Prospective postgraduates

PhD by Distance

The PhD by Distance programme allows students who are unable to commit to basing themselves in Edinburgh to study for a PhD in a field of History, Classics or Archaeology from their home country or city.

Student sat at her desk looking at a laptop and making notes in a notebook.

What's involved?

The PhD by Distance mode is available to all applicants for eligible HCA PhD programmes, who will apply via the Postgraduate Degree Finder. Applicants will select between on-campus and distance options, as well as between part-time and full-time options.

PhD by Distance students will receive the same level of support and supervision as on-campus students. The frequency with which students will meet with their supervisors, and method of communication for supervision sessions, will be provisionally agreed at the point of application and confirmed during induction. 

Please be aware that some funding bodies do not permit students to study by distance, for example both ESRC and AHRC regulations currently state that students must be residents at the Institution where they are studying.

Entry requirements

The entry requirements for the PhD by Distance are the same as for the School’s on-campus PhD programmes.  

In addition, applicants to the PhD by Distance will also be required to complete a PhD by Distance Applicant Admission Form. This form must be emailed to the Postgraduate Research Office ( who will upload this to your application on your behalf.


Applicants should provide information about previous experience of distance study together with a statement detailing the potential risks and characteristics of distance learning. It is important that student’s applying for this mode of study recognise its particular challenges. While experience of studying at a distance is desirable in applying for the programme, this is not a specific requirement for admission. All of this should be discussed with the potential supervisor(s) prior to application and can be reflected on further during the admissions interview.

Applicants should also use this additional application form to provide details of the access they will have to research facilities at the normal site of study and where the core datasets that they will rely on are located.

Working whilst studying

The School understands that many students will take on paid work alongside their studies. The University’s guidance for full-time PhD students is that they should work no more than an average of 9 hours per week for across the academic year, to ensure they have time for their studies. While there are no specific rules about how many hours part-time students can work, the School recommends that part-time students allocate at least two to three days a week, on average across the year, to their PhD research. You should discuss any working patterns that you have with your proposed supervisor and reflect on the time you are devoting to your studies throughout your programme, particularly if you are struggling to make sufficient progress; this might well be a topic for discussion at annual reviews. Please note that if you need to apply for an extension at the end of your programme, you cannot use the fact that you had a job alongside your studies as a justification for this – an extension request can only be based on unforeseen circumstances. If you need to take on more work for a temporary period of time and this will impact on your studies, you should consider an Authorised Interruption of Studies.