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Postgraduate Admissions

Cambridge is an ideal place to study and the Department of History of Art a perfect choice for anyone who wishes to pursue doctoral research. The quality of supervision is second to none and the Faculty boasts a vibrant and close-knit graduate community, which provides a rich and stimulating intellectual environment. The University’s resources are outstanding and PhD candidates in the History of Art not only benefit from Cambridge’s own unique collections, but also from the proximity to London and its world-class holdings.

I particularly enjoyed the wide range of opportunities, which graduate students can explore in terms of teaching and academic services. In addition to my PhD on André Breton, I co-organized two Graduate Research Seminars, spearheaded two international conferences at Department and University level, worked as a supervisor for three undergraduate courses and frequently delivered lectures and seminars at Part II level of the Department’s BA Tripos. These were challenging but extremely rewarding experiences through which I acquired a skill set that remains key to my daily work as a curator at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam. I was also very fortunate to receive several generous travel stipends that allowed me to spend a significant amount of time in Paris, drawing on its archives and library resources and finetuning language skills that are now pivotal for my curatorial focus on French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting.

Although I did not pursue a career in academia, I was able to draw on my research on Surrealism in many meaningful ways, as it led to a whole string of publications as well as a forthcoming major loan exhibition on the theme of ‘Surrealism and Magic’, which I am currently co-organizing with the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. The academic rigour demanded for the PhD was also more generally a perfect training for the creativity needed to come up with innovative ideas for exhibitions and seeing their accompanying catalogues come to fruition. I feel blessed to be working in a field that I am passionate about and that my role as a curator allows me to communicate my love of art to an exceptionally wide audience. The PhD at Cambridge was an ideal preparation for my job and a key asset in breaking into this fiercely competitive field.”Cambridge is an ideal place to study and the Department of History of Art a perfect choice for anyone who wishes to pursue doctoral research. The quality of supervision is second to none and the Faculty boasts a vibrant and close-knit graduate community, which provides a rich and stimulating intellectual environment. The University’s resources are outstanding and PhD candidates in the History of Art not only benefit from Cambridge’s own unique collections, but also from the proximity to London and its world-class holdings.

I particularly enjoyed the wide range of opportunities, which graduate students can explore in terms of teaching and academic services. In addition to my PhD on André Breton, I co-organized two Graduate Research Seminars, spearheaded two international conferences at Department and University level, worked as a supervisor for three undergraduate courses and frequently delivered lectures and seminars at Part II level of the Department’s BA Tripos. These were challenging but extremely rewarding experiences through which I acquired a skill set that remains key to my daily work as a curator at the Museum Barberini in Potsdam. I was also very fortunate to receive several generous travel stipends that allowed me to spend a significant amount of time in Paris, drawing on its archives and library resources and fine tuning language skills that are now pivotal for my curatorial focus on French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting.

Although I did not pursue a career in academia, I was able to draw on my research on Surrealism in many meaningful ways, as it led to a whole string of publications as well as a forthcoming major loan exhibition on the theme of ‘Surrealism and Magic’, which I am currently co-organizing with the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. The academic rigour demanded for the PhD was also more generally a perfect training for the creativity needed to come up with innovative ideas for exhibitions and seeing their accompanying catalogues come to fruition. I feel blessed to be working in a field that I am passionate about and that my role as a curator allows me to communicate my love of art to an exceptionally wide audience. The PhD at Cambridge was an ideal preparation for my job and a key asset in breaking into this fiercely competitive field.”

Daniel Zamani - Trinity (February 2017)

I found the Department of History of Art at the University of Cambridge to be a very exciting and intellectually enriching environment in which to study art history at a graduate level. The professors are extraordinarily knowledgeable and extremely dedicated to graduate training. The Department is a friendly, collegial place and I learned an enormous amount from not only the professors, but also my peers, who became close friends and collaborators.

Students in Cambridge are given the freedom to develop original research projects, as well as the skills to undertake work at the highest level. My classmates and I were eligible for a broad range of different fellowships that make it possible for postgraduates to receive full funding in their MPhil and PhD studies and to gain additional funds for research and conference travel. The Department is committed to ensuring that students succeed on the job market after they leave Cambridge and I received invaluable professional training and guidance from the faculty in preparing applications.

One of the most exciting things about studying art history in Cambridge is that the research resources are truly extraordinary. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to spend many blissful hours examining rare books in the University Library and the College libraries. For students interested in pursuing interdisciplinary research, the college system offers crucial opportunities to collaborate closely with scholars in other disciplines in the University. It was also enormously rewarding to have the chance to engage so closely with objects in the Fitzwilliam Museum and I deeply enjoyed being so near to the art collections and cultural opportunities of London. I recommend studying in Cambridge with the greatest enthusiasm and without reservation.

Susanna Berger - Pembroke (April 2016)

Cambridge was the ideal place for me to do my MPhil and PhD in architectural history. It was an endlessly stimulating place to be, both in and beyond the faculty. I was very aware of the rich tradition of architectural history at Cambridge, and the fact that so many of the subject’s most important practitioners have been products of the school. I’m intensely proud to have been part of a cohort of architectural historians who were trained at Cambridge at roughly the same time, and developed as a scholar as much through the intellectual community of my peers as through the more formal elements of the course. The Rickman Society reading group helped me locate my work within broader questions of the discipline. I appreciated the way that I was treated by academics with generosity and, crucially, as an equal. The library is an excellent and conducive place to do research. The privilege of having such an extensive specialised collection on open shelves is very unusual. Despite having moved on, I retain a deep loyalty and intellectual debt to Scroope Terrace.

Otto Saumarez Smith - St John's (April 2015)

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Key Information


3-4 years full-time

5-7 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 2022

Applications open
Sept. 1, 2021
Application deadline
May 16, 2022
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2022

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

Graduate Funding Competition
Jan. 6, 2022
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 13, 2021

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2022, Lent 2023 and Easter 2023.


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