Research overview

At Nottingham, we have a large Department of History, with over fifty research-active academics. You will benefit from:

World-leading research supervision

  • Ranked 7th in the UK for research power (2021), according to Times Higher Education
  • 90% of the department’s research is classed as 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent' (Research Excellence Framework 2021)

Watch our staff discussing their research expertise

Extensive chronological supervisory expertise

Our staff have broad research interests, covering all historical periods from the early middle ages (c.500-c.1500), through the Early Modern era (c.1500-c.1800) and the modern period (1789-1945) to the contemporary history of present day (post-1945).

Wide-ranging geographical scope

Our research scope includes the UK and Western Europe, Eastern Europe and Russia, China and Japan, South Asia, Middle East and North Africa and North America.

A range of historical approaches and genres

Our academics specialise in a range of historical methodologies across all periods, including:

  • Black studies
  • Colonial and diplomatic history
  • Cultural history
  • Economic and urban history
  • Histories of conflict and protest
  • Histories of the environment
  • Histories of sexuality and gender
  • Medical and disability history
  • Political history
  • Religious history
  • Social history

And many others…

This is your opportunity to explore your research interests with expert guidance, and change the way we understand the past!


During the course of your studies, doctoral students can apply to work as a Postgraduate Teaching Assistant (PGTA) within the Department of History. These PGTA contracts, offered on a part-time annualised hours contract of employment, will allow students to gain invaluable teaching experience delivering and supporting seminars, as well as marking, assessing and giving feedback on students’ work. Dedicated training and professional development is provided.

Next steps

  1. Find a supervisor for your research
  2. Write a research proposal
  3. Apply for funding

Alumni and career profiles

Undertaking doctoral study at Nottingham provides a wide range of transferable skills. Read testimonials from recent alumni.

Course content

A PhD in History is mainly made up of independent study, with supervision meetings spread throughout the year.

The PhD involves a minimum of three years full-time or six years part-time directed research, at the end of which you will produce an 100,000-word thesis on your chosen subject. You will also take a verbal examination called a viva voce, where you explain your project in depth to an examination panel.

What is the thesis pending period?

All periods of registration are followed by a period of writing-up (called the thesis-pending period) when tuition fees are not paid and students are writing up their thesis.

Annual review

All students take part in annual review assessments to ensure that their project is progressing satisfactorily. An annual review usually consists of a written report.

For full-time students, the first year is probationary (first two years for part-time students), and the first year annual review involves a viva with an independent internal assessor.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2024 entry.


2:1 (or international equivalent) preferably in history, and a masters in history at Merit level or above


2:1 (or international equivalent) preferably in history, and a masters in history at Merit level or above

International and EU equivalents

We accept a wide range of qualifications from all over the world.

For information on entry requirements from your country, see our country pages.

IELTS7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)
English language requirements

As well as IELTS (listed above), we also accept other English language qualifications.

This includes TOEFL iBT, Pearson PTE, GCSE, IB and O level English.

Meeting our English language requirements

If you need support to meet the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional English course. Presessional courses teach you academic skills in addition to English language. Our Centre for English Language Education is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

If you successfully complete your presessional course to the required level, you can then progress to your degree course. This means that you won't need to retake IELTS or equivalent.

For on-campus presessional English courses, you must take IELTS for UKVI to meet visa regulations. For online presessional courses, see our CELE webpages for guidance.

Visa restrictions

International students must have valid UK immigration permissions for any courses or study period where teaching takes place in the UK. Student route visas can be issued for eligible students studying full-time courses. The University of Nottingham does not sponsor a student visa for students studying part-time courses. The Standard Visitor visa route is not appropriate in all cases. Please contact the university’s Visa and Immigration team if you need advice about your visa options.

We recognise that applicants have a variety of experiences and follow different pathways to postgraduate study.

We treat all applicants with alternative qualifications on an individual basis. We may also consider relevant work experience.

If you are unsure whether your qualifications or work experience are relevant, contact us.


You will be required to provide a PhD proposal with your application, which will set out the structure of your project.

We encourage you to get in touch with a member of academic staff about your research proposal before submitting an application. They may be able to help you with your proposal and offer support to find funding opportunities in your area. Details of research supervisors

The basis of a good proposal is usually a set of questions, approaches, and objectives which clearly outline your proposed project and what you want to accomplish. The proposal should also clearly demonstrate how you are going to accomplish this.

A PhD proposal should be a minimum of 1000 words. There is no upward limit for proposals, although successful proposals are often not much longer than about 2000-3000 words. You should consider:

  • the methodologies that you will use in your project (as appropriate)
  • the necessary resources and facilities you will need to carry out your project

It is also helpful to include:

  • a summary of any further research experience, in addition to your academic qualifications. This could include work undertaken at undergraduate or masters level, or outside the educational system
  • the name of the supervisor who may supervise the project

Find out more about how to write a research proposal.

Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about applying for postgraduate research.

How to apply


Home / UK£5,100

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice.


You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts. The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (i.e. Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith).


M4C logo

Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Programme

Midlands4Cities (M4C) PhD students benefit from a high quality package of:

  • funding
  • enhanced support and training
  • expert supervision
  • excellent networking opportunities

You must apply for a place at Nottingham before submitting your M4C application.

Apply to become an M4C student at the University of Nottingham

Midlands Graduate School ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP)

ESRC DTP studentships provide funding for 1+3 years of MA and PhD study or 3-years funding for PhD study (for those who can demonstrate masters-level qualifications in core social science research methods) in:

  • area studies
  • economic and social history

You must apply for a place at Nottingham before submitting your application.

Apply for ESRC funding at the University of Nottingham

There are many ways to fund your research degree, from scholarships to government loans.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


Regular supervision

You will have a team of at least two supervisors. Full-time students will meet with their supervisory team at least 10 times each year (six times for part-time students).

When a project requires expertise which spans to two or more departments in the university, we may be able to offer co-supervision with colleagues in other disciplines, and for students with Midlands4Cities or Midlands Graduate School funding, co-supervision at other universities too.

Your supervisors will help you to realise your research project and to guide you through your research. Many students will also attend conferences and publish papers in conjunction with their supervisors, to gain valuable experience and contacts in the academic community.

Researcher training and development

The Researcher Academy is the network for researchers, and staff who support them. We work together to promote a healthy research culture, to cultivate researcher excellence, and develop creative partnerships that enable researchers to flourish.

Postgraduate researchers at Nottingham have access to our online Members’ area, which includes a wealth of resources, access to training courses and award-winning postgraduate placements.

Graduate centres

Our graduate centres are dedicated community spaces on campus for postgraduates.

Each space has areas for:

  • studying
  • socialising
  • computer work
  • seminars
  • kitchen facilities

Student support

You will have access to a range of support services, including:

  • academic and disability support
  • childcare services
  • counselling service
  • faith support
  • financial support
  • mental health and wellbeing support
  • visa and immigration advice
  • welfare support

Students' Union

Our Students' Union represents all students. You can join the Postgraduate Students’ Network or contact the dedicated Postgraduate Officer.

There are also a range of support networks, including groups for:

  • international students
  • black and minority ethnic students
  • students who identify as women
  • students with disabilities
  • LGBT+ students

SU Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice on issues such as accommodation, financial and academic difficulties.

Where you will learn

History PhD – IT and study facilities

Students have access to the dedicated postgraduate research study space in the Humanities Building, as well as the Digital Transformations Hub. There is also a microfiche/film reader and printer. You can also use the Department of History's 24-hour on-site student computer suite with printing and scanning facilities. 


Whether you are considering a career in academia, industry or haven't yet decided, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Expert staff will work with you to explore PhD career options and apply for vacancies, develop your interview skills and meet employers. You can book a one-to-one appointment, take an online course or attend a workshop.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

Completing a History PhD will give you a range of key transferable skills, including:

  • written and oral communication skills
  • archival research skills
  • data analysis skills
  • teaching skills
  • research collaboration skills

As a result, our graduates have moved onto:

  • full-time academic posts
  • post-doctoral work
  • the public or private heritage and museum sector
  • policy work for HM Government

80% of postgraduates from the School of History secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £35,125.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2019/20 data published in 2022. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on data from graduates who completed a full-time postgraduate degree with home fee status and are working full-time within the UK.

I did a history degree at the University of Nottingham, then a masters in history and also a PhD. I hadn’t really considered postgraduate studies until one of my professors suggested it to me as he thought that I’d enjoy it and do well at it. It was important to me to continue at Nottingham, as opposed to going elsewhere, as my research interests coincided closely with my professor’s.
Matt McGinn, PhD History

Related courses

Research Excellence Framework

The University of Nottingham is ranked 7th in the UK for research power, according to analysis by Times Higher Education. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a national assessment of the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

  • The Department of History placed 23rd out of 81 departments nationally for research activity, with more than 80% of outputs and 100% of both Impact and Environment rated as either 'World Leading' or 'Internationally Excellent'
  • 90%* of our research is classed as 'world-leading' (4*) or 'internationally excellent' (3*)
  • 100%* of our research is recognised internationally
  • 51% of our research is assessed as 'world-leading' (4*) for its impact**

*According to analysis by Times Higher Education ** According to our own analysis.

This content was last updated on 06 February 2024. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.