Postgraduate study

History of Art PhD, MPhil

Awards: PhD, MPhil

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: History of Art

The MSc by Research programme is for students with a good general knowledge of the subject area, who wish to focus their interests and deepen their knowledge of a specific topic.

Assessment and progression

To complete the programme you will normally submit two independent research essays (5,000 words each) on topics chosen in consultation with your supervisor.

During semesters 1 and 2, you are also required to complete:

  • the History of Art core course Research Theories and Methods (which is assessed via a 3,000-word essay)
  • one further course (which may be chosen from a broad range of taught postgraduate option courses, assessed by a 4,000-word essay, or a credit-bearing language course or other suitable option)

At the end of the summer, you are required to submit a 15,000-word dissertation.

MPhil and PhD degrees

The MPhil and PhD degrees are both major pieces of independent research, preparing you for a future in academic scholarship. These degrees are obtained by research and presentation of a thesis of up to 60,000 words (MPhil) or 80,000–100,000 words (PhD). The first year of a PhD is probationary, meaning that you must pass a First Year Review before you are permitted to continue to the second year of the PhD. At your review, you will be required to give an oral presentation about the project and discuss with a review panel a proposed chapter plan, timeline for completion, and a draft chapter of at least 10,000 words.

The MSc by Research consists of assessed work, split between a dissertation (15,000 words) and supervised research essays on topics related to the dissertation.

The programme also includes a compulsory research training course and either a methodology course or another course from another MSc programme, if agreed to be more suitable by your supervisor and postgraduate director.

All of our research students benefit from ECA’s interdisciplinary approach and all are assigned two research supervisors. Your second supervisor may be from another discipline within ECA, or from somewhere else within the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences or elsewhere within the University, according to the expertise required. On occasion more than two supervisors will be assigned, particularly where the degree brings together multiple disciplines.

There are three university libraries, the Main Library, the ECA Library and the Art& Architecture library. The Postgraduate students are able to access the National Library of Scotland for their dissertation. Individual study spaces are available to be booked in the libraries, and within the ECA campus.

For Career opportunities, there is the Internship for Postgraduate students in History of Art - awarded on a competitive basis - which provides students with the opportunity to develop their skills and develop contacts in a workplace setting.

The PhD by Distance is available to suitably qualified applicants in all the same areas as our on-campus programmes: Art, Design, History of Art, Music, Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

The PhD by Distance allows students who do not wish to commit to basing themselves in Edinburgh to study for a PhD in an ECA subject area from their home country or city.

There is no expectation that students studying for an ECA PhD by Distance study mode should visit Edinburgh during their period of study. However, short term visits for particular activities could be considered on a case-by-case basis.

For further information on the PhD by Distance please see the ECA website

These entry requirements are for the 2022/23 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2023/24 academic year will be published on 3 October 2022.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant subject.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 with at least 176 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: 70 overall with at least 62 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

(*Revised 17 November 2021 to add accepted PTE Academic qualifications.)

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

no additional costs

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhD3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhD6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
PhD3 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
PhD6 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
MPhil2 YearsFull-timeTuition fees
MPhil4 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Postgraduate Research Director, History of Art, Dr Chia-Ling Yang
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 1370
  • Contact: C.Yang@ed.ac.uk
  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Office
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Evolution House, Grassmarket
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH1 2LE
Programme start dates Application deadlines
10 January 2022 1 December 2021
12 September 2022 1 August 2022
9 January 2023 1 December 2022

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit two references with your application.

You should submit a research proposal that outlines your project's aims, context, process and product/outcome. Read the application guidance before you apply:

Although we welcome perceptive proposals on traditional subjects, using established methodologies, we are particularly looking for applicants prepared to challenge and expand the traditional boundaries of the discipline.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Postgraduate Research Director, History of Art, Dr Chia-Ling Yang
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 1370
  • Contact: C.Yang@ed.ac.uk
  • Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Office
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Evolution House, Grassmarket
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH1 2LE