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History - Research

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.

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.

Entry requirements

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.

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.


PhD Research
You can study for a PhD on a full (3 years) or part-time (6 years) basis and by the end of your programme, you will have produced a body of work that makes a contribution to knowledge in your chosen field.

We have various routes to obtaining a PhD - for example, in some areas you can submit a practical element as part of your submission, such as a piece of art or a musical composition.

The MPhil programme is studied over a 2 year period on a full-time basis or 4 years on a part-time basis.

We would recommend that you contact one of our academic staff whose interests align with your own to discuss your intended research prior to submitting an application.

Careers or further progression

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).

Further enquiries

Professor Ian Thatcher
Research Director History
Tel: +44 (0)28 701 23375
Email:  


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.

Application date

Application is through the University's online application system.

Research areas

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.

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