Postgraduate study

Scottish History

Awards: MScR

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: Scottish History

The MSc by Research in Scottish History is aimed at students who have a specific topic of interest into which they wish to conduct their own research.

The programme provides structured research training while at the same time enabling you to pursue a research project that you design yourself, in consultation with supervisors. It serves as both a self-contained research degree and a preparation for further study for the PhD degree.

History at Edinburgh is one of the largest and most distinguished departments of its kind. In fact, we hold the oldest established Chair in Scottish History.

Our teaching offers a rich diversity of topics, delivered by a diverse, multinational group of historians whose interests cross many periods, regions and specialisms.

From the Picts to the founding of the new Scottish Parliament, we can offer expertise in all periods of study, from early medieval times to the present day. Other members of staff have published extensively on topics including early medieval battles, late medieval kingship, saints’ cults, urban history, the Reformation, the witch hunt, government and finance, the Highlands in all periods, Scotland’s external relations (especially with America) and its place in the Union.

Scottish History is home to the Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies, the first such research unit in the field. The Centre was formally established in spring 2008 to advance historical enquiry into this vital subject.

You will be assigned two supervisors who provide expert academic guidance on your chosen research topic. You will meet regularly to discuss your progress and research plans, as well as drafts of your thesis/dissertation chapters, conference papers and potential articles.

In addition to individual supervision, you will also have access to research training and postgraduate seminars.

Our home is the William Robertson Wing, an A-listed building on the southern edge of Edinburgh’s Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Designed by the distinguished 19th-century architect Sir Robert Rowand Anderson, the building – part of the University’s Old Medical School – has recently been refurbished to an exceptional standard, providing state-of-the-art facilities for research, teaching and study.

Graduate students are able to use two further large School study and resource rooms, which are open to all staff and students. There is access to lockers equipped with laptop charging facilities as well as standard lockers.

The building is wireless enabled and includes state of the art teaching rooms, meeting rooms, a common room, a refreshment area, and open social/breakout areas.

You can choose to complete the MSc by Research degree in one of two ways:

  1. A long dissertation of 30,000 words, accompanied by two compulsory training courses (Historical Research: Skills and Sources and Historical Methodology) and further option courses.

  2. A 15,000-word dissertation accompanied by the compulsory training courses and two directed reading and research courses (the total word count for all work submitted will be 30,000).

You will be assigned two dissertation supervisors at the outset of the programme.

Learning outcomes

The programme will enable you to:

  • develop a specific body of advanced knowledge
  • become competent in advanced historical methodology and in the evaluation of evidence through the close study of relevant primary and secondary sources
  • become familiar with historiographical debates and modes of historical explanation
  • develop rigorous historical argument
  • conceive and execute a coherent project in historical research and writing

Career opportunities

The concentration on research under supervision makes this degree suitable for those contemplating doctoral study, whether in our own School or elsewhere, and many who take this degree follow that route.

But undertaking substantial and independent research and a writing project is equally excellent preparation for a wide variety of careers.

A UK 2:1 degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant discipline is usually required.

For the long dissertation route, only candidates with a first degree in a clearly relevant field, who submit a strong and viable research proposal, will be considered.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your spoken and written English:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)

If you completed a CAE or CPE before January 2015 please contact the Admissions Office for the accepted grades.

Find out more about our language requirements:

  • Programme Director, Professor Ewen Cameron
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 4031
  • Email: e.cameron@ed.ac.uk
  • School of History, Classics & Archaeology
  • Graduate School Office, Room 2.29, William Robertson Wing
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit two references with your application.

You must submit a research proposal demonstrating your knowledge of your field of research, which will be closely scrutinised as part of the decision-making process.

Two supervisors will be appointed to work with you on the project: it is a good idea to consult with prospective supervisors before applying.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Programme Director, Professor Ewen Cameron
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 4031
  • Email: e.cameron@ed.ac.uk
  • School of History, Classics & Archaeology
  • Graduate School Office, Room 2.29, William Robertson Wing
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG