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Entry requirements

Good degree, usually including history of art.

A 2000-word research proposal must be submitted with your application.

Months of entry

January, April, October

Course content

The Department of History of Art has an international reputation for its research in medieval, Renaissance and modern art. Our range of interests include: nineteenth- and twentieth-century design history; photography; museology; gender and representation; and interdisciplinary topics, particularly relationships between: art and film; art and anthropology; and art and medicine.

Current research is concentrated in the following areas:

Early Modern Art and Architecture in Southern and Central Europe

  • Urbanism, architecture and visual culture in Medieval Europe
  • Visual cultures of fifteenth-century Europe
  • Art in Early Modern Italy


  • Medieval architecture in Central and Eastern Europe
  • Institutional and domestic space in early-twentieth-century Vienna
  • Brutalism and twentieth-century British architecture


  • Daguerrotypes and nineteenth-century commercial photography
  • Photography and gender
  • Photography and sculpture
  • Twentieth-century British photojournalism
  • 1970s radical photographic practice

Museums and Memory Studies

  • Museums, monuments and memorialisation
  • Monuments and trauma
  • Micro-museums

British Art

  • Eighteenth-century portraiture and conversation pieces
  • Nineteenth-century optical technologies
  • Twentieth-century art, photography and architecture

Within History of Art, research seminars and events are organised through the following Research Centres:

An MPhil/PhD is an advanced postgraduate research degree that requires original research and the submission of a substantial dissertation. The MPhil thesis is not more than 60,000 words; the PhD thesis is not more than 100,000 words. The thesis requirements for a practice-based project vary according to the nature of the research and can be discussed with the admissions tutors. Both the MPhil and the PhD are assessed by a viva voce examination.

At Birkbeck, you are initially registered on an MPhil and you upgrade to a PhD after satisfactory progress in the first year (full-time) or second year (part-time). Research skills training is offered both within the department and the School of Arts, along with seminars and events specifically designed to meet the needs of research students.

You need to find a suitable academic supervisor at Birkbeck, who can offer the requisite expertise to guide and support you through your research. Find out more about undertaking a research degree at Birkbeck.

Read about our current MPhil/PhD students and their areas of research.

We hold open days and evenings for prospective students interested in our programmes throughout the year.


  • Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the most recent Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent; Art and Design at Birkbeck achieved 100% for a research environment supporting world-leading or internationally excellent research.

Information for international students

If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

Fees and funding

PhD students resident in England can apply for government loans of over £26,000 to cover the cost of tuition fees, maintenance and other study-related costs.

Outstanding MPhil/PhD researchers are encouraged to apply for our competitive scholarships and studentships, which cover fees and maintenance. Read more and apply now.

Outstanding candidates for part-time postgraduate research in the field of European art or architecture from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century are invited to apply for the Murray Research Studentship.

The London Art History Society, which is affiliated to the Birkbeck History of Art Society, provides a fund to assist MPhil/PhD students with expenses relating to their research, such as travel, accommodation, photography and photocopying, up to a maximum of £300.

Find out more about other research funding opportunities at Birkbeck.

Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MPhil/PhD
    part time
    84 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12-48 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Student Advice Service
+44 (0)20 3907 0700