School of Humanities and Performing Arts

MPhil/PhD Art History

Explore 21st century art history and learn about this ever-expanding discipline, marked by interdisciplinary cross-overs, varied and competing methodologies, and a huge range of objects of study that can break through the boundaries of the traditional notion of ‘art’.

Our research specialisms stretch from the medieval to the modern eras and encompass expertise in the major art historical periods, from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to Realism and Modernism.

Course details

  • Overview
  • This full time or part time doctoral programme is suitable for people who have a particular research question or topic in mind, and wish to explore this through independent study in order to produce an original contribution to the subject. If you aspire to a research career this is the most appropriate research degree to undertake.

    You will be guided by a small supervisory team of academic experts under the direction of a Director of Studies. Even if you already have a masters degree, you will normally be registered as a ‘MPhil/PhD’ candidate and may apply to transfer to ‘PhD’ status around 10–22 months after registration, based on your progress to date.

    You will be expected to fully engage with skills development and training and to present your research in a range of scholarly contexts.

    Your PhD will be assessed via submission of either a written thesis (approximately 80,000 words), or one that combines critical writing with artistic, creative and/or professional practice, and a viva voce (an oral examination).

    For full details of what doing a PhD entails at the University of Plymouth, please visit our Postgraduate Research Degrees pages.

    Core modules
    • GSRARHI4 Research Art History

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

Masters degree or equivalent from a UK higher education institution in a relevant subject.

Applicants normally have to supply a research proposal, personal statement, and occasionally evidence that they are prepared to undertake the proposed project. This may include a portfolio, or a sample of critical writing, depending on their area of study.

You will need to be able to show evidence that you are ready to pursue your proposed project. If you wish to discuss the feasibility of your research project, please contact Dr Péter Bokody (our postgraduate coordinator).

Other UK or overseas qualifications may also be accepted – with academic reference.

For more general guidelines and application requirements, please visit the research degrees applicants page.

Fees, costs and funding

Please visit tuition fees for postgraduate research for information about fees. This course is in Band 1 for fees purposes.

If you are a full time student, you will pay full time fees for three years. If you have not submitted your thesis by the end of this period, then you may pay for an optional one year writing up period.

If you are a part time student, you will pay part time fees for four years. If you have not submitted your thesis by the end of this period, then you may pay for an optional 'writing up' period of up to two years.

You are responsible for meeting all of the costs related to your own research project, beyond the resources available in the department.

Please visit our postgraduate research money matters page to find out more about issues related to fees, funding, loans and paying for your programme of study.

How to apply

In addition to completing the online application form (which includes space for a personal statement), you must also upload a research project proposal of no more than 1000 words in total. Your research proposal should outline your general topic, your key aims and the research question/problem you are addressing, your proposed methodology, key definitions/thinkers/discourses/practitioners you are drawing upon and an explanation of why this topic is significant or important.

Your personal statement should briefly explain why you have chosen to apply to our programme and what you feel you can offer our research community.

You will also need to submit a sample of your critical writing (3000 words maximum) and, if relevant, evidence of your ability to undertake the practice-led research you are proposing (e.g. a DVD, portfolio, links to website, reviews, catalogue, etc.). It should take no longer than 30 minutes to view all the visual material that you provide.

For more general guidelines and application requirements, please visit the research degrees applicants page.

Art History research

Our research specialisms stretch from the late medieval to modern periods and encompass expertise in the major art historical periods, from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to Realism and Modernism.

We contribute to a research environment rated 100% world-leading and internationally excellent in the national assessment of UK research (REF2014).

Find out more

 Principal current areas of research include:

  • Exhibition cultures in Austria in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • The intersection of modernism with medicine; art history and the medical humanities.
  • Meta-painting in Western visual culture.
  • Political iconography and representations of sexual violence in Medieval and Renaissance Italy.
  • The reception of the Renaissance and Renaissance artists from 1750 to the present.
  • The history and practice of art historical writing in Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • The visual arts and cultural politics during the interwar period, with a focus on state patronage and the New Deal art programmes of the 1930s.
  • International mural painting and public art of the 20th century.

My PhD research: Ben Wiedel-Kaufmann

"My PhD research focuses on the interrelations between Left-wing politics and a body of fifteen exterior murals made in London between 1975 and 1986. These murals were part of a broader moment in which the exterior mural form flourished across London, the United Kingdom and far beyond, yet remain absent from most art historical accounts of the period. Grounded in the methodologies of the social history of art, my study combines visual, stylistic and iconographic analysis, archival research and oral history interviews, to examine the murals within the social, political, cultural and geographic contestations of the period.

Funded by a studentship from the School of Humanities and Performing Arts my research has been supervised by Professor Jody Patterson and Professor Gemma Blackshaw. Their world-leading research, guidance, support and inspiration have been essential to the refinement and development of my project. Such commitment and expertise are matched across the wider department, where diverse areas of knowledge and generous encouragement create a rich, open and nourishing research community."

 

My PhD research: Jayne Buchanan

Imagining and remembering the soldier at the Imperial War Museum (1980 - 2000). My PhD research examines representations of the soldier within the art collection at the Imperial War museum. I consider the ability of art to memorialise conflict through the image of the soldier and reflect on the commissioning, creation, exhibition, media reception and reinterpretation of art. Focusing on the period 1980-2000 in which the Falkland’s War, the Gulf War in Afghanistan and the Bosnian War occurred, it will also place this period in context with the foundation of the museum during the First World War. In both periods artists were commissioned by the Imperial War Museum to respond artistically to conflict. Using primary archival research combined with visual analysis of the art created my research will consider changes in the representation of the soldier and whether the act of patronage has shaped or defined what is remembered.