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MA Historical Studies

Explore a tailored programme and experience the depth of studying history with international experts.

Year of entry: 2024 (September)


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2024 (semester dates)

Online Open Day

Join us on Wednesday 5 June 2024 to find out what postgraduate study at York is all about. 

Learn more

This programme allows you to specialise in particular themes, but also lets you bring together modules that aren’t commonly studied together.

You will be taught by leading experts in their fields and will be exposed to innovative approaches and cutting-edge research.

The programme centres on skills of independent learning. For each module, you will, with the guidance of your tutors, establish your own research agenda and find ways to address the questions you wish to answer. You'll have access to abundant materials available to historians at York (including the rich holdings of the Borthwick Institute for Archives) to contextualise your findings and develop arguments.

The city of York is rich in history and heritage

York is the ideal place to be inspired to study the past, with a rich and turbulent history stretching back to the Romans. Today the city boasts beautiful historic architecture, as well as a variety of museums and galleries.

Skills training

Our skills modules are unique to our courses, and will give you practical knowledge of professional research methods.

Course content

You will undertake a core Research Training module, and choose from a range of option modules to supplement your learning based on your own interests.

The Research Training module will allow you to create and manage a research project, locate relevant primary and secondary sources, handle those sources and prepare a research proposal. Teaching will consist of both plenary sessions and seminars, which may include visits to local museums and archives in York. Several sessions will also be led by outside speakers, to help deepen your understanding and hear from a range of experts in their fields.

The dissertation allows you to work at an advanced level as independent scholars. You will be supported through workshops in the spring semester and you will also be allocated an advisor, who will support you in the spring semester and into the summer vacation.


Core modules

You will study one core module:

Option modules

You will study four option modules. In previous years, options have covered topics such as:

The options available to you will be confirmed after you begin your course. For further information please get in touch.

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff, and in line with Department/School academic planning.


  • Dissertation

You will submit a 14,000-16,000 word dissertation in the spring semester and into the summer vacation. With help from an advisor, you will choose a topic and carry out an advanced research project around that topic.

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • have carried out independent research, collecting the relevant primary and secondary materials
  • have presented and completed a substantial piece of independent research related to relevant secondary literature
  • have shown the ability to use and evaluate historical sources
  • have shown the ability to use appropriate methodology for their research
  • have shown the ability to present research in accordance with scholarly conventions used consistently

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Deploy an in-depth and thorough knowledge of cutting edge scholarship in the field of history.
  • Engage critically with historical scholarship and select relevant scholarly contexts in which to situate research findings.
  • Design and pursue high quality research questions for essays and a dissertation, demonstrating a capacity for independent design and action.
  • Formulate and defend historical arguments grounded in the interpretation of sources.
  • Reflect critically on how historians handle a wide variety of sources for the study of the past and choose appropriate sources and methods for independent research.
  • Respond responsibly and resourcefully to the ethical and practical issues that arise during advanced historical research, including disciplinary differences between historical methods and those deployed by cognate disciplines and be alert to the value of working across these boundaries.
  • Communicate research findings imaginatively, lucidly and succinctly using a variety of media forms including short reports, oral presentations and extended pieces of writing.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2024/25

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £10,590£23,900
Part-time (2 years) £5,295£11,950

Students on a Student Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study.

  • UK (home) fees may increase in subsequent years (up to a maximum of 2%).
  • International fees may increase in subsequent years in line with the prevailing Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate (up to a maximum of 10%).

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status.

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2024/25 throughout the year.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Funding opportunities

Departmental Funding Opportunities

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Teaching format

The course will be delivered through a range of seminars and workshops, supplemented with visits to local museums and archives around York. Several sessions will also be delivered by guest speakers, who are experts in their fields. This will allow you to broaden your horizons and enhance the knowledge that you have previously built upon.

During your studies you will receive tailored support, and as a Masters student at York, you will have access to the Writing Centre to help develop your academic writing skills.


We are home to the Borthwick Institute for Archives, a major archive repository in Britain. It holds the records of the Archbishopric of York from the early thirteenth century onwards, and specialises in the study of ecclesiastic institutions.

There are several other important archives housed at York, including the JB Morrell Library and the Raymond Burton Library for Humanities Research. These contain collections covering subjects such as the British Civil Wars, French Revolution and Modern Asian history. Find out more about our libraries.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of History in Vanbrugh College on Campus West. Most of your teaching will take place in or close to Vanbrugh College.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You will be primarily assessed by essays and your dissertation. You will have the chance to submit assignments for formative assessment, enabling you to get and use feedback before the final summative assessment.

A student studying historical photos
A group of students studying history

Careers and skills

This course will support you if you are wanting to work in a history-related field. However, it will also equip you a variety of transferable skills for many workplaces. This course is also an excellent springboard for further study.

Career opportunities

  • museum curator/interpreter 
  • visitor services manager
  • historic house/site manager
  • learning and education officer
  • archivist
  • heritage project manager
  • public engagement coordinator

Transferable skills

  • critical thinking
  • data analysis skills
  • project management
  • advanced writing skills
  • in-depth history skills (e.g. palaeography)
  • time management
  • ability to work independently to a high level

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent in History or a related discipline
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS (Academic and Indicator) 7.0, minimum 6.5 in each component
Cambridge CEFR C1 Advanced: 185, with 176 in each component
Duolingo 130, minimum 120 in all other components
LanguageCert SELT C1 with 33/50 in each component
LanguageCert Academic 75 with a minimum of 70 in each component
KITE 495-526, with 459-494 in all other components
Skills for English C1: Pass overall, with Pass in each component
PTE Academic 67, minimum 61 in each component
TOEFL 96, minimum 23 in each component
Trinity ISE III Distinction in all component

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you haven't met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


You can apply and send all your documentation online. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

Apply for this course

Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Dr Helen Cowie

Learn more

Department of History

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