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Research overview

If you want the flexibility to choose your own research path, this course is ideal. You will follow a course of independent study, supported by our expert staff, and have the option to complete either a PhD or MPhil qualification.

Our friendly research community will encourage you to develop your skills and expand your intellectual horizons. This could be through taking part in interdisciplinary research, contributing to research seminars, organising conferences, or gaining valuable teaching experience. 

Our staff are here to support you, offering a diverse range of expertise across many periods of history, from c. 800 BCE to the present day, across Africa, South Asia, East Asia, Europe and North America. You can choose to specialise in a range topics, from Medieval Europe to the 1970s US.

Course content

PhD

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.

MPhil

Studying for an MPhil degree involves a minimum of two years of full-time or four years of part-time directed study, at the end of which you will produce a 60,000-word thesis on your chosen subject.

You may transfer to the PhD at the end of your course, following your final annual review, if your work is judged to be of suitable quality.

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 PhD 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 2021 entry.

QualificationPhD/MPhil
Undergraduate degree

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

QualificationPhD/MPhil
Undergraduate degree

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.

English language support

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

For presessional English courses, you must take IELTS for UKVI to meet visa regulations.

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.

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.

Applying

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

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

Fees

QualificationPhD/MPhil
Home / UK£4,496 (estimate) per year
International£19,000 per year

UK fees are set in line with the national UKRI maximum fee limit. The figures shown above match the limit for 2020 entry. We expect fees for 2021 entry to be confirmed in February 2021.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2021/22 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

Books

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).

Funding

Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Programme

The Midlands4Cities programme provides funding, enhanced support, expert supervision and excellent networking opportunities for PhD candidates.

Apply to the M4C Doctoral Training programme

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

Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about funding your postgraduate degree.

Research funding

Support

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.

Research proposal

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

You can also contact the Director of Postgraduate Research in History, Dr Karen Adler.

Researcher Academy

The Researcher Academy is the network for researchers at the University of Nottingham. As a postgraduate researcher, you will have access to our members’ area, which includes online resources, training courses and award-winning postgraduate placements.

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
  • visa and immigration advice
  • welfare support

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. 

Careers

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.

Graduates from this course will gain 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
Sascha-Auerbach
It is the recording and study of history, more than any other discipline, that links one generation of humanity to the next. Every historian strives to contribute to filling in the vast and brilliant tapestry that comprises our record of the past. It is one of the most important intellectual efforts in our society, and those who undertake it enjoy a voyage of endless discovery.
Dr Sascha Auerbach, Director of Postgraduate Research

Related courses

Research Excellence Framework

We are ranked 8th in the UK for research power (2014). The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the system used by UK higher education funding bodies to assess research quality in universities.

  • More than 97% of research at Nottingham is recognised internationally
  • More than 80% of our research is ranked in the highest categories as world-leading or internationally excellent
  • 16 of our 29 subject areas feature in the UK top 10 by research power

This content was last updated on 09 October 2020. 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.