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Department of History of Art


Formal Registration for the PhD Degree:  First Year Report

You will be required to present a First Year Report for assessment by two assessors appointed by the Degree Committee during your third term of research.   The assessors’ reports will be the basis upon which the Degree Committee will recommend your formal registration for the PhD degree to the Board of Graduate Studies.

The First Year Report is required as evidence of your ability to prepare a piece of extended writing, while also providing the two assessors with sufficient information to form a judgement about the likelihood of successful completion.  The assessors need to be satisfied that the work is feasible as a PhD and that it is progressing at an appropriate rate which can be brought to a successful conclusion within a three year period.  You will be required to undertake an oral assessment which will take about an hour (this usually takes place in June if you are an October starter) with at least two assessors, neither of whom will be your supervisor.  A report will be made by the assessors on:  i) the outcome of the assessment, ii) their recommendation on registration and progression and iii) any feedback they wish to provide to you and your supervisor.

What to Submit:

You will need to submit your First Year Report by the end of May if you are an October starter.  The submission deadline will be reminded nearer the time via email.

You will need to submit two copies of your First Year Report to Reception.  The Report should be bound (please do not use a ring binder), with the title of the Report, the words “First Year Report”, your name, your College, the date of submission and a word count on the front.  You will also need to submit one copy of your Log Book signed off by your Supervisor (please arrange to do this before you submit) with the First Year Report.

Word Length

Your First Year Report must not exceed 10,000 words including footnotes and bibliography. Reference to sources in both the bibliography and footnotes/endnotes should follow a recognised system such as that used in the journals Art History, The Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes or The Art Bulletin. Whichever system is adopted, consistency is essential. You may submit a longer report if your supervisor recommends this. Documents and catalogues may be submitted as appendices up to a word limit of 5,000 words. It should be stressed that appendices should never be a means to increase the overall word limit of the documentation. Rather, they should be used only if strictly necessary in order to introduce supporting material integral to the paper.


Please discuss this with your Supervisor.  The following content is recommended, though the exact content and form of the Report, as well as how you organise and present the material, will depend on the nature of your individual research, and on what you and your Supervisor decide will be most beneficial to your personal progress:

  • A description of the general area of your research, explaining why the work is being undertaken and its potential significance.
  • An outline of the specific research focus and methodology.
  • A programme or timetable showing the main phases of the research and the timescale within which you plan to undertake them.
  • The issues that the research will seek to explore or answer – including a summary of the objectives, and the research questions that you will investigate.
  • A review of the literature you have already read, setting out your understanding of past and current work in the subject area both here and abroad.
  • An outline of the research methods and sources of evidence or data that you anticipate using; the means by which you will inspect and/or acquire this evidence or data; and the analysis to which you will subject it. This may include fieldwork, archival work, technical investigations, case studies, interviews, or surveys, and should identify how you will gain the necessary access and permissions, including problems that may arise and how you will deal with them.
  • A brief description of what you expect to find and its impact on scholarship including, if appropriate, who is likely to benefit from your work and how.
  • You may wish to submit a draft chapter.