled for 2020/21, and PGTA 2021/22 opportunities will be advertised next Spring.