Postgraduate Study

MPhil and PhD Research

Study at the Courtauld

Research students can register at The Courtauld with MPhil/PhD status, or with occasional student status.

The Courtauld is an excellent centre for pursuing research in the history of art. Our research facilities are exceptional, including The Courtauld Gallery, the book library and picture libraries, and access to other resources across London and beyond.

We have by far the largest body of postgraduate art history students in the UK, and we support an active research environment in which dialogue between staff and students is central.

MPhil/PhD students register at The Courtauld for the duration of their research, complete all monitoring excercises, and are awarded the degree at the end of their studies. Students may enrol for a full- or part-time PhD. Full-time study is for three years, part-time for six.

Occasional students are usually registered at another university, but wish to spend a period of time at The Courtauld. There are no assessments of their work, and no awards granted to occasional students.

research community and links

Video Courtesy of Postgraduatesearch

Key Facts

  • Full time
  • Each application assessed on merit
  • 3 years
Language skills:
  • English
  • Full-time Home/EU fee: £ 4,340 (2014/5)
  • Overseas fee: £ 15,090 (2014/5)
  • PhD writing-up year fee: £ 674 (2014/5)
  • Occasional Student fee: £ 2,347 per term (2014/5)
Study at the Courtauld

Our teaching staff supervise research from Antiquity to the present. You must identify a member of staff who would be best suited to supervise your research and to contact him or her by e-mail to find out whether they are in a position to take on new research students and whether they are able to supervise your work. However, if you are unable to make this determination and are made an offer, a supervisor will be assigned to you. S/he will support you and equip you with the discipline and training to produce substantial and sustained pieces of research and all the skills that academic work entails.

The Research Forum offers access to a range of visiting speakers from around the world, complementing the wealth of expertise available from our own staff. A series of research training opportunities runs alongside your research activity and is designed to introduce graduate students to the skills needed to operate in the 21st century academy.

Our Research Students’ Skills Training Programme, which is designed to help you make the most of your academic work, will provide practical help and advice on presenting your work at conferences, having your research published and getting a job in the Academy. Sessions are also offered on IT skills for research students, completing your PhD and applying for further funding. The Courtauld is a founder member of ReSkIN, a community of scholars in the visual arts from across the University of London. ReSkIN marks the launch of each new academic year with a two-day conference looking at the skills, methodologies and techniques needed for the study of visual culture. In addition to taking advantage of the formal training programme, students are encouraged to discuss their individual training needs with their supervisor with a view to pursuing topic-specific training.


Occasional and guest students attend The Courtauld either for a term, two terms or a year at research level. Both are designed for those engaged in independent research or registered for research degrees at other institutions.

Occasional students will be offered advice by a member of the academic staff on their research topics in terms of resources, contacts, and approaches. Advice does not, however, mean the direction or supervision of research. Students are entitled to a maximum of two meetings each term with a specialist in their field. Students in this category are also allowed to use and borrow from The Courtauld's book and photograph libraries, and they may attend lectures at the discretion of their advisor.

Guest students are permitted only to use (but not borrow from) the book and photograph libraries.

No qualification is offered to occasional or guest students, though certificates of attendance may be provided on request. Please note that, as occasional and guest students are not considered full-time students at the Institute, we are unable to give visa support to applicants.

Study at the Courtauld


Research degrees are awarded on assessment of the completed thesis alone. The assessment for the PhD consists of a thesis of around 100,000 words and an oral examination of the thesis. Some recent successful PhD topics include:

  • Piety and Purgatory: Wall-mounted Memorials from the Southern Netherlands c. 1380-1520
  • The possibility of an island : the adolescent condition in contemporary art in New York
  • The avant-garde as Swain : a critical American pastoral
  • Architecture and the Government Minister, 1688-1714
  • The Fine Art of Displaying a History of Art: Exhibiting and Cataloguing Art in Denmark from c.1760-1900
  • Rescuing Wagner: the Cultural Politics of Set-Design in Germany 1924 -1938

Please visit our research pages for further information about postgraduate research.

Study at the Courtauld

Entry requirements

Please select your Country of Study

If you hold a qualification from outside of the UK, please feel free to contact the Academic Registry; however, please be aware that our staff are unable to confirm whether you will be invited to interview, as candidates are judged on the strength of their applications as a whole.

Non traditional backgrounds

Occasional Student applicants should normally either be registered for a postgraduate degree (or the equivalent) at another university, or have spent at least three years in full-time university education.

Other Requirements

All applicants are expected to have an effective knowledge of English, both spoken or written. For applicants whose first language is not English, we require proof of English proficiency.

