The History discipline covers a broad range of the political, social, economic and cultural history of the UK and the rest of Europe from the late Middle Ages to the 21st Century, with additional expertise in colonial and post-colonial history. It has particular strengths in policing and crime (embedded in the International Centre for the History of Crime, Policing and Justice), 20th-century international and global history,(supported by the University’s multidisciplinary Ferguson Centre for Asian and African Studies), and British and Irish history. We welcome applications from students interested in studying full- or part-time for a PhD in early modern, modern, and contemporary history.

Key facts

  • An opportunity to study with leading scholars in the fields of early modern, modern, and contemporary history.
  • Postgraduate students are members of research groups, including multidisciplinary groupings, and contribute to seminars and conferences.
  • Regular training events enable students to acquire research skills and offer opportunities for networking.
  • The opportunity to participate in national training events as part of the discipline’s membership of the Open-Oxford-Cambridge (OOC) Doctoral Training Partnership, offering postgraduate training across several universities.
  • Competitive full-time studentships available, funded by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
  • Particular expertise in supporting part-time students.


Most of our research students are based away from our Milton Keynes campus, but are resident in the UK; for details of residence requirements for different modes of study see Full-time study and Part-time study.


The University’s library offers outstanding access to one of the UK’s largest collections of online resources, and our postgraduate students benefit from access to collections of both primary and secondary source materials, online journals, periodicals, and other online publications.

The Open University houses an important archive of material for police history collected from individuals and organisations from the police service.

Career prospects

Graduates of our PhD programme thrive in a wide range of different sectors. Many of our graduates teach in universities across the UK and overseas, while others have pursued careers in the media, the heritage sector, the civil service, or in private and voluntary organisations.



Find your research topic

Explore specific areas of research, current and prospective projects, entry requirements, fees and funding, available supervisors, how to apply and contact details for advice.

British and Irish history since the 18th century

Early modern Britain and Europe

Empire and postcolonial studies

The history of crime, policing and criminal justice

War and peace in the 20th century