Art history

Examine the evolution of artistic movements, styles, and techniques that reveal the history of civilizations and the dynamic interplay between artistic innovation and societal contexts.

Art history

Why Art History at Essex?

At Essex, you'll learn from leading academics like the award-winning Dr. Matt Lodder, whose podcast "Beneath the Skin" won the history award at the Independent Podcast Awards. We're also ranked 3rd in the UK for research outputs in art history as reflected in the Grade Point Average of the Research Excellence Framework 2021 (REF2021).

Our art history courses will help you sharpen your analytical skills by critically engaging with the relationship between art and society over two millennia. Exploring pivotal moments from:

  • the Enlightenment to the digital age,
  • delving into art revolutions such as Realism and Impressionism, and,
  • broadening your horizons with modules in heritage and museum studies too.

The Art Exchange gallery and ESCALA, the most comprehensive Latin American art resource in the UK, both reside on our Colchester Campus providing you with a unique opportunity for academic exploration. You'll also benefit from work and research experiences, ongoing art programs, and join a community dedicated to academic excellence.

A unique education
  • Enjoy regular visits to London galleries, including Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the National Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts, as well as many independent and alternative spaces.
  • As well as our onside Museums and Galleries, you'll also study in Colchester (Britain's first city). Steeped in history, and surrounded by ancient Roman walls and ruins, there's a castle for you to explore and the Firstsite gallery, which runs an exciting programme of art exhibitions, film screenings and talks.
  • Our broad range of modules allow you to specialise in certain fields or approach your course from a wider angle.  Whether you wish to stay with us for a postgraduate degree or go straight into your future career you'll have the expertise ready to excel.

Take your specialism further

Studying a Master's degree in Curating, Heritage and Museum Studies, or Art History and Theory offers you the chance to gain specialised knowledge and skills for your future career. Key benefits include expertise in curatorial practices, critical thinking, analytical skills and learning more about specific challenges and solutions found in these areas. You'll also have the opportunity to delve deeper and learn about areas such as:

  • Heritage and Human Rights
  • Digital Heritage
  • Museum Activism
  • and many more unique to your chosen field of study

Graduates can pursue diverse roles in museums, galleries, and cultural institutions, contributing to the art community and shaping cultural discourse. With some of our recent graduates having gone on to work for the National Portrait Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, Sotheby's New York, and Momart Ltd

A research community with interdisciplinary at its heart

Embark upon your next step as a researcher and combines the study of art curation with a deep exploration of the historical and theoretical aspects of art. Our interdisciplinary approach allows you to engage with art in a multifaceted manner, understanding not only its visual elements but also the historical contexts and theoretical frameworks that shape artistic production, reception, and interpretation.

We offer four different options for research study:

  • PhD Art History and Theory
  • PhD Curating
  • MA by Dissertation Art History and Theory
  • MPhil Art History and Theory
Why study here?
  • We're 3rd in the UK for research outputs in art history (Grade Point Average, REF2021).
  • 100% of our research environment is world-leading or internationally excellent (Research Excellence Framework 2021)
  • We have dedicated research facilities such as the Centre for Public History, Centre for Curatorial Studies, Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies dedicated to researching these areas as well as a range of different research groups to support you in your specialism.

Start your application with us

Explore our Art History, and Curating research by theme or your area of interest and find a supervisor that can support your through your studies. More information can be found about research degrees on our school pages. Our courses below will help guide you through the various research degree programmes we offer.

Explore funding opportunities Ready to apply? Start your application today
Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) gives you the opportunity to encounter art first hand.
Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) gives you the opportunity to encounter art first hand.
Academic Matt Lodder standing in a gallery with art in the background.
Academic Matt Lodder standing in a gallery with art in the background.
Castle Park Colchester
Castle Park Colchester
A student walking on campus at the University of Essex.
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We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.