Visual Culture MPhil/PhD

Qualification name
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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
MPhil / PhD History of Art
Other requirements



The Department of Culture, Media and Visual Studies 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). You will research your chosen topic and write a dissertation of at least 60,000 words. Supervisions are held at a minimum of one 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 art of union and disunion in the Houses of Parliament1834-1928
  • 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 Punk
  • Arte povera
  • Collecting Guido Reni in Britain, 1660-1660
  • Collecting of painting 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 nineteenth century
  • Paintings of everyday life in Ireland c.1780-1840

 Key Facts

  • The department has a dedicated research institute, the Centre for Research in Visual Culture
  • 23/24 teaching score in the latest independent review of quality.
  • 7th among UK history of art departments for world-leading research*
  • 87% of research is of international quality in terms of originality, significance and rigour*
  • In the latest postgraduate taught experience survey, 100% of respondents in the School of Humanities said, “The course is intellectually stimulating” and “The course has enhanced my academic ability”

*Research Excellence Framework 2014



The department is located in the Trent Building, on University Park campus. Students also have access to 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 in 2014 an exhibition of North American night-time photographs, And now it's dark. 

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

You will 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. 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 

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 Cultural, Media and Visual Studies website.


Fees and funding

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.

Midlands4Cities funding

The Midlands4Cities 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.

How to apply to the University of Nottingham through Midlands4Cities


Government loans for doctoral study

The Government recently introduced doctoral student loans of up to £25,000 for PhDs and equivalent research programmes. Applicants must ordinarily live in England.

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.



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.*

In 2016, 96% of postgraduates from the School of Humanities who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £22,370 with the highest being £30,000.**

The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.  
**Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of 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. 


Get in touch

t: +44 (0)115 951 5559

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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.

Explore it - Virtual Nottingham

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


Student Recruitment Enquiries Centre

The University of Nottingham
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Nottingham, NG7 2NR

t: +44 (0) 115 951 5559
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