MA in History - Learning Outcomes

Educational aims

This taught postgraduate programme in history will:

  • build upon and develop your existing knowledge of, and interest in, history;
  • provide you with appropriate training in the techniques of postgraduate study in history;
  • enable you to develop your research and analytical skills and upgrade your qualifications.

Learning outcomes

The qualification provides opportunities for you to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills and other attributes in the following areas:

Knowledge and understanding

When you have completed this masters degree you will have:

  • an understanding of periodisation, specifically how historians have defined the early modern and modern periods in terms of their temporal and conceptual boundaries
  • a familiarity with the key events which shaped either early modern or modern Britain and Ireland
  • an understanding of key historiographical trends in the study of either early modern or modern Britain and Ireland
  • a critical understanding of some of the issues involved in using a range of historical sources appropriate to either the early modern or modern period
  • an awareness of strategies that can be applied to analysing and researching both traditional (such as textual sources and statistical data) and non-traditional sources (such as maps, material culture, film, etc.)
  • a knowledge of the diversity of ways of presenting historical findings and writings and about audience reception.

Cognitive skills

When you have completed this masters degree you will have an ability to:

  • analyse and use secondary sources for the purposes of documenting and analysing historical developments in either the early modern or the modern period
  • recognise and use primary sources in writing, and incorporating them into a dissertation
  • comparatively evaluate different methods and approaches
  • apply and be conversant with different methodological approaches
  • assess the relevance and persuasiveness of arguments
  • frame appropriate questions for historical investigation.

Practical and/or professional skills

When you have completed this masters degree, you will be able to:

  • locate and use bibliographic sources appropriate to local, regional and other case studies
  • draw on a range of resources including books, documents and statistics
  • search independently across a range of information sources in any medium, including specialised sources such as archives and datasets
  • use scholarly reference conventions effectively
  • exercise powers of discrimination in theories and debates relevant to either the early modern or the modern period
  • employ appropriate ethical and legal standards in the use and re-use of historical sources and data (e.g. late twentieth century oral testimony or copyright sources) both in module assessment and in independent research.

Key skills

When you have completed this masters degree, you will have an ability to:

  • communicate ideas effectively in essays of acceptable standard
  • use digital technologies to locate, retrieve and manage sources, enhancing your digital scholarship skills
  • apply methods and approaches in supported self-directed study and produce an extended piece of work demanding independent learning.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Teaching and learning

This programme is taught via a range of methods. The bulk of tuition for the MA will be delivered online and by phone or email support. This means you will submit assignments and receive tutor feedback electronically and have opportunities to participate in online forums and online learning events.

In part 1 (A883), all core teaching materials including the teaching texts and activities will be delivered online via the module website, which will also host additional materials and a range of learning support tools. You will be expected to work your way through the teaching text, activities and additional materials with help from a study planner, which outlines your weekly tasks. You will be assigned a tutor and become a member of a tutor group.

Part 2 (A884) focuses on the planning, production and presentation of a dissertation on a defined and typically highly specialised topic. Six units of teaching material at the outset of the module will focus on supporting you in selecting a dissertation topic and developing a viable research proposal. Through the use of bespoke teaching texts, learning activities, and a range of online learning support tools you will be taught the skills needed to plan and complete a substantial piece of historical research and writing. The online study planner will guide and support you through this process. The remainder of your time on the module to will be used to independently complete a dissertation.

When studying A884 you will be allocated a supervisor. Your supervisor will actively support you in selecting a dissertation topic and, alongside the teaching materials, forums and online learning events will help you to acquire the skills needed to adequately plan and complete a specialist dissertation. You are expected to direct your own learning by carrying out independent research. If you encounter obstacles, you can contact your supervisor directly, or raise issues within online module forums. Due to the independent nature of study at this level, module forums function largely for queries and general support.


This programme is assessed primarily through written essays. For part 1 (A883), there are three tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) and one end-of-module assessment (EMA). The TMAs and EMA are designed to encourage you to engage with the module content. They are also designed to help you to develop the skills of essay writing, engagement with historical arguments, use of primary sources and independent research.

Part 2 (A884), which focuses on the selection, planning, production and presentation of a specialist dissertation is assessed through the submission of three TMAs and the completion of one EMA. The first TMA will require you to produce a research proposal for your dissertation, including an outline of your chosen topic, an initial literature review, an outline of your methodology, and a plan for conducting your research during the independent research phase of the module. The two remaining TMAs, provide an opportunity for you to submit draft chapters to your tutor and to receive critical feedback. The EMA is the final dissertation.

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