Students Staff

Study with us

Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel

Banksy Walled Off Hotel

Our Centre for Curatorial Studies Co-Director, Dr Gavin Grindon has helped Banksy curate a Museum of Colonialism at the heart of The Walled Off Hotel which the artist has opened in Bethlehem.

We are internationally recognised as a leading centre of postgraduate study in art history, curating and museumship at Masters and PhD level. We are ranked 6th among art history departments in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014) with more than three-quarters of our research considered ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

We have expertise across art history and theory, from the renaissance to modern and contemporary art, with a range of specialisms including art from Latin America and curatorial studies.

Access art works first-hand

Our campus is an hour away by train from the London art world, and is home to Art Exchange gallery, with Colchester’s iconic Firstsite gallery located nearby.

Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the largest of kind in Europe and offers a unique opportunity to have first hand access through exhibitions and its state-of-the-art teaching and research space:

Active research community

As a graduate student at Essex, you are part of an active research community. Our postgraduates organise and participate in our annual international graduate conference, edit two postgraduate journals, Rebus and Arara, and contribute to graduate seminars co-organised with philosophy postgraduates in our School.

Throughout the academic year, we invite art historians, theorists, curators and philosophers to present papers in our research seminar series or to give our minicourses. There are also regular conferences, symposia, artist and curator talks, and performances organised in collaboration with our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America, Art Exchange and Firstsite.

Why art history at Essex?

  • Why study art history at Essex?

    Students rowing

    ESCALA teaching and research space

    Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA)

    Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America is central to teaching and research within our School.

    Many of our postgraduates use this collection and its archive for their research, and regularly contribute to its online catalogue and public programme, as well as curating exhibitions and gaining work experience.

    ESCALA boasts a unique state-of-the-art teaching and research space for students to access the collection:

    Photo of installation of MA curatorial studies exhibition Refractive Distance at the University’s Art Exchange gallery

    Our University’s Art Exchange gallery.

    Our collection was founded in 1993 by two of our Emeritus professors, Dawn Ades and Valerie Fraser, reflecting our longstanding commitment to researching art from Latin America.

    Art Exchange

    Our Colchester Campus Art Exchange gallery runs a programme of exhibitions of contemporary art, artist and curator talks, allowing you the opportunity to see art works first hand and gain experience working with exhibition projects.

    Art Exchange also hosts exhibitions organised by our curatorial students from the Centre for Curatorial Studies.

    Photo of firstsite gallery, Colchester

    Firstsite gallery, Colchester (photo: Richard Bryant).


    Firstsite is a large and iconic exhibition venue in the centre of Colchester and runs an ongoing programme of contemporary art exhibitions, as well as film screenings, talks and music events. It also homes an exhibition space of our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America.

    Free language courses

    Reading texts in their original language can be real advantage for postgraduate research. Our University’s Languages for All scheme allows you to learn an additional language alongside your course at no extra cost.

  • Centre for Curatorial Studies

    Our Centre for Curatorial Studies is a research and teaching unit focusing on contemporary curatorial practice and theory, and contemporary museology.

    We offer Masters courses for those interested in curatorial careers in galleries, museums and other cultural institutions, and welcome proposals for PhD research on curatorial topics.

  • Visting us from abroad

    Our School welcomes students from international universities who wish to study abroad at Essex. We provide a friendly, supportive and academically challenging environment for study.

    A period of study at Essex entitles you to our study abroad loyalty discount, which reduces your first-year tuition fees for your first period of postgraduate study at Essex by ten per cent.

MA courses

MA courses

Our MA courses offer in-depth study across a range of specialisms in art history from the renaissance to the present, including curating and Latin American art, and are an excellent preparation for PhD study and careers in the art world.

Curatorial Studies

Centre for Curatorial Studies

Our Centre for Curatorial Studies is a research and teaching unit based in our School that focuses on contemporary curatorial theory and practice and contemporary museology.

AHRC funding

PhD student in library

Apply for a PhD studentship for your doctoral study funded by the Consortium for Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

PhD study

Postgraduate research study

By undertaking PhD study at Essex, you will become a member of an exciting and active research community, and benefit from the expert supervision of our internationally recognised staff.