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Home>Department of History of Art>Study>Postgraduate research>History of Art (PhD and MPhil)

PhD/MPhil in History of Art

Work in a supportive and stimulating research environment alongside staff who are experts in art history.

  Length Start dates (semester dates)

3 year full-time
6 years part-time

Apply for PhD



1 year full-time
2 years part-time

Apply for MPhil


PhD by distance learning

3 years full-time
6 years part-time

Apply for PhD by distance learning


Pursue your research ambitions among passionate colleagues in one of the largest postgraduate art history communities in the UK.


We welcome students from all backgrounds, with a great range of intellectual interests. This includes students who are seeking an academic career and those who require a further professional qualification. We also welcome applicants who wish to extend their art-historical interests while pursuing other kinds of employment, as well as those who are seeking to develop an academic interest in their retirement.

Your research

The PhD requires a dissertation of not more than 90,000 words, to be submitted by full-time students after three years' study (full-time) or six years (part-time). We also offer a distance-learning variant if you're unable to travel to or in live York.

=79th in the world

for the broad subject of arts and humanities (QS World University Rankings by subject, 2024).


Explore funding for postgraduates in the Department of History of Art.


Explore the expertise of our staff and identify a potential supervisor.

Training and support

As an art history researcher at York, you'll have access to a range of training and resources to support you with your work. There are plenty of innovative research activities for you to get involved in. These include research seminars, conferences, activities organised by our departmental research schools, study days and reading groups.

You'll also benefit from the rich array of research and training sessions at the Humanities Research Centre.

Course location

This course is run by the Department of History of Art. You will be based on Campus West, with some teaching taking place at King's Manor. 

If you're studying by distance learning, you'll be required to attend campus at least twice a year for registration, training, meetings with the thesis advisory panel and the annual PhD conference.

Careers and skills

Our dedicated careers team offer specific support including a programme of professional researcher development and careers workshops, and 1:1 career support sessions. They will help you to develop your employability portfolio and to engage in activities that will build up your skills and experience within and outside your research work.

Career opportunities

  • researcher
  • academic
  • curator
  • art sales specialist
  • museum educator
  • conservator

Entry requirements

You should have a 2:1 or first-class undergraduate degree, or equivalent. For the PhD, you should also have or be currently completing an MA degree, and we normally require an MA dissertation mark, where one is awarded, of at least 65 or equivalent.

Exceptions can be made if you've had an unusual career profile, but still have substantial related experience.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your ability.

Check your English language requirements


Apply for the PhD in History of Art

Apply for the PhD in History of Art (distance learning)

Apply for the MPhil in History of Art

Find a supervisor

Before you apply, you should contact a potential supervisor for your research. We welcome enquiries and encourage you to get in touch as early as possible. However, a scattershot approach - emailing all staff members regardless of the relationship between their research interests and yours - is unlikely to produce positive results. You're advised to make your research proposals as specific and clear as possible.

Sample of writing

You should submit a 1,500-word sample of academic writing. Where possible, the subject should concern art history, but if your background lies in other areas, we would welcome work in another field such as literature or history.

Personal statement

We are keen to hear about your academic and other experience. Please explain your interest in the subject, which may include approaches as well as periods or artists. Explain what has attracted you to our programme and what you would like to do here. If possible, please tell us your cohort position in your previous degree, based on your final award mark (for example, 2nd in a cohort of 50).


We'll invite you for an interview at York with your potential supervisor and the Director of Research Programmes, either before or after your submission.

You should be prepared to discuss the research proposal in depth, although we recognise that details may change over the course of your degree. You should be prepared to be flexible in adapting your interests to the sources and expertise available to you.

Overseas applicants will be interviewed by phone or Zoom.

If you need guidance, please email

Have a look at the supporting documents you may need for your application.

Find out more about how to apply.

Discover York


We offer a range of campus accommodation to suit you and your budget, from economy to deluxe.

Why York

Discover more about our researchers, facilities and why York is the perfect choice for your research degree.

Graduate Research School

Connect with researchers across all disciplines to get the most out of your research project.

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