History of Art

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Run by Faculty of Arts
Awards available PhD, MPhil
Programme length MPhil: one year full-time;
two years part-time
PhD: four years full-time (minimum period of study three years);
eight years part-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Start date January 2022 September 2022 January 2023 The MPhil and PhD can be studied via distance learning.

Programme overview

MPhil: a standalone, one-year (full-time) research degree. Students will undertake their own research project, concluding in the submission of a 25,000 word dissertation. Students may have the option to audit units from our taught master's programmes if they are relevant to their research.

PhD: a research project undertaken across four years (full-time, minimum period of study three years), culminating in an 80,000 word thesis. As well as having the option to audit taught units, there may be the potential for PhD students to teach units themselves from their second year of study onwards.

The Department of History of Art is a thriving and collegial centre for the study of art, visual culture and theory. Staff specialisms range from medieval altarpieces to Soviet public monuments, from pre-Renaissance sculpture to contemporary art of the diaspora. We are interested in thinking across historical periods and through a variety of critical approaches.

We encourage you to participate in the stimulating intellectual and social life of the department, with regular research seminars and guest lectures, not to mention our thriving Art History in the Pub series of talks and discussions. We support interdisciplinary approaches and have expertise in topics such as interrelationships in art and music in both the medieval and modern periods; art and writing; and issues of art and race.

We also have close links with many other departments in the school and faculty, as well as with national and local galleries and museums.

Fees for 2022/23

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2022/23 are as follows:

UK: full-time
UK: part-time
Overseas: full-time

Following the recent changes to fee assessment regulation, Channel Islands and Isle of Man students will no longer be charged a separate tuition fee. From the 2021/22 academic year they will be charged the same fees as Home students.

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to a five per cent increase in fees each year. Find out more about tuition fees.

Alumni discount

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a 25% reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni discount.

Funding for 2022/23

The University of Bristol is part of the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWW DTP), which will be offering studentships for September 2022. For information on other funding opportunities, please see the Faculty of Arts funding pages.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Entry requirements

MPhil: An upper second-class degree (or international equivalent). Please note, acceptance will also depend on evidence of your readiness to pursue a research degree.

PhD: A master's qualification, or be working towards a master's qualification, or international equivalent. Applicants without a master's qualification may be considered on an exceptional basis, provided they hold a first-class undergraduate degree (or international equivalent). Applicants with a non-traditional background may be considered provided they can demonstrate substantial equivalent and relevant experience that has prepared them to undertake their proposed course of study.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you need to meet this profile level:
Profile C
Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Admissions statement

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Admissions statement

Research groups

Much research is carried out by individual scholars, with specific expertise in the following areas:

  • British art and art criticism
  • Theories of modernism
  • Abstraction
  • Sculpture (esp. late medieval & Renaissance)
  • 20th-century German art
  • 20th-century Russian and Soviet art
  • Representations of sport and the body
  • Medieval art, visual and material culture
  • Late medieval and Renaissance sculpture
  • Art and visual culture of the Black Atlantic
  • Medieval art and music interrelationships (including sound and architecture)
  • Modern art and music interrelationships (including visual music, iconography, concepts of the Gesamtkunstwerk and synaesthesia)
  • Sound and audio art.

Staff and postgraduate research is focused around two principle research clusters: Transnational Modernisms and Mediterranean Visual Cultures. Staff and postgraduates are also engaged in Faculty of Arts interdisciplinary research themes and centres: Centre for Medieval Studies; Institute for Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition; Centre for Material Texts; Centre for Black Humanities; Centre for Environmental Humanities.


A large number of graduates from this programme develop careers in higher education or work on high-level research projects in the fields of history of art and visual culture; some graduates take up careers in gallery and museum management and curation, art consultancy, publishing or in the commercial fine art market.

Staff profiles

Elizabeth Robles, (Lecturer in Contemporary Art), ' Black Art' in Britain c. 1960-1982; Colonial and Post Colonial history and theory; Issues of gender and race in contemporary art

Dr Grace Brockington, (Senior Lecturer), Artistic and intellectual exchanges between Britain and Europe; early 20th-century British art; internationalism and the arts; relations between art and literature in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; the Bloomsbury group.

Dr Peter Dent, (Senior Lecturer), Expectations and experiences of late medieval beholders when interacting with sculptural objects; sculpture and touch; the history of sculptural aesthetics; the sculpture of late medieval and early Renaissance Italy.

Dr Lucy Donkin, (Lecturer), Attitudes towards the past; cross-cultural interaction in the Mediterranean region; Italy in the 11th to 13th centuries; the reform and self-perception of religious communities; visual culture and perceptions of place.

Dr Alexandra Hoare, (Lecturer), Autobiography; biography; concepts of intellectual property; development of the artistic and literary genres of portraiture; ideologies and discourses of gender; issues of identity in early modern art (especially Italy); self-portraiture.

Prof. Mike O'Mahony, (Professor of History of Art & Visual Culture), Late and post-Soviet cultural development; official art of the Soviet period; Russian visual culture in the 20th century; the visual culture of sport.

Professor Dorothy Price, (Professor of Art History and Visual Culture), Aspects of race, representation and gender in contemporary art in Britain; German Expressionism; German visual culture in the 19th and 20th centuries; Neue Sachlichkeit and Weimar culture.

Professor Simon Shaw-Miller, (Professor and Chair in the History of Art), Interdisciplinary methodology; modernism; musical ekphrasis; musical iconography; sound and audio art; synaesthesia; the aesthetics of the Gesamtkunstwerk; the concepts of visual music; the history of art and music in the modern period (19th to 21st centuries).

Professor Beth Williamson, (Professor of Medieval Culture), Devotion and visual and aural culture; European medieval art and architecture (especially 13th- and 14th-century Italian); iconography of the Virgin Mary; materiality; relationships between liturgy; saints and sanctity; sensory and bodily experience in art in the late middle ages.

Apply now

Find out how to apply

Application deadline

January 2022 start: 1 December 2021
September 2022 start: 1 August 2022
January 2023 start: 1 December 2022

Open days and visits

Watch on-demand recordings from November's virtual open week.

Get in touch

Faculty of Arts Postgraduate Research Admissions Phone: +44 (0) 117 428 2296 Email: artf-pgadmissions@bristol.ac.uk

Faculty of Arts
University of Bristol
7 Woodland Road
School website: School of Humanities
Department website: Department of History of Art

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, applying for a visa and the support we offer to international students.

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REF 2021 results

The University of Bristol is ranked fifth for research in the UK (Times Higher Education), with 94% of our research assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent.

Full REF 2021 results for the University of Bristol.


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