Undergraduate study - 2020 entry

Degree Programme Specification 2019/2020

MA Honours in Economic History

To give you an idea of what to expect from this programme, we publish the latest available information. This information is created when new programmes are established and is only updated periodically as programmes are formally reviewed. It is therefore only accurate on the date of last revision.
Awarding institution: The University of Edinburgh
Teaching institution: The University of Edinburgh
Programme accredited by:
Final award: MA Honours
Programme title: Economic History
UCAS code: V300
Relevant QAA subject benchmarking group(s): History
Postholder with overall responsibility for QA: SHCA Quality Director
Date of production/revision: April 2012

External summary

  • Background to the discipline and subject, what it is and its place in human endeavour.
  • What is special about the Edinburgh experience in this degree?
  • What are the main programme aims (learning outcomes)? 

Economic History seeks to explain the economic changes that have shaped everyday lives. It examines the history of production, and how people have exchanged or utilised the goods or services they produced. Fundamentally, Economic History asks how and why economies have changed, and seeks to understand the experiences of growth or decline in Britain and the wider world. Addressing such questions requires a critical evaluation of historical evidence and the use of concepts and methods informed by Economics. By marrying the techniques of the historian with those of social science disciplines, economic historians offer distinctive perspectives on the record and the processes of economic development. Economic History is an intellectually challenging discipline and one that is central to an understanding of current economic, political, and social developments and debates.

All students should acquire a basic knowledge and understanding of:

  • the contours of Britain’s economic development in the period from 1900
  • the factors promoting and impeding industrialisation in the wider world from 1500
  • the use and evaluation of statistical and literary sources for understanding economic developments in the recent and distant past.
  • the value of a comparative approach in understanding long-term processes of economic change.
  • the methods used by economic historians in examining the functioning of economies and economic actors in the past.

From this, students in their third and fourth years should acquire knowledge and understanding of:

  • particular periods of economic history in varied geographical settings in greater depth.
  • particular themes in economic history, drawing on key economic concepts.
  • methods of historical investigation in a social science context (History in Practice).
  • the investigation and analysis of primary evidence (History in Practice; dissertation).

Educational aims of programme

The programme aims:

  • to promote an understanding of historical change informed by theories, concepts, and methods from the full range of social science disciplines.
  • to encourage active learning and habits of critical and independent thought, applied to the analysis of various forms of evidence, literary and quantitative.
  • to enable students to apply such techniques to the investigation of economic change over a wide geographical and chronological span.
  • to provide the foundations, both methodological and cognitive, to enable students to proceed to independent research in economic history, and in a variety of arts and social science disciplines.
  • to develop key critical, problem-solving, and communication skills, both literary and oral, equipping students for a diverse range of employment opportunities, and for continued life-long learning.

Programme outcomes: Knowledge and understanding

  • understanding of a range of viewpoints on problems of interpretation and evaluation of the past
  • understanding of economic, legal, social, cultural, ethical, global and environmental responsibilities and issues surrounding the study of the past and its applications
  • understanding of the role of the past and its study in the shaping of class, ethnic, gender, national and other identities with current, sometimes sensitive relevance
  • understanding of how to enjoy the life of the mind

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in research and enquiry

  • ability to draw valid conclusions about the past
  • ability to identify, define and analyse historical  problems
  • ability to select and apply a variety of critical approaches to problems informed by uneven evidence
  • ability to exercise critical judgement in creating new understanding
  • ability to extract key elements from complex information
  • readiness and capacity to ask key questions and exercise rational enquiry
  • ability critically to assess existing understanding and the limitations of knowledge and recognition of the need regularly to challenge/test knowledge
  • ability to search for, evaluate and use information to develop knowledge and understanding
  • possession of an informed respect for the principles, methods, standards, values and boundaries of the discipline(s), as well as the capacity to question these
  • recognition of the importance of reflecting on one’s learning experiences and being aware of one’s own particular learning style

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal and intellectual autonomy

  • openness to new ideas, methods and ways of thinking
  • ability to identify processes and strategies for learning
  • independence as a learner, with readiness to take responsibility for one’s own learning, and commitment to continuous reflection, self-evaluation and self-improvement
  • ability to make decisions on the basis of rigorous and independent thought.
  • ability to test, modify and strengthen one’s own views through collaboration and debate
  • intellectual curiosity
  • ability to sustain intellectual interest

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in communication

  • ability to make effective use of oral, written and visual means convey understanding of historical issues and one’s interpretation of them.
  • ability to marshal argument lucidly and coherently
  • ability to collaborate and to relate to others
  • readiness to seek and value open feedback to inform genuine self-awareness
  • ability to articulate one’s skills as identified through self-reflection

Programme outcomes: Graduate attributes - Skills and abilities in personal effectiveness

  • ability to approach historical problems with academic rigour
  • ability to manage and meet firm deadlines
  • flexible, adaptable and proactive responsiveness to changing surroundings
  • possession of the confidence to make decisions based on one’s understanding and personal/intellectual autonomy
  • ability to transfer knowledge, learning, skills and abilities flexibly from one context to another
  • ability to work effectively with others, capitalising on diversities of thinking, experience and skills
  • working with, managing, and leading others in ways that value their diversity and equality and that encourage their contribution

Programme outcomes: Technical/practical skills

  • a command of bibliographical and library research skills, as well as a range of skills in reading and textual analysis
  • close reading of texts
  • ability to deal with quantitative evidence, where relevant
  • ability to read foreign language material, where relevant
  • a command of palaeography, where relevant
  • an ability to produce coherent and well presented text, sometimes of considerable length
  • an ability to produce text to meet standard presentational specifications as laid out in a style sheet
  • an ability to make effective presentations, perhaps using audio visual support

Programme structure and features

Each year of study has 120 credit points. First and second year courses are at level eight, third and fourth year courses are at level ten. In the first year you will take British Economic and Environmental History (20 credits) and 40 credits from Economics 1 (40 credits) or Economic Principles and Applications (40 credits). A further 40 credits will come from an outside subject(s). In second year you will take Economic History 2.1 and 2.2 (20 credits each), and Economics 1 if not already taken in Year 1, the remaining credits will come from outside courses but with a preference for students taking Economics 2 (40 credits).

