Graduate School


The online MSc History is delivered entirely online. Both the core and option courses are taught through a combination of live virtual seminars and online forums.

The University of Edinburgh is home to one of the largest groups of historians in the United Kingdom, covering almost every major area of historical inquiry, and facilitating intellectual breadth and imagination whilst studying. This range of expertise is reflected in the broad scope of option courses and dissertation topics available on the Online Masters in History.

See available courses

Our approach

You will gain advanced knowledge and understanding of selected topics in history, as well as enhance your skills in independent research, critical analysis, and both oral and written presentation.

The teaching materials are written for the courses and the reading material is provided online through ebooks, eReserves and eJournal articles. Some course authors may suggest a few optional books that are recommended, but not essential for your studies.

All of our teaching is divided into themed weeks. The method of teaching will vary from course to course and may include screencast (pre-recorded) lectures, group work and reflective diary posts. Each course has a dedicated lecturer responsible for running it and you can expect to receive regular feedback on your discussion posts and all written assignments from them. 

We expect that full-time students will study for approximately 35 hours a week and for part-time students between 12-15 hours a week on each option or core course; spent reading, writing and attending seminars. This may vary week-by-week depending on the assessment.

Teaching with Technology award

Programme Co-Director Dr David Kaufman won the Teaching with Technology award at the 2014 EUSA Teaching Awards, in recognition of his commitment to the online History MSc programme. David was also runner-up in the Best Personal Tutor category, acknowledging the positive impact he has on his students' learning experience.

Example of a discussion forum used on the online MSc in History
Example of a discussion forum from the core course 'Historical Research: Skills & Sources'


A comprehensive online induction for new students introduces our virtual learning environment and teaching methods prior to the start of your first semester. Through the induction you will lay the foundations for a good working relationship with course authors and classmates, gain confidence in the technology and establish a clear sense of what to expect from the programme and what is expected of you.

Before the induction we will post a Welcome Pack to you. In it you will find essential advice about the University and the organisation of the programme. 

Forum Seminars

Learn, our e-learning platform, is where the forum seminars are held. During forum weeks discussions will engage with key readings or selected documents and are based around certain set tasks in the first half of the week, which will lead into a student-led discussion as the week progresses. The forums are moderated and guided by the course author.

Live Seminars

Learn screenshot
Blackboard Collaborate in action during a live seminar

Blackboard Collaborate is the e-learning platform we use to connect academic members of staff and students from all over the world in our live seminars. It enables you to contribute to the session using a microphone (and optionally a webcam) as well as a text chat. Live seminars provide a chance to interact face to face with other students and the course tutor. Many aspects of the traditional classroom are recreated virtually, for example the tutor uses a virtual whiteboard and you can even raise your hand to ask a question.

Attendance at live seminars is not mandatory. To provide more flexibility all sessions are recorded and can be watched at your leisure.

Tutor contact

The course author will be engaging in the debates on the discussion forum, providing guidance and feedback and leading live seminars in Blackboard Collaborate.

Additional contact with course authors is available via multiple channels: you can arrange a Skype call, meet in the virtual classroom, exchange emails or schedule a phone call.

You will also have an allocated Personal Tutor (who may or may not be the author of the courses you take). Their role is to:

  • Provide you with academic and pastoral support. 
  • Advise you about your choice of courses. 
  • Support you as you plan your programme of study. 
  • Help you address personal problems affecting your academic work. 

Example of pre-recorded lecture

Example of a screencast (pre-recorded lecture) by Dr David Kaufman, taken from our taster course.