History of Art

Find a programme
Run by Faculty of Arts
Awards available PhD , MPhil
Programme length MPhil: one year full-time;
two years part-time
PhD: three years full-time;
six years part-time
Location of programme Clifton campus
Part-time study available Yes
Open to international students Yes
Start date January 2017 (2016/17 fees apply)
September 2017
January 2018

Programme overview

The Department of History of Art is a thriving centre for the study of visual art and art criticism. Staff specialisms range from medieval altarpieces to Soviet public monuments, from pre-Renaissance sculpture to contemporary art installations. You are encouraged to explore a diversity of historical periods and critical approaches, and to participate in the stimulating intellectual and social life of the department. We encourage an interdisciplinary approach (having expertise in topics such as interrelationships in art and music, and art and writing) and have close links with many other departments in the school and faculty, as well as with national and local galleries and museums.

NB For students starting in January 2017, fees for 2016/17 will apply (Full-time: UK £4,121, overseas £14,200; Part-time: UK £2,061. Fees are per annum and subject to annual increase.)

Fees for 2017/18

Full-time fees


Part-time fees


Fees quoted are provisional, per annum and subject to annual increase.

Alumni scholarship

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a ten per cent reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni scholarship.

Funding for 2017/18

The University of Bristol is part of the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWW DTP), which will be offering studentships for September 2017. For information on other funding opportunities, please see the Faculty of Arts funding pages.

Further information on funding for prospective UK, EU and international postgraduate students.

Entry requirements

MPhil: An upper second-class degree (or international equivalent). Please note, acceptance will also depend on evidence of your readiness to pursue a research degree.

MPhil/PhD: A pass at Master's level (or international equivalent).

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Application method Online application form
English language requirements Profile C
Further information about English language requirements
Admissions statement Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Research groups

Much research is carried out by individual scholars, with specific expertise in the following areas:

  • British Art and Art Criticism
  • Theories of Modernism
  • Abstraction
  • 20th-century German Art
  • 20th-century Russian and Soviet Art
  • Representations of Sport and the Body
  • Medieval Art, Visual and Material Culture
  • Late Medieval and Renaissance Sculpture
  • 17th-century Italian Art
  • Medieval and Modern Art and Music Interrelationships (including sound art, visual music, iconography and synaesthesia).

Staff and postgraduate research is also focused on a number of research clusters, including British Art, Transnational Modernisms, Materialities, and Art Writing Writing Art. Staff and postgraduates are also engaged in Faculty of Arts interdisciplinary research themes and groups, including Medieval Studies, Reception, Colonial and Post-Colonial Studies.


A large number of graduates from this programme develop careers in higher education or work on high-level research projects in the field of History of Art; some graduates take up careers in art consultancy, gallery and museum management, or the commercial fine art market.

Staff profiles

Dr Grace Brockington, (Senior Lecturer), Artistic and intellectual exchanges between Britain and Europe; early 20th-century British art; internationalism and the arts; relations between art and literature in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; the Bloomsbury group.

Dr Peter Dent, (Senior Lecturer), Expectations and experiences of late medieval beholders when interacting with sculptural objects; sculpture and touch; the history of sculptural aesthetics; the sculpture of late medieval and early Renaissance Italy.

Dr Lucy Donkin, (Lecturer), Attitudes towards the past; cross-cultural interaction in the Mediterranean region; Italy in the 11th to 13th centuries; the reform and self-perception of religious communities; visual culture and perceptions of place.

Dr Alexandra Hoare, (Lecturer), Autobiography; biography; concepts of intellectual property; development of the artistic and literary genres of portraiture; ideologies and discourses of gender; issues of identity in early modern art (especially Italy); self-portraiture.

Dr Mike O'Mahony, (Reader), Late and post-Soviet cultural development; official art of the Soviet period; Russian visual culture in the 20th century; the visual culture of sport.

Dr Dorothy Price, (Reader), Aspects of race, representation and gender in contemporary art in Britain; German Expressionism; German visual culture in the 19th and 20th centuries; Neue Sachlichkeit and Weimar culture.

Professor Simon Shaw-Miller, (Professor), Interdisciplinary methodology; modernism; musical ekphrasis; musical iconography; sound and audio art; synaesthesia; the aesthetics of the Gesamtkunstwerk; the concepts of visual music; the history of art and music in the modern period (19th to 21st centuries).

Dr Beth Williamson, (Reader), Devotion and visual and aural culture; European medieval art and architecture (especially 13th- and 14th-century Italian); iconography of the Virgin Mary; materiality; relationships between liturgy; saints and sanctity; sensory and bodily experience in art in the late middle ages.

How to apply
Application deadline:

September 2017 start: 1 August 2017
January 2018 start: 1 December 2017

International students

Find out more about becoming a student at Bristol, and the support we offer to international students.

I chose Bristol because of its outstanding academic reputation. It's reassuring to be taught by people who truly love their subject - their passion becomes contagious.


REF 2014 results

  • 11% of research is world-leading (4 star)
  • 52% of research is internationally excellent (3 star)
  • 35% of research is recognised internationally (2 star)
  • 2% of research is recognised nationally (1 star)

Results are from the most recent UK-wide assessment of research quality, conducted by HEFCE. More about REF 2014 results.

Bristol Doctoral College

The Bristol Doctoral College facilitates and supports doctoral training and researcher development across the University.

Get in touch

Postgraduate Admissions Phone: +44 (0) 117 331 8458 Email: artf-pgadmissions@bristol.ac.uk

Faculty of Arts
University of Bristol
3-5 Woodland Road
Bristol BS8 1TB http://www.bristol.ac.uk/humanities/ http://www.bristol.ac.uk/arthistory/


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