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1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

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Course details

The MA in Social and Economic History (Research Methods) fuels your interest in the past and develops the essential skills and knowledge you need to undertake in-depth research into the aspects of social and economic history that most interest you.

The course offers the highest quality training in social research methods and applies this knowledge to the study of the past. It is accredited by the Economic and Social Research Council, the UK’s largest funder of economic, social, behavioural, and human data science activity. It is also part of our four-year funding scheme offered through the Northern Ireland and North East Doctoral Training Partnership that culminates in a PhD in any aspect of the subject.

The course, which is completed in one year full-time or two years part-time, is shared between the Department of History and the Department of Sociology. Core areas of learning include an in-depth introduction to the study of research, themes, readings and sources from a historical perspective as well as quantitative and qualitative research methods. You can choose further optional modules from a selection of research and historical themed options in areas ranging from Computational Social Science to Elections in Africa, and from Multilevel Modelling to Power and Society in the Late Middle Ages. You also carry out independent research on a related area of your choice in the form of a dissertation.

You will have access to the extensive learning resource made available via various libraries, archives, and special historical collections housed in the University and in the city itself.

The postgraduate communities in both departments are vibrant and committed, and contribute in a major way to the academic environment with their active involvement in discussion groups, annual conferences and other events.

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 Social and Economic History, the Dissertation (your Major Research Project (60-credits))enables you to apply the skills and methods you have gained from the course to an extended piece of work and develop a knowledge and understanding of a specialist area of history.

You will also be required to take the following core modules:

Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Practices across Social Science Research (15 credits) introduces you to the different programmes of social science research and sets out the challenges you will face working across a range of disciplines. You will also be given an introduction to the ethical issues involved in the conduct of social research.

Themes, Readings and Sources (30 credits) provides training in historical skills, methodologies, and theories. It is designed to guide you, regardless of your specialism, towards taking an independent approach to learning and research.

Quantitative Research Methods and Analysis (15 credits) develops your knowledge, critical understanding and skills in quantitative data analysis by teaching you how to use statistical techniques for exploration and description of data sets and to make appropriate statistical inferences.

Qualitative Methods and Analysis (15 credits) equips you with the skills and knowledge to understand and assess qualitative social sciences research, including the different approaches to research and design and analysis of qualitative data.

Additionally, you must choose an additional 15-credit module from the list below:

  • Advanced Statistics for Psychology and the Behavioural Sciences

  • Advanced Ethnographic Research

  • Multilevel Modelling

  • Simulating Data in R
  • Systematic Review
  • Computational Social Science
  • Participatory Action Research

Finally, you will choose 30 credits of elective modules from across the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, so that your total number of credits adds up to exactly 180.


The course is delivered primarily through small group seminar teaching with some larger classes and lecture-style sessions. The social science modules also include workshops and practical classes. 

Lectures and larger classes will provide key information on specific subjects, while seminars are an opportunity to get involved in discussions in more depth and workshops and practical sessions give you an opportunity to use software packages to record and analyse your own data. You can expect to carry out a significant level of independent study alongside your timetabled contact hours. 

The nature of timetabled contact time varies from module to module. The majority of modules provide 20 contact hours, with skills modules normally generating more contact time.

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


Assessment is rigorous and designed to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of specific topics. The methods of assessment vary, depending on the modules that you select for study. They include essays, reports, and research analysis exercises, as well as exams and presentations for some subjects. You will also complete a dissertation which is worth one-third of your mark.

Entry requirements

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

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

  • An Academic CV– this should be no longer than 2 A4 pages and should contain information about your academic achievements to date and any related-work experience you have undertaken
  • A sample of written work (up to 2,500 words for MA courses)
  • Academic Transcripts and Certificates, if available– a copy of your undergraduate degree and postgraduate courses (dependent upon which degree course you are applying for) transcript and/or certificate, if degree already attained
  • A 750-word outline of your intended research, concentrating on the research problem you will address, the research context in which it is located, and the methods, critical approaches, and sources you will use. You can upload this as part of the online application form.

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £10,400 per year
EU students £24,750 per year
Island students £10,400 per year
International students £24,750 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £5,800 per year
EU students £13,700 per year
Island students £5,800 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

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