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.

Times Higher Education ranked the Department of History first in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise, and the Department 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. 

College of Arts and Law postgraduate scholarships available

The College of Arts and Law is offering a range of scholarships for our postgraduate taught and research programmes to ensure that the very best talent is nurtured and supported.

Learn more about our scholarships

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.”

We offer two options for postgraduate research, whether you are looking to complete your academic studies with a PhD or to pursue an MA by Research following an undergraduate degree a related field. To find out more about what to expect from a PhD and MA by Research, please read our detailed guidance.

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 both programmes on campus or by distance learning. Our distance learning website contains useful information, including frequently asked questions, student experiences and details of the funded visit to Birmingham.

At Birmingham, you also have the opportunity to learn graduate academic languages free of charge, to support your research activity.

Why study this course

  • Core strengths: Including 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.
  • Research opportunities: 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.
  • Collective approach: 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.
  • National ranking: Times Higher Education ranked the Department of History first in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise.

The postgraduate experience

The College of Arts and Law offers excellent support to its postgraduates, from libraries and research spaces, to careers support and funding opportunities. Learn more about your postgraduate experience.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2019/20 are as follows:

  • UK/EU: £4,320 full-time; £2,160 part-time*
  • International: £17,040 full-time; £8,520 part-time

The same fees apply to both campus-based and distance learning study. The distance learning programme fee also includes a fully-funded visit to campus for each full year of the programme.

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

* 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 2019.

Fee status

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


For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to financial support available via student loans for the duration of their course. For more information take a look at the gov.uk website.

Paying your fees

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

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate funding database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

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.
  • Applicants for a PhD will also need to hold a Masters qualification at Merit level or above (or its international equivalent).

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 from different countries - our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements: standard language requirements apply for this course - IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band, or PTE with 59 in all four skills. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional Course - if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.

Learn more about international entry requirements

How to apply

Application deadlines

Postgraduate research can start at any time during the year, but it is important to allow time for us to review your application and communicate a decision. If you wish to start in September, we would recommend that you aim to submit your application and supporting documents by 1 July 2019.

Distance learning students will attend a residential visit in September or January, and those students wishing to attend the September residential are also encouraged to apply by 1 July 2019. The visit will take place at the end of September/beginning of October and you will receive further details once you have accepted your offer.

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

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, which includes detailed advice on research proposals and how to write them.

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

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.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive 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.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: History

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, 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 fundraising. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include: Royal Air Force; Ministry of Defence; University of Birmingham; 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

The Guild of Students hosts over 250 student groups and societies to suit a wide range of interests. These include the Postgraduate and Mature Students Association which runs a regular and varied programme of events specifically tailored to postgraduate students.

In addition, you will find that each Department runs its own social activities, research fora and student groups.

Accommodation

We offer accommodation for postgraduates on or near to campus, although many of our students also choose to live privately in student accommodation, shared houses or flats. If you do choose to live in private accommodation, the University has dedicated support services to help you to find properties from accredited landlords.

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.