The Doctor of Philosophy in Art History by Exhibition is designed primarily for curators and related visual arts workers who wish to curate an exhibition based on thorough academic research at PhD level. The Doctor of Philosophy in Art History by Exhibition is applicable to research proposals relating to all areas of the visual arts, however proposals dealing with the Candidate's own artwork are not applicable.

Entry Requirements

Minimum prerequisite for admission to PhD candidature is a first-class Honours degree in a visual arts related area, and an established reputation in art historical work.

The course of study

In order to have the degree conferred, the students must complete the following:

  • ENGL9000 Advanced Research Methods (including obtaining of ethical clearance)
  • the University's milestones of candidature
  • curatorship of an Exhibition and writing of its Catalogue (Exegesis)
  • a Thesis

It is expected that during the candidature the student will present research papers to the School and University research community and at conferences, and endeavour to publish work in high quality journals.


The following items should accompany the application:

  • Exhibition Rationale
  • Research Plan
  • Venue and Budget Support Document.

The Exhibition

The exhibition would be staged under the direction of the appropriate personnel in the relevant art gallery and in consultation with the candidate's supervisor. Candidates are responsible for selection of artworks, supervision of exhibition design and installation, and production of all didactic material. Two examiners will attend the exhibition and later examine the exhibition and catalogue as it relates to the thesis.

Assessment of the exhibition is based on:

  • Translation of research methodology into exhibition rationale
  • Explication of research topic
  • Critical framework grounding selection of works and didactic material
  • Innovative and professional curatorial practice

The Catalogue (Exegesis)

The catalogue should be 6,000-10,000 words in length and should adequately describe the exhibition. It should take the form of a fully argued introductory essay to the exhibition, drawing on key points of the thesis component, and making them available to the reader in a summary and accessible form. Its primary task is to provide the conceptual link between the thesis component and the exhibition and includes detailed catalogue entries, a full list of works exhibited, photographic credits, and details of lenders. The candidate is responsible for overseeing the catalogue to its completion.

Assessment of the exhibition catalogue is based on:

  • Elucidation of the exhibition
  • Contribution to Art History
  • Appropriate expression for intended audience

The Thesis

The dissertation component is seen as providing the original research and articulated focus of enquiry developed from, or contributing to, the work of the exhibition and catalogue. The thesis is assessed according to conventional criteria for a research thesis but at a length of not more than 40,000 to 50,000 words.

Assessment of the thesis is based on:

  • Contribution to knowledge with a level of originality consistent with at least three years full-time study and supervised research training
  • Relationship of research topic to the broader framework of knowledge in Art History
  • Critical reflection on exhibition
  • Thesis must be clearly, accurately and cogently written, and suitably documented according to standard guidelines for presentation. Further scholarly material or visual documentation of the exhibition may be included in appendices for the guidance of the examiners.


The Exhibition, Catalogue and Thesis will be assessed by two examiners external to the University, according to the standard methods and criteria for doctoral theses.