Research degrees
Research areas
Art history
Modern and contemporary art and theory

Modern and contemporary art and theory

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

The OU art history discipline has a strong record of pioneering and world-class research and teaching in Modern and Contemporary Art.

A landmark achievement in this area is the internationally acclaimed three volume series Art in Theory: an Anthology of Changing Ideas, 1648–1815; 1815–1900; 1900–2000 (edited by Charles Harrison, Paul Wood and Jason Gaiger), which is continued in the volume Art in Theory: The West in the World edited by Paul Wood and Leon Wainwright with Charles Harrison (2020).

We welcome applications in areas that correspond with current staff research interests. We look for detailed and well thought-out proposals, which set out specific research questions and outline the originality of your topic or approach.

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

  • On Figuration in the work of Post-Conceptual British women painters
  • Contemporary Public Art in the North of England
  • The Marketing of Contemporary British Art, 1975–1990
  • Elusive Translation: Film and Video in the work of Isaac Julien, Zineb Sedira and Alia Syed

Potential supervisors

  • Dr Amy Barnes – museum studies, collecting, curating and the representation of art and material culture of China and South Asia
  • Dr Warren Carter – modern and contemporary art; public art; art of the Americas; methodology
  • Dr Kim Charnley – art and activism, participation and social movements
  • Dr Amy Charlesworth – modern and contemporary art and gender studies
  • Dr Renate Dohmen – 19th and 20th century art, including the Indian sub-continent
  • Dr Sam Shaw – 19th and 20th century art and visual culture, including in Britain; human/non-human relations and natural history; ‘race’, nation and representation
  • Dr Margit Thofner– painting, print, architecture, sculpture and range across the histories of religion, politics, gender, court culture, public rituals, urban spaces and musical culture.
  • Dr Leon Wainwright – modern and contemporary art; transatlantic exchanges, diasporas and migration; critical studies and phenomenology
  • Dr Robert Wallis – prehistoric art and its reception in the present; critical heritage studies; anthropology and archaeology

Fees and funding

UK fee International fee
Full time: £4,596 per year Full time: £11,666 per year
Part time: £2,298 per year Part time: £5,833 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.


Women visiting art gallery

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.