Up to four years full-time or seven years part-time
Regular meetings with your supervisor(s)
Other entry years for this course2018
A research degree offers you the opportunity to acquire a highly advanced set of conceptual skills developed in the pursuit of new knowledge, which can be applied within or beyond an academic or scholarly context. Research training in any academic discipline helps to channel creativity into critical innovatory reasoning. The legitimate authority of original, independent research depends upon persuasive analytical arguments supported by critically evaluated evidence.
We provide a supportive context for research in the following areas: ancient Greece and Roman social and cultural history; late antiquity; history of medieval societies and cultures; British social, cultural and political history since 1400; French history since 1400; Italian history since 1500; the cultural history of early modern cities, especially London and Venice; the history of ideas from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries; Russian history since 1800; nineteenth- and twentieth-century American social and cultural history; Balkan history and the history of the Ottoman Empire and its successor states; West and Southern Africa in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; the history of Japan and East Asia; the history of modern Germany, France and Italy; the history of science, medicine and psychoanalysis in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; and the cultural history of death, warfare, race, gender and sexuality.
Find out more about our current MPhil/PhD students and their areas of research.
- Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 11th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2015-16 World University Subject Rankings.
- Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.
- In the 2014 REF, History at Birkbeck was ranked 6th in the UK for the percentage of our research deemed world-leading or internationally excellent. 94% of our eligible staff submitted research and we achieved 100% for a research environment supporting world-leading and internationally excellent research.
- The Department of History, Classics and Archaeology is internationally recognised for innovative research, focusing on the interaction between cultural, social and political history, ranging from antiquity to the twenty-first century, and covering Britain, Europe, Africa, Asia and North America.
- The School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy welcomes all students interested in beginning a research degree. We combine a unique expertise in catering for part-time students with considerable success in attracting full-time students from the UK and overseas.
- You will gain from working with internationally renowned specialist supervisors in your chosen field of research. You will broaden your range of academic and intellectual contacts and significantly widen your general experience of academic life and institutions. View the department's full-time academic staff.
- In recent years, a number of students have successfully applied for funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as well as other sources. Many of our students come from outside the UK. Some are studying for a research degree out of personal interest, while others are undertaking research with the aim of pursuing an academic career in due course.
We welcome a wide range of qualifications, from the UK and abroad, and we will also consider your non-academic achievements.
Good honours degree in a historical subject.
International entry requirements
If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests and at least 7.0 in writing.
If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.
Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.
Fees and finance
We are committed to doing everything we can to help you finance your studies.
FeesPart-time home/EU students: £ 2226 pa
Full-time home/EU students: £ 4195 pa
Part-time overseas students: £ 6050 pa
Full-time overseas students: £ 11995 pa
Fees and finance
Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.
Fees discounts: If you are a member of a union that is recognised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), you may apply for a 10% discount off your tuition fees.
Named in memory of Birkbeck’s former President, and one of the greatest historians of the twentieth century, the Eric Hobsbawm Postgraduate Scholarship fund offers financial assistance for research expenses (including travel, accommodation, conference fees and particular training needs) to doctoral students in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology.
Our School attracts other funding for studentships that ensure researchers of the highest standard can pursue their research with us. We offer a limited number of fully funded research opportunities, find out more here.
Our Research Culture
Birkbeck is a world-leading research university with a vibrant, interdisciplinary research culture and a welcoming, supportive community of researchers.
Our Research Culture
You will find the British Museum and the British Library just a few minutes' walk away from Birkbeck. Other nearby specialist centres of research include the University of London Institute of Historical Research, the School of Oriental and African Studies, the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust & Genocide, the German Historical Institute, the Warburg Institute, the Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine, the City of London Record Offices, the India Office Library and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. The Public Record Office, the British Newspaper Library, the Imperial War Museum and other archives are within easy reach by public transport.
Study resources also include a regular work-in-progress seminar for research students and staff, and various courses on ancillary skills, including how to read medieval and early modern documents, how to locate sources in various fields, languages and computing. Besides over 30 regular research seminars at the Institute of Historical Research, there are also numerous specialist lectures and talks at neighbouring institutions during term-time.
