Medieval and Byzantine

The Courtauld is the most vibrant and dynamic centre for the study of medieval art in the UK. We offer teaching and supervision across the full breadth of the medieval world, however defined. We have students and staff who work on everything from Spain in the west to Byzantium and the Caucasus in the east. Our expertise runs from Late Antiquity to the fifteenth century and beyond (we have a very inclusive view of what constitutes the medieval world), and although much research is centred on the religious cultures of the medieval world, we also work on every aspect of society and its visual life, including art and politics, relationships between texts and images, manifestations of identities (whether personal, religious, legal or gendered), cultural exchange between Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Photograph of abbey doorway, medieval
Abbey Doorway, Ivry-la-Bataille, Eure, France, 12th century

We also share many interests and opportunities with our colleagues working on other periods of the history of art at The Courtauld – whether that is based in material (we have strong interests in architectural history and technical art history, working with our conservation departments), theoretical questions (a growing community working on anthropology and art, for example), or theme (a cluster of scholars with a shared interest in Iconoclasm – the power of images and the need for their destruction in Christian and Islamic societies from the ancient world to the present day).

The Courtauld’s Medieval and Byzantine community is lively and friendly. Each year we take approximately 30 students on to the various Byzantine and medieval MA Special Options that we offer, and we have a strong community of more than 20 PhD students. Our doctoral students are a supportive group of people who share the joys and occasional frustrations of carrying out research. Through our membership of CHASE (Consortium for the History of Art in the South East), our PhD students have opportunities to collaborate in a broader academic world with a number of other universities.

In addition to inviting speakers from around the world to present at the Medieval Work-in-Progress research seminars held three times each term, our students organise regular student seminars to gain experience of speaking in a more informal setting, and they also organise the annual postgraduate medieval colloquium, which has now been running for more than 20 years. Every year we host the ICMA lecture at The Courtauld (bringing in a major scholar from the USA to speak), and we organise regular handling sessions with colleagues at the National Gallery, British Library, British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum to ensure that we keep a close focus on original objects and works of art; alongside these we hold reading groups to think about the theoretical questions that inform the ways in which we interpret the material we are studying. We all also organise individual conferences, workshops and meetings to discuss questions of particular interest to our current research projects. Giotto’s Circle is a seminar group dedicated to discussing Italian art and architecture of the later middle ages.

photograph of three courtauld lecturers handling a medieval ivory object at the British Museum
Ivory handling at the British Museum, Alixe Bovey, Susie Nash, Tom Nickson

Our students have gone on to work in museums, galleries, auction houses and dealers. Many hold academic positions across the UK, Europe and the US. Others have used the MA and PhD to carry out the more detailed research they had been unable to do as an undergraduate, and then use that experience to enhance their job opportunities across the whole spectrum of employment.



Associate lecturers

Research in Medieval and Byzantine

Find out more about the ongoing research into Medieval and Byzantine at The Courtauld and how you can get involved.

Research in Medieval and Byzantine
byzantine fresco