MRes Historical Research

Our postgraduate degree in historical research enables you to become a research-oriented historian, equipped to undertake research at a Doctoral level.

Historical Research

Key facts

  • Award Masters / MRes, Postgraduate Certificate
  • Start date September 2024
  • Duration MRes full-time: 12 months, MRes part-time: 24 months
  • Mode of study full time, part time
  • Delivery on campus

Overview

The Master of Research in Historical Research is a one-year research preparation Masters intended to prepare postgraduate for a research-based career and enable specialisation in particular historical topics.

The MRes is designed to:

  • train historians;
  • demonstrate your ability to undertake research to doctoral level at Stirling or other universities in Britain and overseas;
  • provide a foundation for applications to research councils (AHRC, ESRC) and doctoral training partnerships (including SGSAH) that fund PhD research;
  • prepare you for a research-based career;
  • enhance career prospects and career development.

These aims are achieved through the completion of independent study modules and skills training conducted under supervision. You’ll be allocated an individual supervisor to direct your study and plan the curriculum to reflect your interests and requirements.

Our course prepares you for further research by:

  • undertaking project design, identifying research questions, and presenting research findings;
  • enabling qualitative and quantitative data analysis;
  • practical experience in applying research methods to interrogate primary sources;
  • skills development in applying bibliographical software and database management;
  • developing written and verbal critical analysis.

Top reasons to study with us

Professional accreditation

The course is recognised by both the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council. Both have given PhD funding to outstanding Stirling graduates of the MRes some of whom are now in academic positions and pursuing research careers.

Work placements

Work placements can be arranged as training activities.

Flexible learning

If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.

Research overview

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), Stirling History was 3rd in Scotland for quality of research outputs and impact, and 15th in the UK for impact. External Examiners regularly praise our postgraduate research supervision and our dedication to nurturing the career development of postgraduate researchers.

All our staff are research active, and, with postgraduates, sustain a vibrant and inclusive research environment.

History staff offer particular strengths in African, American, British, environmental, European and Scottish history.

History staff publish widely in their fields, writing books, essays, and articles in leading academic journals, historical documentary editions, and online resources. Several have won awards for their work. Current and recent research projects have been funded by:

  • Arts and Humanities Research Council
  • Economic and Social Research Council
  • Historic Environment Scotland
  • The Carnegie Trust
  • The Joseph Rowntree Foundation
  • The Colonial Society of Massachusetts
  • The British Academy
  • The Royal Society of Edinburgh
  • The Leverhulme Trust

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a Second Class Honours degree (2:1 preferred) in a relevant subject or equivalent is required. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

A research proposal is required along with your application. It should be a maximum of 1,500 words.

International entry requirements

View the entry requirements for your country.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS Academic or UKVI 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each sub-skill.
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 61 overall with 56 in each sub-skill.
  • IBT TOEFL 80 overall with 18 in reading, 23 in writing, 19 in listening and 21 in speaking.

See our information on English language requirements for more details on the language tests we accept and options to waive these requirements.

Pre-sessional English language courses

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses.

Course details

The Master of Research in Historical Research is a one-year research-oriented course that and allows specialisation in particular historical areas. You will be allocated an individual supervisor to direct your independent study and plan the curriculum to reflect your interests and needs. You should maintain regular contact with supervisors and agree a schedule of meetings to discuss your work and review draft submissions.

The course is split into four sections:

Historiography

You’ll undertake independent study of the literature of a chosen historical field. Coursework comprises a 10,000-word paper that critically reviews historians' works, and identifies a topic suitable for original research in a dissertation. There are no classes. One-to-one supervisory sessions are scheduled at mutually convenient times.

Research skills training

You’ll plan a personal itinerary, with direction, of specific activities to support your research project. Activities cover generic skills, employability skills, breadth of knowledge, and subject skills. These can entail attendance at workshops on dissertation planning and research design, preparing a research bibliography, learning a research method, building a database, undertaking archival research, document analysis, and engaging with personal development. Additionally, there are opportunities for workshops in historical research methodology and classes in Latin and palaeography. Alternatively, students can enrol in taught social research modules covering qualitative and quantitative methods.

Sources and methods

You’ll discuss with your supervisor how to apply your research skills to historical evidence. You will examine a body of sources related to your research topic and practice the methods you 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. There’s also a skills test to ascertain competency in source analysis and try out methods before applying in the dissertation.

Dissertation

Having researched the existing secondary literature and the primary sources, and having received training in appropriate research skills, you will then go on to complete a dissertation of up to 20,000 words.

Modules

The module information below provides an example of the types of course module you may study. The details listed are for the current academic year (September 2023). Modules and start dates are regularly reviewed and may be subject to change in future years.

Course Details

Teaching

Delivery of the MRes is mainly through one-to-one sessions with the member of staff who will supervise your dissertation and provide direct feedback on the modules on Historiography and Sources and Methods.

Research skills training is planned in discussion with your supervisor and requires completion of two independent study modules taken over two semesters. Coursework in the first semester comprises a reflective portfolio on skills’ activities and in the second semester analysis of a discrete body of historical sources (such as text corpora or datasets) complementing work undertaken in the Sources and Methods module or the applied social research modules. You’ll also attend history research seminars and present a short working paper at the History postgraduate symposium in June.

