MPhil & PhD in History

The distinctive emphasis of Goldsmiths' Department of History is a theorised, interdisciplinary and comparative approach to research.

About the department

3-4 years full-time or 4-6 years part-time.
If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline. Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants.

AHRC studentships

Our PhD students have taken up academic posts in history and related fields around the world; others are employed in the media and as researchers and teachers.
See our tuition fees.
Contact the department
Contact Prof Jan Plamper
Visit us
Find out about how you can visit Goldsmiths at one of our open days or come on a campus tour.

The culture of the Department of History is open, friendly and accessible, and research students are encouraged to be innovative in their use of sources and methodologies.

Our staff is young and the Department has been lucky to be able to appoint three new full-time members of staff since 2012. We are on the cutting-edge of our fields and the student-teacher ratio allows us to devote an unmatched amount of time to individual supervision. Find out more about our staff and their research interests.

MPhil and PhD topics currently include:

  • The Song of the Pen: Penny Romantic Literature 1839-89
  • The Freak Show in Nineteenth-Century Britain
  • British Women and German Prisoners of War in the 1940s
  • Decoding Dress in Interwar Detective Fiction
  • The British Diaspora - Race Return Migration and Identity in 20th Century Britain
  • Atatürk and his Cult - A Visual History, 1918-1968
  • Another Balkan Myth? The Extreme Right Wing in Serbia: Indigenous Phenomenon or Foreign Adaptation?
  • London Schools and Children, 1870-1920
  • The Seekers Found: Radical Religion during the English Revolution

Find out more about our research degrees, including information about starting your research, upgrading to PhD registration, and submitting your thesis.

Assessment: Thesis and viva voce.

Application procedure and requirements

You can apply directly to Goldsmiths via the website by clicking the ‘apply now’ button on the main programme page.

Before submitting your application you’ll need to have: 

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments;
  • The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference;
  • Contact details of a second referee;
  • A personal statement. This can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online;
  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory);
  • Details of your research proposal.

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

Before you apply for a research programme, we advise you to get in touch with the programme contact, Professor Jan Plamper. It may also be possible to arrange an advisory meeting.

Before you start at Goldsmiths, the actual topic of your research has to be agreed with your proposed supervisor, who will be a member of staff active in your general field of research. The choice of topic may be influenced by the current research in the department or the requirements of an external funding body. 

If you wish to study on a part-time basis, you should also indicate how many hours a week you intend to devote to research, whether this will be at evenings or weekends, and for how many hours each day.

Research proposals 

Along with your application and academic reference, you should also upload a research proposal at the point of application. 

This should be in the form of a statement of the proposed area of research and should include: 

  • delineation of the research topic;
  • why it has been chosen;
  • an initial hypothesis (if applicable);
  • a brief list of major secondary sources.

When to apply 

We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September. 

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place conditional on you achieving a particular qualification. 

If you're applying for external funding from one of the Research Councils, make sure you submit your application no later than 31 January.

Selection process 

Admission to many programmes is by interview, unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application and qualifications alone.

Entrance requirements 

You should normally have (or expect to be awarded) a taught Masters in a relevant subject area. 

You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level. 

We also accept a wide range of international equivalent qualifications, which can be found on our country-specific pages. If you'd like more information, please contact the Admissions Office.

English language 

If your first language isn't English, you need to demonstrate the required level of English language competence to enrol on our programmes. 

Please check our English language requirements for more information.

Find out more about applying 

Contact us 

Get in touch via our online form 

+44 (0)20 7919 7766 

International (non-EU)
+44 (0)20 7919 7702

Our staff

Academic staff  (Teaching & Research)

Abse, Dr Toby
Modern Italian Labour History and Politics.

Djokic, Dr Dejan
Modern History of the Balkans.

Grayson, Professor Richard
Twentieth Century British and Irish History, with particular Interests in the First World War.

Hessayon, Dr Ariel
Early Modern Religion, Ideas, Politics, and Popular Culture.

Lambert, Ms Sarah
Medieval History, Gender Power Politics, Crusades.
and Ethnicity.

Lee, Dr Rebekah
Social and Cultural History of Contemporary Southern Africa.

Plamper, Prof Jan
Modern European and Russian History, Symbolic Politics and Visual History, History of Emotions.

