PhD Art History and Visual Studies / Programme details

Year of entry: 2024

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) 2021.

  • 91% of our research activity was recognised as 'world leading' or `internationally excellent'.
  • 100% of our impact case studies were judged to be 'outstanding'.
  • 100% of our research environment was judged to be 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent'.

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.

Additional programme information

Equality, diversity and inclusion  is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. 

We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact. 

We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status. 

All appointments are made on merit. 

The University of Manchester and our external partners are fully committed to equality, diversity and inclusion.

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: