PhD studentship: the rise and fall of nonelite commissions for art in public places, late 13C-1500

  • 1 x PhD Position (History)
  • Funding body: ex-European Research Council
  • Deadline for applications: Friday 12 August 2022
  • Open to all applicants: UK and International
  • Start date for PhD: 1 October 2022
  • Funding details: tuition fees and annual stipend of 18,000 GBP for 3.5 years, plus some travel and accommodation allowances.

Project Summary

This project will investigate the rise and fall of nonelite commissions for art in public places from the late thirteenth century to 1500. Overwhelmingly, these commissions appear within thousands of last wills and testaments scattered through archives in northern and central Italy. In year three or four, several case studies north of the Alps will be added. The project will harness an art history dependent mostly on documentary evidence, in which methods in inequality studies and quantification will be utilized.

In addition, the project will explore other spheres of cultural and political activity, which paradoxically show a deterioration in the status of nonelites, just as their wealth grew from the late fourteenth to the end of the fifteenth century and the gap between rich and poor was narrowing. To understand this paradox, our research will also engage with the growth in satirical literature that scorned the upstart and with non-elites losing power within their guilds and in large legislative bodies. This aspect of the project will investigate church synods and day-to-day municipal deliberations and the promulgation of decrees. These will provide areas for a comparative PhD thesis. The PhD thesis in collaboration with the PI and the team could focus on any aspect of this wide project.

The PhD Student

Because the studentship at Glasgow is embedded more widely in Glasgow's College of Arts, the PhD student will benefit from an array of training opportunities provided by the College of Arts' Postgraduate Research Skills Development programme. This includes over 20 different professional skills and career development courses over the three-year studentship.

Furthermore, the PhD student will have an opportunity to develop their teaching portfolio by tutoring undergraduate courses in History, if they so wish.

In terms of a supervisory meeting schedule: it is expected that the PhD student will meet to review progress with the PI at least once per month. In addition, the PhD student will undergo an Annual Progress Review (APR) each May, in which yearly milestones are assessed by the supervisory team as well as History's Postgraduate Research convenor.


We seek applicants with a masters degree (or equivalent) in History. 

Applicants should also have proficiency in reading medieval Latin contracts and in reading medieval and modern Italian, and should have had an exposure to medieval Italian palaeography, preferably to notarial hands (in Latin).

To be eligible you will also need to be accepted onto the PhD programme in History.

How to apply

Applicants should submit a Curriculum Vitae, including contact details of two academic referees, a research proposal or statement of interest in one or more aspects of the project of no more than 300 words, and a short writing sample.
These should be sent to  by Friday 12 August 2022.

Interviews will be held in the second half of August.

Further information

If you have any questions, please email Professor Sam Cohn on 

First published: 18 July 2022