MA
2022 start September 

Historical Research

Department of History, Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Take a flexible approach to postgraduate study on this programme, which is tailored to suit your own individual research interests. It also provides excellent preparation for a future research degree in History.
History postgraduate

Course description

This course is excellent preparation for a PhD degree in history. You can further your interests, broaden your knowledge and at the same time hone your research skills. As well as specific research training in history, you’ll also gain a broad range of transferable skills that will be of value to employers outside academia.

The flexibility of our MA programme allows you to carry out specialist research under expert supervision in a friendly and supportive environment. Core modules will develop your understanding of your chosen area of history and skills in using relevant sources, while our range of option modules allow you to focus on the particular skills that are most important to you.

We are currently proposing changes to the MA in Historical Research for 2022 entry. This includes extending the Dissertation to a 75 credit module with a 18,000 word limit, increasing the focus on independent research as preparation for PhD study. You will take 60 credits of option modules and the requirement to take at least one option module classed as 'research skills' will be removed to give you greater flexibility over your option module credits.

If these changes are approved, we will update the information on this page and contact offer-holders.

Apply now

Modules

The taught component of the MA is designed to develop your understanding of key historiographical and methodological approaches. You will take a core module, which examines the essential workings of your chosen area of expertise and develops your skills in using relevant sources.

Optional modules allow you to undertake the technical training best suited to your research needs and study major historical themes in closer detail.

The dissertation provides you the opportunity to further develop your skills and apply your historical knowledge to an independent research project.

The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department directly.

You will take two core modules and one approaches module.

You can find out more about staff working in your area of interest on our research strengths page. The exact availability of staff to supervise MA dissertations varies from year to year.

Research Presentation for Historians

This core module is designed to equip you with the skills and experience that you need to present and communicate a defined historical research project to an academic audience. The subject of the presentation will be your dissertation topic and so this module will also contribute towards the successful completion of your dissertation.
In this module, you will identify the specific research questions driving your dissertation and learn how to discuss the sources and approaches you are using to answer them. You will develop your ability to present your research data and findings in an accessible form to an audience, and you will enhance your ability to use presentational aids such as PowerPoint, data projection, and visual aids. The module also aims to improve your skill and confidence in speaking to an audience and responding to questions; this gives you the opportunity to develop the presentational skills demanded by employers as well as by a career in academic research.

15 credits
Dissertation in Historical Research

You will undertake an individual research project, based on an identifiable collection of primary sources and present your findings in a dissertation of 15,000 words. The dissertation provides you with the opportunity to further develop the skills and methods that you have learnt during the first part of your MA degree and to apply this historical knowledge to your investigation. It represents an original piece of independent research and should be based on a substantial primary source base and demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the secondary literature. Through the dissertation you will demonstrate your practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret historical knowledge. You will work under the supervision of an expert member of staff who will provide guidance and regular tutorial support. There will also be milestones in place throughout the year to make sure that you are on track with your progress.

60 credits

Approaches modules - one from:

Approaching the Middle Ages

This module provides students with a grounding in key themes and debates in current medieval research. Classes will focus on historiographical developments and new methodological approaches to familiar problems, covering topics such as the problems of studying pre-industrial societies, the interpretation of material culture, methods for studying the medieval economy, and the examination of power structures and political culture. Students will also be introduced to technical and methodological problems associated with the effective use and interpretation of pre-modern sources, such as court records, tax records and accounts, chronicles and pamphlets, paintings, drawings and artefacts.

30 credits
Early Modernities

This core module involves a critical analysis of the many ways in which assumptions about the characteristics of 'pre-modern' and 'modern' cultures and societies have shaped historians' approaches to the early modern period. A series of seminars will introduce students to themes and topics in early modern history, focusing on issues of `individuality' and 'self-hood' in the early modern period. The sources for writing early modern history will be a complementary focus of the module, which will also introduce students to the technical and methodological problems associated with the effective use and interpretation of a range of pre-modern sources.

30 credits
Modernity and Power: Individuals and the State in the Modern World

This core module introduces students to the challenges of studying modern history at an advanced level. It explores the distinctiveness of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as a period, the study of which raises particular questions about perspective and interpretation, about the relationship between academic history and public understandings of the recent past, and about the selection and treatment of sources across a wide range of media. Classes will focus on some of the key themes and developments in recent historiography, including an engagement with the use of interdisciplinary approaches, particularly in the study of contemporary history.

30 credits
Approaches to the American Past.

This core module explores key themes in American history from the colonial through to the modern eras, introducing students to important debates in historical scholarship and giving them an awareness not only of the principal historiographical schools but also of the critical interrelationship between historical trends and events and scholarly interpretations of the past. Classes will be organised chronologically and thematically and will be taught through the examination of key historiographical approaches. Case studies covering topics such as Native American history, consumption, gender, class, slavery, immigration and ethnicity, the New Deal, revisionism and the Cold War, and the New Left will help students apply and critique the conceptual literature they are exploring.

30 credits
The World in Connection: Themes in Global History

This core module introduces students to some of the most important and innovative themes, debates and controversies relating to global history and its linked fields of imperial, international, transnational, transregional and world history. Through discursive seminars students will acquire an informed understanding of global forces, structures and processes that have shaped and reshaped our world, including empires, trade, technology, religion, decolonisation, migration, war, diplomacy, humanitarianism, disease and the environment. Students will thus be enabled to explore connections, comparisons and exchanges across broad geographical and chronological terrain, while also considering relationships between the global, regional and local.

30 credits

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.

Teaching

You’ll be taught through seminars, workshops and individual tutorials. Teaching and assessment methods may vary for non-history modules.

Staff research areas

Assessment

Assessment is through written papers, oral presentation and a dissertation.

Duration

  • 1 year full-time
  • 2 years part-time

Your career

An MA in history will further develop the range of transferable skills at your disposal. You will have the freedom to tailor your research and focus on the skills that are most important to you. We offer modules that are specifically designed to provide you with skills in public history - modules such as Presenting the Past and the work placement, give you real hand-on experience.

These kinds of skills are why our graduates are successful in both further study and a wide range of careers - from lecturing and working in the museum and tourist industry to business management, marketing, law and working in the media.

Supporting PhD progression

We offer tailored support for students planning to progress to PhD study following their MA degree.

Workshops

In autumn, there will be workshops to help you prepare for writing funding applications. 

These sessions provide you with information about the funding opportunities available at Sheffield and give you the opportunity to discuss and receive feedback on your draft research proposal.

You can also speak to current PhD students who have been successful in applying for funding and to review successful applications.

This will enable you to tailor your research proposal to the criteria of major funding bodies and ensure that you are presenting your research, suitability and fit in the strongest way possible.

One-to-one support

You will be encouraged to engage in one-to-one sessions with your proposed supervisor. They will be able to offer tailored support in devising and developing your research project and identifying appropriate research material.

Your supervisor will also offer guidance on how to best present the originality; intellectual purpose and research context of your proposal ensuring that you are framing your approach and rationale for undertaking your project and successfully identifying why your suitability for undertaking the project and why your proposed supervisor - and Sheffield more generally - are a strong fit for your research.

You will be encouraged to begin speaking to your proposed supervisor early to ensure that you have plenty of time to work with them and develop a strong project and well written proposal.

Entry requirements

A first-class BA honours degree or equivalent in history or another humanities or social science discipline.

You may be asked to supply examples of previous written work.

Overall IELTS score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component, or equivalent.

We also accept a range of other UK qualifications and other EU/international qualifications.

If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

Apply

You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

Apply now

Contact

history.admissions@sheffield.ac.uk
+44 114 222 2552

Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

Our student protection plan

Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

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