Department of History

Research degrees

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Cross boundaries, make history

As a postgraduate research student in our department we welcome you into our scholarly community, helping you embrace the unfamiliar, stimulating a thirst and a hunger to explore.

A research degree is your opportunity to examine a specific topic in detail while working alongside our academic experts as part of our department’s passionate and enthusiastic research team.

Within our department, there are three research degrees available; PhD History; MPhil History and MA (by Dissertation) History, and all are available for part-time study. You can be accepted to research on a wide range of topics within the general field of history from the sixteenth century to the present. Research student topics have included leisure, society and marginal communities in Britain 1890-1950, the relationship between Nazi Germany and her South Eastern allies 1939-1945, entrepreneurship allied to the history of the theatre 1800-1830, and the intellectual circle of Thomas Plume 1630-1704.

Many of our academic staff are open to supervision and have a huge variety of research interests, ranging from social and cultural history, to politics and international relations. Our key themes of research within the department are visible through our overlapping research clusters; Race, Gender, and IdentityPolitical Cultures, Class, and Citizenship; and War, Conflict, and Memory. Take a look at the breadth of research our academics are actively engaged in.

For an insight into our staff's research interests and recent publications, or for contact information for potential supervisors, visit our academic staff profiles. You can also use our research finder tool to explore the areas of research you're interested in from across the University.

Learn more about the benefits of postgraduate study in our department, or if you're ready to apply, all the information you need can be found on our dedicated webpage. For general information regarding postgraduate research study, you can contact our department's graduate administrator Lisa Smith on


Explore our postgraduate research degrees
Dr Makysm Balaklytskyi looking relaxed and happy
Our department welcomes Ukrainian researcher who fled Kharkiv

After accepting an Honorary Fellowship with the Department of History, Dr Maksym Balaklytskyi has found a new home at Essex where he will exploring Russian propaganda, and hopes to study what he sees as the formation of a more unified Ukrainian identity as a result of the war.

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Why choose us?
  • Choose from a range of research-degrees
  • Work alongside scholars at the cutting-edge of historical communication
  • Our Albert Sloman Library is home to several special collections in history

Why study a research degree in the Department of History?

  • You'll join a large and committed postgraduate community that actively contributes to our research profile. We provide excellent research training and careful supervision based on excellent staff-student relationships.
  • You can get involved in our regular programme of seminars and conferences that allow you to broaden your experience beyond your study and to contribute to ongoing debates in our department. Our students also organise our annual postgraduate and early career historians conference which attracts speakers from across the UK and abroad and provides opportunities for you to present your research.
  • The Albert Sloman Library has excellent collections in British and European modern history, and its holdings in the areas of Latin America, Russia and the US are of national importance.
  • You will gain access to our special collections in history, including the Essex Society for Archaeology and History Library, the Harsnett Collection, the Hervey Benham Oral History Sound Archive, the Bensusan Collection, and the Colchester Medical Society Library.
  • You can enjoy using resources from the History Data Service, a national service provider of digital resources for historians, is based in the UK Data Archive at our Colchester campus.

  • 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.
  • The University of Essex is one of the 8 world-leading institutions that are a member of The Consortium for Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE), which is an AHRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership. Find out more information on how to apply for a studentship, and be in with a chance of having access to fantastic funding and training opportunities.
  • We'll give you a loyalty discount of up to 33% on the tuition fee for your first year of postgraduate study at Essex if you're one of our graduates, studied abroad with us, or have a spouse or partner studying here as a full-time international student paying overseas fees. Learn more about the postgraduate funding opportunities at the University.
  • There may also be funding opportunities through our department. Visit our scholarships and funding page for more information.
Lewis Smith, smiling in front of a woodland backdrop, wearing a suit and tie with his Essex graduation robes just visible
History student Lewis Smith secures 50th Government PhD placement

Based in the Department for Education, his three-month placement will involve supporting policy projects and business development strategies in order to generate analysis and ideas for policymakers. Lewis hopes the placement will help him put his research skills to good use and develop an understanding of policy that will give his work greater impact. 

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“I love the fact that my PhD gives me the opportunity to immerse myself in my work, and to spend time researching and developing my writing further. Having really enjoyed my undergraduate time and my MA at Essex, I feel very lucky to have been able to stay here and study further.”
Amanda Wilkinson PhD History
Silberrad Student Centre
Get in touch
Lisa Willis Senior Student Administrator
Department of History
Telephone: 01206 872190
History Office