Self-funded PhD students only


School of Art, Design and Performance

Start dates

October and February

Closing date

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD studentship, to commence in October 2020 or February 2021. This PhD involves the study of how history is visualised in a variety of media, and can be either practice-based or a written thesis. This project is supervised by Dr Oliver Gruner, and/or other staff members within the School of Art, Design and Performance.

History is being written every day. From the academic monograph to the epic film, statue, television programme and website, the past continues to impact, inspire and enrage us. The recent groundswell of commemorative events dedicated to World War I, heated conflicts over the legacy of British imperialist Cecil Rhodes, and cultural fascination with epochs such as the 1960s (to name but a few) have only reiterated our collective interest in how we ‘do history’.

This doctoral study will focus on the contributions made by visual culture to historiography. You'll examine the nature of democratic citizenship and the various ways that people consume, record and embellish history and heritage.

The work will include:

  • a choice between a writing or practice-based project
  • exploring historical representations as they have appeared in visual mediums, such as film, graphic novels, television, art and photography

How do popular histories affect our ideas of nationhood and national belonging? To what extent have certain groups, cultures and/or identities been marginalised, or ‘hidden’ from history? How might one go about constructing alternative histories of local or national communities?

Such questions reach beyond academia and impact the way in which we engage with contemporary life – and during this project, you'll explore the profound impact images can have on our understanding of the past.

The PhD will be located in the School of Art and Design, which has research strengths in both the historical/theoretical implications of visualising the past (in film, graphic novels, television, art and photography) and critical practice-based approaches to this topic. We are therefore considering proposals for both written and practice-based PhDs.

You'll explore historical representations as they have appeared in one or more visual media. The work can take the form of a written analysis of how particular epochs, peoples or events have appeared in visual culture (e.g. comic books, photography, art works, films or television programmes), a reflection on historiography itself – and attendant methodological, ethical and ideological considerations – or a theoretically informed visual output.

Proposals for this project should highlight both the topic to be addressed and the methodological approach(es) – archival, textual analysis, practice-based – that you intend to adopt.

Fees and funding

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

2020/2021 entry (for October 2020 and February 2021 entries)

Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,407 p/a

Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,204 p/a

International full-time students: £16,400 p/a

International part-time students: £8,200 p/a

2021/2022 entry (for October 2021 and February 2022 entries)

Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,407 p/a*

Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,204 p/a* 

International full-time students: £17,600 p/a

International part-time students: £8,800 p/a

All fees are subject to annual increase.

If you are an EU student starting a programme in 2021/22 please visit this page.

*This is the 2020/21 UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) maximum studentship fee; this fee will increase to the 2021/22 UKRI maximum studentship fee when UKRI announces this rate in Spring 2021. 

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Entry requirements

A minimum of a second-class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject or a master’s degree in an appropriate subject.

Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. An online portfolio submission may be required as part of the selection process. All applicants are subject to interview.

English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

How to apply

To make an enquiry about this project, please contact Dr Oliver Gruner (, quoting the project title. You can also visit our How to Apply pages to get a better understanding of how the PhD application process works.

Interview date: TBC

October start

Apply now

February start

Apply now

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