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Postgraduate Study


One to one supervision

Candidates can usually expect to have up to four one-hour supervisions per term in their first year with their principal or other supervisors. They can usually expect to have one to two one-hour supervisions per term for the next two or three years, as need dictates. More frequent supervisions may be necessary at the final writing up stage.

Candidates will also be allocated an adviser who they can arrange to meet on an informal basis if needs be.  The adviser will be a fellow academic, but not an alternative specialist supervisor.

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

Seminars & classes

There is a wealth of resources at Cambridge in terms of research seminar activity from which you can develop and consolidate the skills you need to produce a successful thesis, as well as the methods and technology by which you realise this effectively.

The Department provides a general training programme for master's courses which PhD candidates may attend, its own regular (research) seminar series and talks.  Each Lent Term there is a Graduate Seminar Series organised and managed by our PhD students.  There is also peer monitoring within reading and discussion groups


Attending undergraduate/postgraduate 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 and the Personal and Professional Development.


Students will be provided with feedback via supervisions, the supervisor's termly reports and annual reviews.


Thesis / Dissertation

The thesis must not exceed 80,000 words. The word limit includes footnotes, a table of contents and a list of illustrations, but excludes acknowledgements and the bibliography. Appendices (of no determined word length) may be permitted subject to the approval of the Degree Committee; for example, where a catalogue of works or the transcription of extensive primary source material is germane to the work. Permission to include such appendices must be requested well in advance of the submission of the final thesis.

The thesis is examined by two examiners, usually one internal to the University and one external, and includes an oral examination. This can take place at the Faculty, in a College, or be held online.


Candidates for the PhD are reviewed formally on an annual basis. In the third term, full-time candidates submit a First-Year Report to complete their formal registration on the PhD programme. This is assessed by two assessors (not the supervisor) and the candidate is invited to attend an oral assessment. Part-time candidates submit their report in their sixth term.

During their sixth term, full-time candidates are required to give a written report of their work to their supervisor and to another appropriate assessor approved by the supervisor. The Postgraduate Director may also review the work. The candidate’s progress is assessed and documented in a short report. Part-time students will submit their report in the ninth term.

During their third year, candidates are usually required to give a paper on the scope and core findings of their doctoral research in the Third-Year PhD symposium, attended by staff members of the Department and other postgraduate students.

Candidates submit a log of their research activity which is assessed at each of the annual reviews described above

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Key Information

3-4 years full-time

4-7 years part-time

Doctor of Philosophy

Department of History of Art

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Michaelmas 2024

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.

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