School of Humanities and Performing Arts

ResM Art History

Explore 21st century art history and learn about this ever-expanding discipline, marked by interdisciplinary cross-overs, varied and competing methodologies, and a huge range of objects of study that can break through the boundaries of the traditional notion of ‘art’. Study issues as diverse as authorship, subjectivity, reception studies, and cultural and gender identity. You’ll be primed to undertake art-historical investigation and a research project on a specific topic of your choice.

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Postgraduate loans

You may now be eligible for a government loan of up to £10,000 towards the cost of your masters degree.

Find out more about your eligibility for a postgraduate loan

Key features

  • Develop your application of the critical theories and approaches relevant to art history providing you with experience in research methods and skills in arts and humanities.
  • Gain experience in research methods and skills in the arts, humanities, creative and cultural industries, and related fields. Leave the course with the skills necessary for a career in research.
  • Choose to study full time or part time to fit in with your career plans or other commitments. You can study full-time (12-18 months) or part-time (24-36 months).
  • The programme also delivers a through route from undergraduate level to MPhil/PhD via Masters degree. It is an ideal route if you have a strongly conceived research project and do not wish to undertake a taught MA yet do not have the skills base for an MPhil/PhD.
  • Focus on an art-historical project within a vibrant and challenging interdisciplinary research community. Study issues as diverse as authorship, subjectivity, reception studies, and cultural and gender identity.
  • Be inspired by our research-active staff, conducting research in the Centre for Humanities, Music and Performing Arts (HuMPA). The centre supports the work of over 50 academics across the disciplines of English, creative writing, history, art history, theatre, dance, performing arts and music.
  • Take the opportunity to improve your continuing professional development - if you are a teacher or academic working in the South West and do not currently have a postgraduate research degree.
  • If you are awarded a distinction in this programme you’ll be automatically offered a place on our MPhil/PhD programme in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, subject to appropriate supervision and resource arrangements being in place, and will be allowed to ‘fast track’ to the transfer stage - you may apply to transfer from MPhil to PhD status prior to the usual 12 month full-time guideline.

Course details

  • Year 1
  • ResM students study research methods in art history and research in the arts and humanities. You’ll also attend individual tutorials with your supervisor and regular research seminars. The programme leads to either a written thesis or one combining critical writing with creative/professional practice. The ResM can be studied either full or part time. Having completed your taught modules in Year 1 (whether full or part time), your following year will involve an agreed tutorial schedule and work plan. You may attend additional training, workshops and research seminars. As a full-time ResM student, you’ll submit your thesis after 18 months (part time, after 24 months) or pay a nominal sum for up to six months additional ‘writing up’ time (part time, 12 months). Your viva takes place following submission of your thesis. To discuss which route is best for you, please contact Dr Péter Bokody (our postgraduate coordinator).

    Core modules
    • GSRARHI2 Research Art History

    • MARE703 Research Methods in Art History

      Students will be instructed in the major methodological approaches of Art History and gain instruction in the practicalities of art historical enquiry, including bibliographic and visual research. Subject-specific skills in written and spoken presentation of art historical research will be enhanced.

    • GSRARHI1 Research Art History

    • MARE700 Research in the Arts and Humanities

      This module provides students with research skills training and a critical awareness of different methodological approaches in the arts, humanities, cultural industries and associated fields, to enable them to make appropriate choices in their own research. It is designed to complement and support individual research projects carried out by students.

    • GSRARHI3 Research Art History

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

You will need to be able to show evidence that you are ready to pursue your proposed project. To discuss the feasibility of your research project, please contact Dr Péter Bokody (our postgraduate coordinator).

For entry to postgraduate level, you should normally possess:

  • A first or upper second honours degree in art history or a related subject; or an equivalent degree; or substantial experience in an appropriate field.
  • A sample of critical writing may also be required and if your first language is not English, then evidence of English proficiency is required.

Fees, costs and funding

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Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Fees are correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change.

How to apply

Application is by project proposal and evidence that you are prepared to successfully complete this project.

Your proposal must provide a suitable basis for a written submission of 25,000 words. Your proposal should be 500 words maximum and accompanied by a recent sample of critical writing (maximum 3,000 words), which may be from a previous course. These will be used to determine both your aptitude for the programme and the suitability of your proposed project, as well as the availability of an appropriate supervisor. We will also consider the ability of the department to support your research project with resources appropriate to your needs. 

Please attach your project proposal and sample of critical writing to your application form as separate documents.

All applicants will be interviewed, either in person or by Skype/telephone, prior to being accepted onto the ResM Art History programme.


The ResM is a postgraduate research programme and your application form must be sent to:

The Graduate School is available to answer any queries about our ResM programmes and any other postgraduate research degrees (such as MPhil/PhD).

Research in this area

Our team's research specialisms stretch from the Medieval to the Modern era. Major European art historical periods, from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to Realism and Modernism.

Discover more about our research

Ben Wiedel-Kaufmann (PhD) 

My PhD research focuses upon some of the three hundred of so murals that appeared across the exterior walls of London’s streets between 1975 and 1986. Drawing inspiration from mural movements in Mexico and the United States, the London examples belong to a series of remarkable flowerings of the mural form across the twentieth century. I am delighted to be conducting this research in the art history department at Plymouth under the supervision of Dr Jody Patterson. The breadth of departmental research interests and underlying commitment to the methodologies of the social history of art make it a rich, supportive and inspiring research community.

Current student Katherine Norley talks about her thesis

"For my ResM thesis, I'm investigating country house visiting during the long eighteenth century in terms of the themes power, culture and display. My research will focus on properties within the counties of Devon and Cornwall which have been over looked within the scholarships of country house history and art history. 

To do this, I shall be primarily studying three properties, including Saltram House who I have been working with to be both truly involved within my research and to ensure my findings are valid. I shall be arguing that these counties show a relevant difference to previous country house scholarship undertaken. This shall bring new knowledge to country house scholarship which has been previously ignored which I hope shall create a more comprehensive account of its history."