The Master's of Research in Historical Research is a one-year course that is research-oriented and allows specialisation in particular research areas. Students are allocated an individual supervisor to direct their independent study and plan the curriculum to reflect their interests and needs. Students should maintain regular contact with supervisors through email and an agreed schedule of meetings to discuss their work and review draft submissions.
The Master's of Research (MRes) is designed
- to enable students to become well-trained historians
- to demonstrate their fitness to undertake research to doctoral level at Stirling or other universities in Britain and overseas. Both are achieved through the completion of independent study modules, field seminars and skills training, under supervision.
There are three variants of the MRes in Historical Research:
- MRes in Historical Research: The American Revolutionary Era
- MRes in Historial Research: Medieval Scottish History
- MRes in Historical Research: Environmental History
Students are allocated an individual supervisor to direct their independent study and plan the curriculum to reflect their interests and needs.
The MRes programme and all constituent modules are constructed in line with the University's academic procedures and are fully assessed and externally examined. The programme is recognised by both the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council. The former has awarded scholarships for the programme and both councils have given PhD awards to outstanding Stirling graduates of the MRes.
This programme prepares you for further research:
A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.
Research proposal required (1,500 word maximum).
English language requirements
If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 (6.0 in all bands).
If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard.
Our range of pre-sessional courses.
Modes of study
The Master's of Research in Historical Research is a one-year taught programme that is research-oriented and allows specialisation in particular research areas. Students are allocated an individual supervisor to direct their independent study and plan the curriculum to reflect their interests and needs. Students should maintain regular contact with supervisors through email and an agreed schedule of meetings to discuss their work and review draft submissions.
Course start date
Structure and content
The Master of Research in Historical Research is a one-year programme that is research-oriented and allows specialisation in particular research areas. Students are allocated an individual supervisor to direct their independent study and plan the curriculum to reflect their interests and needs. Students should maintain regular contact with supervisors through email and an agreed schedule of meetings to discuss their work and review draft submissions.
Historiography: Students taking the MRes undertake independant study of the historical literature of a chosen field. Coursework comprises a 10,000-word paper that critically reviews historians' works and identifies a topic suitable for original research in a dissertation (module 4 below). There are no classes; one-to-one supervisory sessions are scheduled at mutually convenient times.
Research Skills Training: Students plan a personal litinerary, with direction, that entails attendance at events organised by the Stirling Graduate School and Stirling historians through training modules. Sessions include personal development and career planning, making grant applications, undertaking qualitative and quantitative analyses and database management. An intensive, one-week programme covers history-specific related discipline skills including historical approaches, documentary editing, palaeography, and using biographical sources. Extra classes in languages can be arranged. Students attend History research seminars and present a short working paper at the History postgraduate symposium in June. Coursework involves the preparation of a research bibliography for the dissertation and due performance at skills workshops.
Sources and Methods: Students discuss with their supervisor how to apply and develop their research skills. This may entail further training, such as in languages or palaeography, or attendance at external courses on relational database construction or social theory. Students also examine a body of sources related to their research topic, and practice the methods that they have been learning. Coursework comprises: a 5,000-word paper explaining the research 'value' and significance of the selected sources and setting out the appropriate concepts, theories and methods to be used in analysis and interpretation; and a skills test based on methods and sources.
Dissertation: Having researched the existing secondary literature and the primary sources, and having received training in appropriate research skills, students now go on to complete a dissertation of up to 20,000 words.
Delivery and assessment
Delivery is primarily through one to one sessions with the member of staff who will supervise your dissertation and provide direct feedback on Historiography and Sources and Methods. Training and skills elements are planned in discussion with your supervisor and these will comprise activities in four areas: generic skills; employability skills' breadth of knowledge, subject-specific skills. Students must attend the one-week programme and history and related discipline skills in early December and must give a short paper on their own research at the Stirling postgraduate conference in early June.
Academic Year 2015/16
- Training for Masters in the Arts and Humanities or Quantitative Data Analysis
- Revolution and Counter-Revolution
- Historiography and Concepts
- The Imperial Crisis
- The American Revolution
- Medieval Scottish History
- Environmental Historiography
- Training for Masters in the Arts and Humanities or Qualitative Data Analysis Sources and Methods
Study abroad opportunities
A significant proportion of our graduates continue their studies abroad, mainly in the USA.
