MA in History (by Research)

The Department of History offers research-based Masters degrees to both full-time and part-time students in a wide range of subjects relating to the faculty's fields of interest (see profile pages for more details).

This degree is particularly aimed at individuals who wish to develop advanced research skills either as a prelude to a research-based career or as training to become an academic. Unlike a taught MA, students taking an MA by Research focus entirely on developing an extended dissertation of up to 40,000 words in length - over the course of a year for full-time students or two years for part-time students.

If you have an innovative historical problem that you want to solve, we recommend that you approach a member of staff informally in the first instance. For this degree it is essential that you have a viable project of appropriate scale and scope, and this can be developed in correspondence or conversation with a potential supervisor before you make your formal application.

Operating under the close guidance of a personal supervisor, Research Masters students first design an individual research agenda, then conduct extensive primary and secondary investigations before writing up their findings.

The thesis should be considered a first step toward developing research output of genuine historical significance. As such, while counting as a research degree in its own right, the MA by research may, for suitable students, lead through the upgrading process to a transfer to the MPhil/PhD programme.

Recent dissertations by our students

  • The Effects of Electorial Intimidation on British Involvement in the Rhodesian Elections of 1979 and 1980
  • Their Tales are Sweet: A Queer Social History of Fishwives in and Around Early Modern London
  • Inter-generational Memory, The Labour Party and the Ghosts of the Two Tony's
  • London Newsbooks and News Management During the Interregnum, 1649-1660
  • Roman Military Associated Metalwork and the Army in Late Imperial Britannia
  • Cycling Clubs and Masculinity in England in the 1890s
  • Some Methodologies for the Study of Conceptions of Hope in Late Antiquity: Preliminary Explorations

Academic support 


Alongside regular meetings with their supervisor, all research students have a Thesis Advisory Panel (TAP), consisting of at least one member of staff in addition to the supervisor, which meets twice a year and oversees more general professional development and career training.

Additionally, all students receive introductions to the University Library, the Borthwick Institute, and other libraries, archives and research facilities in York and elsewhere.