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PhD in History by Practice

Year of entry: 2024/25

  Length Start dates (semester dates)

3-4 years full-time
6 years part-time

Apply for PhD


Our PhD in History by Practice is an innovative route for anyone with significant experience of public history practice or research in a range of settings such as in museums, archives, heritage organisations, the media or education. 

Your research

You’ll explore your own interests, supported by training in a wide range of research methods, in a department which is a national centre for public history teaching and research. Our Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past (IPUP) has spearheaded research at the intersection of scholarship, practice and public engagement.

Our staff offer a broad range of research and supervisory expertise, and our partnerships with organisations such as the Science Museum Group, the British Library and The National Archives, provide additional professional supervisory and examination capacity. 

You’ll be examined on a portfolio that draws upon an area of public history practice, such as an exhibition, documentary or participatory community project (please contact us to discuss if your area of practice is suitable). As well as this, you’ll submit a related thesis of 50,000 words.

Links with the sector

We have strong partnerships and consultancies with regional and national museums, archives, heritage sites, artists and community organisations. York itself has a rich history, and is home to many heritage organisations, museums and galleries which can offer potential opportunities to our students.


Explore funding for postgraduate researchers in the Department of History.


We'll help match your research interests to our supervisory expertise. Explore the expertise of our staff.

Training and support

Your progress throughout your degree will be continually guided by your supervisor, who will help you to hone your focus and deliver specialised research.

Alongside regular meetings with your supervisor, you'll attend a Thesis Advisory Panel (TAP), consisting of at least one member of staff in addition to your supervisor. You'll meet twice a year (once a year for part-time students) to discuss your research project, including more general professional development and career training.

Course location

This course is run by the Department of History.

You'll be based on Campus West. Most of your training and supervision meetings will take place here, though your research may take you further afield.

There are opportunities for you to study abroad. We have an annual desk exchange scheme with Lund, Sweden, which all our PhD students are invited to apply for.

Entry requirements

You should have, or be about to complete, an MA in History or a relevant subject with a distinction or very high merit. We'll also consider applicants who have longstanding work experience in their field equivalent to a Masters qualification. This will be demonstrated by CV, interview and references.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your ability.

Check your English language requirements


Apply for this course

Have a look at the supporting documents you may need for your application.

Find out more about how to apply.

Identify a supervisor

As part of any application for a research degree, you'll need to name one or more academic staff who could supervise your research. You should approach them informally to discuss your proposed project before you apply.

Find a supervisor


As part of your application, you'll be interviewed by one or two academic staff members, including your prospective supervisor. The interview will last around 30 minutes to an hour, with plenty of time for you to ask questions and find out what York can offer you.

As part of the interview, you could have the chance to tour our facilities, including the Humanities Research Centre, the Borthwick Institute for Archives and the University Library, and attend a research seminar.


Careers and skills

Your PhD will help to extend your qualifications, giving you the ability to use research and historical thinking to shed light on historical problems and communicate this knowledge with others. You will become equipped with transferable skills in communication, data analysis, archival research and collaboration, opening the door to a wide range of career opportunities.

The PhD by Practice offers a unique personal development opportunity for those already in the heritage sector as well as for those who are seeking to enter it.

Our dedicated careers team offer specific support including a programme of professional researcher development and careers workshops and 1:1 career support sessions. They will help you to build up your employability portfolio and to engage in activities that will build up your skills and experience within and outside your research work.

Career opportunities:

  • lecturer
  • curator
  • head of collections
  • research fellow
  • publisher
  • archivist

Discover York


We offer a range of campus accommodation to suit you and your budget, from economy to deluxe.

Why York

Discover more about our researchers, facilities and why York is the perfect choice for your research degree.

Graduate Research School

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