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As a PhD researcher, you will become a producer of academic knowledge and part of our lively research community of students and staff. 

A PhD in history offers you the chance to explore your chosen area in depth, contributing to the innovative and original scholarship for which our Department is renowned.

Our students often go on to work in academia as postdoctoral researchers or lecturers but also enter professions including teaching, archives and publishing.

a woman stood amongst two shelves of university archives

Advanced research

Our research has a global reach, with expertise in American, African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian history, as well as British and European. Our core research strengths include political, cultural, social, gender and transnational history, the history of ideas and beliefs, and the history of science and health.

Our current and recent PhD students have researched topics ranging from medical approaches to old age in the early modern period to women's narratives of conflict in Tigray in Ethiopia, and from pregnancy in the medieval period to US and British soft power in modern Iran.

Research centres

The Department of History is part of the University's Heritage and Creativity research theme. We are actively involved in a number of interdisciplinary research centres and clusters, including:

Research resources

We are proud to hold unique resources of international significance, all of which are available for your use and to enhance your learning. We encourage a collections-based approach to study, and actively teach students how to use these resources to bring their studies to life.

Highlights include:


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

  • A dedicated postgraduate room in the Humanities building where PhD students can work and/or host events.
  • The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) has an impressive library and it houses one of the most comprehensive national collections of objects, books and archives relating to the history of food, farming and the countryside in the UK.The Museum's are recognised nationally and internationally.
  • The University's Special Collections, located at MERL, include materials of international significance such as the Archive of British Publishing and Printing and the Samuel Beckett collection.
  • The University has its own museum - The Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology. It is one of the largest collections of Greek ceramics in Britain.
  • You’ll be within easy reach of the Berkshire Record Office, the BBC Archives in Caversham, and the cities of London and Oxford with their wealth of archival materials and seminars.
I have been welcomed with open arms by the staff and made to feel very much part of the team here. I have never once doubted my choice to study at the University of Reading. I love the enthusiasm I receive from my supervisor and The Museum of English Rural Life team for my work.
Hilary Matthews, PhD student

Engage with your Department and the wider community

Throughout your PhD you will have opportunities to communicate your work and network with other researchers.

Our research centres host monthly seminars, workshops and conferences, while the Department's postgraduate community also has its own annual workshop where students present on their research.

The Graduate School

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.


How we support you

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.


Life in the department

Join a healthy and active doctoral community within the Department of History, working alongside post-doctoral researchers and academic staff.



History is no ordinary subject - which makes the stories we have to tell, extraordinary.