History of Art - MPhil/PhD/MSc by Research


The submission of a thesis (or dissertation) of generally between 80,000 and 100,000 words at the end of three years full-time study (six years part-time) is the primary focus of a PhD candidate. The thesis sets out the results of your research, your personal scholarly contribution, for the benefit of future scholarship.

During the course of this period students are also encouraged to engage with the broader postgraduate community, the Edinburgh experience, by participating in conferences (certainly in Edinburgh, and elsewhere when relevant), by contributing to research projects (such as those run by their supervisors), by acting as tutor for one or two groups of undergraduate students in their first or second years of study (for which you would receive payment), and by attending regular research seminars.

If your programme of research requires you to make field trips (perhaps to view collections or archives), this is generally managed in the second year of study after you have passed a first-year review. At this review you are required to present your initial research findings before a review committee, one member of which will be an external assessor. This committee will also ascertain whether you have the appropriate skills in place to complete your PhD project to international standards. At Edinburgh, a considerable range of courses and opportunities are available to first-year History of Art PhD candidates to enable them to develop the skills needed to pursue their work.


MPhil candidates undertake a programme of study similar to PhD candidates, but the study period is shorter, two years full-time (or four years part-time), and the word-limit is lower (no more than 60,000 words). This degree is intended for students who wish to pursue a research project, but cannot for reasons of time, finance or proficiency commit to the demands of the PhD.

MSc by Research in History of Art

The MSc by Research is a Master’s-level degree for students not yet ready to embark on a full PhD or MPhil programme, but who nonetheless wish to include a substantial research element within their study. For some students looking for a Master’s degree it is an alternative to pursuing an exclusively taught programme. Alongside traditional course options, MSc by Research students work closely with a supervisor on two extensive research essays, which act as preparation for a dissertation.

This degree programme may be understood as an intermediate degree for students hoping to undertake a PhD in due course. It works whatever subject area their first degree was in if clear ideas about the nature of the research contributions they expect to make have already been developed.


Dr Alain George, Programme Director | View staff profile >

This is a research programme. Support and supervision may be provided by any of the teaching staff in this School.

View the full staff list for the School of History of Art >


Everything you need to know about finding perfect student accommodation.

Resources for History of Art, Art, Architecture and Landscape Architecture students.

An amalgamation of the University's extensive art collection and ECA’s collection of prints, drawings, paintings and sculpture.

A fully operational, entirely student-run 90-seat theatre housed in a neo-gothic church.

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The Centre for Research Collections (CRC) is the main space for anyone using the University of Edinburgh’s historic collections.

Work spaces are available across the University. ECA's computers include software tailored to the disciplines studied here.

At the heart of the Evolution House Learning and Research Zone, the ECA Library provides an innovative environment for learning, teaching and research resources in art and design.

ECAfé provides a full catering service to all staff, students and visitors to Edinburgh College of Art.

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A Georgian garden that doubles as a venue for performances in the centre of the city.

Including journals, image databases, and local collections.

The primary collection of books, periodicals, manuscripts, and research material.

By day, a café, bar and study space, and by night a club venue. Potterrow’s dome is also home to the Advice Place and the Potter Shop.

The neo-classical Sculpture Court in the ECA Main Building is home to the many pieces from the Edinburgh Cast Collection, and is regularly used for student exhibitions.

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Offering counselling services for students, workshops, consultation and training for staff.

Supporting students with dyslexia, mental health issues and students on the autistic spectrum, as well as those who have physical and sensory impairments.

Talbot Rice Gallery is the public art Gallery for the University of Edinburgh.

Home to six distinctive bars, Teviot is the oldest purpose built students' union in the world.

265 plaster casts of Antique, Renaissance, and Gothic statues, bas reliefs, and architectural passages.

A hub for the University Societies and setting regular live music, comedy, spoken word and poetry nights.

A bar at the Lauriston Campus which hosts regular events including club nights and gigs.

Scholarships & bursaries

Successful applicants will have a research interest aligning with, or cutting across, ECA's five Schools.

Scholarships available for one academic year of postgraduate study at Edinburgh College of Art. (£15,000)

The scholarships cover tuition fees, maintenance allowance, research and travel allowance.

Designed to attract high quality students applying for PhD research.

Covers tuition fees together with an annual stipend of £14,000 for living costs and travel.

Funding for PhD students undertaking interdisciplinary research at ECA. (£16,000 per year)

Open to overseas students starting a PhD at University of Edinburgh.

News & events

Dionne Walker_Marcus, George_BFI London .JPG

ECA Alumna Dionne Walker with Director George Amponsah and Marcus Knox Hooke
Image courtesy of British Film Institute London

The City - MSc alumna Dionne produced the BAFTA nominated documentary 'The Hard Stop'

06 Jun 2017
Screening Room (G.04, ground floor)
50 George Square

A one-day interdisciplinary conference on avant-garde responses to twentieth century socio-political crises.


Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions

Phone: +44 (0)131 650 4086

Email: hsspg@ed.ac.uk