The PhD in Digital Humanities, run by Cambridge Digital Humanities and based in the Faculty of English, is a research-intensive programme new for 2024 that will enable students to engage at doctoral level with projects demanding the use of digital methods, tools, or adopting critical/theoretical orientations. The programme expands the humanities offering at research postgraduate level at Cambridge by offering a route for cross-disciplinary engagement, responding to the growth of the field of Digital Humanities as a research area.
The programme is designed to enable students from many areas of the arts and humanities to develop practical skills and knowledge and to generate the necessary critical literacy to understand and engage with digital research, and digital cultures, and to respond to questions arise around the ethics of automation, algorithmic analysis, privacy/surveillance, virtual cultures, data sharing, intelligent agency and creativity, archival justice and digital histories, and to explore work in relation to collections and heritage issues. Through supervisions and technical support from a research software engineer, contextualised by a research culture providing research led seminars and lectures, guest seminars, and practice-driven workshops, CDH provides the conditions for original PhD research in Digital Humanities or in other arts and humanities/social science disciplines that make a significant intervention into shaping the field.
Digital Humanities is an intrinsically interdisciplinary field: we therefore will consider candidates from almost any academic field. You might have a grounding in History, Archaeology, Literature, Linguistics, Art History, Economics, Computer Science, etc. The degree itself involves working with a range of materials from Cambridge Libraries, Museums and Collections and other disciplines.
Applicants for this course should have achieved a UK Masters (Merit).
If your degree is not from the UK, please check International Qualifications to find the equivalent in your country.
MPhil students in Digital Humanities from Cambridge who wish to continue to the PhD may apply to do so, subject to meeting certain conditions. The expected standard for continuation to the PhD at Cambridge is normally:
- An overall mark of 70 or more for the MPhil course
- A mark of 70 or more for the dissertation/portfolio submitted as part of the MPhil course
- Other conditions may also be imposed as deemed necessary
General entry requirements for the University of Cambridge:
2024 Home students: £9,387
2024 Overseas students: £28,401
Anyone who applies to a postgraduate course at Cambridge can also apply to be considered for funding.
Every year the University of Cambridge awards over £100m in scholarships to new postgraduate students. This money comes from many generous University and College endowments, as well as government Research Council (UKRI) funds. A lot of our students also fund their studies from external sources such as charities or government schemes and loans.
Our major internal sources of funding are:
- Cambridge Trust
- Gates Cambridge Trust
- Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars Programme (HDPSP)
- Research Councils (UKRI)
- Colleges and departments
General information found at: https://www.postgraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/funding-overview
European Funding Guide
The European Funding Guide is the largest online-platform in the EU for finding financial aid. The platform contains over 12,000 scholarships, grants and awards across the whole EU worth more than 27 billion Euros per year. Over 4,000 of these are specifically targeted at UK students.
Postgraduate Administrator (Suzanne Daley):
Applications for the PhD in Digital Humanities open on 4 September 2023.
The deadline for Gates (US) scholarships is 11 October 2023 (https://www.gatescambridge.org/apply/timeline/).
The deadline for all other applications is in 4 January 2024.
For more information and a link to the application portal, look up Digital Humanities in the Postgraduate Course Directory after applications open.
What kinds of methodologies and projects are most popular at CDH? Moving forward, what areas is CDH most interested in developing?
Our aim is to further an expansive form of Digital Humanities that encompasses work with collections, literature as digital humanities, global digital humanities, critical media theorisation, digital media, methodological advancement, future and emerging technologies including AI and machine learning, and much more. You can find out more about our research activities at cdh.cam.ac.uk/research and a general statement about our research areas at cdh.cam.ac.uk/about. Our supervisors cover a range of research areas. Find a potential CDH supervisor here.
Regarding the application, what do you consider to be an eligible ‘sample of work’? Would essays written for master’s study, for example, or a chapter or two from the master’s thesis be accepted?
Both of these suggestions would work. The sample of work can be one long piece or several shorter essays (max. 5) amounting to around 5,000—7,000 words in total. You will also need to provide an 800-word research proposal. To find the full list of materials required for PhD applications, please visit: postgraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/elelpddgh/apply
Does your PhD programme accept applicants who already hold a PhD?
Yes. Applicants who do not hold a PhD are not at a disadvantage.
If we are currently awaiting results from our MA studies, would it be best to wait for these results to be released before applying, or is it okay to apply beforehand?
You can apply before you have been awarded your marks for your MA, but you will have to have your marks before you are administered to the PhD course. You would simply add a predicted grade to your application form e.g. ‘Merit predicted’.
Are there any specific guidelines or recommendations for creating a research proposal for the PhD programme in Digital Humanities? What should the research proposal look like?
