Postgraduate Research Finder

PhD Art History and Theory

Location: Colchester
Duration: 3 Years
Tuition fee: Find out using our fee pages
Funding available: Find out using our scholarship finder
Further information: For more information, please e-mail us or see for yourself by booking a place at one of our open days

About PhD Art History and Theory

For our PhD in Art History and Theory, we offer supervision across a 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 the United States. Essex Art History features a dynamic group of art historians investigating the production and reception of images and built environments, across cultures and media from the early modern period to the present. While we adopt a diverse range of approaches in our writing and teaching, our work demonstrates a commitment to three key ideas:

The social and political implications of art, architecture, and visual culture

All forms of visual culture – from paintings to building interiors, from medical imagery to tattoos – emerge from and contribute to the mediation of social and political forces. Scholars at Essex investigate the role of art, architecture, and other forms of visual culture in the assertion, negotiation, and contestation of power in relation to a variety of topics. These include the planning of tyrants’ cities in the Italian Renaissance; the entanglement of the historical avant-garde with the politics of Fascism; and the production of objects by contemporary activists in pursuit of social change. Throughout our work, we emphasise issues of autonomy, agency, dissent, and the contestation of the public realm.

Space, place, and locale

Art historians at Essex are strongly concerned with the conceptualisation, production, experience, and representation of spaces and places. We investigate topics that include the ideologies that drive urban change; architectural metaphors in software design; the fusion of real and imaginary places in religious paintings; the design of exhibition spaces and the implications of curatorial practice; and the varied locales and landscapes of the county of Essex itself.

Art produced beyond its historic institutions

We are committed to bringing the approaches of art history into contact with other disciplines and discourses in order to interrogate objects of our shared visual and material culture, including body art, wax casts, activist placards, and Fascist floor mosaics. Our transdisciplinary approach facilitates critical engagement with an array of artworks and visual culture that stand both within and beyond the traditional canons of art history.

Please note: part-time research study is also available, and we also offer an MPhil in this subject.

Why study PhD Art History and Theory at Essex?

Essex Art History is part of the School of Philosophy and Art History, a community of academics sharing a common project of researching and teaching art and ideas. Founded in 1967, we have long been recognised for our expertise across a wide range of areas in the history and theory of art, including the Renaissance, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European art, modern and contemporary art, curating and art from Latin America. We ranked in the top 10 for our research (REF 2014). We offer a wide range of courses for undergraduates, taught postgraduates and doctoral research students in an environment that emphasises collaboration and collegiality for research and teaching. During the past decade we have been home to five major research projects funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), looking at topics such as photography, surrealism and Latin American art.

Our facilities

By studying within our School of Philosophy and Art History, you will have access to a range of outstanding facilities to aid your learning and research.

We provide good facilities for postgraduate study, with access to a range of resources and support mechanisms to foster progression. Our School is home to the Centre for Curatorial Studies, which brings together research in the field of museology, exhibition studies and curatorial practice, and also delivers our postgraduate courses in each of these areas.

We are also home to the Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA).

Location: Colchester
Duration: 3 Years
Tuition fee: Find out using our fee pages
Funding available: Find out using our scholarship finder
Further information: For more information, please e-mail us or see for yourself by booking a place at one of our open days

Introduction

A research degree gives you the chance to investigate your chosen topic in real depth and reach a profound understanding. In communicating that understanding, through a thesis or other means, you have a rare opportunity to generate knowledge. A research degree allows you to develop new high-level skills, enhance your professional development and build new networks. It can open doors to many careers.

As a research student at Essex, you’ll work at the heart of our internationally-acknowledged and well-connected research community. We offer world class supervision and training opportunities, and encourage you to engage with other researchers, professionals, practitioners and research users, where possible. Our research is supported by a wide spectrum of UK research councils, EU framework programmes, public-sector organisations and departments, charities, and private-sector industry and businesses. Engagement with these external funders and stakeholders enriches the quality and relevance of your experience and training.

Your supervisor

The support provided by your supervisor is a key feature of your experience as a research student. Your supervisor will guide you through the different stages of your research degree. Initially, your supervisor helps you to develop your research topic and plan; then, you participate in regular one-to-one meetings to comment on drafts, resolve problems and maintain progress on your research.

It is well worth getting in touch with a potential supervisor before applying for your course. The list of academic staff on our website can help you to identify a specialist on your proposed topic.

How you will study

Our PhDs are conceived as a structured, three-year programme of advanced study and research. Supervision is by regular individual tutorials, and the award of a research degree depends solely on the merits of your final research output (i.e., either a c. 80,000-word thesis for the PhD in Art History and Theory or a c. 40,000-word thesis plus a major, research-based exhibition for the practice-based PhD in Curating).

The development of your research project is supported and monitored via Supervisory Boards, which happen twice a year for full-time students. Here, your supervisor and another member of staff discuss your research with you, progress is assessed against milestones, and training or other support needs are identified. We also provide a number of training opportunities and support services, which aid your studies and help prepare you for employment.

Finalising your PhD

We aim to have all our full-time PhD students submit within four years.

Seminars and conferences

Within our School of Philosophy and Art History, we run a number of mini-courses, seminars and conferences that our postgraduates are encouraged to attend.

Location: Colchester
Duration: 3 Years
Tuition fee: Find out using our fee pages
Funding available: Find out using our scholarship finder
Further information: For more information, please e-mail us or see for yourself by booking a place at one of our open days

Career destination

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), who is currently teaching at the University of Nottingham. 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.

Support for postgraduates

Our University has a range of support services designed to help you to achieve your full potential and get the most out of your studies. These form a co-ordinated network of support, and are an important part of your overall student experience at Essex.

Our staff operate an 'open door' policy so are available to discuss any concerns with you throughout the year.

Location: Colchester
Duration: 3 Years
Tuition fee: Find out using our fee pages
Funding available: Find out using our scholarship finder
Further information: For more information, please e-mail us or see for yourself by booking a place at one of our open days

For research study within our School of Philosophy and Art History, we normally require a good honours degree and a Masters degree, or equivalent, in a relevant discipline. A well-developed research proposal, normally around 2,000 words, is also essential.

If English is not your first language, then we will require you to have IELTS 7.0 or equivalent.

Location: Colchester
Duration: 3 Years
Tuition fee: Find out using our fee pages
Funding available: Find out using our scholarship finder
Further information: For more information, please e-mail us or see for yourself by booking a place at one of our open days

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