skip to content

Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

History of Art and Architecture is no longer accepting new applications.


Teaching is delivered through a series of seminars held in the Faculty during the Michaelmas and Lent terms, focusing on salient critical and theoretical issues in the discipline. The seminars may include presentations by MPhil students and other research students.

Throughout the course, students are encouraged to undertake independent reading and study, in order to consolidate what is under discussion in the seminars. In addition, they attend the Department's weekly graduate research seminars, the Department's fortnightly subject-specific research seminars (medieval, Renaissance, architectural history, modern and contemporary and so on: see for an overview) and other lectures and seminars in the Department and elsewhere in the University, such as those delivered annually by the visiting Slade Professor of Fine Art.


The syllabus is as follows:

Attendance at seminar-based courses in the Michaelmas and Lent terms. Frequent attendance at the department's research seminars. Attendance at classes in skills training and career development. Frequent individual consultation with the candidate's supervisor, who will guide the candidate's choice of topics and preparation of individual written work for essays, presentations and the dissertation. The seminar courses run over two terms (Michaelmas and Lent). The seminars are led by faculty members and can include presentations by MPhil students and other research students when requested by the seminar leaders.

A taught course relevant to your research topic offered at the MPhil level by another university department (e.g. Classics, English, History, Modern and Medieval Languages) may be undertaken in addition to one of the two taught courses, with the approval of your supervisor and the Degree Committee of the Faculty of Architecture and History of Art. This needs to be discussed and arranged at the start of the Michaelmas term.

One to one supervision

Students will have their supervisors confirmed at the beginning of their course in October. Students are given regular individual research supervision by their supervisor throughout the year. They should expect to meet their supervisor for around 60 minutes regularly in the Michaelmas and Lent Terms, typically once every two or three weeks.

The University of Cambridge publishes an annual Code of Practice which sets out the University’s expectations regarding supervision.

Seminars & classes

Students are expected to attend their taught seminar courses and the Department's research seminars (approximately 12 per term). Students typically spend at least 30 hours per term for the first two terms attending taught and research seminars.


Attending lectures is optional but students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of lectures offered in the Department and other faculties relevant to their research.

Students will also have access to courses offered by the Language Centre.

Small group teaching

Students are expected to undertake research training totalling approximately six hours in total for the course. These courses can be supplemented with other courses provided by the University, School, Faculty, Department and College. It is strongly encouraged that students take advantage of this provision, in consultation with their supervisor.

Posters and Presentations

Students present their dissertation plans during the Lent term to a supportive forum which will include academic critics as well as their fellow students, who collectively provide constructive comment and criticism.


Students will be provided with feedback via their supervisions, supervisors' termly reports and coursework feedback.


Thesis / Dissertation

The dissertation of not more than 15,000 words represents 60 per cent of the overall mark and is submitted in June. The word count includes footnotes/endnotes but excludes appendices, bibliography, acknowledgments, table of contents, and list of illustrations. Any appendices will require the formal permission of your supervisor who may consult the Degree Committee. Students must submit one electronic copy of their dissertation for examination.

An oral examination (viva voce) on the dissertation and on the general field of knowledge within which the work submitted falls may be required. Students must remain in or be prepared to return to Cambridge for such oral examinations, which will be held in June.


Two essays of not more than 6,000 words (one of which may include a literature review), including footnotes/endnotes but excluding the bibliography, on topics approved by your supervisor and the faculty will be presented for examination. The essays represent 40% of the total mark. One will be submitted at the end of the Michaelmas term and the other at the end of the Lent term. The deadlines for submission of these essays will be published in the graduate calendar each year.

Students must submit one electronic copy of each essay, with a bibliography and any relevant illustrations to be submitted with the text.

These essays need not relate to the themes of the taught seminar courses, but may instead be directed towards the candidate’s personal research interests.

Key Information

9 months full-time

Study Mode : Taught

Master of Philosophy

Department of History of Art

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
May 16, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Jan. 4, 2024
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

Similar Courses