Qualification(s) available: PhD

Entry requirements
3 years
6 years
Start date
1 January, 1 April, 1 July or 1 October
UK fee
To be confirmed
International fee


Based within the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, academic staff in Humanities are active researchers, working within and across the disciplinary boundaries of English, publishing, and art history and visual culture.

Humanities has two main disciplinary areas that share the values traditionally constituting humanities studies: English with specialisms, and art history and visual culture with specialisms. Humanities also houses a Centre for Doctorial Training: Feminism, Sexual Politics and Visual Culture.

In a period of instability and rapid change characterising the early 21st century, we seek to find new ways of connecting humanities research with the problems facing society while affirming shared human experiences. We favour interdisciplinary research projects that reach across the units in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, and we also collaborate with research units in other schools.

You will have full access to a range of outstanding learning and teaching facilities, including dedicated social and informal study areas, state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment and a variety of offices and teaching rooms for seminars and small group activities.

You will be supported by expert staff with a diverse range of research interests and experience.

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Why you should choose us

Our research

Our research areas share the conviction that analytical and critical methods of enquiry facilitate understanding of the human condition, and its shared attributes and differences. Although separate from the natural and social sciences, humanities share common ground with these branches of knowledge, and we value interdisciplinary research and pedagogies across the School and with other Loughborough schools.

Art History and Visual Culture

This staff group links critical thinking, informed histories, and the praxis of making across the visual arts. We have a broad range of approaches to the study of visual and material cultures from around the world. Our research transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries and challenges familiar historical and theoretical frameworks. Our research encompasses European art and design from the eighteenth century to the present; global contemporary art, visual culture, and politics; feminist art history and theory and gender studies; art markets, collecting, and critical heritage; and fashion theory. We support both the theoretical PhD thesis and the practice-led PhD.

Arts in the Public Sphere

The Public Sphere research group aims to explore the historical and contemporary relation between the artist as producer to a variety of public spheres, to investigate how contemporary social groups understand matters of ‘public interest’, and to assess how the idea of the ‘common good’ is approached and represented in the arts and humanities.

Communication and Media Studies

This group uses multidisciplinary approaches to analyse media and the communications industries and to provide advice to practitioners and policy makers. Comparative perspectives feature strongly in much of its work and members are internationally renowned for their research and publications.

Cultural Currents 1870-1930

Cultural Currents 1870-1930 researches the literature and culture of the late-Victorian and Modernist periods. Its work encompasses literary and cultural criticism, textual editing, digital scholarship, and publishing history, with interdisciplinary links to visual art, politics, history, and gender and sexuality studies.

Digital Humanities

DH@lboro is an interdisciplinary research group in the digital humanities, providing a regular forum for discussion and knowledge exchange on all aspects of digital humanities, digital media and digital environments.

Early-Modern Culture

The research group is a forum that develops projects, and supports researchers, whether established or early career, where the specialism is an aspect of Early Modern culture or literature.

Feminism, Sexual Politics and Visual Culture

This Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) was established in 2018 and is supported by staff whose ambition is to establish a continuing PhD programme, based on innovative feminist pedagogic principles that break the boundaries of art and of academic disciplinary barriers. Working at the intersection of feminism and visual culture, research areas include, but are not limited to:

  • critical race theory
  • activist interventions
  • curation and arts’ canons
  • masculinities
  • post-humanisms
  • queer theory.

Further, ‘visual culture’ or ‘arts’ to us is inclusive of all practices where visuality is significant, including performative and written modes. Academically this is a radically integrative standpoint: the transdisciplinary staff team have been brought together by a notable coherence of theoretical, practical, and academic commitment to this moment in sexual politics. We have developed an overall intersectional feminist framework while incorporating both theory and practice and at the same time promoting transdisciplinary and lateral working.

Gendered Lives

Gendered Lives is a multi-disciplinary research group which has been established to bring together those researching gender, how it is experienced, and how it is represented in personal documents and cultural objects.

Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture

From fan fiction to YouTube, we explore how the contemporary era is changing the way we read, write and talk about literature. This multi-disciplinary research group explores cutting-edge practices in, and debates about, collecting, marketing, and exhibiting works of art and cultural property.

Museums, Markets, and Critical Heritage Research Group

Led by Dr Kathryn Brown, this group is a forum for the exchange of ideas about art markets, exhibition histories, museums, and public and private collecting practices. Its research and events are open to individuals from all disciplinary backgrounds, and we aim to bring together scholars whose interests span diverse geographies and time periods. The group seeks to build research collaborations within and beyond Loughborough University to share knowledge and to develop policies that impact on the cultural landscape. We aim to promote innovative thinking about the future of public and private collecting, access to the art market, the stewardship of cultural property, and the relationship between museums and their stakeholders.

Politicized Practice

This group starts from a shared question rather than a specific disciplinary context, asking how contemporary art can contribute to social and political change. Our aim is to act on and intervene into the political conditions of specific disciplines. For example, visual culture's relationship to art history, anti-art ideas in relation to fine art practice, and social graphics' relationship to capital.

‘Critical practice’ denotes the various modernist projects in which a medium determines its own limits and specialisms through the use of its own methods and concepts. For example, where painting critiques painting, and thought critiques thought.

'Politicized practice' therefore, enables us to engage in a more productive collection of interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary dialogues and debates.

Your development

You will be assigned two supervisors who are international experts in their respective fields, plus an internal reviewer and a Director of Doctoral Programmes. This team provides tailored academic and pastoral support throughout your studies.

The School runs an extensive programme of research training and you will have the chance to participate in and run seminars and discussion groups. These will help you integrate into the School’s academic community and develop skills that will enable you to present your work at national and international conferences. You will be provided with access to a shared office with networked PC and specialist software, and allowances for photocopying, conference attendance and interlibrary loans.

Undertaking a PhD will give you the opportunity to develop new and highly sought-after skills, which you can apply to a range of careers in academia, industry and beyond. You will be able to make a novel contribution to knowledge, giving you the chance to become a world expert in your field and opening up opportunities with a range of leading employers. You will also further develop your transferable skills, such as advanced research skills, time and project management, and networking and relationship building.

Our extensive training provision, supported by the Doctoral College, will also enhance your skills and experience as a researcher. These include seminars and modules in advanced research methods, our School research student conference and research café, and the Doctoral College’s Café Academiques, Research Conference and Summer Showcase.

Entry requirements

Our entry requirements are listed using standard UK undergraduate degree classifications i.e. first-class honours, upper second-class honours and lower second-class honours. To learn the equivalent for your country, please choose it from the dropdown below.

Entry requirements for United Kingdom

A 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent international qualification) in a related subject.

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.

Fees and funding

UK fee

Full-time degree per annum
To be confirmed

International fee

Full-time degree per annum

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Fees are reviewed annually and are likely to increase to take into account inflationary pressures.

Find out more about research degree funding

How to apply

If you can't find an advertised project that fits your interests and experience, you can submit a research proposal to the School of Social Sciences and Humanities to find a supervisor who will work with you on your project. You can view our list of academic English staff and Art History and Visual Culture staff or you can email us for guidance.

Your research proposal should be up to 5000 words long (at least 5-7 double-spaced pages) and details about what should be included in it can be found here.

You are strongly recommended to contact us before applying to discuss your topic, availability and funding.

Apply now