We will accept:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with an overall bandwidth of 7.0 or above, with no less than 6.5 in Reading and Writing.
  • Cambridge Advanced English (CAE) with a minimum grade of B
  • IGCSE with a minimum grade of B
  • Pearson Test for English (PTE) Academic with a score of 75 or above
  • CPE (Cambridge English: Proficiency) with minimum grade of C

Please note that we will not accept institutional test results.

** Due to a recent change in policy UK Immigration & Visa no longer accepts TOEFL exams. If you have previously taken a TOEFL exam to April 2014, we will accept you exam results. If you have any questions, please contact

You may be exempt from providing proof of proficiency if either of the following applies to you:

  • You are a national of a majority English speaking country*
  • You have an academic qualification (not a professional or vocational qualification), which is equivalent to a UK Bachelors degree and the qualification is from an education provider in a majority English speaking country, including the UK and Republic of Ireland but not Canada.

*For a list of countries considered majority English -speaking countries by the UK Border Agency for purposes of English language proficiency, please see the 'Instructions' pages of our programme application forms.

If you are unable to book a test at a centre in advance of the application deadline, you may submit your application without an English proficiency result and it will be passed on for consideration. You should send your test result when it becomes available to you.

Foreign language requirements
A small number of the special options require students to be able to study texts in their original language. Where this is a requirement, the special options list the languages needed.

Study at the Courtauld

FEES 2014/15

Full-time Home/EU fee: £4,340
Overseas fee: £15,090
PhD writing-up year fee: £674

Occasional Student fee: £2,347 per term

Fees are subject to change each academic year. You can find out what qualifies as home, EU and overseas fees here.


Funding & scholarships opportunities

Study at the Courtauld
Applications open between 15/10/2013 and 10/03/2014

PhD Applications

Applicants may apply direct to The Courtauld for 2014 entry using the Online Application Portals for Full-time Research Applications or Part-time Research Applications. Please note that if you require a student visa to study in the UK you may not study on a Part-Time basis.

Important Notice - Research Proposal Length

The research proposal can now be up to 10,000 characters in length (including spaces), an increase on the previous 500 word limit. This allows you to present your proposed research topic in greater detail, and will benefit the Research Degrees Committee in assessing your application. You will not be able to exceed the previous limit when completing the Online Application Portal - as such we are happy to accept an expanded proposal emailed to (.doc filetype preferred). Please note that you will be required to enter some text into the Reseach Proposal Statement field on the Online Applicaiton Portal - for example you could simply enter 'see emailed proposal'. The expanded proposal must be emailed by whichever deadline is relevent to your application detailed below.


AHRC: The deadline for receipt of complete applications is 5pm January 31st 2014, though applicants interested in AHRC funding are strongly encouraged to submit their application before January 24th 2014.

Non-AHRC: The deadline for receipt of complete applications is 5pm March 10th 2014.

Applicants eligible (Home/EU applicants) and interested in AHRC can find out more information here.

It is essential that you read the Online Guidance and the Programme Application Instructions before you begin the application process.

You must also make contact with a potential supervisor to discuss the proposed research. Contact should be made by email, and information on tutors’ research interests may be found here. The application will be considered by the proposed supervisor and the decision to admit will be taken by the Research Degrees Committee.

Non-AHRC Courtauld Scholarship Applications are completed separately to the Online Admissions Application, should be sent via hardcopy in the post, and must be received within a week of submitting the Online Application. More information and an application form can be found here.


Applicants may apply direct to The Courtauld using the form below. Complete applications should include:

  • Completed application form
  • Two confidential academic references
  • A transcript of your academic record from your University
  • A substantial piece of written work
  • A photocopy of the photo page and relevant biodata from your passport
  • English proficiency certificate (if applicable)
  • Two recent passport photographs

Application Form



Applications are invited under the Arts & Humanities Research Council Collaborative Doctoral Awards scheme for the project ‘The collection, display and reception of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Sienese paintings in Britain, 1850-1950’.

The successful applicant will be supervised at the Courtauld Institute by Dr Joanna Cannon, and at the National Gallery by Dr Caroline Campbell.  A high degree of preparedness for independent research is expected, including the ability to develop the project and the necessary languages and research skills to carry it out. Applicants will have a master’s degree in Art History or an appropriate related discipline and will be familiar with the study of Italian art of the Trecento and/or Quattrocento, or of British later nineteenth/early twentieth-century interest in Italian Art.      

The award is for three years beginning in September 2014 and covers fees and maintenance.  AHRC award eligibility requires the applicant to be resident in the UK for the preceding three years, with no restrictions on the time they may remain in the UK.  EU students are eligible for a full award if they have been resident in the UK for the three years prior to the start of the award.  

Please read full details on the project (including eligibility requirements)  here

 Application_form and further_information

If you have any queries about the application process contact

Closing date for applications: 20 June 2014

Interviews are provisionally scheduled for 7 July

Starting date: 29 September 2014