Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Programme

The Warburg Institute fosters an interdisciplinary approach spanning cultural, intellectual and visual history. Join us to conduct your PhD research in a world-renowned library and immerse yourself in a uniquely international research community.

The Warburg Institute is one of the world’s leading centres for studying the interaction of ideas, images and society. It is dedicated to the survival and transmission of culture across time and space, with special emphasis on the afterlife of antiquity.

The resources of the Institute are especially geared to students interested in interdisciplinary study, including the Archive, Photographic Collection, and open-stack Library with its unique cataloguing system specifically designed by Aby Warburg to aid research.

Broadly speaking, we cover the cultural, intellectual and visual history of the period 1200–1700, with particular strengths in the following areas:

  • Renaissance Art, Architecture, and Visual Culture
  • Cultural and Intellectual History
  • Reception of the classics
  • History of Magic and Science
  • History of Cartography and Cosmography
  • Religious History
  • History of the Book

We encourage PhD and MPhil applications from suitably qualified candidates provided that their topic can be supervised by a member of the academic staff. A list of our PhD supervisors and their research interests can be found here. 

Full-time (three years) and part-time (six years) options available.

Why study with us

The Warburg offers a unique environment for research. As a student at the Institute, you will join a lively community conducting cutting-edge interdisciplinary work in the humanities. You will benefit from a wide range of research training options, including language and palaeography courses at the Warburg and other training provided by the School of Advanced Study’s Doctoral Centre. You will also get full access to our open-stack Library and other local resources, such as the University of London’s Senate House Libraries.

Looking ahead to your future career, a PhD at the Warburg will open many doors. Warburg alumni have continued their academic careers at institutions across the globe, including the Universities of Cambridge, Copenhagen, Notre Dame (US), Padua, UCL, Birkbeck, La Sapienza (Rome), Warwick, York and Yeshiva (New York). Our graduates have also gone into positions at cultural institutions such as the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, the Bayerische Akademie, the National Library, Argentina, Sothebys, Arts Council England, the National Gallery, the V&A, and the Southbank Centre. 

Discover what some Warburg alumni have gone on to do in our Life after the Warburg blog series. 

Structure

Full-time

Full-time study for the PhD degree entails three or a maximum of four years’ independent research, culminating in the writing of a thesis of not more than 100,000 words. After submission of the thesis, the student attends an oral examination conducted by an internal examiner, from the University of London, and an external examiner, normally from another British university.

There is no formal coursework, but PhD students are expected to participate in the weekly seminar on Work in Progress, to present their research questions and material in the PhD Research Symposium in their second year and a research paper in the Work-in-Progress seminar in their third year. In their first year they can opt to attend a weekly class on Methods and Techniques of Scholarship; they may also register for language and palaeography classes. Research students are encouraged to participate in the regular seminars held at the Institute during the academic year and can benefit from a wide range of training opportunities through the School of Advanced Study.

Part-time

Part-time students complete the same programme in five, or a maximum of six years.

Distance-Learning PhD

We normally require MPhil/PhD students to complete their programme of study in-person at the Institute. In exceptional circumstances, the Warburg Institute will consider supervising research at a distance provided that:

  1. the primary material is held in an archive outside the UK; and 
  2. the student resides in proximity to a research library with excellent resources for the topic to be studied; and
  3. the student commands the languages needed to undertake the research proposed.

Decisions on the fulfilment of these requirements are made by the proposed supervisor on a case-by-case basis.

Students must have access to a stable means for meeting over the internet and should be prepared to submit work approximately once a month. Students must instigate a Supervisory Meeting record to be sent to the supervisor after each supervision. This is required of all students.

In addition, students must meet with their supervisors in person, in London, at least once a year; this may coincide with other requirements to be at the Institute, such as for major milestones (progression, upgrade, viva), the Year 2 Symposium, the Year 3 Work-in-Progress, etc. Students should also try to attend in person the Institute tours in Foundation week to meet the staff and get a sense of the resources to which they have access at the Warburg.

Fees and Funding

Fees for 2022/2023

The fees for 2022-23 intake are set to be finalised. The fees below are for the 2021-22 academic year and should only be used as a guide.

UK

Full-time: £6,130

Part-time: £3,600

Overseas

Full-time: £15,500

Part-time: N/A

PhD Writing Up Fee

£900

Funding

We offer a limited number of internal scholarships. Details of those, including application deadlines, can be found here. We also have an excellent record of securing external funding through the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP). LAHP scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis and the Warburg will consider supporting applications from suitably qualified candidates who have been admitted to our PhD programme. For further details about the LAHP application process, see here.

How to apply

Before submitting an application you are advised to contact a member of the Warburg academic staff who has interests in your proposed field of study to discuss your proposal. A list of academic staff and their interests can be found here.

Find out how to apply

Apply here

Entry Requirements

The normal minimum entry requirement is a good second-class honours degree from a British university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard; but applicants should note that the MA course described on this site is a particularly suitable preparation for doctoral research in the areas covered by the Institute. In accordance with regulations all students will be registered for the MPhil degree in the first instance. All students whose first language is not English must provide recent evidence that their written and spoken English is adequate for postgraduate study. Information on entry requirements and a list of acceptable qualifications is given here. Upgrading to PhD is considered in the second year for full-time students and in the third or fourth year for part-time students.

Warburg Institute Contact Details

General enquiries: warburg@sas.ac.uk

Academic enquiries: Dr Sara Miglietti (sara.miglietti@sas.ac.uk), director of the PhD programme

Apply here

"What I like and appreciate about the Warburg is its unique library, its history, the academic tradition of the institute and its unique scholarly atmosphere"