A PhD research proposal should be 800 words long. It needs to give those assessing your application an impression of the strength and originality of your proposed research, and its potential to make a contribution to knowledge. It should be written in clear, jargon-free, and unexceptionable prose. Grammatical mistakes and typographical errors give a very bad impression. You should make sure you cover the following areas (without explicitly dividing the proposal into headings).
- the research topicbriefly outline the area and topic of your research.
- the research contextrelate your proposed research to other work in its field or related fields, and indicate in what ways your research will differ; you might mention monographs on the subject, as well as important theoretical models or methodological exemplars. This is a chance to show your understanding of the background against which your research will be defined.
- the contribution you will makethis is your chance to show how you have arrived at your position and recognised the need for your research, and what it is that makes it both new and important; you should indicate what areas and debates it will have an impact on, what methodological example it sets (if appropriate) – in short how it contributes to knowledge and to the practice of our subject. Give examples of the sort of evidence you might consider, and of the questions it might help you to raise. Show that you are already thinking about the area in detail and not only in outline.
- your methodsin some cases there will be little to say here, but if there is something striking about your methodology, you should explain it.
- the sources and resources you will useyou should delimit your field of enquiry, showing where the project begins and ends; in certain cases, Cambridge will have unique collections and resources of central relevance to your project, and you should mention these.
- how the project will developyou might indicate some of the possible ways in which the project could develop, perhaps by giving a broader or narrower version depending on what materials and issues you uncover
My research looks at a topic that isn’t fully covered by the supervisory team at CDH. Can I still apply to the programme?
Research proposals that move beyond the specialisms of our supervisory team may still work within CDH, however, you may wish to consider applying to a PhD programme in another department. You will be able to engage with our programme and graduate training opportunities as a Cambridge student even if you aren’t based in CDH.
How can I better evaluate whether my research would fit with Cambridge Digital Humanities?
Can we apply for part-time studies at CDH?
Yes, you can apply for part-time study.
Does the October deadline for the Gates scholarship apply to US students already studying in the UK? Is the early round of the Gates scholarship exclusively for US-citizens?
Please see the Cambridge Gates Scholarship website for more details about application deadlines and eligibility.
Can I submit one of my publications as the writing sample for my application?
How do I find funding? What does three years of funding usually look like?
The main way to find funding is via the University’s Postgraduate Funding Search, which contains:
- University funding opportunities
- Funded studentships and research projects
- Research Council (UKRI) studentships
A lot of our students also fund their studies from external funding sources such as charities or government schemes and loans. Anyone who applies for a postgraduate course at Cambridge can also apply to be considered for funding to help cover their fees and costs. There are also specific funding opportunities available to applicants from underrepresented backgrounds from both UK households and abroad, including application fee waivers. Normally ‘full’ funding covers everything (including fees and living expenses), but there are sometimes opportunities for partial funding though this is less common.
For general information about postgraduate funding visit: postgraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/funding
For contextual data and widening participation funding, visit: postgraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/funding/contextual-data
If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please email us with any questions at email@example.com
Is there a difference between funding opportunities for part-time and full-time PhD applicants?
Tuition fees are essentially the same, just divided up into more years. We don’t control funding directly, so you should check with the specific funder you are targeting.
For more information about postgraduate funding, visit: postgraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/funding
Is it normal to expect to do fieldwork for the PhD project?
It depends on the nature of the project – fieldwork might be appropriate if you are carrying out interviews or observations, but if you are working on archival sources, it wouldn’t be.
Can you provide further information on where applicants can find details relating to the word count and format for the covering letter, the proposal, and writing sample?
To apply for this course, you’ll need to prepare a number of materials. Please see the full list of requirements on the ‘How to Apply’ section of the application portal: postgraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/elelpddgh/apply.
- Two academic references
- Evidence of competence in English If required – you can check using our tool
- Covering letterApplicants need to submit a single page covering letter explaining their rationale for wishing to undertake the course and justifying their case for a place.
- Research proposal (M)Please submit a 800-word research proposal
- Sample of work (max. 5)Please submit a sample of work which can be one long piece or several shorter essays amounting to around 5,000–7,000 words in total.
If you wish to be considered for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship you will also need to provide the following:
- Gates Cambridge Reference
- Research Proposal (PhD applicants only)
See Gates Cambridge for more information.
If we have mitigating, contextual circumstances that have impacted our grades (e.g. health issues, family situations), how can we best share this context with the department on our applications?
There is room on the application form to include contextual circumstances.
When is the deadline to apply?
The general deadline for October 2024 entry is 4 January 2024. US citizens, who are based in the US, and are applying for a Cambridge Gates Scholarship must submit their application by 11 October 2023. For more information, including the application link, visit: postgraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/elelpddgh