Research overview

Take the time to create your own original research in art history and visual culture. At Nottingham you'll receive:

  • expert supervision from experienced academics
  • comprehensive training in research skills
  • opportunities to be involved in the department's research programme and on-campus public arts programme

Our specialisations

Nineteenth-century art and cultural exchange

  • Including issues of national identity, intercultural contact, migration and innovation

Collecting, reception and revival

  • Including issues of display, imperialism, power, travel and memory

Photography, film and spectatorship

  • Including issues of representation, status, politics and relationships to other media

Politics and identity

  • Including issues of gender, class, race, identity, propaganda, power, protest and memory

Find out more

Course content

  • 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

You will have at least two supervisors from our research-active and creative staff. You may also be able to strengthen your supervisory team from across our Midland4Cities partner universities.

  • 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

You’ll get expert supervision from our research-active and creative staff.

Students often start the MPhil and then, as the scope of their research becomes clearer, transfer to the PhD (subject to Department approval).

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2024 entry.


Masters degree in art history or a subject relevant to your research.


Masters degree in art history or a subject relevant to your research.

International and EU equivalents

We accept a wide range of qualifications from all over the world.

For information on entry requirements from your country, see our country pages.

IELTS7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)
English language requirements

As well as IELTS (listed above), we also accept other English language qualifications.

This includes TOEFL iBT, Pearson PTE, GCSE, IB and O level English.

Meeting our English language requirements

If you need support to meet the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional English course. Presessional courses teach you academic skills in addition to English language. Our Centre for English Language Education is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

If you successfully complete your presessional course to the required level, you can then progress to your degree course. This means that you won't need to retake IELTS or equivalent.

For on-campus presessional English courses, you must take IELTS for UKVI to meet visa regulations. For online presessional courses, see our CELE webpages for guidance.

Visa restrictions

International students must have valid UK immigration permissions for any courses or study period where teaching takes place in the UK. Student route visas can be issued for eligible students studying full-time courses. The University of Nottingham does not sponsor a student visa for students studying part-time courses. The Standard Visitor visa route is not appropriate in all cases. Please contact the university’s Visa and Immigration team if you need advice about your visa options.

We recognise that applicants have a variety of experiences and follow different pathways to postgraduate study.

We treat all applicants with alternative qualifications on an individual basis. We may also consider relevant work experience.

If you are unsure whether your qualifications or work experience are relevant, contact us.


Identify and contact a potential supervisor from our research staff to check whether we can adequately support your research interests before submitting an application.

If you're not sure how your research might fit into our existing programme contact out postgraduate admissions tutor Dr Mark Rawlinson who'll be happy to discuss.

Joint supervision and collaboration may also be available from other University of Nottingham departments or Midlands4Cities partner universities.

Research staff and their areas of expertise

Most students apply to start the course in September but December and February starts are also possible.

Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about applying for postgraduate research.

How to apply


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Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice.

Optional field trips may require you to pay for your own travel and entrance fees.


M4C logo

Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Programme

Midlands4Cities (M4C) PhD students benefit from a high quality package of:

  • funding
  • enhanced support and training
  • expert supervision
  • excellent networking opportunities

You must apply for a place at Nottingham before submitting your M4C application.

Apply to become an M4C student at the University of Nottingham

There are many ways to fund your research degree, from scholarships to government loans.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


Research seminars

These regular seminars allow you to broaden your knowledge of the subject and gain a better sense of how research develops as part of an interactive process. In particular you can:

  • hear visiting scholars from elsewhere in the UK and from overseas
  • present research in progress in a friendly and constructive environment
  • keep up-to-date with the work of fellow students and staff

See recent recent seminars organised by the Centre for Research in Visual Culture.

Digital Transformations Hub

  • Collection of more than 80,000 35mm art history slides
  • A range of hardware and software for cutting edge digital humanities research.

Visit the Digital Transformations Hub website.

Crop up gallery

Get involved in our student-led curatorial group and gain valuable practical experience in leadership, design, curatorship, marketing and promotion, networking and project management.

Language learning

You can make full use of the Language Centre facilities for both research-specific learning and personal interest.

Researcher training and development

The Researcher Academy is the network for researchers, and staff who support them. We work together to promote a healthy research culture, to cultivate researcher excellence, and develop creative partnerships that enable researchers to flourish.

Postgraduate researchers at Nottingham have access to our online Members’ area, which includes a wealth of resources, access to training courses and award-winning postgraduate placements.

Graduate centres

Our graduate centres are dedicated community spaces on campus for postgraduates.

Each space has areas for:

  • studying
  • socialising
  • computer work
  • seminars
  • kitchen facilities

Student support

You will have access to a range of support services, including:

  • academic and disability support
  • childcare services
  • counselling service
  • faith support
  • financial support
  • mental health and wellbeing support
  • visa and immigration advice
  • welfare support

Students' Union

Our Students' Union represents all students. You can join the Postgraduate Students’ Network or contact the dedicated Postgraduate Officer.

There are also a range of support networks, including groups for:

  • international students
  • black and minority ethnic students
  • students who identify as women
  • students with disabilities
  • LGBT+ students

SU Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice on issues such as accommodation, financial and academic difficulties.

Where you will learn

Centre for Research into Visual Culture

The Centre is involved with all aspects of contemporary art and visual culture. Its activities reflect the research interests of staff and students in the department.

Students attend regular seminars and symposia hosted by CRVC. Our latest seminar series "Re-writing history? Monuments, iconoclasm, and social justice movements in 2020" provided a snapshot of the long history of monuments, protest and oppression and explored the historical significance of this moment.

Visit the Centre's website


Whether you are considering a career in academia, industry or haven't yet decided, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

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.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Typically, our students are in great demand for their extensive knowledge and skills. Recent destinations include:

Galleries, museums, collections



100% of postgraduates from Cultural Media and Visual Studies secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2019/20 data published in 2022. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology.

Lara Pucci History of Art
I love the way our conversations are enhanced by the different perspectives of our students. They come from such a diverse range of backgrounds - including architecture, graphic design, illustration, English, American studies, geography, and theology, as well as art history. This enriches all our experiences and produces a vibrant and stimulating research community.
Dr Lara Pucci, Assistant Professor in Art History

Related courses

Research Excellence Framework

The University of Nottingham is ranked 7th in the UK for research power, according to analysis by Times Higher Education. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a national assessment of the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

  • 90% of our research environment recognised as of world leading quality
  • 100% of our impact case studies recognised as having outstanding or very considerable impact
  • 90%* of our research is classed as 'world-leading' (4*) or 'internationally excellent' (3*)
  • 100%* of our research is recognised internationally
  • 51% of our research is assessed as 'world-leading' (4*) for its impact**

*According to analysis by Times Higher Education ** According to our own analysis.

This content was last updated on 24 October 2023. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.