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A series of white statues of people on a hill with some bushes and part of a building seen in the foreground Image courtesy of Carol Richardson


History of Art - MPhil/PhD/MSc by Research

PhD/MPhil/MSc Research


1 - 6 years
Full-time; Part-time


Our MPhil and PhD degrees are both major pieces of independent research, preparing you for a future in academic scholarship.  We welcome prospective students with a strong idea of what they want to research and how they will carry it out. A willingness to engage with primary-source material and to interpret this alongside existing literature in the field are essential attributes in those wishing to undertake this programme. Our student’s aim is to make an original and substantial contribution to knowledge in the chosen area of study. 

Undertaking a research degree in History of Art at Edinburgh means you are part of one of the largest groupings of subject experts in the UK. Our students form a dynamic and supportive community working in close collaboration with experienced teachers and researchers within our School and beyond. As a student, you will have access to the world-class collections of Edinburgh University Library and the National Library of Scotland (one of five legal deposit libraries in the UK). The University is one of the major centres in the world for the study of the Humanities, and interdisciplinary supervision teams are often set up across different Schools. Edinburgh University houses outstanding art and manuscript collections developed over the last 400 years, while Edinburgh itself is home to a wealth of major museums, such as the National Galleries of Scotland and National Museums of Scotland. 

Research interests

What makes us distinct is our inclusion of global art histories, from Japan and China to the Islamic world and India, in addition to a remarkably wide array of methodologies and period specialisms in more established areas. We have strong groupings of staff in Medieval, Renaissance, Early Modern, Nineteenth-Century, Modern and Contemporary subjects. Many of our PhD students contribute to undergraduate teaching.  You will be able to build up a unique network of resources and collaborations, both within and beyond academia, from this range of possibilities.


History of Art PhD and MPhil option are for those who wish to advance their expertise in a specific area. Our graduates gained a diversified and advanced knowledge in historical and critical understanding of art. Jobs as academic in higher education, curators in museums and galleries, and art managers and heritage officers in cultural and creative industries are popular. Careers in National Trust, art conserving, education, commercial auction houses, and art management are common. 

Why you should choose this programme


We routinely engage in world-leading research and international activities.


You will have access to the extensive University Arts Collection and the Talbot Rice Gallery as a member of our programme.


Our supervisory research staff publish widely and have connections to world leading museums and galleries.


We work to extend our global influence through our teaching and research.


Edinburgh College of Art is at the centre of a city which is famous for its international arts scene.

How to apply & entry requirements

 you'd like to study on a postgraduate research programme at Edinburgh College of Art, you must apply through EUCLID, our online application system. You can find out how to do this on the University of Edinburgh website, where you'll also be able to:

  • See detailed entrance requirements for each programme on the Degree Finder  
  • Get information on what to expect after you apply  
  • Find out about study modes, start dates and fees  
  • Find out if, and how, you need to submit a portfolio, showreel or research proposal  
  • Find out where to go for further advice and guidance.

Application process

Before you apply

Students are assigned two research supervisors, the second of which may be from another discipline within ECA, or from somewhere else within the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (CAHSS) or wider University. 

Please ensure that at least one member of staff (see below) maintains an active research programme that aligns with the themes of your proposed project.  

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to make contact with the relevant member(s) of staff via email to explain your research interests prior to submitting an application. Please note that we only accept applications and review application materials submitted through the official EUCLID application portal.

After you apply

Once your application has been submitted for consideration, it will be sent to a team of academic reviewers for their attention. They will then make a decision about your application and research topic, and decide whether it is possible to make an offer of a place to study with us. You may be asked to attend a brief online interview but if this is the case, you will be notified in advance.

Get in touch

Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions
+44 (0)131 651 5740

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