Research course

History and Computer Science - Funded PhD Project on 'Information Extraction and Entity Linkage in Historical Crime Records'

University of Sheffield · Department of History

Entry requirements

The general eligibility requirements are:

  • Applicants should normally have studied in a relevant field to a very good standard at MA level or equivalent experience.
  • Applicants should also have a 2.1 in a BA degree, or equivalent qualification, in a related discipline.
  • ESRPC studentships are only available to students from the UK or European Union. Applications cannot be accepted from students liable to pay fees at the Overseas rate. Normally UK students will be eligible for a full award which pays fees and a maintenance grant if they meet the residency criteria and EU students will be eligible for a fees-only award, unless they have been resident in the UK for 3 years immediately prior to taking up the award.

Months of entry


Course content

Applications are invited for the above EPSRC project studentship commencing on 1 October 2018. This project will develop and refine information extraction techniques by working with one of the most intractable, largely unstructured, sources in the humanities, historical newspapers. Addressing a challenge identified during the recently completed project, the Digital Panopticon: Tracing London Convicts in Britain & Australia, 1780-1925, this project will develop computer-based methods of automatically extracting information about crimes and police court trials from English newspapers for linkage to the existing ‘life archives’ of convicts in the Digital Panopticon.

This is an interdisciplinary project which involves both humanities and computer science perspectives on data analysis. Applicants from a humanities or engineering background are welcome. They should either have a background in computer science together with an interest in the humanities, or background in a humanities discipline together with numeracy skills and an aptitude for programming.

Application deadline: 5pm, Wednesday 6 June 2018

Supervisory team: Professor Bob Shoemaker (Department of History), Professor Rob Gaizauskas (Department of Computer Science)

More information about this studentship and how to apply is available on our website here.

If you have any academic enquiries about the project please contact Professor Bob Shoemaker ( or Professor Rob Gaizauskas ( Any questions about the application process should be directed to Beky Hasnip (

Postgraduate study at Sheffield:

At the University of Sheffield, you will be supervised by world class academics who have published widely and are at the forefront of their fields. Find out about the academics and their research interests in History here, and those in Computer Science here.

You will join a growing body of researchers at our Digital Humanities Institute, one of the UK’s leading Digital Humanities centres. Established in 1994 (and formerly called ‘HRI Digital’), the DHI’s mission is to support the innovative use of technology and computation within Arts and Humanities research as both a method of inquiry and a means of dissemination.

The History Department has a thriving research culture and postgraduate community. You will be encouraged to present the results of your research in papers at seminars and conferences in Sheffield and further afield. Our postgraduate students run their own forum and discussion groups as well as engaging with relevant research centres such as the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, which has its own range of research events including visiting speakers and workshops. Find out more on our website here or request a copy of our brochure here.

The Department of Computer Science (DCS) was ranked 5th of 89 Computer Science departments in REF2014. The Natural Language Processing Research Group within DCS is one of the largest and most successful language processing groups in the UK/EU and information extraction is one of the group’s key areas of expertise. The group comprises approximately 50 academic, postdoctoral and PhD researchers and has a strong track record of external research grant capture, publication in top outlets in the field, and successful PhD student completion.

Department specialisms

The late antique world; Medieval British and European history; the late Middle Ages; Early modern England and Europe; The history of colonial, nineteenth- and twentieth-century America; Nineteenth- and twentieth-century British and European history; Fascist and totalitarian movements in twentieth-century Britain and Europe; Imperial and international history; Social, cultural and gender history; history of religion; urban history; Eighteenth-century British history; twentieth-century Russian history

Research Excellence Framework (REF) score

3rd best History Department in the UK for overall ranking and 2nd best History Department in the UK for the quality of outputs.

Fees and funding

UK students
2018 fees: £4,260 per year full-time (fully covered by studentship)

The 3.5 year studentship will cover:

  • Tuition fees at the UK/EU rate
  • An annual maintenance stipend at the standard UK research rate (£14,777 in 2018-19)

The studentship will commence on 1 October 2018.

Qualification and course duration


full time
42 months

Course contact details

Beky Hasnip - Postgraduate Admissions Manager
0114 222 2552