Postgraduate study

Intellectual History MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Intellectual History

Ideas and patterns of thought always have been, and continue to be, subject to historical change. The ways in which they change, and the reasons why they do so, make for fascinating study. In this comprehensive programme, you’ll be introduced to the principal methodologies of intellectual history. You will also have the opportunity to explore particular themes in intellectual history, developing a detailed understanding of their origins, historical circumstances and implications.

By the end of the programme you will have the tools you need to appreciate the interdependence of text and context and the importance of ideas in past and present, as well as the ability to research effectively and present your work with confidence.

You will take a variety of seminar-style courses in small groups. Most courses are assessed by means of an extended piece of written work, while some courses may also assess non-written skills. You will complete two compulsory courses and select a further four options from a wide range on offer. You will then complete an independent research dissertation and will be assigned a supervisor from the outset.

The compulsory courses are:

  • Historical Methodology
  • Historical Research: Skills and Sources

Option courses previously offered include those listed below. Option courses change from year to year and those available when you start your studies may be different from those shown in the list:

  • Myth and the History of Scholarship in Early Modern Europe
  • The Scientific Revolution in Global Perspective
  • Citizens and Subjects: Concepts of Citizenship in Modern African Intellectual History
  • Currents of Radicalism, 1776-1848
  • Debating Marriage from Antiquity to the Middle Ages
  • History as Romance, Profession, Critique: Theory and Scholarship in the West, 1835 to 1985
  • Literature and History in Early Medieval Britain and Ireland
  • Thinking the 20th Century - Hannah Arendt and the Breakdown of European Civilisation

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScIntellectual History1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2019/20
MScIntellectual History2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2019/20

Students are expected to achieve several aims, which will be assessed primarily by essays and a dissertation, such as:

  • knowledge of the chief methods of practising intellectual history
  • a detailed understanding of certain major episodes in intellectual history
  • an appreciation of the interdependence of text and context, and of the importance of ideas in past and present

A wide variety of intellectual skills are promoted through seminars, discussions and advanced study, encouraging the development of the:

  • ability to develop tight and coherent arguments both orally and on the page
  • capacity to read texts critically and sensitively, evaluating their arguments as well as situating them in their practical and intellectual contexts
  • appreciation of a variety of approaches to intellectual history
  • ability to cross-disciplinary boundaries, for example, between philosophy, science and history

Our students view the programme and a graduate degree from Edinburgh as an advanced qualification valued and respected by many employers, others are interested in pursuing long-term academic careers and therefore consider the MSc as preparation for a PhD. The combination of skills training courses, specialised seminars, and independent research provides you with transferable skills that will be beneficial whatever path you choose.

Graduates pursue work in related areas such as museums, policy think tanks,national and international civil services, non-governmental organisations, galleries, libraries and historic trusts while others build on the transferable skills gained and enter areas as diverse as business, media, public administration and marketing.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, US GPA 3.4 or other international equivalent, in a subject related to this programme, normally History.

We will also consider honours degrees in other subjects such as Philosophy, Classics, Literature, or Politics if your personal statement demonstrates how you are equipped to undertake the programme.

Relevant experience, or professional or other qualifications will also be considered.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 22/03/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScIntellectual History1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScIntellectual History2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of History, Classics & Archaeology
  • Graduate School Office, Room 2.29, William Robertson Wing
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG
Programme start date Application deadline
9 September 2019 31 July 2019

We strongly recommend you submit your completed application as early as possible, particularly if you are also applying for funding or will require a visa. We may consider late applications if we have places available.

You must submit one reference with your application.

Please read the application guidance for more information:

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

Further information

  • School of History, Classics & Archaeology
  • Graduate School Office, Room 2.29, William Robertson Wing
  • Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG