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
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.

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 and written. For applicants whose first language is not English, we require proof of English proficiency.

We accept the following English language proficiency tests if taken within 2 years of the start of the programme:

  • 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.
  • Trinity College London – ISEIII

We will accept the following tests if taken on or before 5th April 2015, and if taken within 2 years of the start of the programme, up until 5th November 2015.

  • Cambridge Advanced English (CAE) 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.

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 Bachelor’s 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.

*Majority English-speaking countries are defined by the Home Office as:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United States of America

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 2015/16

Part-time Home/EU fee: £2,280
Full-time Home/EU fee: £4,560

Overseas fee: £15,840

PhD writing-up year: £674

Occasional student fee: £3,200 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 15/10/2014 and 14/01/2015


Applications for the 2015/6 MPhil/PhD Research Programme programme are now closed.

The deadline for applications was 14 January 2015. 






Applicants MUST have contacted their proposed supervisor prior to submitting an application.  If you have not already interviewed with your proposed supervisor prior to your application, you will need to do so.  After you have been interviewed, your application will be forwarded for consideration by the Research Degrees Committee which will make a final decision on your application.

Please do not contact us to check on the status of your application.  We will contact you when there is a change in the status on your application.

You will be contacted before the end of April with a final decision about your application

Courtauld Institute of Art Scholarships

Scholarship Applications will be completed separately to the Online Admissions Application, will be sent via hardcopy in the post, and must be received within a week of submitting the Online Application. More information can be found here.


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


There is one Collaborative Doctorial Award available at the moment - please see here for details.