Research course

Modern and contemporary art and theory

Open University · Department of Art History

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent)

Months of entry


Course content

Modern and Contemporary Art is one of the core strengths of the Art History Department at the OU. Over the last decade department members have produced a range of internationally recognised publications. Increasingly they are also involved in organising exhibitions, such as Aubrey Williams: Atlantic Fire at the Walker Art Gallery (co-curated by Leon Wainwright), Crystal World at The Royal Society and Water at the C2 Gallery, all curated or co-curated by Gill Perry.

The Modern and Contemporary Art and Theory group actively collaborates with 17 galleries and museums across the UK to organise talks and special events throughout the year. Many of these are available for viewing at any time on the Open Arts Archive, which provides open access to over 250 separate interviews and podcasts.

Research in photography and lens-based media has included Steve Edwards’ recent monograph Martha Rosler: The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems and his forthcoming book on patent law in 19th-century photography. Another focus has been on gender studies, which intersects with the interests of the Open University’s Gender in the Humanities Research group (co-chaired by Gill Perry). Collaborative seminars have lead to cross-disciplinary publication on Gender, Knitting and Stitching, with contributions from the Art History and Design areas.

Members of this research group have produced the internationally acclaimed three volume series Art in Theory: an Anthology of Changing Ideas, 1648–1815; 1815–1900; 1900–2000 (edited by Charles Harrison, Paul Wood and Jason Gaiger), which will be continued in the volume Art in Theory: The West and the World edited by Paul Wood and Leon Wainwright (forthcoming).

We welcome applications in areas that correspond with current staff research interests. We look for detailed and well thought-out proposals, which set out specific research questions and outline the originality of your topic or approach. If you would like to discuss your ideas informally before submitting an application, please contact the department.

Fees and funding

Please see The Open University website for more information

Qualification and course duration


part time
72 months
full time
36 months
distance learning
variable months


full time
15 months
part time
24 months

Course contact details

+44 (0)1908 652479