From late November 2021, changes to the Society’s membership structure see the introduction of new Associate Fellowship and Postgraduate Membership categories. From now, there will be four ways to be part of the Royal Historical Society: as a ‘Fellow’, an ‘Associate Fellow’, a ‘Postgraduate Member’, or as a ‘Member’. This post outlines these changes which were announced at the Society’s AGM, held on 26 November.
The changes bring three important benefits to membership: first, creating more opportunities for historians of all backgrounds to join the Society; second, enabling the Society to better tailor what it offers members based on their career stage and interests; and, third, providing members with opportunities for continuous involvement with the Society, with options to change membership type to reflect career progression.
For further information on the Society’s four membership options (Fellowship, Associate Fellowship, Postgraduate and Member), please see the Join the RHS pages on the Society’s website.
Effective from 26 November 2021, the RHS has revised its membership structure to introduce two new categories — Associate Fellowship and Postgraduate Membership — by which people can belong and contribute to the Society. This change better aligns the Society’s membership options to today’s historical profession, within and beyond Higher Education.
Creation of the ‘Associate Fellowship’ is one of several membership reforms announced at the Society’s 2021 AGM, held on Friday 26 November. Collectively, these changes enable a wider range of historians to join the Society; for the Society to better provide resources for different audiences; and for members to continue their association with the Society and, with career progression, move more easily from one category to another.
Associate Fellowships recognise individuals within Higher Education who’ve made and are making a contribution to historical knowledge, but have not (yet) reached the level required for election to the full Fellowship.
Associate Fellowships are also offered to those active in sectors other than HE whose contribution to history is equally significant.
The Society’s new category of Associate Fellowship recognises the contribution to history made by those who do not currently qualify for the full RHS Fellowship, which is typically available to historians following publication of a monograph, a substantial set of scholarly articles, or an equivalent body of work.
By contrast, the Associate Fellowship will recognise individuals within Higher Education who’ve made a substantial contribution to historical knowledge — for example, by completing a PhD thesis and/or first set of journal articles — but have not (yet) reached the level required for election to the full Fellowship.
This is an important and growing body of academic historians, many of whom are beginning their careers in challenging circumstances. In creating the Associate Fellowship, the Society now offers a means by which historians like this are better able to join and contribute to the RHS.
The Associate Fellowship will also recognise the important work undertaken by those active in sectors other than higher education, including heritage, conservation, libraries and archives, teaching, broadcasting, publishing and community and public history. The contribution made by people in these sectors is equally significant but previously was not adequately recognised within the Society’s membership structure.
As for full Fellowships, the new Associate Fellowship is recognition, by members of the profession, of a contribution made to historical knowledge and understanding, and voted for by the RHS Council at its regular meetings. Further details of the principal benefits of the Associate Fellowship, and its annual subscription rates, are provided later in this post.
The new Postgraduate Membership category is open to all students currently enrolled for a further degree in History, or a related discipline, (MA and above) for the duration of a university course in the UK or overseas.
The second change to the Society’s membership structure sees the creation of a new Postgraduate Membership.
The new Postgraduate Member category will be open to all those currently enrolled for a further degree in History or a related discipline (MA and above) for the duration of their course (plus one year) at a UK or overseas university. In creating this new category we recognise the particular environments and experience of students undertaking further degrees to PhD level. The Postgraduate Membership seeks to provide more tailored support, for example in training events and grants, to assist students during their period of study and afterwards.
Further details of the principal benefits of the Postgraduate Membership, and its annual subscription rates, are provided later in this post.
The launch of the Associate Fellowships and Postgraduate memberships will also see an end to the Society’s current Early Career Membership category, which previously catered for all those research-focused historians who were not full Fellows.
Spanning PhD students at different stages of their research—as well as a wide range of post-docs, often several years out of their PhDs—the former ECR category catered for a very broad range of members, whom we seek to support more actively via these closely defined categories composed of historians at equivalent career stages.
Following these changes, in 2022 we will invite all existing members of the Society’s Early Career category either to remain as an ECR member, or to convert their membership to one of the two new categories: i.e. to Associate Fellowship, for those current advanced ECRs who have completed a PhD; or to Postgraduate Membership for those currently studying for a research degree. From now on, anyone wishing to join the Society—who was previously eligible only for ECR membership—will be able to do so via the new Associate Fellowship or Postgraduate Membership routes, as appropriate for their career stage.
Existing Fellowship and Membership categories
It is important to note that November’s changes to the Society’s membership will not affect criteria for joining the full Fellowship or becoming a Member of the RHS—the latter being a category open to anyone with an interest in history, but without the professional contribution required for Fellowship or Associate Fellowship; or who are not studying for a further degree as required for the Postgraduate category.
Many current Members of the Society are, of course, practising historians. Those Members who wish to apply for the new Associate Fellowship, on account of their contribution to history, will also be invited to do so. As for the current ECR members, we will contact these Members in 2022 to invite them to consider converting to either the PGR Membership or Associate Fellowship as appropriate.
The new RHS membership categories at a glance
The Society’s previous three membership categories now become four with the creation of the new Associate Fellowship and Postgraduate Memberships which replace the previous Early Career Research option.
What the new Associate Fellow and Postgraduate categories offer
The Society’s four new means of association (Fellow, Associate Fellow, Postgraduate, and Member) can better cater for the priorities and career stages of all those wishing to belong to the Society.
With the new Associate Fellowship category, the Society can now more readily recognise the contribution of those working in history beyond higher education. In doing so, we seek to welcome historians from new sectors into the membership.
As a result of November’s changes, the Society will be better able to provide tailored packages and support (e.g. training courses or access to specialist networks) to suit members’ specific interests. This is especially so for those in academia at the start of their research or professional careers: those who are either studying for a higher degree (and can take advantage of Postgraduate membership); or who’ve completed a PhD and are beginning to publish or starting a teaching career (‘Associate Fellowship’).
The Associate Fellowship also has the potential to broaden the Society’s membership beyond higher education, offering a means to recognise the contributions made by those in other professional sectors and via personal research. By encouraging greater diversity of membership through broader definitions of historical work, we hope to enrich members’ experience through closer co-operation with historians of different kinds and professional backgrounds.
Below you’ll find a summary of the principal benefits, and annual subscription fees, for the new categories of Associate Fellow and Postgraduate Member. The full extent of these membership offers will continue to be developed in 2022 and communicated to all existing members on completion. The Society intends to have a full set of new packages (of benefits and variable subscription rates) available for Fellows, Associate Fellows, Postgraduates and Members for the start of the next subscription year (1 July 2022) when the existing membership will be invited to move to a more appropriate category if they so wish.
From November 2021, Associate Fellows receive the following
From November 2021, Postgraduate Members receive the following
Progression between membership categories
The new structure also makes it easier for individuals to find their place in the Society, and also to move from one category to another as careers develop. We hope this enables many more existing members to retain an association with the Society, for as long as they wish; rather than (as previously) having to leave once membership of a time-limited category came to an end.
The new structure will enable the following progressions between categories, as careers and historical contributions develop.
For further information on the Society’s four membership categories (Fellowship, Associate Fellowship, Postgraduate and Member), please see the Join the RHS pages on the Society’s website. Questions about the new categories can be sent to email@example.com (headed ‘Membership’).