Skip to content
Home » How to Start Writing an Online PhD

How to Start Writing an Online PhD

Do you have a Masters degree but are undecided on what to do after graduation? Are you looking to further your studies but don’t know where to start? If so, then consider writing an online PhD! An online PhD will allow you to continue your studies from the comforts of home, be it there are no physical classrooms to distract from or disrupt your concentration.

Here are some useful tips on how to start writing an online PhD:

Start Small

It is advised by academics and others in the know that you should start small and work your way up to the full extent of your study. This ensures that you don’t overwhelm yourself and jeopardise the quality of your work. Beginners are usually advised to look at a more generic master’s course for a while, such as philosophy or social science, before committing to a specific branch of study.

If you decide that you want to go down the path of an online PhD in history, for example, then you will need to take an intermediate course in the subject first. In this instance, it is advisable to start with one or two essays for your own personal academic interest. History is a vast subject, with many sub-fields to choose between. Ensure that you familiarise yourself with at least one of the sub-fields before graduating.

Join Society Of Professional Historians

The Society of Professional Historians (SPH) was founded in 1898 and is one of the world’s leading historical sociological societies. It exists to promote understanding of history and historical change, and works to strengthen historical research and practice. SPH offers a master’s degree in history and a PhD in history that can be accessed online. You can read more about the degree here.

As a member of the society, you will have access to its extensive network of over 100,000 members globally, along with a number of academic journals, magazines, and books that span historical topics. You can use the SPH library, which has over 90,000 volumes in its collections, to conduct your research. You can even attend meetings and contribute to discussions if you so desire.

Academics, Students, And History

The vast majority of historians work within academia, and for those in the UK who are currently considering pursuing an online PhD, the option provides the opportunity to continue their studies while also holding down a job. In the historic UK university system, the majority of teaching and learning is still done in front of a physical class, with lectures and seminars based on a combination of the two. However, in the 21st century, a greater emphasis is being placed on online learning and resources, and while this is beneficial to students, it poses a challenge to academics who want to continue teaching and pursuing research.

The shift to online learning has given birth to a greater variety of methods for delivering history courses. In addition to the more traditional lecture format, many universities now also offer an ‘e-learning’ option where students can access learning resources, including videos, course handouts, and quizzes, in order to complete assignments and coursework. This can be done in the safety and convenience of one’s home. Although many assignments and coursework will be delivered online, a number of live seminars and classroom-based lectures will still be held by the university, providing teachers and students with the opportunity to engage in productive and lively discussions.

Thesis And Dissertation Writing

If you are looking to write up your studies as a basis for a formal publication, then you will need to start small and work your way up to the full extent of your study. However, if you are looking to write a thesis or dissertation for your own personal academic interest, then the opposite is true. You will need to start big and work your way down to the details. Once you have finished your general research, you can consider writing up your findings as an extended piece of academic writing. This can be done in a number of different ways, such as an article, a newspaper or magazine feature, or a comprehensive book. All of these will require specific academic publications that can be accessed through a university or college library.

In terms of the actual content of your thesis or dissertation, you will need to take into consideration what is suitable for public consumption and what is more suitable for an academic audience. Broadly speaking, a formal or legal document, such as a thesis or dissertation, will likely require more citations, an in-depth analysis of one or more topics, and a more concise writing style. For an academic paper, follow the ‘Chinwag’ or ‘Carousel’ method of writing, where you use short paragraphs with supporting details, which helps to make the content easy to follow. This should not be mistaken for ‘fluffiness’, as a more concise writing style often indicates that you have done your homework and included all the relevant details. A formal or legal document, such as a thesis or dissertation, will also require a formal structure, and following a prescribed format makes for a more cohesive piece of work. Ensure that your formatting is accurate and uses a standard that your audience is familiar with. In terms of public presentation, a formal or legal document, such as a thesis or dissertation, will require a more polished and concise style, with fewer spelling errors. Make sure that you have checked your work for any errors, as these will undermine your academic credibility.

Keep Learning

As we have discussed, academia is now moving towards a more online and digital environment. This means that students, and those who work within it, are inherently familiar with technology and the various ways it can be used to enhance their studies and teaching. Although a number of historians have been using digital tools, such as Google Docs and online encyclopedias, for years, the subject is still considered to be ‘behind’ the times. This is likely because of the ‘ivory tower’ attitude that many academics and institutions have towards technology, where it is seen as a tool that can be used to enhance learning, but is not a core part of their studies. As we have seen, this approach has led to outdated teaching methods, with many universities in the UK holding onto the tradition of the oral exam rather than embracing the greater flexibility and utility that technology can provide.

However, this is now changing, and with every new generation, the attitude towards learning and technology will continue to evolve, leading to ever greater changes in the way we teach and learn history.

In conclusion, an online PhD will give you the flexibility to continue your studies while also holding down a job, and will provide you with a number of useful publications that you can use to enhance your career. The degree is open to anyone with a Masters degree, and although many historians work within academia, the subject is now accessible to those who do not. Keep learning and changing with the times, and you will ensure that your knowledge is always up to date, providing you with a greater degree of professional credibility.