Doctoral Program in Contemporary History 2017–2018


This doctoral programme exists under a cooperative agreement that brings together the following universities: Autonomous University of Madrid, Complutense University of Madrid, University of Cantabria, University of Santiago de Compostela, University of the Basque Country/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, University of Valencia, and University of Zaragoza.


It is linked with the Interuniversity Master's Degree in Contemporary History:

Program Objectives

1.- To train and guide doctoral students in research tasks, ensuring they acquire the technical skills, intellectual skills, and theoretical competencies needed to present a doctoral thesis.


2.-To make students aware of the latest research procedures and results in Contemporary History.


3.-To introduce the doctoral student to research groups and academic networks in which research activity related with the field of study is undertaken.

Outgoing Student Profile

Individuals holding a Doctoral Degree in Contemporary History from this programme may enter, amongst others, into socio-professional sectors, university teaching, public and private research centres, businesses of the culture sector, companies and public agencies in charge of managing cultural heritage, social analysis and forecasting companies and institutions, and the media. In all of these sectors, programme students will be able to undertake tasks of the highest level.


Administrative Support:

History Department Secretariat

Faculty of Philosophy and Letters

San Juan Bosco, 7. 50009 Zaragoza


Academic Inquiries:

Dr Ángela Cenarro Lagunas

Telephone: 876553839 - Ext.: 843839



Administrative Inquiries:

María del Mar Alonso Artigas

Telephone: 976762139 - Ext.: 842139


Adaptation for Students with Special Needs due to a Disability:

The Academic Commission will evaluate possible curricular and study plan adaptations, or alternative studies.

For general information, visit the following link to find out more about the different services and offices for individuals with disabilities:

Basic Skills

The students of the program acquire the basic competences indicated in article 5 of Royal Decree 99/2011 on doctorate. They are the following:

  1. Systematic understanding of their field of study and mastery of research skills and methods related to that field.
  2. Ability to conceive, design or create, implement and adopt a substantial process of research or creation.
  3. Ability to contribute to the expansion of the frontiers of knowledge through original research.
  4. Ability to perform a critical analysis and evaluation and synthesis of new and complex ideas.
  5. Ability to communicate with the academic and scientific community and with society in general about their fields of knowledge in the modes and languages commonly used in their international scientific community.
  6. Ability to promote, in academic and professional contexts, scientific, technological, social, artistic or cultural advancement within a society based on knowledge.

Personal Abilities and Skills

The RD 99/2011 highlights the high professional training of doctors in various fields, especially those that require creativity and innovation. Therefore, the doctors of the program will have acquired, at least, personal skills and abilities to:

  1. Develop in contexts in which there is little specific information.
  2. Find the key questions that must be answered to solve a complex problem.
  3. Design, create, develop and undertake innovative and innovative projects in their field of knowledge.
  4. Work both as a team and independently in an international or multidisciplinary context.
  5. Integrate knowledge, face complexity and formulate judgements with limited information.
  6. The criticism and intellectual defence of solutions.

Other Specific Program Competences

Core Competencies

Students in the programme acquire the core competencies listed in Article 5 of Royal Decree 99/2011 on Doctoral Training.  They are as follows:

a) Systematic understanding of a field of study and mastery of skills and research methods related to that field.

b) Ability to conceive, design or create, implement, and adopt a substantial process of research or creation.

c) Ability to contribute to the expansion of the frontiers of knowledge through original research.

d) Ability to perform critical analysis and evaluation and synthesis of new and complex ideas.

e) Ability to communicate with the academic and scientific community and society in general about areas of expertise in the ways and languages ​​commonly used in the international scientific community.

 f) Ability to promote –within academic and professional contexts– scientific, technological, social, artistic, or cultural advancement in a knowledge-based society.