Richmond, Dr Vivienne - Head of Department
19th Century British Dress, Death, Poverty, Gender, Philanthropy.

Stouraiti, Dr Anastasia
Cultural History of the Early Modern Mediterranean, Venice and its Empire, Early Modern Visual Culture.

Yoeli-Tlalim, Dr Ronit
Various Aspects of the History of Asian Medicine, Interactions between Medicine and Religion.

Wald, Dr Erica
Imperial, Social and Medical History.

Watson, Dr Alexander
Social, Cultural and Military History of Central Europe and Britain during the First World War.


Academic staff  (Teaching only)

Cartolano, Dr Antonio
Renaissance Italian History, Politics and Art.

Cecolin, Dr Alessandra
Islamic and Judaic shared History in Middle East, History of Political Zionism, History of National and Religious Identities living in the Middle East.

Deedman, Dr Cheryl
Nineteenth Century Literature, Popular Literature and Gender.

Jeater, Prof Diana
African History, specialising in gender, law and religion in southern Africa, with a particular focus on Zimbabwe

Kennedy, Dr Rosie
20th Century British Social and Cultural History, the First World War, History of Childhood, Children and War, Education.

King, Ms Vanessa
Medieval History: Minority Groups, Travel and Gender.

Mansfield, Dr Andrew
Early modern history, the history of political thought, intellectual history, Britain and France in the seventeenth and eighteenth-centuries.

Price, Dr John
Modern British Social and Cultural History, Constructions of Heroism, and the History of Popular Protest.

Emeritus Professors

Alexander, Professor Sally
Modern British History, London History, the History of Psychoanalysis.

Keown, Professor Damien
The History and Philosophy of Buddhism in India, Buddhist Ethics.

Killingray, Professor David
19th - 20th Century Africa & Caribbean, the Black Diaspora, English Local History, Modern Church and Mission History.

Administrative staff

Martin, Ms Nevenka
Department Business Manager

House, Ms Rachel
Undergraduate Coordinator

Williams, Sue
Postgraduate Coordinator

Feurle, Ms Kerstin
Postgraduate Coordinator (currently on Maternity leave)

Other historians linked with the Department

Mazower, Professor Mark
Mark Mazower has been awarded honorary Doctor of Literature (DLit) by Goldsmiths College, University of London, and is affiliated with the Goldsmiths Centre for the Study of the Balkans.

Student and Graduate profiles


"None of this would have been possible without the help from Goldsmiths and their fantastic team."

I have found myself surrounded by practising historians in a vibrant research culture. I regularly meet my supervisor, but also share thoughts and ideas with other academics in the department, who are always happy to bounce ideas and offer their suggestions.

As part of the ‘impact’ criteria, the department granted me leave to work on a BBC historical documentary. As the Researcher, I used my PhD training to work alongside the Director and Producer to turn my academic work into a 90-minute BBC4 documentary.

Goldsmiths’ generous fee-waiver bursary scheme enabled me to work on my PhD without paying tuition fees and, more recently, I was granted competitive AHRC funding to sustain my living costs while I fully embrace the life of a full-time PhD student. None of this would have been possible without the help from Goldsmiths and their fantastic team.


PhD in History (graduated 2011)

"Studying for a PhD at Goldsmiths has opened so many new doors for me. I am currently guest curating an exhibition for The Women's Library which has drawn on both my broad historical knowledge of women's history but also my writing skills. I also made invaluable contacts while I was at university, tutors and students who have not only become good friends but who have offered advice and support."

Research in the Department of History

Research in the Department of History is esteemed internationally. History staff publish books and articles with leading international publishers and journals and their research has been externally funded by the AHRC, the British Academy, the Panacea Society and Wellcome Trust.

Find out about individual staff and their research interests.

Dr Rebekah Lee

Funeral Frenzy: mourners, funeral entrepreneurs and the price of death in Africa

Most of us see funerals as modest, sombre affairs. But in parts of Africa, where death is such a central part of everyday life, funerals have emerged as vibrant, if controversial, sites of conspicuous consumption. Drawing from ongoing research on death and memory in modern South Africa as well as her documentary film, The Price of Death, Rebekah Lee explores in this talk the rise of a township-based funeral industry in post-apartheid South Africa, and will discuss the implications of the commoditization of death on both African mourners and funeral entrepreneurs.

Content last modified: 15 Apr 2015

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