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School of History

About Your PhD


Throughout your programme, you are supported by a supervisory team made up of experienced academic staff in the School. Your research supervisor(s) will usually have monthly meetings with you. The frequency of contact depends upon the stage you have reached in your research. More information on supervision arrangements is available here.

Thesis length

The maximum word count for a PhD thesis is 100,000 words, including footnotes and excluding the bibliography and appendices.

Programme length

At QMUL, you have the flexibility to complete your PhD either full-time (35 study hours per week) or part-time (17.5 study hours per week). You have four years of full-time study or seven years of part-time study to submit your thesis for examination. The minimum registration period is two years full-time or four years part-time.

First-year progression

Six to nine months into your programme (twelve to eighteen months for part-time students), you will be interviewed by a panel of two academic staff on the progress and viability of your PhD based on material you have submitted. The occasion provides an opportunity to assess the progress of your studies, as well as any challenges you may be encountering, and to ensure that you are on course to submit within four years (seven years for part-time students). Following a successful interview, your status as a PhD student will be confirmed.

Writing up

One year before you submit your thesis, you can transfer to writing-up status. At this point, you should only require minimal use of the School's facilities because you should have completed all data collection and be wholly engaged in analysis, interpretation and presentation. Students who have transferred to writing-up status are not required to pay tuition fees.


Once you have submitted your thesis, you will be invited to an oral examination (called a viva) during which you will be interviewed by two expert examiners (usually, one internal to QMUL and one external). The School holds training sessions and mock vivas before this examination.

Frequently Asked Questions

A candidate registered for a research degree at another institution may transfer their registration at the discretion of Senate or its delegated authority and be exempted from part of the research studies programme at Queen Mary. Where this occurs, the period of registration at Queen Mary must be at least 12 months full-time or 24 months part-time. Queen Mary will determine the appropriate point of entry to the programme.

On transfer of registration, the registration for the original degree will lapse.

A person currently registered for a qualification of Queen Mary may not concurrently be registered for a degree, diploma, or certificate at any other institution, except with the express permission of Senate, or its delegated authority. Similarly, a student registered on a research studies programme may not be simultaneously registered for more than one Queen Mary programme, except with the express permission of Senate, or its delegated authority.

If you would like to transfer your PhD to Queen Mary, please contact Claire Trenery before completing the online application form. Please do not withdraw from your current programme of studies until your place at QMUL has been confirmed.

It is possible to transfer between full-time and part-time study. Students wishing to do this must submit a formal application.

A student is expected to continue in the same mode of study for which they originally registered. Transfer between full-time and part-time study may be permitted by Senate or its delegated authority. In such cases, the minimum and maximum registration periods will be adjusted according to the length of registration spent in each mode.

PhD students do not need to live in London, but you are expected to travel to our London campus* for compulsory training sessions and to attend research events.

All students are expected to reside in the UK whilst conducting their studies*, though many will undertake research trips abroad.

*Exceptions may be made during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A full-time student is not permitted to undertake other duties or work (apart from limited demonstrating or tutorial duties) without the approval of their primary supervisor(s) unless provided for in the terms of any studentship.

Part-time students must dedicate 17.5 hours a week to their studies so are not permitted to work full-time.

Please consult our Advice and Counselling Service with any queries about your right to work in the UK.

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