A PhD is awarded for the outcomes of intensive, independent study that demonstrates an original and significant contribution to knowledge in your chosen subject. You will be assessed at the end of the programme by a thesis of 80,000 words which will need to be deemed suitable for publication, in whole or in part in a learned journal or equivalent by your examiners. You will need to defend your thesis and demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of your subject at a viva voce (oral examination) before a panel of expert examiners.
An MA by Research is a research-based Masters programme assessed by a thesis of 40,000 words. An oral examination may be held at the discretion of the examiners.
Unlike our postgraduate taught programmes, there are no formal lectures or seminars in a PhD or MA by Research, and your work is not formally examined until after your thesis has been submitted. Instead, our postgraduate research programmes provide you with the opportunity to undertake research under the expert guidance of a primary supervisor, co-supervisor and mentor, supported by complementary research training.
Find out more about what to expect from a PhD/MA by Research.
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.
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.
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.