History of architecture and design

Qualifications Duration Start dates Application period
(MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
February and October January to April
PhD (MPhil also available)
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Start dates
February and October
Application period
January to April

A key area of specialist interest in the Art History discipline is the History of Architecture and Design, in the early modern and modern periods. Members of the discipline with this specialism share a commitment to investigating the relationships between place, space and society as expressed historically through the built environment; they value design for interiors and urban and rural environments as well as maintaining a strong tradition of research on individual architects and buildings. They have particular strengths in British and northern European architecture and design and incorporate a strong set of interests in critical heritage studies for the uses of the material past in the present.

We welcome applications from potential students interested in pursuing these questions from the 17th century to the present day. Although some of our students have already studied with The Open University, others join us from elsewhere.

Entry requirements

A UK Masters’ degree or equivalent level in a relevant subject (art, architecture or design history), or exceptionally a First Class undergraduate degree with a substantial dissertation. If you are not a UK citizen, you may need to prove your knowledge of English.

Potential research projects

We welcome applications to study topics that complement our current research.

Current/recent research projects

  • Utopian collaboration? William Morris, Jeffrey & Co and the Morris & Co wallpapers 1864-c.1928
  • ​Housing for Single Working Women in Inter-War London 1919-1939
  • gle Working Women in Inter-War London 1919-1939
  • The Architectural Profession and its Engagement with Historic Places of Worship in England, 1945 to the Present
  • Home on the Rails: The design, fitting and decoration of train interiors in Britain, c.1920-1955

Potential supervisors

  • Dr Clare Taylor – seventeenth and eighteenth-century material culture including interior design and decoration; historical revivalism and cultures of collecting
  • Dr Susie West – 17th and 18th-century architecture and material culture; heritage studies
  • Dr Margit Thofner – visual, spatial and material culture of north-western Europe, c.1500-1700 including urban spaces and architecture

Fees and funding

UK fee International fee
Full time: £4,712 per year Full time: £11,958 per year
Part time: £2,356 per year Part time: £5,979 per year

Some of our research students are funded via the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership; others are self-funded.

For detailed information about fees and funding, visit Fees and studentships.

To see current funded studentship vacancies across all research areas, see Current studentships.

The Shard viewed at a distance from a London street

How to apply

Get in touch

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

Email: FASS-ArtHistory-Enquiries
Phone: +44 (0)1908 652479

Apply now

If you’re interested in applying for this research topic, please take a look at the application process.