Students Staff

Postgraduate research courses

Our Department is internationally recognised for the quality of our research across a broad range of areas from 1450 to the present. More than two-thirds of our research was rated 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' in the REF 2014.

Research degree routes

If you wish to study for a PhD by research then you will initially be enrolled on a combined MPhil/PhD pathway. In your second year of study, depending on your progress, a decision will be made as to whether you will proceed towards an MPhil or a PhD.

An MPhil involves a minimum of two years of full-time research, the product of which is a 50,000 word thesis on a topic which has an element of novelty.

A PhD requires a minimum of three years full-time research. The resulting thesis is 80,000 words in length and is expected to extend the understanding of a specialist topic beyond the current state of the art.

Following your two or three years of research, you are likely to need a further period of up to one year for writing your thesis. Reduced (completion) fees are charged during this time.

Our MPhil and PhD by research courses have no standard taught element but you will agree a programme of training with your supervisor and this may include attendance at one or more taught modules. You are also welcome to attend taught modules in our Department on an informal basis.

The MA by dissertation involves a minimum of one year of full-time research, during which you will produce a 30,000 word dissertation. Students registered for this type of course usually have some prior experience in the area they wish to research, for example from work in industry or a project carried out during a first degree.

There is no taught element, although you may attend course modules on an informal basis. You also have an option to upgrade to an MPhil or PhD by research if you make good progress.

We welcome applications from students wishing to study part-time. You will produce a dissertation of the same length as our full-time students. Your research period will be as follows (with write-up time in addition):

  • PhD - six years
  • MPhil - four years
  • MA by dissertation - two years

Our postgraduate research finder lists all of the PhDs that we offer. If you have any questions about undertaking postgraduate research in our Department, please contact us.

A variety of scholarships and funding for postgraduate study is available.

Research supervision

Our academic staff research interests are extensive. Postgraduates wishing to take research degrees can be accepted to research on a wide range of topics within the general field of history from the sixteenth century to the present.

Our list of current research theses shows the broad range of postgraduate research currently being carried out in our Department. A catalogue of completed theses is maintained by our Albert Sloman Library.

  • Research expertise

    • European social, cultural and economic history from the sixteenth to the twentieth century
    • Political movements and ideologies in the modern world, including communism and socialism
    • History of ideas, including the history of science and medicine
    • Intellectual history and history of the book
    • History of information, including the history of data collection and surveillance
    • History of belief and ideas about the supernatural
    • History of ritual (in secular as well as sacred contexts)
    • History of popular culture, including aspects of sports history
    • History of consumer culture
    • History of violence, protest and popular politics, tolerance and intolerance, warfare, and death
    • History of poverty, slavery and labour movements
    • History of race
    • Comparative history
    • The international politics of oil
    • History of crime and policing
    • Gender and women's history
    • Demographic history
    • History of the British and Irish Isles and Europe, especially Germany and France
    • History of late-imperial Russia and the Soviet Union
    • History of the USA, including African American History and American foreign policy
    • History of Latin America, especially Venezuela and Brazil
    • History of Africa, especially South and Southern Africa in the twentieth century
    • Local history, especially the history of Essex and Suffolk

Professional development

We employ many of our research students as Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA). These paid positions are valuable opportunities for professional development and give you experience of teaching and marking essays at undergraduate level, a significant advantage when it comes to applying for academic positions.

Our University's Proficio scheme helps to develop your skills and knowledge and increase your employability potential for careers in academia and industry by providing funding for specialist training across a range of areas, including researching and managing your PhD, presenting your work and getting published.

Reading texts in their original language can be a real advantage for postgraduate research. Our Languages for All scheme allows you to study a language alongside your course at no extra cost.

Our research

History books on a library shelf

Our commitment to groundbreaking historical investigation is reflected in more than two-thirds of our research being rated 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' (REF 2014).

AHRC funding

PhD student in library

Apply for a PhD studentship for your doctoral study funded by the Consortium for Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Doctoral training


Proficio is our innovative doctoral training scheme. Our University gives you funding to spend on a variety of courses, from research skills to personal development and career management.

PG events

Book a place at a postgraduate event to find out about studying at a top 20 UK research university. Staff will be available to answer your questions and you can speak to students about life at Essex.