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Training and Development

Postgraduate research at Birkbeck is not a solidary enterprise; it does not simply involve sitting in musty archives and crouching over the computer (though those things certainly happen). Some of the most valuable experiences come from interacting with and learning from fellow research students and other members of the department. To that end, in addition to offering individualized support from a faculty supervisor, the department organises and facilitates a range of regular events for research students. Chief among these is the termly Graduate Research Symposium, in which postgraduate students present their work in a supportive environment of their peers. The department also offers PhD Thesis-Writing Workshops, which builds writing skills targeted for professional academic research, and Methodological Masterclasses, in which historians discuss how they produce their work and overcome particular challenges. Increasingly Birkbeck is funding student-organised conferences and sponsoring special courses that teach non-English languages for reading and research. Research students also have access to events offered by the Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network, which includes UCL, King’s College London, LSE, and SOAS, among others.

Expert supervision

Birkbeck research students work with a supervisor who is an internationally renowned specialist in his or her field. Supervisors will:

• support students in defining a precise topic and plan for their thesis;

• help with secondary literature and primary sources;

• guide students in learning research techniques;

• ensure that students attend regular tutorial and seminar meetings;

• be available for regular consultations.

Supervisors will also read students’ chapters in advance of the viva and help to prepare students for the oral examination. Students and supervisors will also be asked to provide annual reports on student progress.

Graduate Research Symposia

The student-led Graduate Research Symposia offer an opportunity for doctoral students to present their ongoing research in a supportive and collegial environment. They are held every term. Upper-level students are invited to give a twenty-minute presentation, often a conference paper or an aspect of their thesis research, and first-year students may speak for ten minutes to share their intended research. Panels are chaired by academics from the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology.

Thesis-Writing Workshops

The department runs a workshop on thesis writing for all HCA research students . The workshop covers a range of skills, such as research and writing strategies, thesis statements, note taking, chapter organisation, paragraph structure, academic tone and finding an individual voice. Students should submit pieces of writing to be workshopped as a group. They are expected to attend several sessions over the course of their postgraduate studies. If you would like more information, or would like to submit a sample of work (2,500 words or so), please contact Adam Whittock (

Methodological Masterclasses

The department organises regular Methodological Masterclasses so that research students can hear how professional historians produce their work. How do historians use different approaches to conceptualize their argument, access and analyse their sources, and write? Classes feature faculty members from within or beyond the department who discuss their recently published work. The classes usually consist of a presentation on a particular methodological approach, followed by a lengthy discussion that considers how the methodological issues raised may apply to research students’ own work.

Website run by HCA research students

Birkbeck History PhD is a website for MPhil/PhD students in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology, run by students. It contains information about conferences and events, job opportunities, and more:

CHASE Training programmes

CHASE is a consortium of 9 leading institutions engaged in collaborative research activities. The participating universities are East AngliaEssexKent and Sussex, the Open UniversityThe Courtauld Institute of ArtGoldsmiths, University of LondonBirkbeck, University of London and SOAS, University of London.

Through CHASE there are a number of training and development opportunities open to Birkbeck students. To view the programme of training events, click here.

Funding support

The department is equipped to advise research students on applying for studentships from external funding bodies such as the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Find out more about research funding.

Research resources

Birkbeck is located in the heart of Bloomsbury in central London, giving students access to an unrivalled concentration of resources for research. The department is housed in Russell Square near the College's main Malet Street premises. It is near the College Library, the University of London Library, and the Institute of Historical Research, and a few minutes' walk from the British Library and other academic institutions. Read more about our location.