A unique opportunity to pursue original research that is your passion with first-class expert support and superb new postgraduate facilities.


We offer a strong and serious research environment for our postgraduate community. History at Ulster has consistently produced 4* (world-leading) and 3* (internationally excellent) research. In REF2014 almost 50% of our publications and over 75% of the impact of our work on policy and practice beyond Ulster was rated at these levels.

The University welcomes applicants interested in researching Early Modern and Modern Irish history, Modern British history, European history, Mediterranean history, Russian and Soviet history, Social history, Medical humanities, Social history of medicine, Labour history, Diaspora and migration, Imperialism and decolonisation.

About this course

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Historians at the University have always seen a thriving community of postgraduate students, both full-time and part-time, as contributing to the overall research culture of the subject. They have organized a number of national and international conferences at which research students have presented papers.

Research students are also encouraged to attend, and present papers at, historical conferences in Britain and Ireland and beyond. History at Ulster have also won funding, fellowships and other support from many national and international bodies; and staff are members of key organizations, such as the Royal Historical Society.

In the second year of studies, PhD candidates are supported to take a small number of seminar classes to develop their teaching skills. We also run a lively staff-postgraduate seminar, which provides a supportive context for testing ideas. All staff supervisors are research active as measured by submission to the Research Excellence Framework (2014).


As a full time student, the expectation is that you will work on your project on a daily basis, either on or off campus as agreed with your supervisor. You will be entitled to 40 days holiday per annum.

Part time students are expected to meet with their supervisors on a regular basis, most usually this would be monthly but this is dependent on the project area.

How to apply

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

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Entry Requirements

You will need to hold a First of Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) in an area relevant to your chosen project to be able to apply.

If you have obtained an undergraduate degree from a non-UK institution, we can advise you on how it compares to the UK system.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants

The minimum requirement for research degree programmes is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. This is the only acceptable certificate for those requiring to obtain a Tier 4 visa.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Careers & opportunities

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Career options

Although academia is considered to be the most obvious path for any PhD holder, with around two thirds of our graduates remaining in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the degree also paves way for a career in industries centred on research and innovation.

PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.

The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015).


How to apply

Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.

Once you have selected your chosen project from the lists available on the Faculty pages, you are advised to make contact with the named supervisor on the project as they will be able to guide you in writing your research proposal.

You should then apply using our online application system: ulster.ac.uk/applyonline

Fees and funding

A number of funded scholarships are available across the University each year for PhD projects. Applications for studentships will be considered on a competitive basis with regard to the candidate's qualifications, skills, experience and interests.

Sources of funding

Fees (per annum)

Full Time:

Home and EU £4260

Overseas £14210

Part Time:

Home and EU £1540

Home and EU (with External Sponsor paying fees) £2200

Overseas £8100

Distance Research Study (Home and EU) £6600

Research facilities and groups

Reserach Facilities

History seeks to provide its research students with the best possible facilities for their work. Postgraduate rooms are available on all campuses, with computer access including email and Internet. The University has a range of research materials. These include the files of major newspapers, such as the Times, New York Times, Irish Times, Guardian and some local papers. There is a good collection of the British cabinet papers and conclusions for the period 1916-1945 and other British official papers, as well as the personal library of Sir James Headlam Morley, historical adviser to the British delegation at the Paris Peace Conference. The library has one of the most extensive collections of microfilms of American material in Britain and Ireland. It is particularly strong on the history of African- Americans, including slavery and Civil Rights and on the history of radicalism, both right and left-wing.

History staff and postgraduates work closely with the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, the Linen Hall Library, Derry Central Library, and the Centre for Migration Studies at the Ulster-American Folk Park, all of which have extensive holdings. As well as Irish materials, the Public Record Office in Belfast has impressive manuscript collections of imperial and diplomatic figures. The library has extensive online holdings of journals and archives.

Staff research areas

Dr Gabriel Guarino

(Early Modern History)

The Spanish expansion and its socio-cultural influence in Europe and the Americas, with special emphasis on the viceregal courts of Italy and the New World; Cultural history of European princely courts; Civic rituals and political communication in early modern Europe.

Dr Kyle Hughes

(British and Irish History)

Kyle is a historian of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain and Ireland with research interests including the Scottish diaspora, the history of Belfast, the Irish in Britain, and crime, violence and protest. He has recently completed a book on Ribbonism in Ireland and Britain. His current research project explores the political and public life of the 1st Marquess of Aberdeen.

Dr Leanne McCormick

(Modern Irish Social History and Director of the Centre for the Study of History of Medicine in Ireland)

Recent projects have included a study of female sexuality, family planning, and abortion in 20th century Northern Ireland. She is currently working on a major AHRC-funded project on poverty, gender and Irish migration in North America.

Dr Robert McNamara

(Modern International History)

Recent projects have included Portuguese southern Agricathe White Redoubt in Southern Africa and the Great Powers 1960-1980.

Dr Ian Miller

(Modern British, Irish and Medical History)

Recent projects have explored post-Famine dietary change in Ireland and the force-feeding of 20th-century hunger strikers. Research interests cover 19th- and 20th-century Britain and Ireland, with a focus on medical and social history.

Dr Emmet O’Connor

(Irish History, Labour History)

Recent projects have included a new biography of Liverpool-Irish labour leader Jim Larkin. Interests are in Irish labour history, at home and transnationally.

Dr Andrew Sneddon

(British and Irish Social and Cultural History)

Research expertise includes 18th century Irish Legislative history; medicine, improvement and enlightenment in 18th century Ireland; the early modern Church of England and Ireland; the history of witchcraft and magic in early modern and modern Britain and Ireland; the history of the supernatural in modern Ireland, from fairy belief to ghosts and healing.

Professor Ian Thatcher

(Russian and East European History)

Recent projects have included a study of the Mezhraionka, and of the first Russian State Duma. He is currently researching the history of the Russian Provisional Government 1917.


Professor Ian Thatcher

Research Director History

Tel: +44 (0)28 701 23375


For more information visit

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences


I came to Ulster University having gained both my BA (First Class) and MRes (Distinction) from the University of Stirling. My PhD was part of a larger project funded by the AHRC: ‘Locating the Hidden Diaspora: The English in North America in Transatlantic Perspective, 1760-1950’, which was led by my supervisor, Professor Don MacRaild.

I found Ulster University a fantastic place. The university consistently offered me great support in my studies and working there allowed me to gain a greater understanding of the Irish dimensions of my research. Overall, the university provided a great environment in which to develop the skills required to work in academia and, as a result of the skills I gained over the three years, I am now an ESRC-funded postdoctoral researcher on a project exploring British and German expatriates in Asia at Northumbria University.

History PhD graduate, Lesley Robinson