Fully-funded PhD Scholarship at the Courtauld Institute of Art

Deadline: 17 May 2015
Open to: students of humanity sciences with a strong academic background in modern art from Russia and the Soviet Union
Scholarship: fully funded


The Courtauld Institute of Art in partnership with Tate invites applications for a PhD studentship fully-funded for three years by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to commence in October 2015.

Research Project: Reporting the Revolution: The Artist as Witness, Critic and Propagandist for the 1917 Revolution in Russia

This doctoral research project focuses on the visual history of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath, especially how its impact, propagation and celebration were pictured.  The primary resource will be the unrivalled David King Collection formed over the last forty years and newly acquired by Tate.  The variety of the collection provides many avenues for investigating the troubled history of the Soviet Union through different registers and media, and contrasting the optimism of official propaganda with the actuality revealed through documentation. Histories of artistic activities in the period have tended to continue a long-held fascination with the avant-garde alongside the complex politics of the revolutionary moment.  The range of source material available invites a re-consideration of these narratives bringing them closer to the first-hand experience of the public consumption of posters, illustrated newspapers, periodicals and limited editions, prints and drawings as well as a rich archive of photographs. The PhD supervisors are Dr Klara Kemp-Welch (Courtauld Institute of Art) and Dr Matthew Gale (Curator, Modern Art, & Head of Displays, Tate Modern). The student will examine the David King collection within Tate’s collection, library and archive, utilising the museum’s records, as part of his or her thesis. The student will also produce forty summary texts about individual artworks for publication on Tate’s website, following existing guidelines.  Such texts will relate closely to the themes and areas that the student is researching, and should form the basis for display and in-gallery texts. The experience of writing for a broad public about the works will provide valuable training. The student will be asked to share research findings with staff at Tate, both informally and formally, through seminars and a range of possible publishing outcomes with Tate.


The Courtauld Institute of Art invites applications from candidates with a strong academic background in modern art from Russia and the Soviet Union, showing evidence of archival research skills and a clear and engaging research proposal that can be developed through the available research supervision.  The candidate must have excellent command of English, spoken and written, and show evidence of an ability to write about artworks for a specialist and non-specialist audiences in an engaging and accessible way.  The successful candidate would also have advanced reading ability in Russian. Successful applicants would be expected to have a good first degree (at least 2.1, or international equivalent) in a relevant field of humanities, and have obtained, or are currently working towards a Masters degree at Merit or Distinction level, or international equivalent.


The scholarship is subject to the AHRC’s terms, to which applicants should refer before applying. See the AHRC’s Research Funding Guide HERE.

Please note that overseas students are not eligible for AHRC awards (except under specific circumstances) and EU students need to assess whether they are eligible for fees and maintenance or fees only. Details of current maintenance and fee rates can be found on the ‘Current Research Awards’ page on the AHRC website. The AHRC doctoral award does not include funds for travel but please note that the student will be able to apply for external grants that would help to enable travel in the region.

If you have any queries or would like to discuss this opportunity before applying, please contact Dr Kemp-Welch, [email protected] or Dr Gale at Tate [email protected]

How to apply?

Applications should be made by email to [email protected] at The Courtauld Institute of Art and should include the following documents as electronic attachments in either MS Word or PDF format:

  • A covering letter, stating why you are applying for this opportunity and why you think your academic interests qualify you for this award;
  • A research proposal of 1,000 words in length;
  • A curriculum vitae;
  • A transcript of your qualifications to date (and anticipated results if still studying for an MA);
  • A writing sample (e.g. MA essay or dissertation; images may be omitted if the document is too large otherwise to send by email);
  • Contact details for two referees;

Please ensure the files are labelled as follows: ‘surname, first name, application component (e.g. writing sample / CV).

For more information please check the official website of The Courtald Institute of Art or official website of Arts & Humanities Research Council.

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