Personal Skills and Capabilities

Royal Decree 99/2011 notes the high degree of professional training that PhDs have in different fields, especially those that require creativity and innovation. Therefore, students from the programme will have acquired, at least, the following personal capabilities and skills upon graduation:

a) Navigating through contexts in which there is little specific information.

b) Identifying the key questions that must be answered to solve a complex problem.

c) Designing, creating, developing, and launching new and innovative projects in their field of study.

d) Working both as part of a team and autonomously in international and multidisciplinary contexts.

e) Integrating knowledge, handling complexity, and formulating judgements with limited information.

f) Intellectual criticism and defence of solutions.

Other, Programme-Specific Competencies

In connection with historiographical and social science techniques and methods, other competencies include:

· To use theoretical and conceptual tools from human and social sciences properly.

· To understand historiographical and theoretical texts in depth and to analyse them critically.

· To get to know the debates and trends of current historiographical research.

· To distinguish research methods and objectives in the different branches of historiography.

· To manage analysis techniques for primary sources.

· To know how to undertake critical reading of secondary sources.

· To apply the historical perspective to multidisciplinary contexts or different areas of study.


In relationship with research in Contemporary History:

· Ability to undertake the analysis of complex historical situations and know how to differentiate and integrate the different dimensions of a social problem.

· Theoretical readiness to define relevant research topics for the development of knowledge.

· Ability to undertake literature reviews on historiographical matters and identify lines of research.

· Ability to historically contextualise contemporary phenomena and events.

· Ability to transmit results from an analysis piece or research piece to specialised and non-specialised audiences in a clear, rigorous way.

· Ability to define an object for analysis and design empirical research strategies for historical matters.

· Ability to design research projects so that they may be presented to compete for competitive opportunities for research funding.

General Information

The requirements for access to doctorate studies are set in RD 99/2011 and can be consulted in the corresponding Instruction of the Doctorate School (pdf). In general, an official Spanish Bachelor's and Master's degrees or equivalent are required, with a minimum global extension of 300 ECTS credits.

Candidates with university degrees issued by a country of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) may request admission directly (info). If the degree is issued by a country outside the EHEA, the application for access with a non-homologated foreign degree must be submitted (info).

Those interested can expand their information in the administrative section of the Doctoral School (web) or the administration of the program (see contact data in the program general information section).

Program Specific Information

Oferta de plazas: 15

Number of Places: 15


Admission Profile:

Main Entrance Degrees:

Undergraduate studies in History or other degrees from the humanities area.

Master's Degree in History

Master's Degree in Contemporary History

Language Knowledge:

· Knowledge of Spanish to the B2 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

· Knowledge of English to the B2 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

Selection Criteria:

The selection criteria applied by the Academic Commission is as follows:

1. Academic transcripts from prior studies in programmes that provide access to the doctoral programme. (Up to 40%)

2. Candidate’s curriculum vitae (up to 40%). Especially valued are the following:

· Degrees with competencies and knowledge related with the doctoral programme's areas of specialisation.

· Academic stays abroad undertaken within the context of undergraduate or master's degree programmes at officially recognised universities or research centres.

· Having obtained competitive financial aid or scholarships at the undergraduate and master's degree levels, especially in relationship with the doctoral programme's areas of specialisation.

3. B2 level of English or of other relevant languages in the programme's scientific context. (Up to 10%)

4. Personal interview with the candidate. The interview will assess, through a written or oral exam if necessary, the intellectual maturity of the candidate, his/her ability to express himself/herself orally and in writing, and his/her motivation for undertaking doctoral studies. (Up to 10%)

Specific Training Activities

Enrolment Dates, Deadlines and Procedure

Doctoral students, as researchers in training and students of the University of Zaragoza, have to formalize every year the enrollment with the corresponding rights to the academic tutorship while continuing their doctoral training. The enrollment period will be set  in the academiccalendar approved each year by the Doctoral School. 

