PhD in Digital Humanities

December 9th, 2009 by Gabriel Bodard

The Centre for Computing in the Humanities (CCH) at King’s College London offers a doctoral programme leading to the degree of PhD in Digital Humanities. Typically the degree involves a joint arrangement between CCH and another department in the School of Arts and Humanities at King’s, on occasion involving the School of Social Science and Public Policy. Some students are also jointly in the Centre for Language, Discourse and Communication (LDC), which is our cross-disciplinary home for linguistics.

The PhD degree may be taken on a full-time or part-time basis. It involves research only, with no required coursework and no qualifying examination. Normally students are registered in the MPhil programme initially and after 9 months to a year (twice that for part-time students) convert to the PhD on presentation of work judged to be at the doctoral level. The degree may take a maximum of four years full-time, eight years part-time. Full-time residence is not an absolute requirement.

Currently there are 10 students in the programme, 2 in joint programmes with History, 1 with German, 1 Portuguese, 1 Byzantine and Modern Greek, 1 Computer Science, 1 LDC and 3 in CCH only. 3 of the 10 are part-time. 3 are British, 5 are from elsewhere in the EU (Lithuania, Portugal, Greece, Czech Republic, Italy), 1 from Norway, 1 from the US. All have enrolled within the last three years.

In terms of traditional disciplinary focus, projects range from ancient and early modern prosopography, the stylistics of Renaissance dramatic literature and 17-19C social networking to the vocabulary of 19C political speeches, translation of 20C American novels, phenomenology of self and the structure of secondary literature in classics. These projects involve relational database design, text-analysis (including stylometry), online communications, computational linguistics, software modelling and hardware design. In all cases dissertations must reflect critically on the effects and implications of computing for the disciplines involved, and vice versa. In most cases projects entail a major practical component.

For funding opportunities see http://www.kcl.ac.uk/graduate/funding/database/. Many potential applicants find the problem of funding to be quite serious. You are well advised to begin looking for sources quite early.

Application may be made at any time. The brief amount of time permitted for the degree and its exclusive focus on research mean that admission is judged mostly on the basis of a research proposal, which must persuade the department that the applicant is capable and adequately prepared; that the topic is worth pursuing; that the research can be brought to a satisfactory conclusion within the permitted time; and that the proposed work can be supported intellectually within King’s. Application therefore usually begins in pre-application, by iterating the proposal in consultation with the department until it is judged fit. Admission also depends on previous degrees, recommendations and a high degree of competence in written and spoken English.

Enquiries may be made by writing to Professor Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>

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