PhD Art History and Visual Studies

Year of entry: 2022

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Degree awarded
Doctor of Philosophy
3 years [Full-time], 6 years [Part-time]
Entry requirements
  • A Bachelors (Honours) degree at 2:1 level or above (or its international equivalent) in a related subject; and
  • A UK Master's degree with an overall average of 65% or higher, with a minimum of 65% in the dissertation and with no mark below 55% (or its international equivalent) in a related subject.

Full entry requirements

How to apply
Apply online

Programme options

Full-time Part-time Full-time distance learning Part-time distance learning

Programme overview

  • Be part of a vibrant teaching and research environment, where the interests of academic staff, students and professionals converge.
  • Take advantage of our strong working relationships with museums and galleries throughout Britain and abroad.
  • Explore original art in Manchester's many galleries.
Discover Art History and Visual Studies at The University of Manchester

Open days

Find out what it's like to study at Manchester by visiting us on one of our  open days .


For entry in the academic year beginning September 2022, the tuition fees are as follows:

  • PhD (full-time)
    UK students (per annum): £4,596
    International, including EU, students (per annum): £20,500
  • PhD (part-time)
    UK students (per annum): TBA

Further information for EU students can be found on our dedicated EU page.

Please note for the majority of projects where experimentation requires further resource: higher fee bands (where quoted) will be charged rather than the base rate for supervision, administration and computational costs. The fees quoted above will be fully inclusive and, therefore, you will not be required to pay any additional bench fees or administration costs.

All fees for entry will be subject to yearly review and incremental rises per annum are also likely over the duration of the course for UK/EU students (fees are typically fixed for International students, for the course duration at the year of entry). For general fees information please visit: postgraduate fees . Always contact the department if you are unsure which fee applies to your project.


The School offers a limited number of bursaries and studentships on a competitive basis, details of which can be found via the links below.

Please note that whilst we do not have closing dates for programme applications, all funding competitions have a specified deadline for submitting the funding application form and a separate (earlier) deadline for submitting the online programme application form, both of which will be stated in the funding competition details below:

Programmes in related subject areas

Use the links below to view lists of programmes in related subject areas.

Entry requirements

Academic entry qualification overview

  • A Bachelors (Honours) degree at 2:1 level or above (or its international equivalent) in a related subject; and
  • A UK Master's degree with an overall average of 65% or higher, with a minimum of 65% in the dissertation and with no mark below 55% (or its international equivalent) in a related subject.

English language

Students whose first language is not English require one of the following:

  • an overall IELTS score of 7.0 with 7.0 in the writing component, or
  • a TOEFL score of 600 paper-based test or 100 internet-based test, or
  • a Pearson Test of English (PTE) score of 76 overall with 76 in the writing component, or
  • an overall Trinity Integrated Skills in English (ISE) III grade of Merit with Merit in the writing component.

English language test validity

Some English Language test results are only valid for two years. Your English Language test report must be valid on the start date of the course.

Other international entry requirements

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries. For these and general requirements including English language see entry requirements from your country .

Other entry requirements

The University requires you to reside within a commutable distance from Manchester during your time as a registered student, unless you are on approved fieldwork/a formal placement or are on a period of Submission pending. This is to ensure that you are able to meet attendance expectations and participate in wider research activities within your discipline area and/or School. Should you be unable to do this at any point during your programme, a formal case must be made to the Faculty office, together with the full support of your supervisor(s). The University reserves the right to reject such a request where it is considered that your residency could have a detrimental impact on the progression and engagement of your studies.

Application and selection

How to apply

Advice to applicants

We recommend all research applicants attempt to find a suitable supervisor here at Manchester by browsing the subject website and looking at the staff list

Your email of inquiry to a potential supervisor should include a succinct description of your research interests (no more than a few sentences) and a Curriculum Vitae detailing your prior education and any academic accomplishments or relevant employment. 

Find out more on the how to apply page.

Interview requirements

The University requires an interview for all applicants to whom we consider making an offer.

Interviews will be conducted by two academics, usually the proposed main supervisor and the subject PGR Director (or an assigned representative).

The interview can be either face-to-face or via Skype, conference call or email.

The interview serves several purposes, allowing us to:

  • get a better picture of your ability to carry out the proposed doctoral project than the research proposal on its own;
  • tell you what the proposed supervisor(s) can bring to the project;
  • discuss with you directly any potential problems with the practical aspects of your studies and explore solutions together.


Applicants may defer entry provided they have discussed it with their supervisor. Deferred applicants are subject to the fees of the year of entry onto the course.


