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Postgraduate Research: Admissions

All applications to study must be for the start of the academic year (i.e. September).  We do NOT accept applications to start in January.


The Department operates 2 deadlines for applications each year.  The applications will be considered following each deadline so if you submit early, you will have to wait for a decision on your application.  The following deadlines apply to the submission of the UCL Admissions application:

1. January 2016 (date TBA):


2. July 2016 (date TBA):

This is the final deadline. Applications for September 2016 entry will not be considered after this point.

Pre-requisites for Postgraduate Research

Applicants for admission should normally have a first or upper second class honours degree or an equivalent qualification, and have performed well on their MA degree course. In normal circumstances we do not accept candidates without an MA degree. Those applying from abroad ought to have achieved high grades, especially in the fields relevant to their research, and should enclose a certified official transcript. 

Students whose first language is not English need to provide evidence of their capacity to research and write in English.  Check the prospectus for English language pre-requisites. Applicants are expected to have what is termed 'Advanced' level English.

Preparing Your Application

Each application must be supported by TWO academic references, from people able to comment on the suitability of the candidate to undertake the proposed research.

When applying, candidates should provide a detailed research proposal. For guidelines on how to draft a proposal, click here. The Graduate Tutor will then endeavour to find suitable members of staff to act as first and second supervisors. Great importance is attached to establishing an effective working relationship between supervisors and student - something that is subsequently monitored through regular reports. Remember that the research interests of staff are listed on this website; if you wish to discuss a research proposal with one of them, it is best to do so via the Graduate Tutor.

Successful applicants will initially be registered for the MPhil degree. Providing all goes well, upgrade to PhD status usually takes place in the second year for full-time students; or the third or fourth year for part-time students. Details on the upgrade process are available in the Research Student Handbook.

Your research proposal

The quality of your research proposal is essential to a successful application, for being admitted to the department of your choice, and especially if you wish to be considered for funding. In most cases your proposal will go through several drafts and you should discuss it with your academic advisors at your home institution, the graduate tutor at the institution where you apply or the potential supervisor.

Please do not contact potential supervisors or the Graduate Tutor without having a relatively clear idea in mind of what you wish to do. Make sure that the department offers expertise in your chosen field of research. On our web pages you can find staff profiles indicating fields of research and areas of supervision. If in doubt, contact the graduate tutor.

When preparing the first draft of your proposal you need to identify a field of research, to think about possible primary sources, case studies, and to consider the project’s chronological and geographical scope. Make yourself familiar with the existing historiography in the field and try to identify gaps in research which your project might be able to close. Don’t be over ambitious and keep in mind that any PhD project has to be completed in three to four years of full-time study (or six to seven years of part-time study). You need to think about possible theoretical approaches to your topic and consider different methodologies appropriate for the analysis of your sources. On this basis you should formulate a set of research questions and identify the problems your thesis might be able to solve.

Address the following issues when drafting your proposal.

  • Think about a working title, which is sufficiently descriptive to make sense also to historians who are not necessarily specialists in your field.
  • What are your project’s objectives? It is not sufficient that a topic “is interesting”. Why is it interesting and why does the project matter?
  • How will your research relate and contribute to existing historiographical debates?
  • What will be your primary sources? Where are they located and are they accessible? Will you need to spend time abroad?
  • Is there an interdisciplinary dimension to your project and how are you able to deal with this?
  • On what basis do you consider yourself qualified to undertake the project? Have you worked in the field for your undergraduate or MA dissertation? Do you have the necessary research skills and are there any additional skills which you need to develop as part of your training (languages, palaeography, quantitative or qualitative methods of research)?

Your initial proposal should be between 300 and 500 words long. This will allow us to see if it is possible to supervise your project within the History Department. Send a draft to the department’s Graduate Tutor, Professor Eleanor Robson who will then forward it to a potential supervisor. If you have a specific supervisor in mind, please mention this. When you formally apply please supply a longer proposal of between around 1,000 and 1,500 words.

Page last modified on 29 jul 15 15:53 by Jasmine Gane