Research underpins the entire History of Art course. Students are introduced to research methods in the first year; they develop their skills through the Dissertation which is started in the second year; and take research-based modules in the third year. Additionally, students are encouraged to undertake projects through the URSS, and a range of projects have been supported in the last few years.
For any Student Research queries contact Dr Jenny Alexander.
In the Curriculum
Students start their research careers in the first year with the module 'History of Art and Interpretation', in which they study works of art first-hand at Waddesdon Manor. Here they work directly with the objects and consult original documents to research paintings, tapestries, drawings and the decorative arts. Students are. supported by the curatorial staff at Waddesdon and teaching staff at Warwick. Research skills are embedded in the 'Study Skills' module which is taught over two terms to all first-year students.
The Dissertation, for which students choose their own topic under guidance, is a major piece of work which is started in the second year and is completed during the third. Research is carried out over the long vacation at the end of the second year, to allow students to explore their topic in depth through visits and reading primary sources. Successful dissertations have been developed for publication and have made considerable additions to knowledge.
Students take two Special Subjects in the third year and experience research-led teaching at its most exciting, benefiting from the most up-to-date thinking on specialised topics. Warwick staff base their teaching directly on their own research, which is amongst the most-highly rated in the field. Additionally, some of the modules allow students to get involved in a practical project on a local site, such as Cryfield Grange.
Options for Research
History of Art has been successful in bidding for funding in the URSS since 2012 and students have benefited from a wide range of additional opportunities for making a contribution to research. Projects have ranged from preparatory research for an exhibition at the Mead Gallery; recording and writing entries for a website on medieval sculpture; helping update the catalogue of worked stone at Lichfield Cathedral; and archive work on documents in The National Archive.
“Our collaboration with Waddesdon Manor provides students with the opportunity to work closely with items from their extensive collection. First year students learn how to look, how to interpret what they see and gain an understanding of the relationship between art and its historical and physical contexts.”
Departmental and Individual Research Projects
Undergraduates may also work on current research projects conducted by academics in the department, or work on projects on their own.
The department engages students in a number of staff research projects, with external partners such as Compton Verney, the Arts Council, the Abbey of Pontigny in France, etc.), and the students’ research has featured in exhibitions across Britain.
URSS quotes from students on projects in 2016
- Isabella Mayhew: Lichfield project
"I developed skills of thorough documentation- cataloguing, labelling and photographing- as well as working efficiently within a team and understanding how to work carefully and safely upon a historical site. The experience of practical field work has been incredibly insightful, complementing the theoretical nature of my course. This has definitely strengthened my interest in working in the heritage sector."
- Fenella Thornton-Kelmsley: Lichfield project
"The URSS has had a huge impact on my university career and also my choices in career. It taught me so many different transferable skills that I was able to use in my university work and out of it. The skills I learned ranged from good research practices through to how to write up reports after the work has finished. It was a wonderful opportunity and I am very grateful for it."
- Ffion Jones: C19th Stonemasons' Accounts
"Participating on the URSS allowed me to work independently on an area of research that I was personally interested in while knowing that I had support from an academic tutor who is an expert in their field. It allowed me to develop my research skills beyond the taught curriculum and gave me confidence researching with primary documentation. As a result of the URSS course, I am continuing the research from the project in my masters thesis at Cambridge University."
- Charlotte Adcock: C19th Stonemasons' Accounts
"Undertaking this URSS project was an amazing opportunity to work on an independent project early in my academic career. Working with original documents and applying written sources to tangible heritage assets allowed me to develop a better understanding of the processes required to build a narrative of historic buildings. This project prepared me to for my Masters application and enhanced my career prospects."
- Emma Savage: Stonemasons' Wills in The National Archive
"The experience I gained in research on a professional level through the URSS programme not only gave me skills that helped me with my current studies, but I also learnt transferable skills to help me in my future career. In particular, the experience gave me an understanding of what a long research project entailed. I came to appreciate the importance of vital institutions like the National Archives, and I became very interested in a career in archives or library services. Overall though, the transferable skills that I took away including written communication, analysis, attention to detail, organisation and time management will undoubtedly be beneficial to any future career."
