MSc Historical Research

Become a research-oriented historian, equipped to undertake research at a Doctoral level. Our MSc teaches skills necessary to be a social and economic historian, and involves the completion of research projects.

Historical Research

Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
  • Start date September 2022
  • Duration MSc full-time: 12 months, MSc part-time: 24 months
  • Mode of study Part-time, Full-time, Campus based, Stand-alone modules

Overview

The Master of Science in Historical Research is a one-year research preparation course intended to prepare postgraduates for a research-based career and enable specialisation in social and/or economic history.

The MSc is designed to:

  • train historians in social research methods
  • demonstrate your ability to undertake interdisciplinary 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
  • specifically prepare graduates to apply to the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science for PhD studentship funding in social and economic history (see below under professional accreditation)
  • prepare you for a research-based career
  • enhance career prospects and career development

These aims are achieved through the completion of independent study modules, taught modules in applied social research, optional study modules appropriate to your field of study, and skills training conducted under supervision. You’ll be allocated an individual supervisor to direct your dissertation and plan your programme.

Our course prepares you for further research by:

  • compulsory taught modules in project design, qualitative and quantitative data analysis
  • directed independent study in the historiography of a research topic
  • skills development in statistical and database packages
  • self-directed skills training
  • practical experience in applying research methods to interrogate primary sources and datasets in the dissertation
  • developing written and verbal critical analysis

Top reasons to study with us

Professional accreditation

The course is recognised by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and is designed to meet the requirements of the Economic and Social Research Council. It trains students in social research methods necessary for applicants seeking SGSSS PhD studentships and can be taken as a funded research training Masters linked to a three-year PhD programme in social or economic history.

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 2014), 100% of our research impact in History was rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. The REF 2014 panel also stated that our work in postgraduate research supervision in combination with the nurturing and career development of postgraduate research students was outstanding. All our staff are research active, and, with postgraduates, sustain a vibrant and inclusive research environment.

History staff offer particular strengths in the social history of Africa, North America, Great Britain, modern Europe, and Scotland from the medieval to modern periods, along with strengths in environmental history.

History staff publish widely in their fields, writing books, essays, 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
  • 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.

English language requirements

Due to disruption in English Language testing caused by COVID-19, we are accepting alternative English Language tests (including online English Language Tests).

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

  • IELTS Indicator 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each sub-skill
  • Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) 176 overall with a minimum of 169 in each sub-skill
  • Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE) 180 overall with a minimum of 169 in each sub-skill
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 62 overall with 60 in each sub-skill
  • IBT TOEFL 80 overall with 18 in reading, 23 in writing, 19 in listening and 21 in speaking
  • IBT TOEFL Special Home Edition Test 80 overall with 18 in reading, 23 in writing, 19 in listening and 21 in speaking
  • Trinity ISE II Pass overall and Merit in all sub-skills, ISE III Pass overall and in all sub-skills, ISE IV Pass overall and in all sub-skills
  • Aptis (4 skills) CEFR B2 overall and B2 in all sub-skills
  • Duolingo 105 overall with a minimum of 95 in each sub-skill
  • LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator - High Pass with a minimum of 152/200 overall and 33 in each sub-skill

Last updated: 20 December 2021

If you are from India, Bangladesh, Ghana or Nigeria please also check your country/region specific page for any additional, or changes to, English language requirements.

For more information on ways that you can meet our English language requirements, including options to waive the requirement, please read our information on English language 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 Science  in Historical Research is a one-year research and skills-oriented course that and allows specialisation in particular historical areas as well as development of social science skills and methodologies. You will be allocated an individual supervisor to direct your independent study and plan the curriculum to reflect your interests and training 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:

Social science research methods

You will take compulsory modules in Research Design and Process, Quantitative Data Analysis, and Qualitative Data Analysis.  These core modules will teach you data analysis (e.g. providing training in STATA software) and you will be encouraged to apply quantitative and qualitative analysis to historical evidence in History modules.

Discipline-specific training module in Historiography   

You will take an additional compulsory module in Historiography which involves 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.

Additional optional modules

You will be able to tailor the curriculum according to you own field of study and training needs, and in consultation with your supervisor and Programme Director.  You will be able to choose from additional research skills training, which involves planning (with direction) a personal itinerary of specific activities to support your research project. Activities cover generic skills, employability skills, breadth of knowledge, and subject skills. There are opportunities for workshops in historical research methodology, languages, and palaeography. You may choose further modules in Sources and Methods where you will discuss with your supervisor how to apply 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. Alternatively you may also choose from a wide range of taught modules offered across various faculties, appropriate to your field of study and in discussion with your supervisor.  These range from The Nature of Social Enquiry, to Social Network Analysis, or Theories and Methods of Digital Social Research.

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 2021). Modules and start dates are regularly reviewed and may be subject to change in future years.

Course Details

Teaching

Delivery of the MSc is through a combination of taught modules, where you will have weekly seminars with members of staff, or in taught modules which consist largely of one-to-one sessions with the member of staff who will supervise your dissertation and provide direct feedback. Your overall curriculum is planned in discussion with your supervisor and approved by the Programme Director.

Assessment

You will be required to submit coursework and attend workshops as directed; 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

  2021/22 2022/23
Students from the UK£6,600£7,100
Students from the Republic of Ireland£6,600£7,100
Overseas (non-EU) students£16,775£17,275
European Union students£16,775£17,275

Students from the UK

Course fees

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

If you need to extend your period of study or repeat study, you will 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.

Students from the Republic of Ireland

Course fees

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

If you need to extend your period of study or repeat study, you will 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.

European Union students

EU Postgraduate Scholarship

Eligible EU students will automatically receive our EU Postgraduate Scholarship, which provides a 40% fee discount on full-time postgraduate degrees at the University of Stirling.

Course fees

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

If you need to extend your period of study, you will 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.

Overseas students (non-EU)

We offer a range of funding options for overseas students.

Course fees

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

Postgraduate tuition fee loans

Scottish students may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for loans of up to £10,000 to cover tuition fees and associated living costs.

English students can apply for a loan of up to £11,570 each year as part of the Postgraduate Masters Loan Scheme.

Welsh students can apply for financial support of up to £18,025 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.

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.

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.

European Union and overseas 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 MSc 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 MSc 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 firms and institutions as varied as Historic Scotland, the Scottish Government, Sea World and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). The first intake of MSc students in 2021 will be breaking new pathways.

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.

Changes at Stirling

Find out about important changes including how you'll be taught, start dates and how we're making campus safer.

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