As a general rule, enrollment will be done online through the Secretaría Virtual ofthe University of Zaragoza. Previously a personal identification number (NIP) and password will have been obtained in the identity management service. Face-to-face registration will be allowed to those who cannot do it online, by going to the doctoral school during public service hours. PhD students must submit every year in which they enroll, documentation about their previous studies, depending on whether they have been taken in countries of the European Education Area or outside that space.

Full and up-to-date information on the enrollment procedure, including key points, is provided on the website of the Doctoral School, as well as prices, discounts and insurance, legalization and translation of documents and some others practical details.

Thesis Supervision

The procedures for the supervision of doctoral students are set in article 11 of Royal Decree 99/2011, which regulates doctoral studies and the rules about Thesis (Reglamento sobre Tesis Doctorales de la Universidad de Zaragoza)The doctoral student admitted to the program has to enrol each academic year in academic tutelage at the University of Zaragoza. The Academic Committee of the program will assign a Thesis Director and a tutor, who may or may not be the same. The Thesis Director will be the person in charge of the overall management of the doctoral student's research tasks, of the coherence and adequacy of the training activities, of the impact and novelty in his/her field of the subject of the doctoral thesis and of the guide in other projects and activities where the doctoral student is involved. The tutor is responsible for the adaptation of the training and the research activity to the principles of the program and the Doctoral School and will ensure the interaction of the doctoral student with the Academic Committee of the program, the body responsible for supervising the progress of the research and training and the authorization of the thesis presentation of each doctoral student of the program.

The supervisory functions of the doctoral students will be documented in the Doctorate Letter which, once the registration is made, will be signed by the doctoral student, its tutor and its director, the program coordinator and the director of the Doctoral School. Those interested can expand the information on the thesis supervision in the administrative headquarters of the program (see contact information in the general information of the program) or by consulting the program coordinator.

Student's Follow-up and Evaluation

The follow-up of the training process leading to the presentation of the doctoral thesis is carried out through the research plan and the doctoral student's document of activities. The research plan is presented before the end of the first year of enrolment and includes, at least, the methodology to be used and the objectives to be achieved, as well as the means and the temporal planning to achieve it. The plan may be improved and detailed later and must be endorsed by the Director and the tutor. The document of activities is the register of all the activities -research stays, courses, attendance to congresses, or others- that the doctorate carries out from his enrolment until the presentation of the doctoral thesis. Annually, the Academic Committee of the program will evaluate the follow-up of the research plan together with the document of activities. The positive evaluation will be an essential requirement to continue in the program. In the case of a negative evaluation, the doctoral student must be evaluated again within a maximum period of six months. Those interested can expand this information in the administrative headquarters of the program (see contact information in the general information of the program) or by consulting the program coordinator.

Once the thesis is concluded, the doctoral student must proceed to deposit and defend it according to the dispositions included in the thesis regulation of the University of Zaragoza and its procedure (info).

Other Specific Program Procedures

Transversal Training Activities

The Doctoral School offers an annual series of voluntary activities for all doctoral students. This formation has a transversal and interdisciplinary nature. The offer is dynamic and covers the following formative aspects: communication (oral and written), access and information management, and skills for a future social and professional performance.  Information about the activities, admission and enrolment can be found in the website of the Doctoral School  (info).

Additionally, other formative activities of interest for a wide range of our doctoral students are disseminated through our web (info).

Specific Training Activities

The programme syllabus includes four different educational modes:

1.-Research Seminar

Length: 30 hours.

Details and Programming:

  •  Mandatory.

  •  Description: A seminar will be organised at each participating university. The students, both of the University of Zaragoza and visiting students from other universities, will present and subject to debate the development and results from their respective ongoing research pieces.

  •  Expected Date: During the second term of the academic year (between the months of February and May).  The exact dates are set yearly and will be announced in advance.

  •  Language: Spanish.

  •  Verification Procedure: A certificate of participation will be issued by those in charge of coordinating the activity, which will be approved by the programme coordinator.


2.-Interuniversity Work Sessions for Contemporary History Doctoral Students

Length: 2 days (15 hours).