Examples of departmental student research projects
To explore several examples of our Undergraduate student-led research projects visit the Undergraduate Research page.
Research opportunities for postgraduate taught students
Our MA students spend a term resident in Venice and the easy access to its art and architecture provide unparalleled opportunities for research. Students start work on their Dissertations while in Venice and the archives there are a very rich source of material for students. Under staff guidance primary sources and original documents are studied to provide new insights into patronage, the relationships between art and its setting, and the commissioning of work from artists.
- Academic Support Librarian
Your Academic Support Librarian provides targeted support in your subject area, helping you to develop information and research skills during your course.
Support and training is available in:
- literature searching
- finding, using, and evaluating information
- referencing and avoiding plagiarism
- reference management tools
- using digital tools
Browse a full range of Library courses, visit and enrol on the dedicated Moodle learning page.
It is an excellent starting point for any student researcher. You can access subject support with dedicated discipline key electronic sources, contacts, resources, professional bodies, as well as guidance and other resources related to studying and conducting research in your faculty and discipline.
For interdisciplinary research and projects spanning your department and degree interests, please visit the full list of library subject support or contact the library at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
The Library can also buy materials for your subject. Contact the Library with requests for book purchase, skills training or for any assistance with your research at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Academic Writing Day
Academic Writing Day is a full day writing workshop that runs from 10am to 4pm and include topics such as:
- stages and requirements of writing
- organisation and structure of assignments and essays
- paragraph construction
- language and style academic style
- ethics in writing and research, referencing
- reporting (paraphrase/summary)
The day covers all major aspects of academic writing for taught students, and is a combination of lectures and seminars. The topics aim to address in depth the challenges posed by essay/assignment writing. Check out the workshop page and book your place at the next Academic Writing Day.
After attending the Academic Writing Day you can continue developing your research skills at the Academic Writing Open Fora.
- British Conference of Undergraduate Research
The British Conference of Undergraduate Research promotes undergraduate research in all disciplines. The Conference meets annually every Spring in a different British university. Undergraduates of all levels are invited to submit papers, posters, workshops and performances to the Conference. Abstracts are peer-reviewed and those accepted will be invited to attend the conference. The call for papers is usually published in the autumn.
An undergraduate research conference is just like any other academic conference. There will be spoken papers, lectures, poster presentations and workshops — but each one will be delivered by undergraduate students presenting work they have done either as part of their course, internship, or individual project. For two days, you will be able to talk to undergraduate researchers from your own disciplines, and you will also learn a lot about how other disciplines approach research problems.
If you are an undergraduate student, this is a great opportunity to meet students from other universities and share your work. Many courses include opportunities to develop independent research. You might be working on a dissertation, or you may have devised your own topic for an assessment. You might have worked with an external company, or worked with a researcher over the summer to help them with their research project. All research is welcome at this conference, in any discipline taught in Higher Education.
Find out more on the BCUR website.
Please note: Conference fees are usually covered by student's own university. Check with your department before submitting to the Conference and/or registering to attend.
- EndNote training
EndNote is software which helps you to organise your references and to automatically format citations, reference lists and bibliographies in Word. It is an essential tool for any student researcher.
Want to know more about managing your references, saving time and avoiding plagiarism? Sign up to one of EndNote Online Workshops.
The workshop will introduce you to your enhanced EndNote Online (formerly EndNote Web) account, enable you to add references to your library and use the Cite While You Write function in Microsoft Word to generate citations and bibliographies.
More support and help with Endnote email@example.com (EndNote Online) or firstname.lastname@example.org (Endnote Desktop)
- Global Research Priorities (Energy) bursary
Since 2012, the Energy GRP have been supporting up to 5 Undergraduate Summer Placements, each with a bursary of up to £2,000. The Energy GRP bursaries are affiliated with the University's Undergraduate Research Support Scheme (URSS), and are to help with living costs and expenses associated with a research project and will be paid directly to the student. The project normally lasts between 4 and 10 weeks and supports energy research. Students from any department are welcome to apply and the Energy GRP encourage applications from both science and non-science disciplines.
