The PhD in Modern European History is an advanced research degree, awarded on the basis of a thesis and an oral viva voce examination. The primary purpose of the PhD is the preparation and presentation of a substantial piece of independent and original academic research, completed in three years if studying full-time and usually six years if studying part-time. There is also the possibility of early submission in cases where the student makes particularly rapid progress.
There is an enormously broad range of possible thesis subjects in Modern European History, ranging from high politics and international diplomacy to social relations and material culture in any part of the continent from the eve of the French Revolution to the end of the Cold War. Given sufficient evidence to illuminate it, almost any aspect of the history of Modern Europe may potentially form an appropriate focus of study. The definition of the PhD subject is an iterative process, and it is usual for the candidate’s first thoughts on the topic to be modified in the course of the first year of study.
A large proportion of our PhD students are engaged in full-time study, but there is also an option for part-time study where this fits better with a student’s other commitments. Part-time study can be ideal for those who are looking to gain a postgraduate qualification without leaving employment and wish to develop their careers while they continue earning, or for those who are home-based for whatever reason and wish to develop their skills. All students are expected to engage with the academic life of the University, to attend skills-training meetings where these are relevant, as well as research seminars and workshops.
PhD students are expected to attend the Humanities Research Institute’s graduate Research Days in their area of research – usually one per Term – and are encouraged to attend other seminars that may be relevant to their research. These provide an opportunity for PhD students to share their work with their peers, and to engage with visiting experts in their field.
The University of Buckingham PhD is intended to impart all the skills necessary for the student to work as an independent researcher and writer – skills that are valued by both academic and non-academic employers. But the PhD can be undertaken just as fulfillingly as an exercise in the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, and as a means of exploring areas of enquiry that are of particular interest to the student. A number of our most successful student researchers are those who take up doctoral study at the end of a successful career in a different field or profession.
The usual period of doctoral research is three years for the those who engage in full-time study, though the University’s Regulations also permit candidates who make particularly rapid progress to apply to the University Research Committee for permission to submit at the end of their second year of study. Part-time study is also available, with students completing the dissertation in five or six years.
Every PhD student in School of Humanities is supported by two supervisors. Supervisors are experts in their field of study and support students throughout the PhD. Students will also benefit from the advice and support of other academic members of the Faculty who will be involved in progression through the various stages of the PhD, including Annual Review meetings with a senior professor (where progress is monitored and support offered towards the planning of the next period of study).
Each student is allocated two supervisors. There is a First (or Principal) Supervisor, who is the student’s regular guide during his or her research, and with whom the student meets regularly throughout the year. There is also a Second Supervisor, whom the student may consult on a more limited basis where a ‘second opinion’ on a particular draft chapter may be helpful.
Members of the academic staff who are available to undertake supervision in the field of the History of Modern Europe include:
Sir Rodric Braithwaite – Sir Rodric is a historian of twentieth century Russia and the Soviet Union. A former diplomat and foreign policy advisor, he has brought his considerable international experience to bear on his academic work, which ranges from the history of Moscow to the doomed 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Dr Michael Humphries – Dr Humphries is a political and economic historian with a focus on European empires and nationalist movements in the modern era. His work includes publications on patriotism and the study of elite political networks.
Professor Jeremy Jennings – Professor Jennings is a historian of modern France. He has written widely on the development of the liberal tradition in France and on the long and complex legacies of the French Revolution. His current work is on the journeys of the nineteenth-century French politician Alexis de Tocqueville in America.
Dr Thomas C. Jones – Dr Jones is a historian of western Europe in the modern era. His work, often international in its scope, has engaged with subjects ranging from the course and legacies of the revolutions of 1848 to the international politics of immigration from the eighteenth century to the First World War.
Enquiries should be directed in the first instance to our Admissions Officer (London Programmes), Mrs Lin Robinson, at email@example.com or by telephone to +44 (0)1280 827514. It is usually also possible to speak with the Course Directors in your chosen area of research in advance of submitting your application: please contact Mrs Lin Robinson to arrange this.
Further information about the range of seminar topics and speakers for the coming year can be found in the downloadable brochure which can be found below.