Read more about our vibrant research culture and watch videos of our students discussing their experience of studying and researching at Birkbeck.
How to apply
Once you've found the course that's right for you, here's what to do next to get your place at Birkbeck.
How to apply
You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link below.
Before deciding to pursue a research degree, you should ideally draft an independent proposal for your intended area of research (read our guide to writing a research proposal).
We also strongly advise that, before submitting your application, you informally approach and establish contact with a potential supervisor within the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology. It is important to have a supervisor who will provide an overview of your chosen field.
Candidates are welcome to contact a potential supervisor for advice on their research proposal, and are encouraged to do so. Candidates may apply for full-time or part-time study mode; part-time study mode is open to UK, EU, EEA and Swiss nationals. Fees for EU nationals are charged at the UK home student rate. International students may apply for full-time study mode only.
Suitable candidates will be interviewed by a panel of the Research Committee, which will include the prospective supervisor. During the application process, candidates may also contact the department for advice.
Find out more about the Department of History's MPhil/PhD application process.
Recent history research topics include:
- Socialist utopias
- Chinese railroad labourers in the mid-late nineteenth century
- The cultural history of music in the French Revolution
- Technologies of social knowledge: scientific methodologies of conceptualising poverty in Britain, late nineteenth-early twentieth century
- The development of botany in sixteenth-century Italy and its influence on the theory and practice of therapy
- Demonic possession in Early Modern England
- The healing of scrofula - or the King's Evil - by the royal touch during the early modern period
- The history of the Civil Rights League of South Africa (1948-1994)
- The Burgundian nobility in the eighteenth century
- The development of the ceramic industry and exchange networks in the province of Dacia by establishing a Roman Fabrics Reference collection
- War neurosis in the civilian population in Second World War Britain
- Terrorists and counter-terrorists in Hollywood film and television of the last two decades
- The SS personnel of the Dachau concentration camp 1933-1939
- Belsen medical students
- The political and cultural career of Philip Sydney, Lord Viscount Lisle, Third Earl of Leicester, 1619-1698
- Medical books and the distribution of medical knowledge in the early modern period.
Find out more about our current MPhil/PhD students and their research topics.
Application deadlines and interviews
You can apply, and start studying, at any time during the year.
Finding a supervisor
Finding the right supervisor for your research is important: we offer supervision in over 40 subject areas and in interdisciplinary combinations.
Finding a supervisor
A critical factor when applying for postgraduate study in history is the correlation between the applicant’s intellectual and research interests and those of one or more potential supervisors within the department.
Find out more about the research interests of our academic staff:
- : modern Indian and Southeast Asian history.
- Fred Anscombe, BA, PhD: the Ottoman Empire; the Balkans and the Middle East in Ottoman and post-Ottoman times.
- Professor John Arnold, BA, PhD: Britain and Europe in the high and later Middle Ages.
- Professor Joanna Bourke, BA, MA, PhD, FRHistS: modern British and Irish history; gender and masculinity; military history; the history of the emotions; sexual violence.
- Sean Brady, BA, MA, PhD: gender, sexuality, politics and religion in Britain and Ireland after 1800.
- Matthew Cook, BA, PhD: urban history, especially the history of London; histories of sexuality and gender; Victorian literature and culture, especially Fin de Siècle; lesbian and gay writing and film.
- Filippo de Vivo, BA, DEA, PhD: cultural history of early modern Italy; early modern cities, particularly Venice.
- Professor David Feldman, MA, PhD, FRHistS: modern British history; history of social policy; immigration and ethnicity; Jewish history.
- Professor Orlando Figes, BA, PhD: modern Russian history; history of peasantry; Russian cultural history.
- Caroline Goodson, PhD: medieval archaeology, history and architecture, in particular in Southern Italy in the early middle ages.
- Professor Vanessa A. Harding, MA, PhD, FRHistS: history of London; English social and economic history 1300-1700; history of death and the family 1300-1700.
- Professor John Henderson, BA, PhD: social history of late medieval and early modern Italy, particularly Florence; history of plague; late medieval and early modern hospitals and medical practice.
