Support our students

Postgraduate scholarships: Your transformative impact

Founded on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to engage with art, The Courtauld works to increase understanding of the role played by art throughout history, in all societies and across all geographies 鈥 as well as being a champion for the importance of art in the present day.

The Courtauld is committed to attracting the very best students from across the world, regardless of their background or financial circumstances. In a global context of reduced public funding for higher education, scholarships are among our highest philanthropic priorities.

The Courtauld is proud to award an average of 90 postgraduate scholarships annually over the past five years. Unfortunately, the need expressed by students for financial aid dramatically outpaces the funds available.

We are exceptionally grateful to all supporters of The Courtauld鈥檚 Scholarship Fund. Their generosity has influenced the lives of hundreds of scholars who have directly benefited from truly transformative philanthropy.

A woman holding a piece of paper with 'thank you' on it.
Janet O'Brien PhD candidate, History of Art, Guildford Foundation Scholar, Lord Rothschild OM GBE Scholar, Edmond J. Safra Scholar, Soudavar Memorial Foundation Scholar, University of London Student Fund Scholar

Spotlight: The student perspective

After a successful career in law in London and Dublin, Janet O鈥橞rien undertook The Courtauld鈥檚 MA History of Art in the specialist option Persian Painting and Transcultural Visuality: From the Mongols to the Safavids with Dr Babaie in 2014/15, receiving a Distinction. Following two years of intense curatorial training in Islamic art, first as Curatorial Intern at The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore and later as Curatorial Assistant at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Janet returned to The Courtauld to embark on her PhD in 2017.

Janet鈥檚 research focuses on the emergence of royal portraiture in eighteenth-century Iran and the large and richly diverse group of portraits of N膩dir Sh膩h, Janet explains the significant impact of scholarship support:

鈥淭he scholarship has certainly eased the financial burden, but more precious than that, it is a gift of possibilities that opens up a whole new world of knowledge, interconnections, and wonderment. I am very aware of the privilege of studying for a PhD at The Courtauld and the extraordinary opportunities that are available to me. I therefore urge you to support this vital fund so that other aspiring students may fulfill their potentials to lead and serve the field of art history.鈥
Janet O’Brien, PhD Candidate, History of Art

Student talking during a seminar.

The James Hughes-Hallett Undergraduate Scholarships

Established in memory of The Courtauld鈥檚 distinguished former Chairman, James Hughes-Hallett CMG from the academic year 2021/22, at least three awards will be made annually for undergraduates from underrepresented backgrounds. Formed by an initial coalition of donors, and led by a generous gift from Esm茅e Fairbairn Foundation, the landmark fund enables The Courtauld to offer undergraduate scholarships for the first time.

The James Hughes-Hallett undergraduate scholarships are part of a larger strategy from The Courtauld to address the general lack of awareness of Art History as a rigorous humanities subject, and the specific lack of teaching of art history in state schools (only 717 students took Art History A Level in 2018; and the subject is taught in fewer than 5% of state schools). The Courtauld widen access online, in person, and through a broad range of programmes. Through these combined efforts, nearly 6,000 students around the UK annually participate in young people鈥檚 programming delivered by The Courtauld.

The Royal Historical Society (RHS) report on Race, Ethnicity and Equality reports that nationally only 11.3% of undergraduate cohorts in historical and philosophical studies are from Black, Asian, minority ethnic backgrounds.

Philanthropy will be the significant driver of change, as art history as a discipline faces challenges nationally and internationally.

Continuing a strategic commitment to diversity, inclusion and equality, The Courtauld seeks to amplify diverse perspectives in art history, conservation and curating to ensure that art history is studied by people from all backgrounds with the highest potential.

James Hughes-Hallett was a tireless advocate of The Courtauld鈥檚 vision to open minds to the power of art. James鈥檚 commitment and leadership affected every aspect of The Courtauld. He was a student of The Courtauld, a proud parent, a dedicated donor, Governing Board member and Chairman from 2012-2017. In all he endeavoured, James demonstrated his passion for humanity, arts and education.

Eligible students for the James Hughes-Hallett Undergraduate Scholarship will be applicants attending non-selective UK state school or college, whose parents did not attend university, and will have a household income below 拢30,000. Additional consideration will be made for carers, care leavers, individuals with a disability, people from minority ethnic groups and refugees.

For details of the BA History of Art,聽 please see the course information page BA History of Art

For further details of how to apply for the James Hughes-Hallett Undergraduate Scholarship, please see the application information page James Hughes-Hallett Undergraduate Scholarship


Contact us

If you are considering supporting students from underrepresented backgrounds in higher education, or if you would like to find out more about The Courtauld Scholarship Fund, please email

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