2020 applicants
Department of History

Research degrees

Student reading an old book

Cross boundaries, make history

As a postgraduate research student in our department we welcome you into our scholarly community, helping you embrace the unfamiliar, stimulating a thirst and a hunger to explore.

A research degree is your opportunity to examine a specific topic in detail while working alongside our academic experts as part of our department’s research team.

Our academic staff have a huge variety of research interests, ranging from social and cultural history to politics and international relations. Postgraduates wishing to take research degrees can be accepted to research on a wide range of topics within the general field of history from the sixteenth century to the present.

Some of our current research student topics include leisure, society and marginal communities in Britain 1890-1950, the relationship between Nazi Germany and her South Eastern allies 1939-1945, entrepreneurship allied to the history of the theatre 1800-1830, and the intellectual circle of Thomas Plume 1630-1704.

We also welcome applications from students wishing to study part-time.

Explore our postgraduate research degrees
Why choose us?
  • More than two-thirds of our research rated 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent' (REF 2014)
  • Work alongside scholars at the cutting-edge of historical communication
  • Our Albert Sloman Library is home to several special collections in history

So, what do we have to offer?

An active research community

We have a large and committed postgraduate community that actively contributes to our research profile. We provide excellent research training and careful supervision based on excellent staff-student relationships.

We run a regular programme of seminars and conferences that allow you to broaden your experience beyond your study and to contribute to ongoing debates in our department. Our students also organise our annual postgraduate and early career historians conference which attracts speakers from across the UK and abroad and provides opportunities for you to present your research.

Research resources

The Albert Sloman Library has excellent collections in British and European modern history, and its holdings in the areas of Latin America, Russia and the US are of national importance.

We have several special collections in history, including the Essex Society for Archaeology and History Library, the Harsnett Collection, the Hervey Benham Oral History Sound Archive, the Bensusan Collection, and the Colchester Medical Society Library.

The History Data Service, a national service provider of digital resources for historians, is based in the UK Data Archive at our Colchester campus.

Professional development


We employ many of our research students as Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA). These paid positions are valuable opportunities for professional development and give you experience of teaching and marking essays at undergraduate level, a significant advantage when it comes to applying for academic positions.

Our University's Proficio scheme helps to develop your skills and knowledge and increase your employability potential for careers in academia and industry by providing funding for specialist training across a range of areas, including researching and managing your PhD, presenting your work and getting published.

Reading texts in their original language can be a real advantage for postgraduate research. Our University's Languages for All scheme allows you to study a language alongside your course at no extra cost.


“I love the fact that my PhD gives me the opportunity to immerse myself in my work, and to spend time researching and developing my writing further. Having really enjoyed my undergraduate time and my MA at Essex, I feel very lucky to have been able to stay here and study further.”
Amanda Wilkinson PhD History
Get in touch
Get in touch
Graduate Director Lisa Smith
Department of History