Develop your own original research in the fields of art history and visual culture.
Across all research areas students are encouraged to:
- examine the social and material histories of objects and images
- explore the processes of cultural production, circulation and consumption
- develop original theoretical approaches to understanding works of art and associated cultural phenomena
Find out more about what it's like to study and research with us on the Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies website.
Our research specialisms cover four main strands.
Nineteenth-century art and cultural exchange
- Art and national identity
- Intercultural contact, exchange, appropriation, influence
- Movement, migration, fusion, interpretation, innovation
Find out more about the Nineteenth-century art and cultural exchange research area.
Collecting, reception and revival
- Methods and politics of display
- Imperialism and collecting
- Cross-cultural exchange
- Power relations and collecting
- Exhibition histories and histories of curating
- Centres and peripheries
Find out more about the Collecting, reception and revival research area.
Photography, film and spectatorship
- What kinds of representation are involved in making films and photographs?
- How did these new images change the status of art?
- How far were they part of larger political movements?
- How separate or convergent are different media?
Find out more about the Photography, film and spectatorship research area.
Politics and identity
- Art and gender, class, and race
- Visualising local, regional, and national identity
- Visual propaganda and the display of power
- Memory and memorial culture
- Art and protest
Find out more about the Politics and identity research area.
Current and recent PhD research
Research topics covered by recent and candidates are wide-ranging and include:
- Giovanni Mansueti's canvases in St Martin's Church in Burano: iconographical sources, theological background and semantic functions
- Joseph Wright and Derby in the 18th century
- William Blake and landscape
- pastel and portraiture in the 18th century
- the art of union and disunion in the Houses of Parliament 1834–1928
- criminal portraiture: surfaces and subjectivities
- popular conceptions of War in 19th-century Britain
- automatism in the writing and drawings of Artaud, Michaux and Zürn
- updating the uncanny: a spatial hypothesis
- the cultural geography of young British art
- the photographic encounter
- natural history and the work of Mark Dion, Mark Fairnington and Dorothy Cross
- splitting surfaces in Gordon Matta Clark, Stephen Shore, Anthony McCall
- cultural and technological aspects of photography and pun
- Arte Povera
- collecting Guido Reni in Britain, 1660–1660
- collecting of paintings in England, 1640s–1660s
- urban landscape imagery in Britain, 1820s–1850s
- animal imagery in work of Graham Sutherland
- the Xerox machine: its uses and influence in business, subculture and the arts
- conceptual art and counterculture in 1960s America
- the directorship of the National Gallery, London in the late 19th century
- paintings of everyday life in Ireland circa 1780–1840
- renaissance women patrons and the classical revival
- An original contribution to knowledge
- Three years of full-time or up to six years of part-time study
- A thesis of at least 80,000 words
- Research your chosen topic and write a dissertation of at least 60,000 words
- One year of full-time study (minimum of two years part-time)
- An internationally recognised research degree
It is common for students admitted into a MPhil to transfer onto the PhD upon successful completion of the first year of study (subject to satisfactory progress).
All research students have access to:
- dedicated study space
- excellent IT network
- photocopying and printing allowance
- inter-library loan service
- funding for conference and research trips.
At the heart of art history and visual culture research in the University the CRVC organises research, seminars, conferences and collaborations for with staff, students and external partners.
We have close links with the on-campus Djanogly Gallery. Research students have co-operated with gallery on developing exhibitions, workshops and outreach activities.
As well as housing an extensive art history slide collection the DTH also provides access to hardware and software for cutting edge digital humanities research.
Nottingham galleries and spaces
We have past and on-going collaborations with the city's institutions of contemporary art and culture, such as:
The Graduate School supports all postgraduates and early career researchers at the University, with dedicated study spaces, training courses and placement opportunities.
The department's lively research culture includes regular research seminars, which offer the chance to hear visiting scholars from elsewhere in the UK and from overseas as well as opportunities for staff and postgraduates to present research in progress in a friendly and constructive environment. These occasions also allow you to broaden your knowledge of the subject and gain a better sense of how research develops as part of an interactive process.
AHRC Doctoral Award-holders will complete a portfolio of research training provision, to be devised in consultation with their supervisor and the Head of Postgraduate Studies.
You may also attend the research training module that is a compulsory element of our MA degrees. This module will give you a strong foundation in the skills and techniques necessary for effective research in the subject.
The University provides a range of support and information to enhance your student experience.
You will have access to:
- academic and disability support
- childcare services
- counselling service
- financial support
- visa and immigration advice
- welfare support
English language courses
Our Centre for English Language Education offers presessional English courses to help develop your English and study skills.
The centre is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK, so you can be sure that the teaching and facilities are high-quality. You can also access free English language support alongside your academic course.
University of Nottingham Students’ Union represents all students. You can join the Postgraduate Students’ Network or speak to the dedicated Postgraduate Officer.
There are also a range of support networks, including groups for:
- international students
- black and minority ethnic students
- students with disabilities
- LGBT+ students
SU Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice on issues such as accommodation, financial and academic difficulties.
Researcher training and development
The Graduate School training and development programme empowers postgraduate students and early career research staff to develop the skills required in their research and future careers.
We provide regular and experienced supervision from two academics. They will provide constructive feedback and help direct your research to successful completion.
We encourage you to get in touch with a member of academic staff about your research proposal before submitting an application. They will be able to help you with your proposal and offer support to find funding opportunities in your area.
Details of research supervisors can be found on the Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies website.
Careers and professional development
Average starting salary and career progression
For postgraduates from the School of Cultures, Languages and Areas Studies, six months after graduation:
- 94.7% were in employment or further study
- the average salary was £20,000
Source: known destinations and salary data for full-time, home, postgraduates extracted from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2016/17.
Careers support and advice
Whether you are considering a career within or outside academia, we’re here to support you every step of the way.
You can access our Careers and Employability Service during your studies and after you graduate.
Expert staff will work with you to explore PhD career options and apply for vacancies, develop your interview skills and meet employers. You can book a one-to-one appointment, take an online course or attend a workshop.
Fees and funding
There is a range of funding to support your studies. This can be from national, University or school/department sources. Our step-by-step guide to funding sets out the different options available.
School and department funding
The School of Cultures, Media and Area Studies has information on funding available for its PhD students.
National and University funding
Our Student Services has information on university-wide and national and international funding.
The Careers Service also has links to a range of funding databases for postgraduate study.
Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Programme
The Midlands4Cities programme provides funding, enhanced support, expert supervision and excellent networking opportunities for PhD candidates.
Apply to become an M4C student at the University of Notitngham.
Students with additional needs
Students with a disability, long-term health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty (for example dyslexia) may apply for a Disabled Students’ Allowance.
Tuition fees and funding may be affected by the UK’s exit from the European Union. For more information see our Brexit information for future students.
Government loans for masters courses
Masters student loans of up to £10,906 are available for taught and research masters courses. Applicants must ordinarily live in the UK or EU.
International and EU students
Masters scholarships are available for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure you apply for your course with enough time.
We provide guidance on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study. You can also access specific funding opportunities, entry requirements and other resources for students from specific countries.