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How to apply for a PhD in History

On this page you will find information about the different stages of the application process for a research degree with the History Department.

Entry Requirements

For admission to the PhD programme (full-time or part-time), the Department of History requires you to have:

  1. at least a high second class honours degree (2:1) in history or a relevant historically based discipline PLUS an MA in history
  2. a first class history degree with a substantial original-source dissertation
  3. equivalent evidence of the ability to pursue research and write at a high level in some historical field.

Residency Requirements

Applications from overseas are welcome but students are normally required to be resident in the UK during their research in order to meet regularly with their supervisors and take advantage of the year-round program of workshops, seminars and training organised by the Open University Research School.

Exceptions have been made for residents of Ireland and Europe who can satisfy the University that they can engage fully with their research. Students who live close to the major archives required for their research may also be exempted.

More information can be found from general information about residency requirements and being a research student at The Open University.

Areas of Postgraduate Research

Students applying for postgraduate research degrees are generally expected to have a topic in mind for an advanced research project leading to the award of a PhD or MPhil. Once you have a topic in mind, it is important to identify a member, or members, of staff with the appropriate research expertise to supervise your project.

The academic staff of the History Department have a wide range of research interests and are able to supervise students in a variety of topics. We have particular strengths in the following areas:

To identify potential supervisors for your research project, see History staff page where you can access individual profiles of our staff members.

Get in touch with us

If you meet the entry requirements and have a topic for your research in mind you are encouraged to contact the History Department directly for further advice and assistance before proceeding with any formal application.

Our admissions officer would be delighted to answer general queries and to help put you in touch with a potential supervisor. Email our admissions officer at

If you have already identified a potential supervisor from our staff webpage, you are encouraged to contact them directly by email to discuss the possibility of working with them.

TIP: If you are contacting a potential supervisor directly by email, you can keep your first message brief. Simply introduce yourself, give a brief outline of your research project plan and potential sources that you intend to use for your research. It might also be helpful to send a one-page CV.

Formal Application Process

If you are advised by our admissions officer or a potential supervisor to pursue your plans towards an application, then you will need to complete the formal application to The Open University Research Degrees Office.

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