Postgraduate archival skills training (PAST)

Being able to use archives and original documents is a key aspect of academic research across a number of disciplines, but it can seem like a daunting and time-consuming task.

The National Archives runs a programme called postgraduate archival skills training (PAST) to help you get started in the archives and gain the skills and knowledge needed to take your research further.

All sessions are delivered by our records specialists and are based on working with original documents from our collections.

The PAST training programme consists of three core levels:

  1. Introduction to archival research days
  2. Skills and Methodology workshops
  3. Records workshops

Explore the sessions below to find out more about each level and to see, and book, upcoming dates.

Watch an introduction to PAST

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Watch on YouTube

If you have further questions about the PAST programme, please email If you'd like to receive information about upcoming PAST sessions through our research newsletter, email

Introduction to archival research days (Level 1)

Aimed at third-year undergraduate and postgraduate students, these one-day workshops are designed to show you how to get started in the archives, find original documents for your research and make the most of your time on site. Find out when they're taking place and how to book.

Skills and methodology workshops (Level 2)

Aimed at taught postgraduate and PhD students (although other researchers are welcome to attend), these workshops cover the essential skills needed to use the archives and records in their field. Find out when they're taking place and how to book.

Records workshops (Level 3)

Aimed at PhD students, postdocs and early-career researchers, and open to professionals from the archive, heritage and research sectors, these workshops provide detailed research guidance on key document collections held by The National Archives. Find out when they're taking place and how to book.

Thematic overviews (short online workshops)

Aimed at third-year undergraduate students, postgraduate students and early-career researchers, these half-day workshops are designed to give you an overview of a particular historical theme and offer an insight into the types of records held by The National Archives that could be useful in researching this theme. Find out when they're taking place and how to book.