- Professor Matthew Innes, MA, PhD, FRHistS: early medieval Europe 700-1100, including England and the continent; Vikings in Western Europe; historiography and uses of the past; land, law and lordship.
- Julia Laite, BA, PhD: modern British History.
- Julia Lovell, PhD: modern Asian History.
- Professor Daniel Pick, MA, PhD: modern European and British history; psychoanalysis and history.
- Jessica Reinisch, PhD: modern European and German history.
- Professor Lucy Riall, BSc(Econ), MSc, PhD: modern European history, especially Italy; national identity and political leadership; Sicilian social history.
- Jan Rueger, BA, PhD: comparative history of modern Europe, particularly Britain and Germany; national identity and political culture; political and cultural role of the navy.
- Hilary Sapire, BA, PhD: history of urbanisation; history of disease and colonial medicine; history of Africa (particularly South Africa).
- Professor Chandak Sengoopta, MD, MA, PhD: intellectual and cultural history of science and medicine, particularly in Britain, central Europe and colonial settings; history of the body and gender.
- Professor Naoko Shimazu, BA, MPhil, DPhil, FRHistS: modern Japanese history; international history of East Asia; Western perceptions of Japan.
- Laura Stewart, BA, PhD: early modern British history; power and authority in seventeenth-century Britain.
- Professor Julian Swann, BA, PhD: early modern French history; history of the French parlements and estates; early modern nobilities.
- Professor Frank Trentmann, BA, MA, PhD: modern Britain and Europe; political culture; civil society; consumption; transnationalism.
- Professor Nik Wachsmann, BSc(Econ), MPhil, PhD, FRHistS: modern German history; Weimar and Nazi Germany; the history of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust; criminology, policing, deviance, punishment and imprisonment.
- Professor Jerry White, Emeritus: history of modern London.
Fees and payment
With government loans for undergraduate and postgraduate study, fantastic financial support packages and flexible payment options, there’s never been a better time to study at Birkbeck.
Evening study explained
Birkbeck is London’s only specialist provider of evening higher education. With classes held 6pm-9pm, your days are free to study, work, volunteer, or just do your own thing.
Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research universities. Discover more about our vibrant, intellectually challenging and exciting research culture.
Birkbeck is committed to doing everything we can to help you finance your studies. Find out about what is available, how to apply and the advice and support we provide.
The Birkbeck experience
Birkbeck is different: our classes are held in the evening, so your days are free - to study, work, volunteer or just do your own thing.
Careers and employability
Our free Careers and Employability Service provides comprehensive careers advice, events and information services for current students, both in person and online, and for recent Birkbeck graduates.
Life at Birkbeck
Birkbeck offers a unique combination of evening study and a matchless central London location, right in the geographic and academic centre of the city, giving you exceptional opportunities.
Birkbeck Graduate Research School (BGRS)
The Birkbeck Graduate Research School (BGRS) offers support, training and a warm welcome to Birkbeck's vibrant community of MPhil/PhD researchers.
How to apply
Once you've found the course that's right for you, here's what to do next to get your place at Birkbeck. We can give you the advice and support you need.
Professor Jennifer Hornsby elected to British Academy
Fellows of the British Academy represent the very best of humanities and social sciences research, in the UK and internationally. Hornsby has been a Professor at Birkbeck since 1995, and her research is primarily concerned with the philosophies of mind, action, language and feminist philosophy.
Prejudice and Pride – new book brings LGBTQ histories to light
New National Trust guide book, co-authored by Professor Cook, explores places that have been shaped by the sexuality of their inhabitants, workers, owners and guests
Birkbeck sees increase in undergraduate applications – in contrast to national trend
Birkbeck undergraduate applications for 2017 have increased 19% compared to last year, while UCAS has reported a 4% decrease nationally
Performing under pressure
PhD student Emmanuel Ducrocq on his research about attentional control in sporting performance.
Public research funding
Is it still necessary? Dr Federica Rossi and Professor Aldo Geuna discuss.
A day in the life
of Birkbeck scientist Dr Emma Meaburn.