Students who have undertaken the MRes have been successful in securing external funding to help their research abroad. Chris Minty, who graduated from the MRes in 2011 and is currently undertaking his PhD at Stirling has recently been awarded two prestigious Fellowships. These are the William A. Dearborn Fellowship in American History, Houghton Library, Harvard University, and a Robert L. Middlekauff Fellowship at the Huntington Library. Chris has already held a number of other fellowships:
- Larry J. Hackman Research Residency, New York State Archives, 2012-2013
- Eccles Centre Fellowship, British Library
- Gilder Lehrman Fellowship, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
- Jacob M. Price Short-Term Visiting Fellowship, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
- United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada Scholarship for 2012-2014
Why study Historical Research at Stirling?
Dr Jim Smyth
In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.
Our research in History and Politics was assessed in the most recent UK Research Assessment Exercise, and found to be of internationally excellence: you can read about our ratings and find details about out submissions here. Every member of both departments (which were then separate entities) was included, as we take pride in the fact that we are all research active, and all contribute alongside our postgraduate students to a vibrant and inclusive research environment.
History staff offer particular strengths in African, American, British, environmental, European, and Scottish history. Our History staff have common interests in themes including the 18th-century transatlantic world, kingship and lordship, parliament, identity and ethnicity, religion, ideology, war, revolution and counter-revolution, colonialism, gender, health, housing, welfare, historiography, archive record-linkage, land use, urban history, environmental history, mining, natural resources and waste.
History staff publish widely through monographs, collections of essays and in leading journals in the discipline. A number of our colleagues have won awards for their work such as Dr Ben Marsh in eighteenth century American History and Dr Alastair Mann and Dr Michael Penman, in early modern and medieval Scottish History. Current and recent research projects have been funded by (among others): the AHRC, EHRC, the Carnegie Trust, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, the British Academy, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
For staff research areas and specialisms please refer to our staff directory.
Please see testimonials from our students.
The MRes has been designed with three career destinations in mind:
- to prepare graduate students for further research at doctoral level
- as a route to an academic career
- as a higher degree in its own right
The MRes will also enhance continuing professional development, particularly in teaching, journalism, marketing, and heritage management through in-depth study of particular fields; by aiming to develop critical analytical skills and research techniques, the programme provides preparation for a wide variety of research-based careers in the public and private sectors.
Most of our graduates go on to study for a PhD either by continuing at Stirling or at another University in the UK, Europe or North America. Recent graduates have secured posts in firms and institutions as varied as Historic Scotland, Sea World, and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).
Chances to expand your horizons
There is a lively series of guest lectures which students can attend on this programme.
Where are our graduates now?
The MRes has been designed with three career destinations in mind:
- to prepare graduate students for further research at doctoral level and as a route to an academic career
- as a higher degree in its own right
- to enhance continuing professional development, particularly in teaching, journalism, marketing, and heritage management through in-depth study of particular fields; by aiming to develop critical analytical skills and research techniques, the programme provides preparation for a wide variety of research-based careers in the public and private sectors
Skills you can develop through this programme
- command of a substantial body of historical knowledge
- understand how people have existed, acted and thought in the context of the past
- read and use texts and other source materials critically and empathetically
- appreciate the complexity and diversity of situations, events and past mentalities
- recognise there are ways of testing statements and that there are rules of evidence which require integrity and maturity
- reflect critically on the nature and theoretical underpinnings of the discipline
- marshall an argument, be self-disciplined and independent intellectually
- express themselves orally and in writing with coherence, clarity and fluency
- gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information
- analyse and solve problems
- use effectively ICT, information retrieval and presentation skills
- exercise self-discipline, self-direction and initiative
- work with others and have respect for others’ reasoned views
- show empathy and imaginative insight
- prepare for further academic research such as a Phd
In addition, our students have the opportunity to further develop their transferable skills through voluntary internships working on collections of material held within the Division (The Scottish Political Archive and the University's own archive (e.g. UNESCO recognised Royal Scottish National Institution for mentally disabled children).
You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.
Possible sources of funding:
The University of Stirling is offering any UK or European Union student with a First Class Honours degree (or equivalent) a £2,000 scholarship to study full-time on any taught Masters course or £1,000 for part-time study. Further information on scholarships is available here.