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St Andrews and Bonn joint PhD in History

The University of St Andrews and Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn have established an agreement to allow PhD candidates to undertake research leading to joint doctoral degrees in Medieval History or Modern History.

The aim of the joint PhD agreement is to train high-profile international researchers, allowing them to benefit from the diversity of expertise and culture of two highly regarded Schools of History.

Course type

Joint doctoral degree (PhD) in History

Course dates

Students are strongly encouraged to begin their studies in September, but the start date for research study can be flexible. Start dates are 27 August, September, October, January or May.

Course duration

The PhD consists of three years of full-time study, with the possibility of a continuation period of 12 months. A further extension will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances.

Entry requirements

Applicants for the joint PhD must have a minimum of a good Masters degree (or equivalent). A Masters degree (or equivalent) must have been completed and the final evaluation must be available at the time of application. In each case, your Masters degree will be considered with regard to its quality and how it prepares you for doctoral research.

Applicants must also meet the English language requirements. If a student requires an English language certificate, this must be gained before the start of the PhD.

International students

Depending on your nationality, you may require a visa to study in the UK and Germany:

Tuition fees

Bonn does not charge tuition fees. There is a social fee for student services. While studying at Bonn, students will be exempt from fees at St Andrews.

While studying at St Andrews, students will pay local fees unless otherwise outlined in the individual candidate agreement.

No scholarships are provided for the joint PhD programme. Funding and sponsorship arrangements must be agreed with St Andrews and Bonn in advance of commencing this programme. St Andrews will assess funding and sponsorship agreements on a case-by-case basis. Duplication of funding will not be permitted. Students who have accepted a place and an offer of full funding at St Andrews are not eligible for the joint programme.

Application deadline

Applications can be sent in any time throughout the academic year. However, it is important to remember that if you are applying for any scholarships or funding, then the deadline for these may be early in the year.

Application requirements

Students should contact a supervisor at St Andrews and the department that interests them at Bonn to discuss the opportunities available. Students should apply to both St Andrews and Bonn.

Admission to the PhD must commence prior to matriculation at St Andrews. Students matriculated at St Andrews cannot transfer part way through their studies.

Course information

The University of St Andrews and the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn are pleased to offer a joint programme leading to the award of a joint doctoral degree in History. The thesis and research must be in the areas of Medieval or Modern History. 

Programme structure

Candidates start the programme at either St Andrews or Bonn. One institution will be identified as the lead, normally the one at which you will spend the most amount of time.

You will have to spend 12 months in total as a resident student at both St Andrews and Bonn in order for the universities to recognise the degree. Students will divide their time into study blocks in order to facilitate access to the resources, human and otherwise, that will maximise their research opportunities. Each study block should be at least six months in length where possible.

The agreement provides students with access to one supervisor at each institution throughout the duration of their degree. Students are expected to engage with both supervisors from start to finish, and to meet regularly with all parties, either in person or using virtual methods such as video call.

Students are encouraged to take part in doctoral training, undergraduate teaching and research seminars at both universities.

History at St Andrews

The School of History at St Andrews is one of the leading centres for the study of History in Britain. The School was ranked 1st in Scotland and 12th in the UK by the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

The School has over 80 academic members whose combined specialist interests cover a vast geographical area and chronological range, from 6th-century Scotland to Iran in the early 21st century (and many other places in between).

The School has over a dozen institutes and centres and ongoing research projects. There are nine seminars which meet regularly to present papers and discuss research. These include two postgraduate forums which provide a space for postgraduates to present research and enjoy friendly discussion.

History at Bonn

History has been taught at Bonn since the university’s foundation. Heinrich von Sybel founded the department in 1861. In 2006, the founding of the Institute of History brought the departments of history back together.

The Institute of History participates in cross-disciplinary teaching and research through the Faculty of Arts, and maintains close working relationships with numerous non-university research institutes and archives.

The Institute of History is involved in important interdisciplinary research within the Faculty of Philosophy, including the Bonn Medieval Centre and the Centre for Historical Foundations of the Present.

Supervision and examinations


Both universities will ensure that the supervisors for students carry out the duties normally expected of them in their own institution. Both supervisors will hold an in-person or virtual meeting with you at least once per year.

The progression of research candidates will follow normal procedures as per the local rules of the institution in which the student is located.

Thesis and examinations

There will be one doctoral examination conducted according to the regulations at the starting institution. The examination will be a viva voce (viva) and will be conducted in English at the starting institution. Each university will nominate at least one external examiner. Full details will be provided in the individual candidate agreement.

The thesis will be written in English and, where appropriate, will contain a substantial synopsis written in another language. Summaries of the thesis will be written and distributed according to the regulations of each institution.

Under legislation applicable in Germany, the thesis must be published in order for the candidate to be eligible for the award of a PhD under this scheme.

Meet us online

If you're interested in studying at St Andrews, join us on a virtual visiting day or daily information session to find out about our courses, how to apply, and to meet current students. 

The next virtual visiting day will be in November 2021.

Virtual events

Join our Admissions team for one of our upcoming virtual events. During these events, you can find out more about studying at St Andrews and what it will do for your future.

Online information events


The School of History occupies three sites, all of which are located in the historic centre of St Andrews and close to the University Library. The School tries to provide all research postgraduates with access to a designated study space. The School offers a postgraduate skills training programme and lessons in reading French, German, Italian and Latin. There is a lively postgraduate community with regular postgraduate seminars, conferences and social events.

University accommodation at St Andrews is also available for postgraduate students, provided all necessary application deadlines are met.

At Bonn, the Institute of History, History departments and libraries of the Institute are located around the Hofgarten park, close to the main university buildings. The departments of the Institute of History host regular events, conferences and research projects. From the ancient Papyrus Collection to the teaching of future generations of historians in schools, Bonn’s research community is diverse and exciting.

At Bonn, accommodation is available for PhD students through the Studierendenwerk. Please note that the Studierendenwerk is independent of the University of Bonn. German language classes for PhD students are also available.


St Andrews and Bonn will award a joint degree with the title of Doctor of Philosophy if the appropriate standards are met in the thesis presented and in the examination. The certificate will clearly state that the degree was jointly supervised and will carry the crest of both institutions. 

Students can choose to graduate at one ceremony at either St Andrews or Bonn and will be awarded a single joint certificate.


Students shall be entitled to the same rights and privileges as other students enrolled at the host institution. 

At St Andrews these include:

At Bonn these include:

Contact information

School of History at St Andrews
St Katharine's Lodge
The Scores
St Andrews
KY16 9BA

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2890

School of History website

Institut für Geschichtswissenschaft
Konviktstraße 11
53113 Bonn

Phone: +49 228 73 5373

Bonn website


Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our Admissions policy.

The student will be registered at both institutions according to the terms and regulations specific to each of them. Registration will be administered by Registry at St Andrews and by the Studentensekretariat at Bonn. Personal details of the student will be shared between both institutions to facilitate registration but shall otherwise be maintained confidential in accordance with data protection laws.  

For day-to-day functions, the local rules of the institution in which the student is resident at the time will apply. 

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online. (PDF, 72 KB).

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online. (PDF, 84 KB).