PhD in History
The PhD in History offers you the opportunity to study history at an advanced level through independent research.
The PhD is our principal research degree. The size of Edinburgh’s history department, and the breadth of expertise available from our staff, means that we can offer supervision for research projects in a wide array of fields. We have strong research concentrations in Scottish history, American history, global and transnational history, Irish history, intellectual history, and medieval history, and colleagues who can supervise topics spanning two millennia and five continents. Members of the history department have strong links with colleagues elsewhere in the University with research expertise in related disciplines, from Classics, Archaeology and History of Art to Politics and Economics.
The breadth of research expertise in the School and in the wider University makes it possible for us to supervise a very wide range of topics. Each student is allocated at least two supervisors, allowing us to combine thematic, chronological and, if appropriate, disciplinary expertise in the supervisory team. We also have close links with external organisations, such as the National Museums of Scotland, and may be able to include external partners in supervisory teams.
Details of PhD projects currently being undertaken in the School can be found on our list of research student web profiles.
Hear from a PhD student in HIstory in a recent interview.
The PhD is a substantial piece of independent research which makes a contribution to the state of existing knowledge in the field. The PhD programme is designed to take three years full-time or six years part time. The PhD is examined by submission of a thesis of up to 100,000 words and by oral examination.
PhD students work closely with their supervisors, who are recognised experts in the field of study. All PhD students pursue an individually tailored programme of research training agreed with their supervisors. The PhD programmes in History provide core training in the research skills necessary to flourish at doctoral level and beyond, through a core course in semester one, Professional Skills for Historians, and a day-long annual conference for PhD students in semester two. All PhD students in the School also benefit from School and University-wide training in research and professional skills.
PhD students are encouraged to share their research with other postgraduate students through workshops and seminars, and to take an active part in the research life of the history subject area, the School and the University through our research groups and centres and through student-led workshops and seminars. Current research groups include Digital Humanities; Intellectual History; Material Culture; Global and Transnational History; History of Science, Medicine and Technology; Economic and Social History; Political History; Irish History; and Late Antique and Byzantine Studies. We also have three research centres: The Centre for the Study of Modern and Contemporary History; Medieval and Renaissance Studies; and the Edinburgh Centre for Global History.
You are encouraged to contact a potential supervisor to discuss your research project before making a formal application.
If you have any questions about the programme, please contact the Programme Director.
You will need a UK 2:1 honours degree in a relevant discipline and a relevant masters degree with an overall mark of at least 65%, or the international equivalent.
We may also consider your application if you have relevant professional experience; please check with your potential supervisor before you apply.
Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:
All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:
an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration
- IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
- TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)
- CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)
- Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components
Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than three years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.
Find out more about our language requirements:
If your language skills only meet the lower end of the requirements, the English Language Teaching Centre at the University run several courses in English for Academic Purposes.
Apply for this programme
- Fees and funding
- School guidance on applying (link to 5 step guide)
- Apply online If you are applying for funding or require a visa we advise that you apply as early as possible. The deadline to apply is 1 August 2022.
Proposed New Programme
We are looking at developing new online PhD by Distance opportunities in our subject areas of History, Classics and Archaeology. We would like to hear your views; please take our short survey.