Details and Programming:

  • Optional.

  • Description: The work sessions are a way to bring together the interuniversity programme. The students are expected to present the provisional results from their research in summarised form for discussion in the forum.

  • Frequency: Biennial.  The work sessions will be organised every two years by one of the universities participating in the programme. The gatherings are to be undertaken at some point during the first two years if the student is enrolled full time, or during the first three years in the event that the student is enrolled part time.

  • Learning Outcomes: Encourages the exchange of ideas and helps to accustom students to critical discussion and historiographical debate.

  • Language: Spanish.

  • Verification Procedure: The organising committee will issue a certificate of attendance and/or participation in the work sessions.

3.- Specific Training: Conferences, Symposia, and National and International Workshops in the Field of Historiography

Length: Variable.

Details and Programming:

  • Mandatory.

  • Description: The training activities organised to be undertaken throughout the entire programme or during the last two years are designed to allow the student to put into practice the competencies acquired, theoretically construct his/her work object, present the provisional results of his/her research, and come into contact with the scientific environment of his/her specialised field.

  • Frequency: At least one conference or scientific symposium per year, with the presentation of a scholarly publication or presentation, if possible.

  • Learning outcomes: Encourages the exchange of ideas and helps to accustom students to critical discussion and historiographical debate.

  • Language: Spanish, English, or other languages commonly used in scholarly publications in the field of humanities.

  • Verification Procedure: A certificate of attendance and/or participation will be issued by the organising committee for each conference, symposium, or workshop.


4.- Specific Training: Mobility Plan

Length: 3 months.

Details and Programming:

  • Optional. Mandatory for those researchers who wish to get their doctoral degree with international mention.

  • Description: A three-month research stay at a foreign university, meeting the requirements set forth in Royal Decree 99/2011 in order to include the "International Doctoral" mention on the doctoral diploma. Students enrolled part time may split up their time abroad in accordance with their work needs and their tutor and/or thesis adviser.

  • Frequency: Minimum of once during the time enrolled.

  • Learning Outcomes: Knowledge about the advances in the student's field of study at foreign institutions, development of a comparative perspective, handling of specialised literature in other languages.

  • Language: The official language of the host country.

  • Verification Procedure: Certificate of stay issued by the tutor or person in charge at the host institution. 


Doctoral students enrolled in doctoral programs benefit from mobility aids established in various national and international calls. The calls for the Erasmus + program stand out.

In the Erasmus + Studies mode, doctoral students can choose a wide range of destinations, since most of the agreements signed by the University of Zaragoza with other universities include places for PhD students of all branches.

In the Erasmus + Stays / Practices in companies modality, PhD students access two calls: the one from the University of Zaragoza and the one carried out by the Iberus International Campus of Excellence for the universities that comprise it, the one from Zaragoza among them.

Other mobility calls are specifically designed for Latin American students and for international stays of students with predoctoral contracts. The mobility of doctoral students of the University of Zaragoza is also encouraged with cotutela agreements signed with foreign universities.

Research Lines

    Research Teams

    Academic Regulations

    The Doctoral School of the University of Zaragoza has rules and procedures to achieve its various goals, which have been written with the agreement of the different levels of the Doctoral School, and are published on its website.

    The regulations section of the Doctoral School website contains other important regulations, both national and of the University of Zaragoza, such as RD 99/2011 por el que se regulan las enseñanzas oficiales de doctorado, el Reglamento de los Estudios de Doctorado (2012) y el Reglamento sobre tesis doctorales (2014).

    PhD Duration and Their Management Rules

    Rules of duration and permanence in the doctorate are established in Instrucción de23 de mayo de 2018 de la Escuela de Doctorado relativa al acceso, admisión,dedicación y permanencia en los estudios de doctorado de la Universidad deZaragoza (R.D. 99/2011).

