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Art History

Teaching and research interests in Art History at the University of St Andrews extend from the mediaeval to the modern periods, focusing on the major arts of painting, scupture and architecture, but also encompassing applied arts, graphic arts and photography.

Courses in Art History aim to provide a context in which students gain intellectual breadth and learn to become verbally and visually articulate. Students learn to assess images of all kinds critically and perceptively. A wide range of factors are considered: the analysis of style, content and meaning; patronage and social significance; the implicit and explicit ideas behind works; broad questions of theory and aesthetics.



Art History MA (Hons)
Mediaeval Studies MA (Hons)

Joint degree options

You can take Art History MA (Hons) with another subject as part of a joint degree.



Art History MLitt
History of Photography MLitt
Museum and Gallery Studies MLitt


Please contact a supervisor in your research area to enquire about PhD opportunities.

Visit St Andrews

If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at an open day to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.


Booking for our autumn visiting days will open in early September 2017.

  • Wednesday 27 September 2017
  • Wednesday 4 October 2017
  • Wednesday 18 October 2017
  • Wednesday 25 October 2017
  • Wednesday 1 November 2017



  • November 2017 - date to be confirmed.

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Art History research areas

The principal strengths of research in Art History at St Andrews lie in the areas of mediaeval and Renaissance art, European and American modernism, the history of photography, and in museum and gallery studies.

Staff and students of Art History participate in University-wide research centres such as the St Andrews Institute of Mediaeval Studies and the Scottish Studies Network.

The School of Art History is also a partner in Visual Arts Research Institute (VARIE) based at the University of Edinburgh, and collaborates on research projects with museums, galleries and other institutions in Britain and around the world.

Current research projects undertaken in Art History include:

Research supervisors

Research in Art History is undertaken by the following members of supervising staff:

  • Dr Natalie Adamson: the interpretation of abstract painting; Surrealism; problems in French painting and political ideology post-1945; modernist photography.
  • Dr Karen Brown: relationships between museums, their communities and the environment; visual arts and literature; the history and ethics of museums and collecting; university collections and museums; women artists; Irish art.
  • Professor Brendan Cassidy: Italian Renaissance art iconography; 18th-century art in Britain Grand Tour.
  • Dr Luke Gartian: photography and cultural exchange in the 19th century; the camera’s role in colonial-era visual culture; histories of travel and exploration; non-Western responses to photography.
  • Dr Linda Goddard: artists' writings; word and image studies; visual and literary cultures of travel and colonialism; art writing, criticism, and historiography of art history; 18th to 20th-century art and literature.
  • Ann Gunn: museum and gallery studies; maritime painting; 18th to 20th-century prints.
  • Dr Jeremy Howard: central and east European art and architecture 1600-1920.
  • Dr Shona Kallestrup: central and east European and Scandinavian art in the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Dr Lenia Kouneni: the notion of ‘influence’ and artistic contacts between different cultures.
  • Dr Julian Luxford: mediaeval and early modern art, architecture and history; manuscript studies.
  • Nicole Meehan: digital media including creation, access and dissemination.
  • Dr Laura Moretti: Italian art and architecture 1450-1600.
  • Dr Tom Normand: Scottish art and photography in the 19th and 20th centuries; British art; history of European art; art and politics in the modern period; art and the history of ideas.
  • Dr Stephanie O'Rourke: 19th-century European art and visual culture; exchanges between the history of art and history of science.
  • Dr Alistair Rider: modern sculpture; minimalism in the United States; notions of artistic selfhood.
  • Dr Sam Rose: modern and contemporary art, art theory and aesthetics; history of visual modernism; the roles and meanings of formalism in the visual arts; present-day interactions between art history and aesthetics.
  • Dr William Rough: interrelationship of late 19th and early 20th-century art and the theatre; the development and reception of Impressionism in Britain.
  • Dr Kathryn Rudy: the art of Northern Europe, including manuscripts, monasticism, food history, gender, and relationships between art and technology.
  • Dr Catherine Spencer: performance art in the United States, Latin America and Europe, from the 1960s to the present; interdisciplinary overlaps between art, sociology and anthropology; the body, gender and feminism; transnational exchange and globalization; abstraction.
  • Ilse Sturkenboom: Islamic art and architecture from Iran, the Middle East, Central Asia, and India.
  • Dr Elsje van Kessel: Italian Renaissance art; everyday interactions between paintings and their viewers in 16th-century Venice; histories and theories of portraiture.
  • Dr Ulrike Weiss: baroque sculpture and interior decoration; court culture; numismatics; museum issues (focusing on interpretation and audiences).

Art History research institute

There is one research centre at St Andrews related to Art History:

Museum, Galleries and Collections Institute
The Institute was established for research, education and training in cultural heritage, with a particular focus on museums, art galleries and historic houses, and their collections.

Art History research portal


Funding opportunities

There is a range of funding opportunities available to prospective undergraduates, postgraduates and PhD students.


There is a range of undergraduate funding opportunities offered by the University of St Andrews.

Undergraduate scholarships


The School of Art History offers the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust Museum and Gallery Studies Award worth £5000 for students applying for the full-time Museum and Gallery Studies MLitt.

Postgraduate taught scholarships

PhD students  

Find out more about funding for postgraduate research. 

Funding for PhD students

Careers for graduates in Art History

A degree in Art History from St Andrews will provide an excellent foundation for a career in a wide range of fields, including:

  • museums and galleries
  • arts administration
  • the art trade
  • teaching
  • publishing and media
  • PR and marketing
  • law
  • business and finance
  • retail, catering and hospitality.

A number of graduates also go on to take postgraduate courses.

Recent graduates in Art History are employed in universities and archives, museums and galleries, auction houses, radio stations, publishing houses and magazines.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

Find out more about careers in Art History.


REF 2014

The School of Art History was rated top in Scotland and fourth in the UK for research excellence in the UK Research Excellence Framework 2014.

University league tables

The School of Art History was ranked top in Scotland and third in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2017, and sixth in the UK by the Complete Univeristy Guide 2017, for student satisfaction, research quality and graduate prospects.


School of Art History
University of St Andrews
Old Union Building
79 North Street
St Andrews
KY16 9AJ

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2399

Art History website Art History research portal