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How to Apply for a PhD in History?

The application deadline for the PhD Programme is in January every year. If you want your proposal to be successful, however, you’re advised to start working on your application well in advance. We recommend you follow these steps in the weeks and months before the deadline:

  1. If you’re interested in applying for a PhD in History, your first step is to identify a potential supervisor in the department. You can read the faculty research profiles to find a good match.
  2. You should then contact the Postgraduate Convenor and/or a potential supervisor to express your interest in the PhD programme. She or he will then be able to discuss your proposed project with you and provide any feedback before you draft a research proposal.
  3. The research proposal is the single most important part of your PhD application. It’s where you set out the topic of your proposed project, the questions you’ll be investigating, and the methodology you’ll be using. Before drafting your proposal, you should read this guide we’ve prepared to help you write one.
  4. Once you’ve drafted your research proposal, you should send it to your potential supervisor. She or he will read it and provide you with feedback ahead of the application deadline.
  5. Once you have a polished research proposal, you can fill in the relevant application form. You can also indicate on the application form if you would like to apply for a funded studentship from the Open-Oxford-Cambridge Doctoral Training Partnership.
  6. You are also asked to identify two referees whom we can contact for a reference to assess your application. It’s a good idea to contact your referees well ahead of the application deadline and ensure they’re happy to provide a reference in support of your application.

What happens next?

In the days following the application deadline in January, a selection panel of members of the History Department will assess each application. The strongest applications will be shortlisted, and those applicants will be invited for an interview at The Open University’s main campus in Milton Keynes. Following the interviews, applicants will be informed of the outcome of their applications.

Competition for places in the PhD Programme is high and meeting the minimum entry requirement does not guarantee an offer of admission. It is also not always possible to identify a full supervisory team for a proposed project, regardless of how strong the proposal is and how well a candidate performs at the interview.

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