In the third year, you will take at least 60 credits in Economic History course, a further 20 credits may be taken in Economic and Social History or Economics courses, as well as two compulsory twenty credit courses: Skills and Methods in History I and II. In the fourth year, you will take at least 40 credits in Economic History, a further 40 credits may be taken in Economic and Social History or Economics, and a 40-credit dissertation on an Economic History topic.

Progression

To progress from Year 1 to Year 2 passes are required in all first year courses (120 credits); to progress from Year 2 into Year 3 passes are required in all of the courses taken in second year (120 credits).

Entry into Honours normally requires (i) passes in 240 credits of courses taken in the first two years, which must include all compulsory first year History courses, and (ii) passes at 50% or above, achieved at the first attempt, in 60 credits of second year compulsory Economic History or Economics courses.

Progression from third to fourth year is dependent upon the completion of at least 80 credits and the award of an aggregate pass for the 120 credits of study in third year.

Exit Awards

  • Certificate of Higher Education: year one
  • Diploma of Higher Education: year two
  • BA in Humanities and Social Science: year three (although entry to honours means the commencement of two years of integrated study leading to an honours degree and not all students will be qualified for the BA HSS)
  • MA Honours in Economic History: year four

Teaching and learning methods and strategies

  • Lectures in first and second year outline the evidence and historiography surrounding debates in economic history, providing a basis for critical evaluation of the arguments advanced.
  • Tutorials, utilising small-group discussion or formal student presentations, facilitate the detailed consideration of particular historical problems.
  • Guided reading for tutorials and essays develops students’ ability to select and evaluate relevant material.
  • Essays, assignments, project, and dissertation (years 3 and 4) encourage students to confront problems of data collection and analysis.
  • oral presentations in tutorials and seminars with feedback from tutors.
  • the setting and close marking of essays with essays being handed back individually to students
  • lectures which isolate the main issues contained in each topic and which provide a good example of the desired mix and blending of theory and evidence.
  • at honours level providing an opportunity to work with primary sources in the lecturer’s main field of expertise.
  • the writing of a dissertation in fourth year which confronts the student with the challenge of finding and using primary source material to construct an evidenced, original thesis of 12,000 words.
  • emphasis is placed on the prompt submission of all pieces of assessed work
  • marking criteria set out in the course booklets identify the importance of clarity of organisation and concision of expression in the presentation of all work.
  • a combination of open discussion and presentations in tutorials and seminars promote oral skills, student interaction and respect for others in debate.
  • students are able to collaborate in project work, thereby strengthening their team-working skills.
  • emphasis is placed on the prompt submission of all pieces of assessed work
  • marking criteria set out in the course booklets identify the importance of clarity of organisation and concision of expression in the presentation of all work.
  • a combination of open discussion and presentations in tutorials and seminars promote oral skills, student interaction and respect for others in debate.
  • students are able to collaborate in project work, thereby strengthening their team-working skills.

Teaching and learning workload

You will learn through a mixture of scheduled teaching and independent study. Some programmes also offer work placements.

At Edinburgh we use a range of teaching and learning methods including lectures, tutorials, practical laboratory sessions, technical workshops and studio critiques.

The typical workload for a student on this programme is outlined in the table below, however the actual time you spend on each type of activity will depend on what courses you choose to study.

The typical workload for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearTime in scheduled teaching (%)Time in independant study (%)Time on placement (%)
Year 124760
Year 225750
Year 311890
Year 410900

Assessment methods and strategies

  • feedback is given to students on their performance in making tutorial and seminar presentations.
  • essays are closely marked and returned to students on an individual basis.
  • In addition to assessed course work, students are also examined by means of written exams and a dissertation.
  • formative assessment is provided on all oral presentations in tutorials and seminars.
  • summative assessment is provided on all pieces of written work.

In Year 1

  • Essays
  • Coursework
  • Written Examinations
  • Class Tests

In Year 2

  • Essays
  • Coursework
  • Written Examinations
  • Class Tests

In Year 3

  • Essays
  • Coursework
  • Written Examinations
  • Seminar Presentations
  • Project

In Year 4

  • Dissertation
  • Essays
  • Coursework
  • Seminar Presentations
  • Written Examinations

Assessment method balance

You will be assessed through a variety of methods. These might include written or practical exams or coursework such as essays, projects, group work or presentations.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme are outlined below, however the balance between written exams, practical exams and coursework will vary depending on what courses you choose to study.

The typical assessment methods for a student on this programme for each year of study
Start yearAssessment by written exams (%)Assessment by practical exams (%)Assessment by coursework (%)
Year 145550
Year 258735
Year 345253
Year 443552

Career opportunities

History graduates from the University of Edinburgh are highly regarded by employers. The research and analytical skills you will develop throughout the course can be used in any research-based career. These skills can also be applied to careers including journalism, museum or heritage work, public relations, the Diplomatic Service or teaching. Previous graduates have also gone on to work in finance, law or local government or have chosen postgraduate study.

Other items

Resources:

Students have access to the well-stocked University Library and a range of other library facilities in the city.

Study abroad:

The University has well-established exchange schemes with leading world universities, which usually take place in the third year.