Visual Culture MPhil/PhD


Fact file

MPhil/PhD Visual Culture
Entry requirements
2:1 (or international equivalent) in art history or a related subject.
7.0 (6.0) If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
September 2017
University Park
Department of History of Art
MPhil / PhD History of Art
Other requirements

Research overview

The Department of History of Art welcomes applications for both full and part-time MPhil/PhD study in Art History, Visual Culture, or a related subject.


The MPhil requires one year of full-time study (minimum of two years part-time). Students research their chosen topic and write a dissertation of at least 60,000 words. Supervisions are held at a minimum of 1 hour three times each term, approximately every three weeks. The MPhil is 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).


The PhD, three years of full-time or up to six years of part-time study, requires an original contribution to knowledge and a thesis of at least 80,000 words.

Research topics of recent PhD graduates or current PhD 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 Iconography of Union in the Houses of Parliament
  • 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 Enounter
  • 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 Photocopying and Punk


The department is located in the new Humanities Building, in University Park. This also houses the Digital Humanities Centre, which offers key resources in reproduction and image research. The department also has strong connections to the University's Djanogly Gallery, where staff have curated a number of exhibitions, demonstrating our commitment to dissemination, and also working with works of art (e.g. Trentside, Rubens and Italian Art, Ruination: photographs of Rome; with upcoming an exhibition of North American night-time photographs.

Previous exhibitions have included: Edward Burra (2012), L.S.Lowry (2011), The British Art Show (2006), Graham Sutherland (2006), John Piper (2003), The Golden Age of Watercolour (2002), Rubens and Italian Art (2002), Trentside (2001), Typical Men: Photography of the Male Body by Men 1980 to 2000 (2001), The Artist's Model from Etty to Spencer (1999), as well as exhibitions by Hermione Wiltshire (2000) and Hughie O'Donoghue (2001). 

Staff are well-connected to the city's institutions of contemporary art and culture, Nottingham Contemporary, and New Art Exchange.


IT Facilities 

Postgraduate study spaces equipped with PCs and printers. The computers are connected to the University's data network which, in turn, is connected to JANET (the UK's Joint Academic NETwork) and thus to the world wide Internet. 

Research support

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 postgraduate students to broaden their knowledge of the subject and gain a better sense of how research develops as part of an interactive process. 

Research students at The University of Nottingham have access to an extensive range of modules provided by The Graduate School, including 'The Tradition of Critique' and general modules such as 'Getting Going on Your Thesis', and beginners language courses. 

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. Research students 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 

Postgraduate students in the department may also register for the Academic German course run by the School of Humanities. This course is designed to provide research students who have little or no experience in this language with the skills to use German in their research. 

A number of University support services exist to assist you during your time at Nottingham and beyond. The Postgraduate Students' Association (PGSA) is a particularly important source of support.


Find a supervisor

We encourage you to get in touch with a member of academic staff about your research proposal before submitting an application. They may 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 History of Art website.



UK/EU Students

The majority of postgraduate students in the UK fund their own studies, often from a package made up of personal savings, parental loans or contributions, bank loans and support from a trust or charity.

However, financial support and competitive scholarships are available and we encourage applicants to explore all funding opportunities at least a year in advance of the start date. Get information about:

The information on these pages provides basic details about funding available from The University of Nottingham and external sources. The University also has a funding database which you can search. If you have any questions, please contact us.

The Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership  supports the personal and professional development of the next generation of arts and humanities doctoral researchers. Studentships are available to UK/EU students.

View University of Nottingham supervision areas and Midlands3Cities application procedures

The Partnership is a collaboration between the universities of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent, Leicester, De Montfort, Birmingham and Birmingham City.


Government loans for doctoral study

The Government plans to introduce doctoral student loans of up to £25,000 for PhDs and equivalent research programmes from 2018. Applicants must ordinarily live in England and more details are expected to be announced in due course.

Doctoral training programmes

Linked to research councils, doctoral training programmes offer funding opportunities connected to our research priorities.

International and EU students

Research scholarships are available for outstanding international and EU students. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.



Visit the department page for additional opportunities.

Average starting salary and career progression

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers.*

Consequently - and owing to our reputation for excellence - over 95% of postgraduates from the Faculty of Arts entered employment, voluntary work or further study during the first six months after graduation in 2015. The average starting salary was £20,250 with the highest being £33,000.** 

* The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research. 
**Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2014/15. Salaries are calculated based on those in full-time paid employment within the UK. 

Career Prospects and Employability

Those who take up a postgraduate research opportunity with us will not only receive support in terms of close contact with supervisors and specific training related to your area of research, you will also benefit from dedicated careers advice from our Careers and Employability Service.  Individual guidance appointments, career management training programme, access to resources and invitations to events including skills workshops and recruitment fairs  are just some of the ways in which they can help you develop your full potential, whether you choose to continue within an academic setting or are looking at options outside of academia. 


This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

Claire Croal
Department of History of Art
The University of Nottingham
University Park


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