The scheme is open to all Warwick undergraduate students, usually non-finalists.
The Energy GRP are particularly interested in projects that develop connections between departments and with external partners.
Find out more on the Energy GRP website
- Global Research Priorities (Materials) bursary
The Materials GRP support up to eight Summer Placements, each with an award of up to £2,000. The Materials GRP bursaries are affiliated with the University's Undergraduate Research Support Scheme (URSS), and are to help with living costs and expenses associated with students’ chosen projects. The project lasts between eight to ten weeks and must involve the study of Materials. The level of support depends on the length of the project, based on a calculation of £200 per week, up to a maximum of 10 weeks, or £2,000.
Students from any department are encouraged to apply, but they must secure their own project before they apply.
Priority is given to (in the following order):
new collaborations (i.e. where the two academic supervisors have not previously worked together)
new projects (i.e. where there is an existing link between supervisors, but a new area of research is being explored)
Find out more on the Materials GRP website
- IATL Interdisciplinary Modules
The Institute for Advanced Teaching & Learning (IATL) hosts a range of interdisciplinary undergraduate and postgraduate modules that encourage students from different departments and faculties to formulate relevant questions and propose novel ideas via independent and collaborative research. Students are encouraged to further develop those ideas for publication.
Please note: UG modules are available to all undergraduate students in years 2, 3, or 4, and PG modules to all Masters/PGT students, but require home department approval. Speak to your personal tutor or Director of Studies to find out more.
- IATL Project Support
As a global community, changing circumstances have inspired many of us to reflect more deeply than ever on the importance of cultivating community and imagining possible futures for education. In response, IATL has reconceptualised the project support we offer to develop innovative approaches to fostering community and imagining the future of learning at Warwick. IATL will be offering workshops, resources, expertise and funding of up to £1500 to support projects. Areas in which IATL shares practice include co-creation, interdisciplinarity, cultivating communities of learning, practices of teaching and learning, innovative assessment practices, student as researcher, wellbeing practices and international teaching and learning. This opportunity is open to both students and staff and widens the focus to emphasise support and the development of communities of practice, as well as on funding.
Visit IATL's Project Support page to find out more information on these and other research and funding opportunities, requirements, and deadlines.
You are welcome to discuss any aspect of these research opportunities and your application with the IATL team. Please contact the team at IATL.Projectsupport@warwick.ac.uk
- IATL Student Ensemble
The Student Ensemble is a trans-disciplinary group of Warwick students and an alumni network that facilitates learning through performance practice. Established at the CAPITAL Centre in 2009 (with funding from the Higher Education Academy), this group has since worked with international practitioners and local communities at the Emerge Festival and Laboratory as well as visiting professionals and graduate companies.
Find out more on the IATL website
- International Conference of Undergraduate Research (ICUR)
Led and sponsored by the University of Warwick and Monash University, the International Conference of Undergraduate Research (ICUR) is an annual, two-day academic conference. Using video-conferencing technology, ICUR provides undergraduate researchers with a unique opportunity to present and discuss their own research – in any discipline in real-time, without having to leave their home university.
ICUR challenges undergraduate students to rethink their work in an international context. As a forum, it requires presenters to consider the perspective of students from different backgrounds, and to anticipate what may be shared across cultures and local contexts. This challenge translates to research questions as well, encouraging students to examine global and regional trends in their research field, and how these might conflict with local concerns and specificities.
Since its establishment in 2013, more than 2000 students from 17 institutions on 5 continents have presented at ICUR. At Warwick alone, 568 students have presented since ICUR began.
Find out more on the ICUR website.
- Library Study Blog
The blog is designed to connect students with information, support and their community. It contains posts offering tips and secrets on a wide range of study skills for example improving presentations, avoid plagiarism pitfalls, preventing library fines and much more. Posts are written both by Library staff and by students about their study experiences.
- Masters Academic Writing Programme
Masters Academic Writing is the first step into research writing. Your examinations are mostly based on (module) written assignments, leading to your dissertation. Your writing should be able to demonstrate not only your ability to analyse, critically engage with material and develop complex arguments, but also aspects of originality. You can find a range of courses on academic writing, critical thinking and discipline specific literature reviews. Browse the courses and select those that suit you best.
