You are viewing this course for September start 2024

The School of Art at Aberystwyth University offers a three-year PhD in either Fine Art or Art History. 

The courses are designed for students who seek to undertake sustained study to generate original research in a specified field.

The teaching of art at Aberystwyth is now in its 90th year and our splendidly restored Edwardian building celebrates its centenary. The School is well equipped with large studios, print workshops, darkrooms, lecture theatres, seminar rooms, a MacSuite, galleries, archive room and Museum. 

Set in its own grounds, this Edwardian listed building was completely refurbished in 1993 and adapted to meet the needs of today’s fine art education, while retaining many of its original features. As such, it is an elegant symbol of our aim to marry tradition with contemporaneity.

Typical Entry Requirements

Entry Requirements MA Art History, or equivalent, and submission of a satisfactory portfolio.

English Language Requirements IELTS 6.5 with minimum 5.5 in each component, or equivalent

Other Requirements Applicants should submit a full research proposal at the point of application

Back to the top

Fees and Finance

Use the postgraduate Funding and Scholarship Calculator to find possible funding opportunities.

Course Overview

Areas of study

We offer a stimulating environment for postgraduate study and research in both fine art and art history. We are committed to art as an intellectual pursuit and a professional discipline; one which requires training, skill and practice as well as individual creativity. Students are chosen for their appropriateness to the professional and research interest of staff, and much of the tuition is by means of regular individual tutorials. Students are assigned to a supervisor and a particular area of study in Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Book Illustration, Photography or Art History.

Art History Research Areas

  • European art and visual culture since 1700, especially British and French
  • Art in Wales
  • History of printmaking, book illustration or photography
  • Curating and collecting practices
  • Ephemera as documents of everyday life
  • Narrative and narratology.

Fine Art Research Areas

  • Book Illustration
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Printmaking
  • Interdisciplinary practice (video, sound, installation and site-specific performance).

About this course

Duration of the PhD programmes

For PhD, duration is three years full-time or five years if taken part-time. For the three-year scheme candidates have a further two years in which to submit, and for the five-year scheme, a further four years in which to submit.

Modules September start - 2024

Please note: The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery during the next academic year and may be subject to change. They are included here to give an indication of how the course is structured.


Module Name Module Code Credit Value
Principles of Research Design PGM0210 10
Ways of Reading PGM0410 10

* Also available partially or entirely through the medium of Welsh

Teaching & Learning

Your study will advance through individual tutorials with a supervisor with whom you negotiate an action plan and a programme of independent research. The PhD is assessed by informed peer consensus on the project. You will be required to articulate a defence of your thesis with regard to its scope, depth and relevance in a viva voce.

Art History

The PhD in Art History is undertaken by a 100,000 word dissertation. The topics available for research supervision are listed under Areas of Study. The dissertation is intended for students who wish to pursue a protracted and sustained study of Art History with a view to producing original research in a specified area. You and your supervisor will determine a pattern for study, the submission of written work, and tutorials. Study is undertaken through supervision in the context of one-to-one tutorials, research seminars, supported study in research, writing, and oral delivery, independent study, and essays or projects.

Fine Art

The PhD in Fine Art recognises and awards intellectual endeavour in fine art practice comparable to that demonstrated through the PhD in Art History. It represents an independent and original contribution to knowledge of, and a permanent record of creative work in, Fine Art. The mode of study comprises: a substantial creative product (Exhibition and Supporting Work) set in a relevant theoretical, historical, critical and visual context; a written component (Dissertation = 30,000–40,000 words and Catalogue = 2,500–5,000 words) of equal importance to the body of creative work, recording and demonstrating a critical, historical, and diagnostic grasp of appropriate research methods and outcomes of the process and product. The PhD in Fine Art is assessed by an informed peer consensus on the mastery of the subject, of analytical breadth and depth, together with the communication of this mastery within the contribution and its defence in appropriate forms.