If you applied in the previous year and your application was not successful you may apply again. Your application will be considered against the standard course entry criteria for that year of entry. In your new application you should demonstrate how your application has improved. We may draw upon all information from your previous applications or any previous registrations at the University as a student when assessing your suitability for your chosen course.

Programme details

Programme description

Our Art History and Visual Studies PhD programme offers the opportunity to conduct in-depth research in an area of particular interest.

Our research interests are wide-ranging. Strengths include:

  • medieval Italy;
  • Italian and Northern Renaissance;
  • Renaissance print culture;
  • history of architecture;
  • art and science;
  • British art in the 18th and 19th centuries;
  • Romanticism and its reception;
  • the history and theory of the avant-garde;
  • art and sexuality;
  • modernism and post-colonialism;
  • art and psychoanalysis;
  • poststructuralism;
  • history and theory of photography;
  • experimental art-writing;
  • contemporary Chinese art
  • post-conceptual contemporary art
  • modern art in India.

You will prepare your thesis under the guidance of two supervisors. Progress is monitored at regular meetings of your research panel (two supervisors plus an independent reviewer). The aim of the programme is to support you in becoming an independent research. We encourage you to disseminate your work at seminars and conferences, and in recognised journals or equivalents publications.

The programme culminates in the submission of an 80,000-word dissertation that makes an original contribution to art historical knowledge.

As a post-graduate researcher in the department of Art History and Cultural Practices, you will join a vibrant community with access to exciting research seminars and other events, such the Visiting Pilkington Professor series and the Whitworth Studies series.

Find out more about our research , our staff and what our current postgraduate research students are working on.

Special features

Find out more about the Graduate School

Research Environment

Art History and Cultural Practices at Manchester is one of the leading departments in the UK for research in the subject according to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.

  • 85% of our research activity was recognised as `world leading' or `internationally excellent'.
  • 100% of our research environment was judged to be `world leading' or `internationally excellent'.
  • 100% of our research was also judged to have `outstanding' or `very considerable' impact.

Find out more about our Art History Research .

Graduate School

All of our postgraduate students become members of the Graduate School when you start at Manchester. It has dedicated facilities for students and offers opportunities to collaborate with other postgraduates.

Teaching and learning

We offer one of the UK's fullest and most innovative training programmes in the humanities, artsmethods@manchester , which provides a rich menu of courses on methods and theory, as well as researcher-led conferences organised by groups of PhD students. This is reinforced by the Humanities Researcher Development programme, which offers generic training - eg on academic networking, or how to prepare for your viva - and courses aiming to enhance your career development. The Faculty of Humanities runs a placement programme which offers PhD researchers the opportunity to develop their public engagement skills and/or their employability skills by undertaking a period of work with an organisation outside academia - a museum, an archive, or a festival, for example.

Coursework and assessment

The award of your PhD follows three years of successful supervised research. The maximum length of the PhD thesis is 80,000 words.


Alan Gilbert Learning Commons Fly Through

Manchester is home to one of the UK's five National Research Libraries - one of the best-resourced academic libraries in the UK and widely recognised as one of the world's greatest research libraries.

The city also has outstanding museums and galleries: the Whitworth and the Manchester Museum are both part of the University. Manchester Art Gallery boasts an internationally celebrated Pre-Raphaelite collection. Also nearby are the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, the Lowry Arts Centre, and the Imperial War Museum North.

Find out more about libraries and study spaces for postgraduate research students at Manchester.

We also have one of the largest academic IT services in Europe - supporting world-class teaching and research. There are extensive computing facilities across campus, with access to standard office software as well as specialist programmes, all connected to the campus network and internet.

Every student is registered for email, file storage and internet access. If more demanding computer access is required, our specialist computing division can provide high-end and specialist computing services.

The Graduate School offers dedicated state of the art facilities to research students, including common rooms and workstations.

Find out more about our facilities for Art History students.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email:


Career opportunities

A research degree in Art History enhances employment opportunities in many fields connected with the visual arts, architecture and material culture.

These include art galleries, the art trade and auction houses, the heritage industry, architectural conservation, publishing, art criticism and aspects of arts administration, as well as university and higher education.

In recent years our doctoral graduates have gone on to prestigious post-doctoral positions at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Freud Museum, the British Museum, and the National Gallery as well as obtaining positions at universities such as North Carolina, Imperial College London, and the Manchester School of Architecture. Some graduate have gone into related fields in arts consultancy, publishing, and film production.

The University has its own dedicated Careers Service that you would have full access to as a student and for two years after you graduate. At Manchester you will have access to a number of opportunities to help support you with your goals for the future.