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Studying at PhD level – University of Reading

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  • Flexible study

    Doctoral research tailored to your needs and interests

Studying at PhD level

​We offer flexible modes of study designed to fit with your needs. Our PhD is available to study on a full-time basis over 3-4 years and part-time over 4-6 years.

Become not only a consumer, but a producer, of academic knowledge. The versatile field of history offers a broad scope for you to explore your area of interest, contributing to the innovative and original scholarship which our Department is renowned for.


Modes of study

Both full-time and part-time variants are available for study in Reading, as well as PhD by Distance.

PhD by Distance students spend the majority of their time at another location and normally have a supervisor/mentor at that location. There must be an academic or financial rationale for this status to be granted and the University assesses each application on an individual basis.

Additionally, some of our PhD students are involved in interdisciplinary projects or projects with an external partner. In these cases they may be supported by a supervisor from outside the University, and interact with a wider range of staff.


As a postgraduate research student in the History Department you will benefit from a wide range of excellent resources.

  • A dedicated postgraduate room in the Humanities building where PhD students can work and/or host events.
  • The University Library holds 1.2 million catalogued books and subscribes to over 17,000 e-journals.
  • The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) has an impressive library and it houses one of the most comprehensive national collection of objects, books and archives relating to the history of food, farming and the countryside in the UK. The Museum's collections are recognised nationally and internationally and include the Archive of British Publishing and Printing and the Samuel Beckett collection.
  • The University holds an important collection of visual materials that covers a range of art historical periods from antiquity up to the 21st century, and includes images of both art and architecture, as well as some relating to photography and design.
  • The University has its own museum - The Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology. It is the fourth largest collection of Greek ceramics in Britain.

As a postgraduate research student at Reading you will have access to the Graduate School. At the heart of this is Old Whiteknights House, a dedicated facility that provides space for doctoral researchers to work and network with others. Old Whiteknights House is a beautiful Victorian building that has been carefully modernised to provide a range of excellent resources and amenities. It also houses a number of support staff who deal exclusively with doctoral research matters and administration at Reading.


Training is an intrinsic part of your development as a researcher. During your degree course, you will benefit from training sessions covering a variety of topics, for example on applying for post-doctoral positions or gaining a book contract.

The Graduate School's Reading Researcher Development Programme (RRDP) offers a rich array of training sessions and workshops that have been especially designed to help you gain the additional skills that will enable you to carry out your research professionally and effectively. The RRDP is delivered primarily using the expertise of academic and specialist staff within the University and complements any subject-specific training that we provide. The RRDP includes training sessions on research methods, writing academic papers, getting published, public engagement and career planning.

In addition to the RRDP, doctoral researchers will also have the chance to access the following development opportunities:

  • Preparing to teach – A programme focused on the skills needed for teaching and learning activities.
  • Developing your potential as a leader – This leadership programme is jointly run with the triple accredited Henley Business School.
  • Academic English Programme – Supporting international students to develop their academic English skills with a range of classes and services.
  • PhD Plus – A scheme specifically for international doctoral researchers who are lecturers in their home country.


Throughout your PhD you will also have opportunities to present your work and network with other researchers. Our research centres (the Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies (CGMS) and the Early Modern Research Centre) host monthly seminars, workshops and conferences to which all postgraduates are invited. In addition, the Department's postgraduate community also has its own annual workshop, which allows you to present your ideas in a friendly and supportive atmosphere. All our PhD students are also offered the opportunity to take part in undergraduate teaching, subject to completing the University's 'preparing to teach' module.

Dedicated support service

You will benefit from dedicated teaching staff and friendly support staff, who are here to guide you during your time at the University. Supervision is tailored and personal, with frequent one-on-one meetings; this close cooperation is designed to ensure a rich and rewarding research experience. You will also be assigned a 'Second Supervisor' to ensure you have the very best supervisory team.

To ensure you get the most out of your experience studying at Reading, you will be invited to take part in the Staff/Student Committee for our Department and provide the school with valuable feedback.

You will have also have access to the Doctoral Research Office. Located in the Graduate School, the Doctoral Research Office provides advice and support for current and prospective students. It is a key point of contact for any doctoral researchers who have questions relating to registration, student status, immigration, studentships, University policy and procedures.

