PhD by Distance Learning

PhD - doctoral research

The distance learning route to a PhD is suitable for those with a developed career or other commitments who can't afford to give up the day job! There is absolutely no difference in examination procedures or standards expected for PhDs gained by distance learning or on-campus, although the distance-learning route is the equivalent of part-time and the normal registration period is four years, maximum seven years.  As a School, we have been running PhDs by distance learning since 2001; at any one time we have at least 20 such students active.

Course structure

Award of a UK doctorate is based  upon individual research, presented in the form of an 80,000-word thesis. Normally comprising six years part-time registration with the option of some additional 'writing up time', we support the particular needs of distance learners by combining intensive dedicated supervision with online research training modules and short residential visits.

If accepted as a candidate, then the residential Induction Week in the autumn is the forum for meeting your supervisory team (one main supervisor and a second supporting one) and other staff. Initially registered as a ‘Probationary Postgraduate Student’, progress to full PhD status depends on successfully passing your upgrade submission (normally at c. 18 months). You must visit Leicester for that upgrade interview, for subsequent 'progress reviews' (every two years), as well as for your final examination. Travel costs are your responsibility, though we pay for accommodation while you are at the University. Throughout your research you will have regular communication with your supervisor via e-mail, Skype, telephone and post. They may visit you if possible.


We take great care to match potential PhD students to the most appropriate supervisors, in order to achieve the best fit of topic, expertise and resources. All prospective students must give careful thought to their proposed area of research prior to making a formal application and explore if this area fits with the research interests of one (or more) of the School's archaeologists and ancient historians. See our academic staff list for information on potential supervisors and their research interests.  Also see the research projects our current PhD students are doing.

Entry requirements

Some distance learning doctoral students already have considerable professional experience in archaeology or a related field, with access to specialist facilities or relevant materials, and may possess the requisite methodological skills. Candidates otherwise normally have a good Masters degree or its equivalent in archaeology, anthropology, classics/ancient history or a related discipline.

The next step

While informal enquiries are always welcome, we ask all potential applicants to complete a pre-application form to help start a dialogue with staff about your proposed research topic. This will ensure a clear, workable topic is determined upon. If and when an appropriate research topic, methods and supervisor(s) have been agreed, formal application can be made to the university.

Further information

How much will it cost?

For further information please contact the Postgraduate Administrator:

School of Archaeology and Ancient History
University of Leicester
Leicester LE1 7RH

Tel: +44(0)116 252 2611         e-mail:

There are four intakes for research degrees each academic year: October, January, April/May and July.

Successful candidates include:

  • Hopewell Geometric Enclosures: Gatherings of the Fourfold
    Bill Romain (July 2004)
  • Architecture, Economics and Identity in Romano-British 'Small Towns'
    Tom Rust (July 2006)
  • Violence Amongst Anasazi of the American Southwest AD 200-1350
    John Cater (July 2008)
  • "As You See It So It Was": Reconstructing Historic Built Environments in the USA: The Case of Sites Associated with George Washington
    Esther White (July 2008)
  • Archaeology of Transylvanian Fortified Churches
    David Morgan (July 2009)
  • Hunter-Gatherer Settlement and Land Use in the Central Canadian Rockies AD 800-1800
    Rod Heitzmann (Jan 2010)
  • Military 'vici' in Northern Britain
    Andrew Birley (July 2010)
  • Spatial Patterning of Prehistoric shell work sites of the Ten Thousand Islands, Florida
    Margo Schwadron (July 2010)
  • Tin and copper mining on Dartmoor c1700-1914
    Philip Newman (Jan 2011)
  • Culture, gender, and identity in the Hudson Bay company
    Helen Stone (Jan 2011)
  • At Home, with the Good Horses: Relationality, Roles, Identity and Ideology in Iron Age Inner Asia
    Gala Argent (July 2011)
  • Colonizer Geoarchaeology of the Pacific Northwest Region, North America
    Brett Lenz (Jan 2012)
  • Rejuvenation Signature Analysis:  Measuring Rejuvenation in Eastern Great Basin Archaic Dart Point Assemblages
    Al Spencer (Jan 2012)
  • The Archaeology of Abandonment, Ghost Towns of the American West
    Paige Peyton (Jan 2013)
  • “The Best Accustomed House In Town”: Taverns As A Reflection Of Elite Consumer Behavior In Eighteenth-Century Hampton And Elizabeth City County, Virginia.
    Christopher McDaid (July 2013)
  • The Relevance of Heritage Places
    Chrisophe Rivet (July 2013)
  • Bead Exchange Among the Historic Kumeyaay Indians
    Alexender Kirkish (July 2013)
  • Archaeological Ethics in Armed Conflicts
    Jack Williams (Jan 2014)

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