    Full-time thesis should be complete in three years, from the date of admission to the doctoral program, although the Academic Committee of the program may authorize the extension of this period for one more year. Part-time doctoral students will have five years from their admission to the presentation of the thesis, and the Academic Committee may authorize an extension for two more years. Exceptionally, an additional year of extension can be added.

    PhD candidates may request a change in dedication (full-time / part-time) as well as the temporary withdrawal for justified reasons of the Academic Committee. They can cause a definitive withdrawal and see their file closed in these cases: if the available time to deposit the thesis is exceeded or if they receive two consecutive negative evaluations of the research plan.

    These processes are explained in detail on our website (info) and the doctoral students are told how to proceed in cases of temporary withdrawal (info).

    Academic Calendar

    The academic year is governed by the deadlines established in the specific Doctoral School´s academic calendar.

    This calendar sets the periods of request for entry, admission to the programs, enrollment at the University of Zaragoza, as well as how the students must present every year the research plan and the activities document, deadlines for defending doctoral theses, etc.

    The Doctoral School website publishes the calendar of the current course as well as the two previous courses (info).

    Learning Resources

    The Doctoral Programme in Contemporary History has at its disposal the resources that belong to the participating universities so that it can be properly undertaken. Each university will assign, preferably through the Doctoral Schools, the administrative and service staff necessary for the studies to be carried out properly. Additionally, for completing the doctoral thesis, the universities and the different departments and institutes that are part thereof, as well as research groups and professors involved in the doctoral programme, will offer adequate  resources and services.

    In terms of the University of Zaragoza, the doctoral work is basically undertaken through the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, whose spaces for academic and teaching activities are described on their website ( All of the material means and services belonging to the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters and the “María Moliner” Humanities Library are at the disposal of students of the doctoral programme, and they help to guarantee that the educational activities planned in the programme syllabus can be carried out. More specifically, the History Department has three of the centre's thirteen seminar classrooms equipped with Wi-Fi, overhead projectors, and slide projectors.  One of them has multimedia equipment as well. Likewise at the disposal of the doctoral programme are the two science and historical technique laboratories belonging to the university. Moreover, the students have access to two computer labs for their use and four computer classrooms for attending online classes. The Wi-Fi connection serves the entire Faculty and the "María Moliner" Humanities Library. There are 19 access points that allow a maximum number of 1,140 users to be connected.

    The Faculty also has its own Support Media Service (SEMETA), which aims to provide technical/instrumental support to the centre in terms of photography and audio-visual resources. This service also helps students with their practical work and, to the extent possible, it assists with the university's cultural activities. Services: Loan of audio-visual equipment, analogue and digital photography equipment; analogue and digital video equipment; video editing; photograph retouching; image scanning; technical support and equipment configuration; audio-visual material viewing rooms (18 stations).

    The University of Zaragoza is sensitive to many aspects relating with equal opportunities, making it a priority to make the university's buildings and the surrounding areas accessible by eliminating architectural barriers.  It is important to note that both present and future university infrastructure are designed with the provisions of Law 51/2003 in mind. 

    The University of Zaragoza has several libraries with extensive hours and which are easy to access. The libraries offer the university community a wide range of services such as the loaning of books, access to paper and electronic collections, workspaces with computers, and spaces for individual and group work. More specifically, the "María Moliner" library provides access to documentary resources, bibliography databases, and scientific publications related with the doctoral programme.

    Inaugurated in April of 2003, The "María Moliner" Humanities Library makes an extensive set of bibliographic resources available to students and professors, as well as a large and up-to-date collection of journals.  It also features the necessary computerised infrastructure for journals to be consulted electronically. It extends over 5,228 m2 and has 640 reading stations. It has the necessary equipment for playing multimedia contents (video conferencing, streaming media, etc.). Additionally, all the bibliographic resources belonging to the eleven departments that make up the Faculty have been centralised there. The library has a general resource hall, two specialised resource halls, a periodicals library, and a media library. Likewise, the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters has two study halls which can accommodate up to 496 people.