Postgraduate research study in Art history

Full or part-time independent study opportunities

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’

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.

Duration Course type location
4 years Full-time, Part-time route available Plymouth

Principal current areas of research include:

  • Exhibition cultures in Austria in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Pornography and the visual arts in early 20th century Vienna.
  • Meta-painting in Western visual culture.
  • Political iconography and representations of sexual violence in Medieval and Renaissance Italy.
  • The reception of the Renaissance and Renaissance artists from 1750 to the present.
  • The history and practice of art historical writing in Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • The visual arts and cultural politics during the interwar period, with a focus on state patronage and the New Deal art programmes of the 1930s.
  • International mural painting and public art of the 20th century.

Ben Wiedel-Kaufmann 

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.

Jayne Buchanan

Imagining and remembering the soldier at the Imperial War Museum (1980 - 2000). My PhD research examines representations of the soldier within the art collection at the Imperial War museum. I consider the ability of art to memorialise conflict through the image of the soldier and reflect on the commissioning, creation, exhibition, media reception and reinterpretation of art. Focusing on the period 1980-2000 in which the Falkland’s War, the Gulf War in Afghanistan and the Bosnian War occurred, it will also place this period in context with the foundation of the museum during the First World War. In both periods artists were commissioned by the Imperial War Museum to respond artistically to conflict. Using primary archival research combined with visual analysis of the art created my research will consider changes in the representation of the soldier and whether the act of patronage has shaped or defined what is remembered.

Entry requirements

A 2:1 or first-class honours degree or a masters degree from a UK higher education institution in a relevant subject.

Applicants normally have to supply a research proposal, personal statement, and occasionally evidence that they are prepared to undertake the proposed project. This may include a portfolio, or a sample of critical writing, depending on their area of study.

Other UK or overseas qualifications may also be accepted – with academic reference

Fees, costs and funding

Please visit tuition fees for postgraduate research for information about fees. This course is in Band 1 for fees purposes.

You are responsible for meeting all of the costs related to your own research project, beyond the resources available in the department.

This programme is eligible for a postgraduate loan.

How to apply

Submitting your application

Complete your application and upload supporting documents to the Doctoral College by completing our online application form.

Questions on the application process?

We're here to help. Please take a look at the Doctoral College web pages where you'll find a wealth of information.

You can view or download our postgraduate research admissions policy.

If you have a disability and would like further information on the support available, please visit our Disability services website.

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