Skip to main content
Start Dates
Degree type


Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

Programme code


Ready to Apply?

Course details

The MA in History brings together your own specialist field of interest and the broader academic discipline of history to prepare you for future research.

The course is delivered by subject specialists whose expertise allows you to tailor the course to your own distinct areas of research. Areas of particular strength include African History, East Asian History, South Asian History, Transnational History, Medieval History, Early Modern History, Modern History, and Visual and Material Culture.

You will complete one research-focused core module which offers a grounding in the practices, theories, approaches and methodologies of history. Beyond this, you will have the freedom to shape your own path through the course, choosing from a selection of optional modules that provide an in-depth exploration of topics and themes linked to current staff research. You can further tailor the course through your choice of dissertation.

The course runs on a full-time basis for one year, or for two years part-time, and offers opportunities for wider academic networking through the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Centre for Nineteenth Century Studies, and the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture, among other research centres and institutes.

The University has a vibrant and supportive learning community and is able to provide you with an extensive study resource thanks to its large number of libraries, archives, and special collections.

Postgraduates are active in the academic and social life of the Department. They lead their own discussion groups, organise annual conferences, and meet with external keynote speakers, thereby forming an integral part of the Department’s wider research culture.

Course structure

All the MA programmes offered by the Faculty of Arts & Humanities consist of three components:

  • a Major Research Project to the value of at least 60 credits 

  • Core Modules to the value of 0-90 credits, depending on the programme
  • Elective Modules, making up the total number of credits to 180; some of these modules will be defined as Recommended Electives for particular programmes.

For students studying the MA in History, the Dissertation (your Major Research Project) brings together the skills and methods acquired in your modules to research and write an independent investigation of a specialist area of history using extensive secondary and primary source material. You can choose between a 15,000-word (60-credit) or a 20,000-word (90-credit) dissertation.

You will also be required to take the following 30-credit core module: 

Themes, Readings and Sources provides essential training in historical skills, methodologies, and theories, regardless of your specialism. As the core module for this programme, the focus is on the academic knowledge and practices relevant to history as a discipline. The module structure encourages you to apply the skills you develop to optional modules and dissertation preparation.

Finally, you will choose either 60 or 90 credits (depending on which dissertation you have selected) of elective modules from across the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, so that your total number of credits adds up to exactly 180.


This course is delivered primarily through small group seminars, with some larger classes and lecture-style sessions where appropriate. Core content is taught through a series of seminars and will familiarise you with the skills and problems that are associated with advanced historical work.

Small seminars constitute the vast majority of class time for optional modules. They encourage discussion and the sharing of ideas and you should expect to carry out a substantial amount of independent study in order to be able to contribute fully in the sessions. Occasionally, lectures might present key information, which can then be followed up in the smaller seminars.

The nature of timetabled contact time varies from module to module with the majority of optional modules providing 20 contact hours.

Your dissertation includes a further seven hours of one-to-one contact time with a supervisor who has specific knowledge in your topic of choice.


Assessment is rigorous and ongoing during the course. Although methods of assessment vary by module, the majority include essays and presentations. You will also complete a dissertation which is worth either one-third or half your total marks, depending on the dissertation route you choose.

Entry requirements

Subject requirements are a 2:1 undergraduate qualification in History or a related subject, with an overall average score of 65% or above, or a GPA of 3.5 or above, or equivalent.

You are required to submit the following information with your online application:

  • Academic Transcripts and Certificates, if available and if degree already attained
  • Personal statement of about 500 words describing background in history/ areas of interest and study.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £11,750 per year
EU students £24,900 per year
Island students £11,750 per year
International students £24,900 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £6,500 per year
EU students £13,700 per year
Island students £6,500 per year
International students £13,700 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities


For further information on career options and employability, student and employer testimonials and details of work experience and study abroad opportunities, please visit our employability web pages.

Department information


The Department of History is a highly successful academic community that places a huge value on the contribution postgraduates make to its ever-growing research output covering a wide range of historical contexts.

Specific areas of expertise in the Department include medieval, early modern and modern history in Britain, continental Europe, North America, Africa, and East and South Asia. They consider a wealth of themes including gender, culture and race as well as political, religious, economic and social topics.

Our postgraduates benefit enormously from being taught by staff who work at the cutting edge of their respective subject specialisms. This enables them to incorporate the most up-to-date findings into their teaching. Our Masters qualifications in Global History, History, and Social and Economic History (Research Methods) offer choice, flexibility and the opportunity to specialise.

You will also benefit from the relationships the department has with University research institutes and centres, such as the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Centre for Nineteenth Century Studies, and the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture.

We consider our postgraduate community to be committed and active, contributing to academic activities through its own discussion groups and organising annual conferences and meeting with external keynote speakers.

For more information see our department pages


  • World Top 40 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • 4th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • 4th in The Guardian University Guide 2024
  • 4th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the History Department pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • 7th in the Power Rank for REF 2021.


The Department of History is located in the heart of Durham, next to Durham Cathedral and Castle, which together form the UNESCO World Heritage Site. We are within easy reach of all university colleges, libraries, lecture rooms, and other facilities.

The Department occupies a group of historic townhouses on North Bailey and Palace Green. Originally built as coffee houses and lawyers’ offices in the 17th and 18th Centuries, these buildings now accommodate academic staff, administrative staff and seminar rooms. All postgraduate classes and supervision meetings take place within the History Department.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more

Similar courses

Global History - MA

Program Code: V1KD07
Start: September 2024
Global History

Museum and Artefact Studies - MA

Program Code: V6K607
Start: September 2024
Museum and Artefact Studies

Social and Economic History (Research Methods) - MA

Program Code: V1KB07
Start: September 2024
Social and Economic History (Research Methods)