The Doctor of Philosophy in Art History by Exhibition enables visual arts industry professionals and art historians to curate an exhibition based on high-level academic research. The program is designed both for established curators wishing to extend their professional practice within an academic framework and for graduates of tertiary Art History, Curatorship, or Museum Studies courses. Research proposals may relate to any aspect of art history or curatorial practice; however, proposals addressing the Candidates’ own artistic production will not be considered. National and international candidates are encouraged to apply.

Course of study

The Doctor of Philosophy in Art History by exhibition requires a minimum of three years full time study or six years part-time study. In order to have the degree conferred, the students must complete the following:

  • ENGL9000 Advanced Research Methods, a compulsory coursework subject
  • the University's milestones of candidature procedures
  • curatorship of an Exhibition
  • writing of an Exegesis (6,000 - 10,000 words)
  • a Thesis contextualising the research aims of the Exhibition as it relates to art historical and curatorial practice (40,000–50,000 words)

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.

Pathways to completion: students who elect to change their program of study or who do not pass a milestone of candidature may apply to transfer to the MPhil during the course of their candidature.

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The exhibition

The exhibition will be staged under the direction of the appropriate personnel in a relevant art gallery and in consultation with the candidate's supervisor. Candidates are responsible for selection of exhibition materials and supervision of the exhibition and installation design. The format of the exhibition is flexible; projects may encompass thematic survey exhibitions, monographic presentations, inter-disciplinary investigations or more experimental approaches designed to extend the boundaries of contemporary curatorial practice.

Assessment of the exhibition is based on:

  • Translation of research argument into visual and spatial format
  • The ability to successfully plan and execute an exhibition to industry standards
  • Innovation and significance
  • Capacity to generate new knowledge in curatorial and art historical practice.
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The exegesis

The Exegesis should be 6,000 - 10,000 words in length. It takes the form of a critical analysis of the curatorial aims and outcomes of the exhibition and includes a full list of works, catalogue entries, audience engagement resources, details of lenders and artists, and a curatorial rationale. Its primary task is to demonstrate a clear link between the thesis component and the research showcased by the exhibition. Documentation of the exhibition may be included in appendices.

Assessment of the Exegesis is based on:

  • Critical analysis of the exhibition's aims and outcomes
  • Demonstration of a critical understanding of how the exhibition contributes to and expands on art historical and curatorial discourse and practices
  • Originality of research.
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The thesis

The Thesis provides a research foundation for the exhibition. It is assessed according to conventional criteria for a research thesis but at a length of not more than 40,000 - 50,000 words.

Assessment of the thesis is based on:

  • The significance of its contribution to knowledge in the field
  • Originality of research
  • Demonstration of a systematic and critical understanding of knowledge at the frontier of the discipline
  • Clarity, accuracy, and cogency of writing, and suitable documentation according to standard academic guidelines for presentation.
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Entry requirements

The minimum perquisite for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy in Art History by Exhibition is a Bachelor Degree with First-Class Honours in a relevant arts-related area. Candidates will preferably hold a Master's qualification in a relevant arts discipline or an established curatorial practice, and have publications in the relevant field of study.

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Applicants should discuss their research proposals with art history staff prior to application. Detailed information on application procedures including information on submitting an expression of interest can be found here.

Applications to the Doctor of Philosophy in Art History by Exhibition must also be accompanied by the following:

  • Research Proposal. The Proposal includes an exhibition rationale, an address to key research questions and a methodological overview. Proposals are assessed on originality, scholarly significance, viability, and on the strength of expected outcomes.
  • Documentation of institutional support. This may include letters of confirmation from venues, collaborators, or artists.

Application is competitive. Applicants will be assessed on the quality of their track record and the strength of their research proposal. For enquiries or to submit a completed Expression of Interest Form please email

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Domestic and international scholarships

Doctor of Philosophy in Art History by Exhibition applicants may be eligible for a scholarship (APA, UQRS) if they:

  1. are accepted into the doctoral program by the School, and
  2. have a strong academic and curatorial record.

Further information on domestic and international scholarships.

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

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