History of Art


History of Art MPhil/PhD

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 Latest News and Events feed.

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


  • 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:


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 via Skype, 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.

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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. 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.


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)


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. 


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.


Tuition Fees (2018/19)


£5060 (FT) £2530 (PT)


£19580 (FT) £9850 (PT)


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.

AHRC Scholarships

The department typically secures 4-5 AHRC scholarships for Home/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. Applicants should have applied for a place to study at UCL by the middle of December and then directly to LAHP for the studentship competition by the 28 January 2019.

Departmental funding 2019-20

Home/EU candidates who wish to be considered for departmental funding should first apply to the AHRC scholarships via LAHP 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.
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.

 ValueEligibilityApplication Deadline
Department Research StudentshipFees plus stipend (£16,000) for 3 yearsUK/EU PhD students onlyApril 2019 - date tbc
Critical Histories of Art StudentshipFees plus stipend (£16,000) for 3 yearsUK/EU PhD students onlyApril 2019 - date tbc
History of Art Alumni StudentshipFees for 3 yearsUK/ EU PhD students onlyApril 2019 - date tbc
Departmental BursaryOne-off award of up to £10kUK/EU and Overseas MA and PhD studentsApril 2019 - date tbc


ORS/GRS Scholarships

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 the end of December 2018.

 ValueEligibilityApplications Deadline
UCL Overseas Graduate BursaryPartial fee fundingOverseas students only11 January 2019
UCL Graduate Research ScholarshipFull fees, stipend plus research allowanceHome, EU or overseas students11 January 2019

Please send applications to Lauren Sperring l.sperring@ucl.ac.uk by noon on 11 January 2019.


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