skip to content

Graduate Admissions

In view of the COVID-19 public health emergency we may need to make changes to the course details outlined on these pages. Offers holders will be notified of changes. Please see this page for further information.

Course closed:

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

Since the Department of History of Art's foundation in 1970, we have established ourselves as one of the world’s leading centres for advanced research in the field. We aim to deliver a rigorous, stimulating education in the history of art and architecture, with a strong emphasis on the study of works of art and architecture at first-hand. We are proud of our team of staff and students, whose impressive performance is critical to sustaining and enhancing the national and international reputation created by our distinguished alumni.

Cambridge itself is, from an art historical point of view, a stunning city in which to live and work. We make full use of Cambridge’s unique holdings of art and architecture, including the Fitzwilliam Museum (on our doorstep), Kettle’s Yard and the University Library, as well as the buildings and collections of the Colleges. The Hamilton Kerr Institute at Whittlesford, a department of the Fitzwilliam Museum, is dedicated to the conservation of easel paintings and also contributes to our teaching and research.

The MPhil in the History of Art and Architecture is a nine-month course providing advanced study and training in research in specialised areas of the subject. It is intended as a self-contained programme of art-historical study, but also serves as a preparation for students intending to proceed to doctoral research.  

Please note that this is a research degree with taught methodological elements, not a conversion course for students whose first degree lies in another subject.

The educational aims of the programme are as follows:

  • Provide teaching and learning to postgraduate students in the history of art and architecture in a range of fields linked to the research interests of the staff
  • Provide high-calibre students with training in relevant research skills and to offer excellent specialist supervision of their individual research in these fields
  • Provide a stimulating environment in which students can reach their full intellectual potential
  • Help students develop a wide range of intellectual abilities and skills, which will enable them to make a significant contribution in their chosen careers and walks of life, including academic teaching and research

On completion of the MPhil, students should have:

  • made the transition in learning style and pace from undergraduate to postgraduate level;
  • acquired the necessary research skills in the use of bibliographical, archival and museum resources as relevant to their field of study;
  • gained practice in the use of the languages and archival skills relevant to their chosen research area;
  • gained confidence in the choice and use of different methodological approaches and theoretical perspectives;
  • refined their critical skills in the examination, recording and analysis of works of art and/or architecture, especially at first hand (through travel and fieldwork if appropriate);
  • gained experience in oral and written presentation, and in a sustained piece of research in the form of a dissertation of not more than 15,000 words; and
  • acquired the proficiency needed to present in writing a coherent and sustained piece of academic research.

The course consists of research seminars, skills training, and supervised individual study. The syllabus is as follows:

  • Attendance at two selected seminar courses in specialised areas of research, one in the Michaelmas (autumn) term and one in the Lent (spring) term
  • 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 dissertation

The seminar courses run over two terms (Michaelmas and Lent), with a different emphasis in each term. The seminars are led by faculty members and include presentations by MPhil students and other research students. A taught course in visual culture offered at MPhil level by another university department (eg 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.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the programme, students will have acquired the type of research training required to carry on to the PhD, or, if the MPhil is conceived as a standalone degree, will have acquired the skills to specialise and enhance their professional prospects.


To continue to read for the PhD following the MPhil in History of Art & Architecture students must achieve an overall average score of at least 70%. Continuation is also subject to the approval of the proposed research proposal, and the availability and willingness of an appropriate supervisor.

Open Days

The University of Cambridge will be hosting its Cambridge Postgraduate Open Day on Friday 1 November 2019. Visit the Postgraduate Open Day page for more details.

Key Information

9 months full-time

Master of Philosophy

Department of History of Art


Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 2, 2019
Application deadline
May 15, 2020
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2020

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

Graduate Funding Competition
Jan. 7, 2020
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 14, 2019

Similar Courses