Students Staff

Prizes in art history

BA Curatorial Studies

Two men carrying a painting

Our new BA Curatorial Studies degree provides you with the expert knowledge and practical skills for pursuing careers in curating, gallery management and museums and combines class-based learning with hands-on experience.

We offer a variety of undergraduate prizes and bursaries for academic performance, to support you while you study and to encourage research and travel abroad related to art history. Our application deadlines for each prize are normally in April/May each year.

Final-year prizes

The Art History Prize is awarded by the Board of Examiners to the final year student with the best overall academic performance and takes the form of a certificate and a cheque for £100.

Bishop-McKinlay prize

The Bishop-McKinlay prize was established in memory of James Bishop and Seamus McKinlay, and is awarded to a second-year student taking art history either as a single-honours course or as a significant part of a joint-degree course, and is intended to support travel and research abroad related to art history.

The prize can cover air fares, internal travel, living costs and health insurance for around four to six weeks, and is tenable in the summer vacation between the second and third years of study. An application of 1,000 words maximum should include an itinerary with visits to specific art works, galleries, architecture, sites or archives that either form the subject of your proposed third-year dissertation, or are otherwise related to art history study.

The recipient is decided by a departmental committee and successful applicants are expected to give a presentation on their travels to the Bishop and McKinlay families, usually early in the summer term.

Applications should be submitted to our Deputy School Manager at, and should include the name of a staff member willing to act as referee. A committee made up of our Head of School and two members of art history staff consider applications and may divide the prize money to make more than one award.

Application deadline: Tuesday 2 May 2017

Previous Recipients:


“The prize gave me the opportunity to travel to Paris to visit the Gustave Moreau art gallery/museum and the Musée d’Orsay. I had decided to look at the work of French Symbolist painters from the nineteenth century and to be able to experience the paintings first hand gave me a greater understanding of the artwork and the period; to see the rooms where Moreau dined, slept and worked made me feel closer to the artist. I look at the world differently now, having studied at Essex, and I deeply appreciate the generosity of the Bishop and McKinlay families whose prize helped me gain my degree.”

--Tracey Burrows (2013 Recipient)

“I applied for the prize to help me fund an internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice. The internship was an amazing experience, as I both studied modern art and learnt the practical day-to-day operations of a museum. I now work at Christie’s as a Director of Private Sales in Jewellery head-quartered in London. I work and engage with Top Level clients across Asia and Europe to secure and sell important jewels for Private Sale. The prize gave me a chance to experience the art world outside of school and I believe it propelled me forward toward a future where I am at now.”

--Mei Y Giam (2002 Recipient)

“I used the prize money to travel around all the major churches and cathedrals in England researching contemporary Christian art in sacred locations. The research enabled me to write my dissertation on tradition and innovation in contemporary Christian art, which was later published, and without the prize money funding my tour, it is unlikely that I would have been able to achieve this. I felt that on top of my Essex education, winning the Bishop McKinlay Prize helped me stand out among many other Art History graduates and I include it on my C.V. to this day. I believe that winning this prize impacted my academic and professional career greatly.”

--Emma Spencer (2006 Recipient)


Tim Laughton travel fund

The Tim Laughton travel fund was established in memory of Dr Tim Laughton, a lecturer in our School of Philosophy and Art History specialising in mesoamerican art and architecture, who died in February 2009. Generous donations, especially from Dr Laughton’s family and the artist Michael Aakhus, enable us to offer a bursary of approximately £500 annually to the undergraduate or postgraduate art history student who submits the best proposal for travel to Latin America for research related to their BA, MA or PhD dissertation.

The prize is decided by a departmental committee and is normally tenable during the summer vacation, and the winner is required to submit a brief report on their travel and research to our Head of School.

An application of 1,000 words maximum should outline the proposed research including a summary of travel plans and anticipated costs, as well as the name of a referee with whom you have discussed your proposal. Applications should be submitted to our Deputy School Administrator at

Application deadline: Monday 22 May 2017

Roy Beston memorial prize

The Roy Beston memorial prize was established in 1995 by Maria Beston, a former student in our School of Philosophy and Art History, in memory of her husband. The prize is awarded to a second-year mature student taking art history either as a single-honours subject or as a significant part of a joint-degree course. The prize, of approximately £400, aims to enrich the studies of a talented mature student by contributing to the cost of books, travel or other degree related activities.

The winner is chosen by the Board of Examiners at the end of the Summer term.


Students in an art gallery looking at a piece of art

Follow us on our Essex Art History Instagram page to see what our students get up to during their studies – including art handling and visits to galleries, exhibitions and museums.

UG Open Days

Book a place at our undergraduate Open Day. Our department and admissions staff can answer any questions you have, and you can speak to current students about life at Essex while taking a campus tour.

Banksy’s Dismaland

Banksy dismaland

Read about our Centre for Curatorial Studies Co-Director Dr Gavin Grindon curating the Museum of Cruel Designs as part of artist Banksy’s Dismaland exhibition project at Weston-super-Mare.

UROP placements

UROP icon

Our Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme gives you the chance to help an academic with a research project. You'll learn new skills to enhance your CV and get paid a bursary.