Historical Research MA

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Pursue your passion. Strengthen your research skills and knowledge. Immerse yourself in history.

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Deepen your understanding of history and the nature of historical research with this challenging and rewarding MA degree.

You’ll develop excellent skills as an independent researcher, which will be invaluable for a career in either academia or industry.

Why us?

  • ‘World-leading' research in History, according to the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF)
  • Gain practical experience in organising an academic symposium
  • Be part of a friendly and supportive academic department

Course structure

This course is taught with a mixture of face-to-face and online teaching. Face-to-face sessions will generally take the form of seminars or workshops. Online activities will include discussion forums and short written exercises. Your progress will be assessed with essays, presentations, online portfolios, and your final dissertation.

Compared to an undergraduate course, you will find that this Masters course requires a higher level of independent working.

Modules on this course

Please note that not all options will be available every year, as they are dependent on the size of the student cohort and the availability of staff. In any one academic year, no more than two optional modules (2 x 30 credits) will be offered. Optional modules all run in Semester 2. 

Core modules Dissertation Route:

  • History in ancient and contemporary debates (30 credits)
  • The profession of the historian (30 credits)
  • Dissertation Feasibility study (30 credits)
  • History Dissertation (60 credits)

Core modules Extended Dissertation Route:

  • History in ancient and contemporary debates (30 credits)
  • The profession of the historian (30 credits)
  • Dissertation Feasibility study (30 credits)
  • Extended History Dissertation (90 credits)

Optional modules (For the dissertation route only):

Choose modules to the value of 30 credits from the following list:

  • Foundations of Liberty in Early Modern Thought: Resistance and Religious Toleration (30 credits)
  • Suicide in historical perspective (30 credits)
  • Revolution in Science and Art 1870-1920 (30 credits)
  • Britain between the Wars (30 credits)
  • Human Rights in History (30 credits)
  • Law and Society in Early Modern England: Community, Deviance and Social Order, 1550-1800 (30 credits)


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

  • You can access free Wi-Fi throughout the University campus, so you can work from anywhere. If you don't want to carry a laptop around, just use one of the University’s PCs or Apple Macs. We have hundreds of computers for you to use in the Murray Library, St Peter's Library, and the David Goldman Informatics Centre. If you ever have any technical problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.

    IT provision
  • We’ve got thousands of History books and e-books, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles.

    Library resources which you might find particularly useful for Historical Research MA include:

    • House of Commons Parliamentary Papers including bills, registers and journals
    • Early English Books Online, which provides digital images of virtually every work printed in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and British North America during 1473-1800
    • Eighteenth Century Collections Online, which provides 136,000 full-text publications from 1701-1800
    • Periodicals Archive Online, which provides digitised literary journals
    • Archival Sound Recordings with over 12,000 hours of recordings
    • JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’), which provides access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences
    • Lexis, which provides access to legal information as well as full-text newspaper articles
    • Nineteenth Century British Library Newspapers, with full runs of 48 titles
    Library Services - history
  • The University’s Murray Library is home to the physical archive of the North East England Mining Archive and Resource Centre. This contains mining records, technical reports, trade union records and health and safety information.






    Mining Archive and Resource Centre
  • The Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s is nestled between the River Wear and the sea, just two minutes from the coast, and set in expansive green space on the banks of the river next to the historic St Peter's Church. This provides a picturesque backdrop and a great location for travelling to the beach or the city centre.

    The Reg Vardy Centre is a self-contained teaching and learning facility which houses a café as well as a specially designed discussion and breakout area. The building is also home to the University’s Moot Court and features high-spec IT equipment throughout all of its lecture and seminar rooms.

    Reg Vardy Centre
  • Map and directions


You’ll be based at The Reg Vardy Centre, on the Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s. The Reg Vardy Centre is a modern building with views of the river, and just a short walk from both the coast and Sunderland town centre.







Entry requirements

Our typical offer is

  • 2:1 classification or equivalent from a Canadian bachelor's degree
  • 2:1 classification or equivalent from a USA bachelor's degree

. You must hold a degree in a cognate discipline or able to demonstrate a background and/or interest in history.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or an equivalent qualification, for example; a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have studied for a new GCSE for which you will be awarded a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above.

Applicants whose first language is not English must achieve a minimum IELTS band score of 6.5, with no less than 6.5 in any element.

Fees and finance

The fees for 2020 entry are tbc.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

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This information was correct at the time of publication.

The Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's by night


An MA in Historical Research demonstrates extremely high levels of critical thinking, collecting and analysing data, working independently, and communication.

These skills transfer very well to a wide range of sectors. Many graduates also go on to work in museums, archives, education, journalism, and law.

History Symposium

One of the core modules on this course is 'The Profession of the historian (Symposium/Webinar)'. In this module you will help organise a mini symposium, and develop skills in the practical and administrative experience of organising an academic event.



History Lab

History Lab is a student-run society which organises history-related guest lectures, discussions, and social events. It’s a chance to hear about little-known histories – recent topics include political caricatures in 19th Century France, pharmacy in Ancient Egypt, and sedition in 17th Century America.

Meet the team

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