The PhD in Nineteenth-Century British 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 Nineteenth-Century British History, including the era’s rapid and disorienting transformation of economic and social life, its literary and scientific brilliance or cultural and religious uncertainty, or its halting and uneven but increasingly unmistakeable development of a form of political democracy. Given sufficient evidence to illuminate it, almost any aspect of the history of Nineteenth-Century Britain 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 Nineteenth-Century Britain include:
Professor John Drew – Professor Drew is a literary scholar and founder and director of the Dickens Journals Online project. Alongside his work on Dickens, he is a notable expert on the nineteenth century press and print culture in Britain.
Dr Judith Flanders – Dr Flanders is a social historian of nineteenth century Britain. She has published acclaimed works on Victorian domesticity, on the rise of the commercialised leisure industry, and on cultural fixations on crime and murder.
Professor Simon Heffer – Professor Heffer is a journalist, historian, and biographer. Combining his experience in these fields, he has published several imposing syntheses of the political, economic, and cultural history of Britain in the middle and late Victorian eras.
Dr Michael Humphries – Dr Humphries is a political and economic historian of Britain and its empire in the nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries. He has published work on patriotism and national identity in the late-Victorian and Edwardian eras.
Dr Thomas C. Jones – Dr Jones is a political and intellectual historian of modern Britain, with a particular interest in Britain’s international context and the history of migration. He is currently writing a history of the longue durée of political and religious asylum in Britain.
Dr Hazel Mackenzie – Dr Mackenzie is a literary scholar and expert on nineteenth-century Britain’s press and print culture. She has published on Dickens, George Eliot, and the journalistic profession and is a Senior Editor of the Dickens Journals Online.
Dr Pete Orford – Dr Orford is a literary scholar. A noted expert on Charles Dickens, his research interests span widely across nineteenth century literature, from the travel writing of the era to the birth of the science fiction genre.
Dr Frances Wilson – Dr Wilson is a biographer whose work has a particular focus on the great literary figures of the long nineteenth century. She has published work on figures like D. H. Lawrence, Thomas de Quincey, and Dorothy Wordsworth.
Enquiries should be directed in the first instance to our Admissions Officer (London Programmes), Mrs Lin Robinson, at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.