2024 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

MA History

UCAS code: V100

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: History, Classics and Archaeology

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA History

At Edinburgh, our history department is one of the largest and most diverse in the UK.

Our academics are internationally recognised experts in the field whose teaching is directly informed by their research. This programme reflects these strengths.

Our range of courses

We offer an exceptionally wide range of courses, covering:

  • historical periods from the early Middle Ages to the contemporary world
  • geographical regions including Britain and Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas

Our history courses also cover a wide variety of approaches to the past, including:

  • political history
  • cultural history
  • social history
  • economic history
  • intellectual history
  • gender history
  • global and transnational history

Study in a historic city

Edinburgh provides an ideal environment to study history. We are situated in the heart of the historic city centre, a short walk away from the castle and the winding streets of the medieval Old Town.

The University has excellent resources for the study of history, including access to unique archival sources within the Library's Special Collections.

Historians also benefit from the research materials afforded by the great collections based in the city, including the:

  • National Library
  • National Records
  • National Galleries
  • National Museum of Scotland

Year 1

In Year 1, you will take broad survey courses.

These emphasise processes and patterns within broad chronological and geographical frameworks. This is designed to prepare you for more specialised study in Years 3 and 4.

You will also:

  • study two compulsory courses, covering the Middle Ages and early modern periods
  • have the option to study modern history
  • take a compulsory skills course examining the nature of history as an academic discipline and the methods and skills required for historical research
  • choose from a wide range of option courses outside your primary subject

Year 2

Year 2 history courses will cover a wider geographical range and time period. Courses currently cover various historic periods and themes in:

  • American history
  • European history
  • British history
  • Scottish history
  • global history

As in Year 1, Year 2 history courses offer broad surveys that are designed to prepare you for more specialised study in Years 3 and 4.

You will also:

  • continue to study a range of histories
  • deepen your knowledge of particular geographical regions, chronological periods, and themes
  • choose two courses from the covered periods and themes
  • take a compulsory course on historiography
  • choose from a wide range of option courses outside your primary subject

Year 3

In Year 3, you will:

  • Reflect on history as a discipline and be introduced to the practice of historical research.
  • Study courses from a range of specialised elective courses. Depending on the courses you choose in Years 1 and 2, you may have the option to choose one from another subject outside history.

Year 4

In Year 4, you will:

  • take two year-long special subject courses in history
  • engage in independent research to produce an honours dissertation on a topic of your own choosing

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2023/24)

Our facilities

The School of History, Classics and Archaeology is located in the heart of the city, in the University's Central Area. Here you will have access to:

  • a range of study spaces
  • our Student Research Room
  • research collections
  • an undergraduate common room

You will also have access to the University's libraries and computing facilities, located in George Square.

You will be taught in a range of lecture theatres and seminar rooms in the School and across the University's Central Area.

Take a virtual tour

You can take a closer look at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology and explore our facilities and campus on the University's Virtual Visit site.

Take a virtual tour of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology

External resources

As well as using our own resources and those of the University Library, you can apply for access to the outstanding collections of the:

  • National Library of Scotland
  • National Museum of Scotland

Study abroad

There are plenty of opportunities to study abroad in Year 3 by applying for one of the University’s many international exchanges.

These cover many parts of the world, including:

  • Europe
  • North and South America
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Asia

These are unique opportunities to immerse yourself in different university systems and cultures.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

You will be taught through a range of teaching and learning methods, including:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars
  • independent study

For option courses, teaching and learning methods may vary.

Pre-honours

In Years 1 and 2, formal teaching involves lectures and tutorials.

Lectures are delivered by experts in the field and provide an overview of key themes, concepts and questions relating to the week's topic.

In tutorials, the emphasis is on student discussion in small groups. Some courses also incorporate small student study groups, which help you learn from each other in preparation for tutorials.

You will also study independently, with a focus on reading in preparation for lectures and tutorials.

Honours

Years 3 and 4 involve more seminars and independent study, with individual supervision of your final-year dissertation.

How will I be assessed?

Our courses use a variety of assessment methods to help you develop transferable skills and improve your performance.

You will be assessed by exams and coursework. Your coursework may include:

  • essays
  • primary source analyses
  • oral presentations
  • podcasts
  • online discussion forums
  • participation in tutorials and seminars

You will gain key transferable skills that employers are looking for. You will learn to:

  • Develop intellectually rigorous arguments, based on sound independent research and analysis.
  • Compile and critically evaluate large amounts of complex and conflicting evidence.
  • Formulate and present your views coherently and convincingly, both orally and in writing.

The research and analytical skills history students develop can be used in any research-based career. These skills can also be applied to careers such as:

  • journalism
  • museum and heritage work
  • public relations
  • the diplomatic service
  • teaching

Where our graduates work

Previous graduates have gone on to pursue a wide variety of careers, including in:

  • the media
  • politics
  • the civil service
  • heritage
  • law
  • business
  • finance

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAAA (achievement by end of S5 preferred). BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S5.
  • A Levels: A*AA.
  • IB: 39 points with 666 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S5.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: English at 5.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

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

SQA, GCSE and IB

For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

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

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

(Revised 29 August 2023 to remove PTE Academic Online)

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA History

Additional costs

Your choice of dissertation topic may require fieldwork. Some additional costs may be associated with this fieldwork such as:

  • transport
  • accommodation
  • photocopying

The overall cost to you will depend on the topic you choose and where your fieldwork takes place.

If you study abroad in Year 3, your costs will vary by country.

Funding

For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding