Fellowship – Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is an ‘original contribution to the discipline of history’?
An original contribution may be a book or other work, usually based on original primary research, that offers insights that contribute to our understanding of broader historical problems and issues. For many Fellows, the emphasis will be placed on the contribution to the scholarship, but for others the emphasis may lie in the diffusion and dissemination of historical knowledge.

2. Do I have to have written a book?
Most of those elected to the Fellowship have produced a full-length book. However, it is also possible to be elected on the basis of a body of work of similar scale and importance, such as scholarly editions, edited collections, translations, catalogues or calendars of historical materials, or a substantial set of essays and articles.

We also welcome applications from those who have made a significant scholarly contribution to the historical discipline through non-academic pathways: for example, curatorial work, exhibitions, web-based work, editorial work, and writing or directing historical film, TV or radio. If you have any queries about whether Fellowship is the right category for you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

3. Do I have to have a PhD?
Most RHS fellows have a doctorate, but doctoral research is not a requirement of the Fellowship.

4. Do I have to teach in a university?
No. We regularly elect independent scholars conducting historical research outside universities to the Fellowship. We also elect museum curators, filmmakers, writers, journalists and others whose work, while focussed on communicating aspects of history to a wider public, is also grounded in their own historical scholarship.

5. I work in another discipline, but with a historical dimension. Am I eligible?
Of course! Our definition of history includes all forms of exploration of the human past, so the Society welcomes applications from those working in many other related disciplines.

6. Do I have to agree to the statement of ethics?
Yes. In addition to having made a significant contribution to the discipline of history, all applicants for Fellowship of the Society are judged against the values laid out our Statement of Ethics.

7. Who can act as my referee?
Applications must be supported by one Fellow of the Society. S/he need not be known to the applicant personally. A list of current Fellows of the Society may be consulted here. The Fellow may be resident in the same institution as the applicant.

8. What if I do not know any existing Fellows who could support my application?
Please contact our office who will help to connect you with a Fellow or Councillor to support your application.

9. How are decisions reached on applications?
Applications are reviewed internally and the Society reserves the right to check the accuracy and veracity of all applications and to establish that the applicant adheres to our code of ethics. Following internal review, recommendations are made to the Council of the Society. All decisions are taken by Council. Wherever possible Council’s decisions are made at the first meeting following receipt of the application and of the Fellow’s recommendation.

All enquiries about applying for election to the Membership should be addressed to the RHS office: membership@royalhistsoc.org