Answers to commonly asked questions. You can also search the University of Sheffield's AskUS question database which contains answers to hundreds of commonly asked questions.
If you have any questions not answered below, or would like to discuss your application, please get in touch.
Questions about our MA programme
- How does the MA programme work?
You will find information about course structure and modules by following the link for your chosen programme on our courses list.
- Can I study part-time?
Yes. Many students choose to do their MA part-time for a variety of reasons, such as fitting the MA in with work, returning to education after a break or simply preferring to spread your studies out over a longer period of time. All of our MA programmes are available part-time, over two years.
- What are the contact hours?
MA programmes are advanced degrees during which students engage in guided independent study, the results of which they discuss in structured classes. Classes are usually 2 hours long and teaching hours are between 8.00am and 6.00pm Monday to Friday.
Depending on the module choices you make, full-time students on our programmes will usually have two to three classes per week during the autumn and spring semesters. Part-time students will have at least one class per week.
The rest of your learning is conducted through tutorials, dissertation supervision and independent study external to the classroom, which means that you can organise your work in a flexible way.
We also encourage you to take advantage of the Department's vibrant research culture and attend research seminars and discussion groups to enhance your learning.
- I don't want to do a PhD. What can the MA programme do for me?
Many of our students don't take the MA programme with a view to PhD study.
Our programmes are flexible and many modules will allow you to further develop skills and subject knowledge that will be useful in a wide variety of fields.
We have several modules that focus on elements of public history and are designed specifically with a view to your departure from education and entry to the community and a career.
Presenting the Past: Making History Public and Work Placement are obvious examples, but all of our modules will allow you to develop in ways that will make a tangible difference to your personal and professional development.
- I want to 'top-up' my knowledge of history for work, but don't want to do a dissertation. Is that possible?
The taught modules we offer can keep teachers, writers and curators up to date with new approaches and findings in History.
We understand a dissertation is not always of use for professional development so you can take 120 credits of taught modules and be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma.
Questions about entry requirements
- How do your entry requirements differ across your courses?
MA in Historical Research
Our standard entry requirement for the MA in Historical Research is a first-class performance (or equivalent) in a Bachelors degree in history or another humanities or social sciences discipline (i.e. English, languages, politics, philosophy, archaeology or journalism) from a recognised UK or overseas university.
Thematic MA Programmes
Our standard entry requirement for our thematic MA programmes is normally a 2.1 (or equivalent) in a Bachelors degree in history or another humanities or social sciences discipline (i.e. English, languages, politics, philosophy, archaeology or journalism) from a recognised UK or overseas university.
- What are your English Language requirements?
English language requirements for all of our courses are IELTS 7.0 with no less than 6.5 in each component, or an equivalent English language qualification.
The University offers additional English language courses before the start of the academic year, and support is available throughout the academic year from the University's English Language Teaching Centre.
- Can I still apply if BA isn't in History?
Yes, definitely. We welcome applications from students whose first degree is in a related subject such as English, languages, politics, sociology, philosophy, archaeology or journalism.
If your first degree isn't in a humanities or social science subject, we may be able to consider an application from you depending on your wider experience.
Please feel free to contact us to discuss your background and provide guidance on applying.
We encourage you to choose our first semester module Research Skills for Historians, which will help equip you with the necessary skills for the MA.
Your programme core module also help you learn about key concepts, approaches and sources.
We would also encourage you to begin doing preparatory reading over summer, the core module - and many option module - descriptions include recommended reading to get you started and we are also happy to offer more specific advice.
I have been out of education for a while, can I still apply?
Yes, we are very happy to consider applications from applicants who have been out of education for a number of years.
You may find the return to education challenging, but you will have much to contribute to the discussions and have plenty of skills that will help you make a success of the programme.
Please feel free to contact to discuss your application and any preparation you might do before you start the MA.
