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Art History

An image to illustrate studying art history with The Open University

Staff in the Art History discipline at The Open University specialise in high-quality research and teaching in art and architectural history. We have gained international recognition for our ground-breaking test books, co-published with leading university presses, many of which have become best sellers. We run a successful MA in Art History, from which we recruit many of our PhD students.

Areas of particular expertise:

  • Early Modern Art (including Byzantine and Italian Renaissance art)
  • Eighteenth-Century Art
  • Modern and contemporary Art Theory and Practice
  • Cross-Cultural and Artistic networks
  • History of Architecture and Design.

We welcome applications for research based in any of these areas, including projects that work across them. Applicants should normally hold a BA degree with at least first- or upper-second class honours or equivalent qualification, and an MA or equivalent research experience. Further information can be obtained via the contact details below.

Key facts

  • Current and new research students hold awards from the AHRC CHASE consortium and the AHRC OOC (Open-Oxford-Cambridge) consortium.
  • Current research students also hold AHRC-funded collaborative doctoral awards with partner institutions including the National Railway Museum, York, and the Sanderson Archive.
  • We hold annual work-in-progress days, either in London or Milton Keynes, at which both research students and academic staff present and discuss their current work.
  • Part-time research students are fully integrated into the art history research environment, with the opportunity to participate in work-in-progress days and other events.
  • The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 results showed 86 per cent of our research is world leading or internationally excellent.
  • The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 ranked our research 6th in the UK for its proportion of 4* and 3* research.
  • We offer unique access to an archive of gallery-based events, lectures and seminars through the Open Arts Archive produced in collaboration with partner institutions across the UK.
  • We host the Open Arts Journal, a peer-reviewed platform for arts scholarship open to diverse participants.
  • Our staff have been successful in obtaining awards and fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust, the Arts and humanities Research Council, the European Science Foundation, the American Academy in Rome, the Alexander K. Humboldt Foundation, the Society of Architectural Historians, the Design History Society, the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art and other organisations
  • We also participate in interdisciplinary research groups in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences such as the Medieval and Early Modern Research Group, Gender and Otherness in the Humanities (GoTH) and the Digital Humanities Research group.

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:

Dr Emma Barker
+44 (0)1908 652479

For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link under 'Your Questions' on the right of the page.


Research publications by Open University staff are available through Open Research Online (ORO), the university's repository of research publications and other research outputs. ORO can be searched or browsed by staff name or subject.

The following list, generated from ORO, provides a flavour of the most recently published work in Art History