Fully-funded PhD Studentships in History/Historical Studies


To mark the launch of our Graduate School in October 2016, The Open University is making a strategic investment in up to 30 PhD studentships. As part of this initiative, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is keen to receive applications for studentships in history/historical studies or sociology (both broadly defined to include historical and/or sociological approaches to any area of the Arts and Social Sciences). Open University Graduate School PhD studentships will cover full fees and stipend (currently £14,057 p.a.) for 3 years commencing October 2016 (or shortly thereafter). Applications are invited from both UK and EU citizens for full-time study.

The Faculty performed strongly in the Research Excellence Framework (REF2014), with 76% of research in History and 64% of research in Sociology assessed as world-leading or internationally excellent (4* or 3*) for its overall quality. Other highlights include Music, which had 94% of research world-leading or internationally excellent, Art and Design with 86%, and Geography and English Language and Literature, which both had 76%.  Art and Design, Development Studies, English, Geography, History and Music all had 100% of their research assessed at 4* or 3* for impact.

The Open University has a world class reputation for research and our research student community is part of this research effort.  In joining us you will join an existing community of over 1,000 PhD students, receive high quality supervision from leading academics, and undergo training that will support you to reach your potential and develop as an open, engaged researcher in our digitally interconnected world.

The deadline for applications is 29th July 2016 and full details on how to apply are set out below.

The Faculty of Arts and Social Science has a strong track record of innovative, interdisciplinary research, and hence is very open to projects which apply historical sources/methods/approaches to other Faculty subject areas.

The Open University is a pioneer in co-supervision across traditional disciplinary boundaries and interdisciplinary proposals are encouraged. Successful applicants who wish to study across traditional disciplinary boundaries will be allocated supervisors from two or more disciplines according to the needs of their planned research.

Applications are particularly sought which apply an historical approach/perspective to the folowing areas:

Art History/History

Specialisms include Byzantine art; the Renaissance (both in Italy and in Northern Europe); a cross-period interest in gender studies; eighteenth and twentieth-century architecture; and Heritage Studies.

More details:

Classical Studies/Digital Humanities/History

We particularly welcome applications from candidates with  interests in a study on how linked ancient world data, which enable the generation and analysis of networks of people through the events, places, dates and prosopographical data that connect them, could impact on the study of ancient history. The project will include observational and literary analysis of digital scholarship in ancient history, as well as a small experimental or demonstration project of the student’s own design.

More details:

Digital Humanities/History

Digital Humanities is the critical study of how digital technologies and methods intersect with Humanities scholarship and scholarly communication. Historically focused areas of Digital Humanities at The Open University include Digital Classics, History of the Book, and Commodity Histories.


Historically-focussedresearchby academics in English spans the early modern period to the present day. Both the Book History and Postcolonial Literatures Research Groups have long-standing AHRC-funded projects, such as the ‘Reading Experience Database’ and the ‘Beyond the Frame’ project.

More details:


While open to applications in any of its areas of research, the History discipline is particularly keen to receive applications on topics related to criminal justice history, imperial and postcolonial history and the early modern period.

Further information about existing research in these areas can be found via the following links:

More details about PhD study in History.


The Department has expertise in various aspects of music history and the cultural study of music from the middle ages to the present day. In addition to studies of individual composers, historical research covers areas such as systems of musical patronage and dissemination, music and literature, film music and devotional music.

More details:


There is a particular interest in late 19th and 20th century European intellectual and cultural history, history of philosophy, or history of science.

More details:

Religious Studies/History

Specialist expertise in religious history includes evangelical and charismatic movements in the 19th and 20th century North Atlantic world, modern Hinduism, historical approaches to religious conflict, and the history of pilgrimage.

More details:

Application process

Potential applicants not already in contact with a member of Open University academic staff and interested in a studentship in History/Historical Studies should, in the first instance, make informal contact with Professor Paul Lawrence (History Department) using the email address FASS-Research-Degrees@open.ac.uk and the Subject Line ‘History PhD Studentship Application’. Professor Lawrence will liaise with relevant colleagues within the Faculty to enable informal discussions with potential supervisors to take place prior to formal application.

The deadline for applications is 29th July 2016. Applications should be made via the Research Degrees Application form, available via http://www.open.ac.uk/postgraduate/research-degrees/how-to-apply.

In addition to the application form, and as part of the application process, all candidates must prepare and submit a Research Studentship Proposal.

Interviews will take place in week of 22nd August 2016, with short-listed candidates informed during the preceding week.

About ouartsfaculty

The Arts Faculty of The Open University is a world leader in supported Open Learning, and one of the best institutions in the world for arts and humanities. You can follow us on Twitter @OUArtsFaculty and on Facebook.
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