Research course

Art History and Theory

University of Essex · School of Philosophy and Art History

Entry requirements

Good first degree or equivalent in relevant subject area.

PhD, MPhil.

Months of entry

January, October, April

Course content

For our PhD Art History and Theory, we offer supervision in a wide range of fields and have a long tradition of postgraduate training in all the major areas of European art and architecture from 1300 to the present, and in the art and architecture of Latin America and of the United States. Current research interests of our staff include: modern art in France, especially Cubism and interwar Surrealism (Professor Neil Cox); the cultural significance of the museum, museum architecture, and photography and the Paris commune (Dr Michaela Giebelhausen); the art, architecture and urbanism of the Italian Renaissance (Dr Caspar Pearson); and Rodin and contemporary science (Dr Natasha Ruiz-Gómez).

Most of our successful graduates are now working in academic institutions, in national or regional museums or galleries, or in other arts-related professions, both throughout the UK and abroad. Among recent successes are the appointment of Jim Walsh (PhD '07) as chief executive of the South Place Ethical Society in London, and Lucy Bradnock (PhD '09), working on a project examining West Coast art at The Getty Institute, Los Angeles. Our other graduates teach in leading departments in York, Glasgow and London, while the curator of public programmes at Tate Modern is an Essex art history graduate.

We also offer an MPhil in this subject and part-time research study is also available.

Our School of Philosophy and Art History is widely regarded as one of the best in the UK, internationally renowned for our strengths in philosophy and continental philosophy, and in art theory and in modern and contemporary art. In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE, December 2008), our research placed us among the top ten departments in the UK for both subject areas.

Our research and teaching in art history ranges from Old Master paintings to the most up-to-date contemporary art. Latin American and pre-Columbian art and architecture are particular specialisms, as our unique University of Essex Collection of Latin American Art provides excellent study opportunities. In addition, we have an unequalled track record in attracting external research funding. Over the past decade we have been home to no fewer than five major Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded projects including the Centre for Studies of Surrealism's Legacies and a project on The Moral Nature of the Image in the Renaissance (a three-year examination of the modes of reception of religious and secular art in the Renaissance); UECLAA online, a three-year project to create a digital catalogue of our exceptional collection of Latin American art; Meeting Margins: Transnational Art in Latin America and Europe 1950-78, a three-year AHRC-funded study in collaboration with the University of the Arts, London; and Aesthetics after Photography, a three-year research project in collaboration with the University of Warwick.

Department specialisms

We are renowned for our strengths in art history and in modern and contemporary art. In the last RAE were ranked ninth in the UK.

Information for international students

IELTS 6.5 overall and 6.0 in writing

Fees and funding

We offer many funding opportunities to support talented postgraduates, ranging from research council studentships and University scholarships to awards funded by charities and other external organisations. For more information, see:

Qualification and course duration


full time
36 months
part time
72 months


full time
24 months
part time
48 months

Course contact details

Graduate Administrator
+44 (0)1206 872 953