Art History

We are a wide-ranging group of researchers, across art, architecture and design history. With a strong commitment to interdisciplinary research, an open and inclusive approach to methods and theory, we like to find new ways of looking at the past and making connections with the present.

We run a highly successful MA in Art History (A843, A844), from which we recruit many of our PhD students. Our breadth of interests range between rock art in prehistory, to the eastern Mediterranean and the Ottoman empire, onwards around northern Europe and Italy in the Renaissance, eighteenth-century France and then the burst of global connections sustained across the modern world to the present day.

In all periods, we emphasize our commitment to reflecting on power relations, particularly through processes of colonisation and post-colonisation. We carry this into our active scholarship on questions of equality, diversity and inclusion in art, architecture and design today.

Key facts

  • We attract funding for PhD study from the AHRC via the OOC (Open-Oxford-Cambridge) consortium.
  • We create opportunities for doctoral partnerships, including with heritage bodies (the National Trust at Ham House, Surrey) and with archives on the designer William Morris with the Sanderson Archive.
  • Part-time research students are fully integrated into the art history research culture, with the opportunity to participate in work-in-progress days and other events.
  • The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 results showed 76 per cent of our research is world leading or internationally excellent.
  • The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 ranked our impact and Research Environment as 100% world leading or internationally excellent.
  • Doctoral students run their own peer support network and are also encouraged to join research groups based in the Department including Open Ecologies; and Objects, Collections and Museums.
  • Our staff have been successful in obtaining awards and fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, 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.

Career prospects

Many of our PhD students pursue their research after completing their doctorate, with outcomes including publications and working across academia and the GLAM sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). Several students on the Open-Oxford-Cambridge Doctoral Training Programme have been successful in obtaining placements with heritage bodies during their studies via the DTP.


Most of our full-time research students are based at our Milton Keynes campus; for details of residence requirements for different modes of study see Full-time study and Part-time study.



Find your research topic

Explore specific areas of research, current and prospective projects, entry requirements, fees and funding, available supervisors, how to apply and contact details for advice.

Early modern art and visual culture

Eighteenth-century art and visual culture

Global and cross cultural art

History of architecture and design

Modern and contemporary art and theory