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School of History


Pursuing a PhD is a personal journey, which is possible with good preparation and support.


Our PhD students benefit from the collaborative environment we foster at Queen Mary: nurturing individual projects and encouraging ambition, both within the school and the wider research community.


All first-year PGRs in the School attend the PGR Training Forum, which is convened by the Director of Graduate Studies and meets regularly during the course of the year. It provides broad intellectual training of a generic nature, covering such issues as research skills, working methods, and presentation and teaching techniques. The Training Forum is also an excellent setting in which to meet other new researchers and more experienced PGRs, who attend sessions to present on various topics.

Alongside the PGR Training Forum, PGRs are encouraged to attend the History Research Forum (HRF), which is run by PhD students for PhD students, and provides a relaxed environment in which you can discuss with your peers various aspects of academic life. The HRF organises an annual colloquium, which usually takes place in May or June, and is an opportunity for first-year PGRs to present their research in a friendly setting, in preparation for attending and presenting at academic conferenes.

Training and support continues throughout your PhD programme, and includes sessions on PhD submission and thesis examination. Sessions are run multiple times throughout the year to fit in with the schedules of advanced researchers, who often spend time away from London conducting research.

PGRs are encouraged to log all of their training (from specific School training sessions to attending external academic conferences), and, on completion of 210 hours or more of research and skills training at the end of their programme, they will receive the QMUL Diploma in Researcher Development.

The Centre for Academic and Professional Development (CAPD) offers a range of development activities for both staff and PhD students, including development and training specifically tailored to postgraduate research and programmes in educational development.

If your research requires you to undertake language training, there are a number of places you can find it. The Language Centre provides weekly classes in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin and Arabic. English Language Support for those for whom English is not a first language is also provided by the Language Centre.

All History PGRs can apply to the School to cover the costs of language tuition (whether this is provided internally or externally to QMUL).

We encourage our PGRs to gain teaching experience by taking up the part-time Teaching Associate posts in the School from their second year of PhD research for no more than 6 hours per week (following the AHRC guidelines). All of our TAs receive close and continuous training and supervision, co-ordinated by our Director of Teaching Associates, and are supported in their applications to become Associate Fellows of the Higher Education Academy. Training and support includes a dedicated induction day, with sessions on seminar teaching, student engagement, student writing, virtual learning environment, supporting students with disability and dyslexia, and peer Q&A with experienced TAs. It also includes workshops through the year on subjects such as marking and a two-way teaching observation scheme, which has new teachers observed by experienced colleagues and also encourages them to observe other teaching in the School.

Since 2016/17 we have harmonised HR practices relating to Teaching Associates with those for permanent staff by developing specific job profiles and university-wide guidance on calculating hours and pay. The recent introduction of School of History Awards has also furnished us another opportunity to recognise the vital contribution that our PGRs make to the School through their teaching as well as their research.

The Institute of Historical Research (IHR) provides resources for historians, including a major research library, digital projects, seminars and lectures. Many of our academic staff members are involved in convening research seminars at the IHR. Your supervisor will be able to introduce you to those seminars that are most relevant to your research. The IHR also provides useful, subject-specific research training for historians. You should, in conjunction with your supervisor, identify any training you would like to take on the Institute’s website. Seimars and courses at the IHR will put you in contact with postgraduate students at other London colleges, who may be pursuing research related to your own. 

All QMUL researchers have free access to Senate House Library, which is one of the UK's largest academic libraries for arts, humanities & social sciences with over 2 million books, 50 special collections and 1,800 archival collections

The London Arts and Humanities Partnership provides PhD students with an extensive programme of training in practical research skills and offers opportunities to experience first-hand the workings of some of London’s greatest cultural institutions. You do not need to be funded by a LAHP studentship to take advantage of LAHP’s research training programme.

London is, of course, home to the British Library (the largest national library in the world) and the National Archives, both of which run various training programmes for academic researchers.

Innovative research involves travel to archives in the UK and abroad, and is always helped by meeting experts in the field of research. The School of History runs several academic exchanges with international partners, which are excellent opportunities for our PhD researchers to present their research in global forums and to network with international scholars. All exchanges are funded by QMUL and its partner institutions, which include the Basel Graduate School of History, the University of Delaware and Northwestern University, Chicago.

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