PhD in Digital Humanities
The Department of Digital Humanities offers an interdisciplinary PhD in Digital Humanities for suitably qualified candidates who wish to explore the implications and consequences of digital methods for any field or combination of fields in the humanities or beyond. The individual student’s programme can emphasize either digital tools and methods or any subject covered by another department of the School. See below for details of programmes collaboratively supervised with these departments. In unusual circumstances a degree programme may be designed in collaboration with other Schools of the College or beyond it.
Digital humanities is a young field in rapid development. Hence definitions of it are both difficult to give and potentially misleading. To get a sense of what is possible consult, for example, the Blackwell’s Companion to Digital Humanities, Professor McCarty’s Humanities Computing (Palgrave, 2005) and the publications, activities and resources of the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations.
See also the list of current postgraduate research student profiles and their projects. The range of possibilities is considerably wider, however, so please do send your enquiries to the departmental Admissions Tutor (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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. There are no a priori restrictions on the area of research, and no fixed expectations of particular technical skills (for which see below).
Admission is contingent on a suitable MA degree or its equivalent, (or in extraordinary circumstances a BA degree); sufficient background in the area or areas of the proposed research; and solid competence in written English.
The rubric “digital humanities” names both the interdisciplinary field championed by the department and digitally aided research across all the fields of the humanities and interpretative social sciences.
Hence the PhD we offer takes two major forms:
Research solely in DDH, with concentration on digital tools and methods, their cultural implications and consequences;
Research in collaboration with other departments in the School.
The established collaborative programmes are currently as follows:
For details please follow the links to the departments in question.
For all the above programmes the student is co-supervised by academic staff in DDH and in the corresponding department.
In unusual circumstances others 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 important matter is to design the programme to suit your intended research. See Applying for more details.
Background and skills
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. As mentioned above, fluency in written English is a non-negotiable requirement; a supporting language course may be required.
Prior to formal application, the potential applicant should contact the Admissions Tutor, Professor Willard McCarty (email: email@example.com) for discussion of any of the degrees listed above.
We do not encourage applicants to contact a potential supervisor, please contact Professor Willard McCarty in the first instance. Here are details of academic staff who offer research supervision in the Department of Digital Humanities.
There are now 3 points of entry available: September, January and April.
Following preliminary discussion the applicant will be asked to submit a 1-2 page proposal describing the research to be undertaken. The decision of whether to admit him or her turns chiefly on this proposal. Apart from presenting a cogent argument, the proposal must describe research that can be adequately supported by the Department and, in the case of a collaborative programme, by academics in the other field or fields concerned. If it is accepted, then the applicant is encouraged to make formal application via the Online Prospectus.
Pursuit of the PhD while living outside of London is possible though difficult. Please contact Professor McCarty for further advice.
Potential applicants should pursue all possible sources of funding and keep close watch on application deadlines. See the Graduate School pages for details of fees and funding available.
Note the helpful booklet, The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding, written by Luke Blaxill (PhD graduate in DDH and History) and Shuzhi Zhou.
Research Students Seminar Series
The Research student seminar is required attendance for all current doctoral students. The purpose of the seminar is to give students the opportunity to present and discuss their research with each other, with members of the department, current supervisors from other departments and guests. It meets once every few weeks according to a published schedule.