PhD in Digital Humanities
The Department of Digital Humanities offers a PhD programme for suitably qualified candidates who wish to explore the transformative effects of digital information, technologies, and methods on the humanities, arts, society and culture. Research in the Department reflects a ‘big tent’ view of the digital humanities, and there are no a priori restrictions on the area of research, assuming that appropriate supervisors can be found, and no fixed expectations of particular technical skills. See http://www.kcl.ac.uk/artshums/depts/ddh/research/index.aspx for an overview of the areas of research carried out in the department.
If you are at all unsure, please feel free to send enquiries to the departmental Admissions Tutor (Mark Hedges). Enquiries are always welcome and will be promptly answered.
The PhD is research-only, for a maximum of three years full-time or six part-time, plus a ‘writing up’ year. For an overview of current PhD research in the department, see the list of postgraduate research students and their projects. The Department has an active PhD seminar series and an annual conference organised by our PhD students.
What background do I need?
A suitable MA degree or its equivalent is the usual prerequisite, although in exceptional circumstances applicants with a first class honours degree (or international equivalent) may be admitted. Applicants must also be able to demonstrate sufficient background in the area or areas of the proposed research, and a high level of competence in written English, equivalent to a native speaker’s ability.
Normally the applicant’s MA training will serve adequately as preparation for doctoral work in the subject of the degree. Technical skills and basic familiarity with digital tools and methods may have to be acquired in the first year of the doctoral programme. The DDH supervisor will assess the student’s needs and may require that he or she sit in on one or more of the department’s MA modules.
Potential applicants should pursue all possible sources of funding. See the Graduate School pages and the graduate funding database for available funding opportunities, and keep a close watch on application deadlines for funding. Once you have been offered a place in the programme, you are also welcome to contact the departmental Research Manager, Ms Claire Ellis (firstname.lastname@example.org), who may be able to advise you further.
Note the helpful booklet, The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding, written by Luke Blaxill (PhD graduate in DDH and History) and Shuzhi Zhou. It is available free of charge to all King’s students, from http://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/pg/funding/sources/alt.aspx.
How do I apply?
In the first instance, we invite you to contact a potential supervisor who seems appropriate for your field of study and interests. This person can then help you to develop your proposal, advise on the application process, and so on. See http://www.kcl.ac.uk/artshums/depts/ddh/study/pgr/supervision.aspx for a list of supervisors in the department, and their range of interests.
For guidance on how your interests fit into Digital Humanities, or on who an appropriate supervisor might be, as well as for general questions about the programme, please contact the Admissions Tutor of the PhD Programme (Mark Hedges).
It is recommended that you do not make a formal application via the King’s portal (https://myapplication.kcl.ac.uk/) until advised to do so.
Once you have a clear idea about your research topic, you will be asked to do the following:
1.Submit the following documents to your potential supervisor (if identified) and the Admissions Tutor:
- a 2-page research proposal;
- a curriculum vitae with full details of your academic background;
- a writing sample of no less than 10 pages, e.g. a chapter from your master’s-level dissertation.
The proposal should include the following:
- The research question that you propose to investigate
- An explanation of how you plan to pursue it;
- A brief discussion of where the research would fit in the context of ongoing scholarship
Of course, prior to this you are most welcome to make contact in order to discuss your interests and ideas.
2. The proposal may be revised a number of times in consultation with your potential supervisor, and/or the Admissions Tutor and other interested colleagues. They may circulate it to the Department and in whatever other disciplines are involved in order to determine its cogency and to identify potential co-supervisors. Providing that one or more interested colleagues can be found, you will then be encouraged to make formal application via the King’s portal (https://myapplication.kcl.ac.uk/).
3. Applications are vetted by the Centre for Arts & Sciences Admissions (CASA, www.kcl.ac.uk/campuslife/services/casa/index.aspx) at King’s, where your prior degree status will be checked. Note the strong emphasis placed on command of English.
4. Providing all is well, your application will then be forwarded to the Admissions Tutor for action.
Whichever way you approach the Department, an interview in person, by telephone or online may be required. If you are admitted, you will receive from the admissions office either a conditional or unconditional offer of a place in the programme. Note that admissions may take place in September, January or April.
Some research proposals may involve digitally enabled research across other fields of the humanities and interpretative social sciences. Our programme thus also offers the possibility of PhD studies in collaboration with another department in the College.
In these cases, the student is co-supervised by an academic member of staff in DDH and in the other department. In unusual circumstances, other supervisors may be involved as needed. The name of the degree is determined by the primary supervisor and the student at the end of the programme, so that it may accurately reflect the research that has been done.
The Department currently has established collaborative programmes with the following departments: Classics; Culture, Media and Creative Industries; English; Film; French; Centre for Hellenic Studies; History; Centre for Language, Discourse and Communication; Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies; Music; Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies; Theology and Religious Studies.
History of the PhD programme
For the history of the PhD in Digital Humanities programme, see Willard McCarty’s chapter on the subject in Digital Humanities Pedagogy, ed. Brett D. Hirsch (Cambridge: Open Book, 2012), which you can read online at www.openbookpublishers.com/product/161.