School of History

About Your PhD

A PhD in History is an exercise in original and individual research, framed within a historiographical context.

This page outlines the typical structure of a PhD, as well as the support and opportunities available to you during your studies.

Structure and supervision

Full time a PhD takes 3 years, or part-time it takes 6 years.

Your contact with us begins at admissions stage. In most cases consultations between you and your supervisor take place in the lead up to the submission of your application.

Once you start your PhD, your research supervisor will usually have monthly meetings with you. The frequency of contact depends upon the stage you have reached in your research.

Seven to eight months into your PhD you will be interviewed by a panel of three on the progress and viability of your PhD, based on material you have submitted. If you are a part time student this will be 14-16 months into your PhD.

This is the First Year Hurdle and following a successful interview, your status as a PhD student will be secured.


Academic support

In studying and researching your PhD you will be pursuing an interest while developing skills in language and technology, in oral and written communication to a very high level. You will have the support of your supervisor, a mentor and our diverse research environment.


We are proud of the expertise and dedication of our research supervisors, all experienced and trained for the tasks involved.

Your supervisor will meet regularly with you during your first year, offering guidance in preparation for the First Year Hurdle.


As well as your supervisor, you will also be assigned a mentor.

Mentors are less focused on research. Their aim is to offer you another perspective on your PhD experience.

In the lead-up to submission, your mentor will be assigned the task of reading your final draft and offering comment.

Additional support

We also help develop your relevant skills, for example, writing, historiographical awareness, presentation of research. We offer ample occasions for presentation and discussion of the evolving research.

A special programme supports you in your final year. Your doctoral dissertation is assessed within three months of its submission by two independent experts at an oral examination, the viva.

You will hone analytical skills and interpretative insights, and also have the chance to gain experience in teaching.

Such training is the essential route to an academic career, but it is also highly prized by employers in many other spheres. These range from museums to political think tanks, from the civil service to creative industries. Many of our successful PhDs now operate in these spheres.

Find out more about PhD training.


Research Links

Our students are all engaged in historical research and engage with historical questions, yet they often benefit from contact with other disciplines.

Some students maintain formal links with supervisors in other Schools at Queen Mary, and all are made aware of the benefits resulting from inter-disciplinary awareness.

Our research centres are inter-disciplinary in nature and facilitate sharing and learning from other areas of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Find out more about our research centres.

International Exchanges

Innovative research involves travel to archives in the UK and abroad, and is always helped by meeting experts in the field of research.

Our international links and exchanges enable PhD students to meet peers, and our fund for PhD travel supports travel to archives and conferences. We will also arrange for training in specialist areas, like palaeography, or oral history, as necessary, and in consultation with your supervisor.

Find out more about international exchanges.