Fees and funding

Fees and costs

2023/242024/25
Students from the UK and Republic of Ireland£7,600£8,000
International (including EU) students£17,775£18,700

University of Stirling alumni will automatically be awarded a fee waiver for the first year of Masters studies through our  Stirling Alumni Scholarship.

Applicants from the UK or Republic of Ireland who hold a first-class honours degree or equivalent will automatically be awarded a £2,000 scholarship through our Postgraduate Merit Scholarship

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course. 

If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for additional fees. 

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry. 

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Eligible students could receive a scholarship worth between £4,000-£7,000. See our range of generous scholarships for international postgraduate students.

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course. 

If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for additional fees. 

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry. 

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Postgraduate tuition fee loans

This course is eligible for a postgraduate tuition fee loan from one of the UK’s governments. See the section, below, for more details.

Additional costs

There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

Scholarships and funding

Funding 

Eligible international students could receive a scholarship worth between £4,000-£7,000. See our range of generous scholarships for international postgraduate students.

University of Stirling alumni will automatically be awarded a fee waiver for the first year of Masters studies through our Stirling Alumni Scholarship.

Applicants from the UK or Republic of Ireland who hold a first-class honours degree or equivalent will automatically be awarded a £2,000 scholarship through our Postgraduate Merit Scholarship.

If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances.

Learn more about available funding opportunities or use our scholarship finder to explore our range of scholarships.

Postgraduate tuition fee loans

Scottish students may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for loans of up to £11,500 to cover tuition fees and associated living costs.

English students can apply for a loan of up to £12,167 each year as part of the Postgraduate Masters Loan Scheme.

Welsh students can apply for financial support of up to £18,770 as a combination of grant and loan from Student Finance Wales.

Northern Irish students can apply for a postgraduate tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 from Student Finance NI.

John Robert Hamilton Memorial Scholarship

The John Robert Hamilton Memorial Scholarship is available to give financial support to postgraduate students taking their history Masters degree at the University of Stirling.

Cost of living

If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

International (including EU) students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support.

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay

After you graduate

The MRes Historical Research 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

Taking the MRes can also enhance your continuing professional development and prepare you for a research-based career, particularly in academic research, teaching, journalism, marketing, government, and heritage management. By helping you develop critical analytical skills and research techniques, the course provides preparation for a wide variety of research-based careers in the public and private sectors.

Where are our graduates now?

Many 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 teaching, Historic Scotland, Falkirk Council, the Scottish Government, Sea World, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), and the UK Civil Service.

MRes Historical Research graduates have been successful in securing external funding to help their research abroad. Dr Christopher Minty, who graduated MRes in 2011, pursued doctoral research on the American Revolution for his Stirling PhD (2015) and was awarded several grants for research in the United States including the prestigious William A Dearborn Fellowship in American History, Houghton Library, Harvard University; the  Robert L. Middlekauff Fellowship at the Huntington Library, California; and the Larry J Hackman Research Residency, New York State Archives. He is currently an editor and historian at The Center for Digital Editing, University of Virginia. Dr Shaun Wallace, who took the MRes in 2011-12, secured ESRC funding for a PhD and other support to conduct research in the United States. He is now a member of faculty at the University of Bristol. Both are publishing their first books. Recent graduate Ross Miller (2020) is now a school teacher, while Rebecca Main (2020) is researching historical plagues for her PhD; several graduates from 2022 are presently pursuing PhDs in Scottish history.

Testimonial quotes

“I knew I would enjoy having the flexibility to research what I wanted. I found this to be the best feature of the degree because I find it stimulating when incorporating different fields into my research.”

Rebecca Main, MRes Historical Research

“The year I spent undertaking the MRes Historical Research course at Stirling University was by far the most rewarding I have experienced throughout my time at University. The support from the faculty and supervisor was of the highest calibre, with their knowledge and expertise second to none. The skills and attributes I have gained as a result of this course will be crucial tools for anyone wishing to pursue a future career in academia or research.”

Ross Miller, MRes Historical Research

Employability skills

We offer a comprehensive employability and skills programme to help you maximise your time at university and develop the attributes that employers look for. In the Faculty of Arts and Humanities we have a dedicated Employability and Skills Officer. The University of Stirling’s Career and Employability Service also works in partnership with academic staff to ensure you get the most out of your University experience and are ready for the employment market.

Skills you can develop through this course include:

  • a 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
  • marshal 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
  • effectively use ICT, information retrieval
  • presentation skills
  • exercise self-discipline, self-direction and initiative
  • work with others and have respect for others’ reasoned views
  • show empathy and imaginative insight

Our students also have the opportunity to further develop their transferable skills through voluntary internships working on collections of material held within the Faculty - The Scottish Political Archive and the University's own archive.

What our students said

Ross Miller
Ross Miller
Scotland, United Kingdom
MRes Historical Research
The course really deepens your historical knowledge, helps you to learn lots of different research methods and improves the way you process numerical data.
Read Ross's story

Which course would you like to apply for?

MRes Historical Research

Search for another course