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PhD in Social History
A PhD in Social History allows students to explore the nuances and development of different societal groups throughout the human past. During the doctorate degree you’ll aim to understand the workings of different historical groups, writing up your findings in a unique dissertation.
What’s it like to do a PhD in Social History?
PhD students in Social History spend a large amount of time finding and engaging with primary sources relating to a select group of people. Given its closeness to economic history, sources can range from written documents to financial data. Some popular themes of Social History include:
Social History PhDs tend to be self-proposed projects. This means that you will decide your own research area and identify your own primary sources. However, some students apply for advertised projects where a research theme or primary source base will already be set. By the end of the degree you will have produced a 75,000 word thesis which is then assessed in an oral viva exam.
Depending on the location of your sources you may have to travel for research during your PhD. You will also have plenty of opportunity to engage in the wider academic community through conferences and publishing and develop your skills with training programmes and teaching experience.
Most Social History PhD courses require applicants to have a Masters degree in History or a related subject, such as Economics, Political Science or Sociology. Some institutions may consider applicants without a postgraduate degree as long as they are able to demonstrate prior academic success and extensive professional research experience.
PhD in Social History funding options
The largest funding body of Social History PhDs is the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Their fully-funded studentships cover tuition fees, a living stipend and any necessary research travel expenses. You must have a confirmed place at a university in order to apply for these studentships. Many institutions also have funding opportunities within their own departments, so make sure to check their websites.
If you apply for an advertised project then the funding specifications may be different to Research Council funding and will be outlined in the project details.
Due to the competitiveness of PhD funding, some students also opt to self-fund. This may be through part-time employment or the UK government doctoral loan. There are also many national bodies, charities and businesses willing to support research students with short-term grants.
PhD in Social History careers
A PhD in Social History provides graduates with a range of skills applicable to multiple career paths. Although teaching, research or academia may seem like the most obvious route of progression, Social History graduates may also find themselves working in journalism, public administration or regional planning.