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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.

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

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 2022 entry.

QualificationPhD
Degree

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

QualificationPhD
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.

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.

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

UK fees are set in line with the national UKRI maximum fee limit. We expect fees for 2022 entry to be confirmed in February 2022.

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will pay international tuition fees in most cases. If you are resident in the UK and have 'settled' or 'pre-settled' status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will be entitled to 'home' fee status.

Irish students 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 information for applicants from the EU.

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

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

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

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 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. 

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.

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

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 15 July 2021. 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.