Doctoral research community

You will join a healthy and active doctoral community within the Department of History, working alongside post-doctoral researchers and academic staff. You will be helped to settle in during the Postgraduate welcome week events, including a drinks reception, and encouraged to participate in social evenings, seminars and events as you widen your social and academic community, both within History and within the Graduate School. Our prestigious events, including the Early Modern Studies conference and the annual Stenton Lecture, also offer valuable networking and socialising opportunities.

In addition to offering training and support to doctoral researchers, the Graduate School co-ordinates a range of activities that bring students together from across the University. These include the annual Doctoral Research Conference, an event that showcases the variety and excellence of postgraduate research taking place at Reading. The conference features a number of competitions and presentations including the PhD researcher of the year award.

Another event that celebrates academic excellence is the Graduate School's annual public lecture – the Fairbrother Lecture – delivered by a current or recent postgraduate research student. This is a fantastic opportunity for a wider audience to hear about high quality doctoral research taking place at Reading.

Graduate School homepage regularly promotes the achievements and success of doctoral researchers through the Graduate School Bulletin.

Fees and funding

You can find out more about fees for University of Reading PhD programmes by clicking on the link below.

Tuition fees for new postgraduate research students

Main sources of financial support for PhD study in History are the:

Information on other studentships available at the University can be obtained from our Money Matters pages.

See also Funding Opportunities for research students.

International (non-EU) students

The University offers a number of Studentships for international applicants each year in addition to providing information about other potential funding opportunities available for international students.

International students are strongly encouraged to explore the funding opportunities offered from within their home country in order to maximise their chances of securing funding.

Alumni fee discounts

If you've previously completed a degree with us, you’ll automatically receive our alumni discount (£1,500 off the cost of your tuition fees).

English Language Support

The University's International Study and Language Institute can help you develop your academic English skills and offers a range of courses and programmes to suit your specific needs, if English is not your first language.

English Writing and Language Practice programme

This six-week programme has been specifically designed for postgraduate researchers. It is supplemented by one-to-one advisory sessions, helping you to apply what you have learned to your thesis writing.

Academic English Programme

The Academic English Programme (AEP) features courses aimed at building your confidence in spoken language situations, developing your accuracy in the English language and improving your writing skills.

Life at Reading

The University of Reading offers the peace and tranquillity of an award-winning parkland campus, just a short bus ride from a vibrant town centre. Our thriving community is made up of students from around the world, and our range of clubs and societies offer many opportunities to meet like-minded people.

How to apply and entry requirements

1. Check our entry requirements

To be accepted on our PhD programme, you will need a master's degree or equivalent, in a course with a substantial element of history.

If you are from outside of the UK, you will also need an IELTS score of 7.0, or above, with at least 6.0 in the four sub-sections, or equivalent.

For more information on entry requirements, visit our Graduate School website.

2. Select a topic

You should first determine whether your proposed project is suitable for study at PhD level. The project must also be feasible within the resources and time frame available to you; it should also address a perceived 'gap' in the literature and, most importantly, be of interest to you.

To study at the University of Reading your proposed PhD should relate to the research interests of a member of staff in the History Department. Please contact any member of staff via email if you are interested in studying for a PhD/MPhil with them.

3. Identify a Supervisor

Please contact the Department's Director of Postgraduate Research Studies by emailing or calling +44 (0) 118 378 6005.

You should also get in touch with the potential supervisor if you have someone specific in mind, in addition to contacting the Director of Postgraduate Research Studies.

4. Make an application

Once you have identified a research area of interest with a potential supervisor, please apply using the PhD and professional doctorate online application programme. This allows you to complete the necessary information and attach copies of relevant documents, including the details of two appropriate referees. Proposals should be 1-2 A4 pages and relate to an area of expertise in the Department.

Although you will be working with a specific department or supervisor, all PhD applications have to be made centrally. We will acknowledge your application and then pass it on to the appropriate school or department.

Although most new students join the PhD programme in October, it is possible to start your studies at any point during the academic year.

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