- Masters Skills Programme
The Masters Skills Programme brings together several of the development opportunities that are offered to Warwick Master’s students in one place.
- Organising yourself and your time
- Planning and managing projects
- Academic study skills
- Critical thinking
- Critical writing
- Speed reading
- Taking notes effectively
- Planning and managing projects
- Effective literature searching
- Introduction to Masters Writing
- On Track - dissertation workshops*
*Your school may also offer specific dissertation support - check with your personal tutor
There is also support available for group research projects:
- Becoming more assertive
- Working in a team
- Intercultural training
- Leading a group project
- Planning and managing projects
For a full list of workshops visit the Programme page and sign up for the workshops that interest you and develop your skills!
Workshops run across all three terms and can be used towards the Warwick Skills Portfolio Award.
If you think the Programme is missing a workshop that you are interested in, please email the the Programme team the details at email@example.com
- Monash-Warwick Alliance funding
Monash University and the University of Warwick have formed a strategic alliance that aims to enhance the experiences of students at both universities through the development of new models of education and research collaboration.
The Student-led Activity Scheme provides support for activities that seek to integrate the student bodies of both universities, develop ”globally-engaged students” through working as part of international teams, increase both the impact and profile of existing student-led activities at both universities, and transfer knowledge and innovation in student activities across both campuses.
Examples of activities which can be considered for support include academic-related events (e.g. summits, student conferences), cultural and intercultural activities, including sporting events, and skills development events.
The Student-led Activity Scheme provides support of up to a maximum of £15,000 (for expenses incurred by Warwick students).
Find out more on the Monash-Warwick Alliance website
- PG Hub
The Postgrad Hub (PG Hub) is a dedicated space for postgrads, enabling them to access support, work in a collaborative environment and socialise with peers. Click on the link to check availability, latest updates, support, and exclusive postgraduate and research events.
- Reinvention Journal
Reinvention is an online, peer-reviewed journal, dedicated to the publication of high-quality undergraduate student research. The journal welcomes academic articles from all disciplinary areas. All articles undergo rigorous peer review, based on initial editor screening and refereeing by two or three anonymous referees. Reinvention is published bi-annually and only houses papers written by undergraduate students or papers written collaboratively by undergraduate students and academics.
Reinvention is published through the Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning and is an open access journal. Students are encouraged to make their work as interactive as possible and to include tables, diagrams and links to films, photographs and other websites where appropriate. Papers should be between 2,000 and 5,000 words in length, not including the abstract, bibliography and any appendices. They receive thorough feedback on their paper, regardless of whether it gets published or not.
Students also receive training on writing for publications, learning about what a journal article is, how it’s structured, and how to critically revise one’s publications.
Find out more on the Reinvention website
- Research and Study Skills (for UG and Masters’ students)
- The Student Development team at Student Opportunity offer training and support to develop your research and study skills. You might find the following workshops particularly interesting:
For a full list of workshops visit the Undergraduate Skills Programme or the Masters Skills Programme web pages. Sign up for the workshops on MyAdvantage. Workshops run across all three terms and can be used towards the Warwick Skills Portfolio Award. If you think a workshop that you are interested in is missing, please complete our bespoke workshop request form.
- Being a researcher
- Defining your research question
- Designing academic posters
- Exploring research methodology
- Planning and managing projects
- Working with your supervisor
- Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme (URSS)
The Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme (URSS) gives students the chance to become directly involved in the research work of the University, experience what it's like to be a member of a research team and take part in cutting-edge research. URSS is a competitive scheme that provides living expenses (up to £1,000) and skills development training to support successful applicants who wish to carry out a summer research project as an addition to their undergraduate degree course. Undertaking a summer research project via the URSS is more than just doing a project – it will give you dedicated skills training opportunities too. The Scheme gives you both a taste of research, invaluable for those looking to pursue postgraduate study, and also adds further value to your degree from Warwick. URSS has been in place since 2002, with students on the scheme having travelled to Europe and further afield to undertake the research.
Find out more on the URSS website.