Prospective postgraduates

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.

Read an interview with a PhD student in History.

Programme structure

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 HistoryMedieval and Renaissance Studies; and the Edinburgh Centre for Global History.

You must contact a potential supervisor  to discuss your research project before making a formal application.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the programme, please contact the Programme Director.

Dr Felix Boecking

Programme Director

  • School of History, Classics and Archaeology
  • University of Edinburgh

Contact details


Apply for this programme


  • All candidates who want apply for funding must submit their application for a place at the University in advance of the relevant funding deadline (in December and January typically - details can be found on the funding website).
  • The final deadline for which the School will consider applications for the programme is 1 July 2024.

Apply through our Degree Finder now

  • If you are hoping to study for this degree by distance please read further details and entry requirements here - PhD by Distance