History PhD/MA by Research (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

As a postgraduate researcher in the Department of History you will have the opportunity to work alongside academic staff whose research is at the forefront of current historical scholarship.

The Department was ranked first in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014, and is unrivalled in the geographical and chronological breadth of its research. From medieval Afghanistan to the modern United States, our staff provide expertise across British, European and world history from around 500 to the present day. 

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Dr Aimee Fox-Godden

Dr Aimée Fox-Godden

“One of the best things about the course is the opportunity to build up friendships with like-minded students who are also on the PhD journey. I have found these friendships invaluable, particularly when things might not be going as well as you hoped when researching or writing the doctorate. The opportunity to work with my PhD supervisor has been a fantastic experience. It’s a really important and rewarding relationship and one of the highlights of my PhD experience.”
Ask Aimée a question

The History MA by Research programme requires you to prepare a dissertation of up to 40,000 words on a topic of your choice, for which an academic staff member will provide expert supervision. 

The History PhD – the most advanced research degree – leads to a dissertation of up to 80,000 words on a subject of your choice, under the expert supervision of an academic member of staff. 

Distance learning

You can study an MA by Research or PhD programme on campus or by distance learning. Please note that if you are studying with us by distance learning, the programme includes a fully-funded annual visit to campus for each full year of your programme (every two years for part-time students).

For more information on distance learning including answers to frequently asked questions, student experiences and funding opportunities, please see our distance learning website

Research degrees in History at Birmingham provide opportunities for detailed engagement with a specific topic, enhanced by the debates and cross-fertilisation of ideas sparked by working in contact and association with members of the UK’s leading History department, as judged in the most recent Research Excellence Framework exercise. Opportunities for collaboration across the University, particularly in the fields of Byzantine, Hispanic and Music History, as well as Philosophy, Politics and Economics, also help to generate stimulating and rewarding research.

The extensive holdings of the University’s library, and ready access to other regional archives and libraries, offer abundant raw material for research. Within the department, groups such as the Centre for the Study of the Middle Ages (CeSMA) , generate a lively inter- and multi-disciplinary research culture, through delivery papers and broadening intellectual horizons.

Current research topics range from questions such as how England became a Protestant nation in the 16th century, to why smoking played such an important role in 20th century life. Whatever your interest, whether it is cultural or social history in the 6th century, or military history in the 20th century, Birmingham’s History department has someone available to supervise your research with expert knowledge and understanding.

At Birmingham you also have the option of studying languages, free of charge. Almost no other UK University offers you the opportunity to learn the intense graduate academic language skills which you may need to pursue your research.

Profiles of our current History doctoral researchers

Why study this course

  • Core strengths include medieval history, cultural and social history, politics, economics, religion, war studies, the history of the West Midlands, the history of sexuality and emotion, and the history of the environment.
  • We offer exciting opportunities to participate in the broader research culture of the Department of History. This includes seminars and workshops run by postgraduate research students and  those organised by members of staff.
  • Postgraduate research students are a vital, integral member of the Department of History and play a full role in its intellectual life. As such studying for a PhD offers opportunities for this genuine collective approach.
  • The Department of History was ranked first in the country for the quality of research in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.  

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2017/18:

  • Home / EU £4,180 full-time; £2,090 part-time*
  • Overseas: £15,210 full-time

* For UK/EU postgraduate research students the University fee level is set at Research Council rates and as such is subject to change. The final fee will be announced by Research Councils UK in spring 2017.

The above fee quoted is for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Entry requirements

Our requirements for postgraduate research are dependent on the type of programme you are applying for:

  • For MRes and MA by Research programmes, entry to our programmes usually requires a good (normally a 2:1 or above) Honours degree, or an equivalent qualification if you were educated outside the UK.
  • If you are applying for a PhD then you will usually also need to hold a good Masters qualification.

Any academic and professional qualifications or relevant professional experience you may have are normally taken into account, and in some cases, form an integral part of the entrance requirements.

If you are applying for distance learning research programmes, you will also be required to demonstrate that you have the time, commitment, facilities and experience to study by distance learning.

If your qualifications are non-standard or different from the entry requirements stated here, please contact the admissions tutor.

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Before you make your application

Please refer to our six step process on applying for PhD, MA by Research and MRes opportunities for Arts subject areas.

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Additional Guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

Making your application

 

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Research in the Department of History has unique chronological and geographical depth, covering a wide range of British, European and world history from the early medieval period to the present, so we are able to provide expert supervision across a variety of topics.

Please contact a staff member working in your area of interest in the first instance. A summary of our key research areas, and staff working within those, can be found below.

Related research

The University has been recognised for its impressive graduate employment, being named ‘University of the Year for Graduate Employment’ in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School. The University also offers a wide range of activities and services to give our students the edge in the job market, including: career planning designed to meet the needs of postgraduates; opportunities to meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs, employer presentations and skills workshops; individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

University of the Year for employability

Birmingham’s History graduates develop a broad range of transferable skills that are highly valued by a range of employers. These skills include: familiarity with research methods; the ability to manage large quantities of information from diverse sources; the ability to organise information in a logical and coherent manner; the expertise to write clearly and concisely and to tight deadlines; critical and analytical ability; the capacity for argument, debate and speculation; and the ability to base conclusions on statistical research.

Over the past five years, over 93% of History postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Some of our History postgraduates go on to use their studies directly, for example in heritage, museums or the armed forces; others use their transferable skills in a range of occupations from finance, to publishing, to fundraising. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include: Royal Air Force; Ministry of Defence; University of Birmingham; Big Lottery Fund; Royal Air Force Museum; and University of Oxford.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

In addition to the student groups hosted by the Guild of Students, each school runs its own social activities, research fora, seminars and groups for postgraduates.

Accommodation

Coming to Birmingham to study might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

Support in your studies

We offer an Academic Writing Advisory Service, which aims to help your transition to postgraduate research. The service offers guidance on organising your ideas and structuring an argument, referencing and avoiding plagiarism, being clear and coherent and editing your work for academic style and linguistic accuracy. Individual support is provided by a professional academic writing advisor via tutorials or email, as well as through the provision of online materials.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.