We encourage you to choose our first semester module Research Skills for Historians, so you are up to date with recent developments in historical methods.
We would also encourage you to begin doing preparatory reading over summer.
Questions about applying
- How do I apply?
You should apply for our MA programmes using the University's online application form. This system allows you to edit your application before submission and to simultaneously upload supporting documents.
- Top tips for applicants
- Carefully consider the modules and supervision available on your chosen degree programme.
- Contact staff appropriate to your chosen area of study - particularly your proposed dissertation research - to discuss your application. This isn't a requirement but you're very welcome to contact staff if you would find it helpful.
- Send your referees a copy of your statement - this will help them to write a tailored reference.
- If you are applying for funding, discuss your funding application with appropriate staff.
- Is there an application deadline?
We can usually accept applications up until mid-August for entry that year. This gives enough time for us to receive your supporting documents and review your application.
However, if you are planning on applying for funding you will need to submit your application ahead of the relevant funding deadline.
- What should I put in my supporting statement?
Your statement should communicate why you are applying to this particular MA programme at Sheffield, what you hope to gain from it, and why you are suitable for advanced study in History.
We will be looking for evidence that you have carefully considered the content of your chosen programme and how this fits with your own interests.
You should discuss the types of modules that interest you - this might include an indication of particular modules you would like to take, bearing in mind that the selection of option modules available will vary from year to year.
The dissertation module is taken over the full academic year, so an indication of the broad topic area on which you would like to do your dissertation is also key. This is particularly important if you are applying to the MA in Historical Research with a view to undertaking PhD level study and, in this case, we'll look to see a more clearly defined topic.
In writing about your suitability, you may want to discuss your knowledge of and/or interest in history or historical approaches, your previous academic performance and how the MA will contribute to your plans for further study, your future career or professional development.
- How long should my supporting statement be?
The University's minimum length for a supporting statement is 500 words and there is no official maximum. To ensure you are covering all of the above information, we would recommend up to around 1,000 words.
- What supporting documents do I need?
In addition to your supporting statement, you will need two references and a transcript of your BA results (or equivalent). If you are currently taking your BA degree this should be a transcript of your results so far.
You are also welcome to submit an optional CV and/or a sample of written work with your application.
If you are taking/took your BA degree at the University of Sheffield then we will upload a transcript for you.
- Who should be my referees?
You should normally provide two academic referees from your first degree, including a final year tutor i.e. your dissertation tutor or another tutor who has taught you during your final year.
If you are a dual student, one of your references can be from your dual department. For Sheffield History undergraduates, it is useful if one of these referees is your Special Subject/Dissertation tutor (where applicable).
If you have been out of education for more than two years, you can use one alternative referees who can speak about your commitment to learning and to history, your ability to work independently, and to manage your workload under time constraints.
Please note that it can also be useful to get back in touch with former lecturers, as you may find that they are still able to offer a reference.
If you have been out of education for a significant period of time, we may be able to accept two non-academic references and would encourage you to get in touch to discuss this.
- Where should my documents be sent?
When you submit your application, you can also choose to send your referees a link which allows them to confidentially submit their reference directly to your application.
We would recommend that you and your referees use this option, as it helps your application to be completed as quickly as possible. You will be able to upload your transcript and any other supporting documents when completing your application.
Alternatively, references and supporting documents can be sent to us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any references provided to us via email should be sent directly from the referee using the email account listed on your application.
Will I need to attend an interview?
We don't invite all MA applicants to attend an interview but we may invite you to have a discussion with us if, for example, your first degree is not in History or you are returning to education after a prolonged gap.
- When will I receive a decision on my application?
We aim to respond to all applications within four weeks of receiving a complete application including all required supporting documents.
Postgraduate taught scholarships
Explore scholarships for postgraduate taught courses starting in 2022, including:
- 100+ scholarships worth £10,000 each for home fee-paying students
- 125 scholarships worth 25 per cent of the tuition fee for international students