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History MA by Research

UCAS code
Year of entry 2017
Course Length
1 year full time
2 years part time
Department History »

This Masters has been devised for students who wish to develop advanced historical research skills but who prefer, for practical or other reasons, not to attend a taught Masters programme.

The programme is assessed entirely on the research dissertation (maximum 40,000 words) which is supervised one-to-one. It is intended to give you scope to explore your area of interest in depth, test out a possible research topic, and learn the skills of extended scholarly writing.

This is an attractive advanced qualification which may also be suitable if you are seeking a career in academic research. Students intending to pursue an academic career (via PhD) should seek prior advice from the History Department, as some specialisms may require skills (such as languages) that can more easily be provided via a taught Masters programme.


A 30-40,000 word dissertation on a subject of your choice. You will receive one-to-one support from your supervisor.

Students will have an induction meeting with their supervisor in week 1, where an initial work programme will be agreed, as well as coverage for any outstanding training needs. Students will also receive an introduction to the Library facilities.

The role of the supervisor is to offer support and advice at the different stages of the degree, beginning with advice about secondary bibliography and primary source research, progressing through to discussion of suitable structures for the dissertation, followed by feedback on sample drafted material. 

As further research preparation, supervisors can also arrange for Masters by Research students who wish to do so (and who are able to attend the scheduled hours) to audit on a voluntary basis appropriate taught courses within the History department (for example, the MA in History skills and / or concepts courses). 

Students are encouraged to attend relevant seminar sessions (such as those hosted by Royal Holloway's Humanities and Arts Research Institute, Bedford Centre for the History of Women, Centre for the Study of the Body and Material Culture, Centre for the Study of the Domestic Interior, Centre for Public History, Research Centre for the Holocaust and Twentieth-Century History, Centre for South Asian Studies, Centre for Minority Studies, the Hellenic Institute, and the Institute of Historical Research at Senate House).

Students should expect to meet their supervisors at least once every month in the first two terms. Phone and email contact may take the place of face to face supervision for students who have difficulties attending College, or who are conducting archival research or other field work. Written work should be produced regularly to be discussed with the supervisor. The History Department will monitor and take action regarding students who fail to have regular contact with their supervisor, whatever their mode of communication.

You will have access to some of the richest facilities for historical research anywhere in the world; in addition to the College’s substantial library collections, there are the National Archives, British Library and libraries of the University of London.

The Masters by Research (History) is examined 100% on the final dissertation which the candidate is required to defend in a viva.

Entry criteria:

A minimum of a 2:1 UK honours degree in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent.

Relevant professional qualifications and relevant experience in an associated area.

English language requirements:

IELTS 6.5 overall with 7.0 in writing and a minimum of 5.5 in all other subscores. For equivalencies please see here.

International and EU entry requirements

Please select your country from the drop-down list below

Students from overseas should visit the International pages for information on the entry requirements from their country and further information on English language requirements. Royal Holloway offers a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their postgraduate degree.

Additional information:

An interview and sample essay may be required if we would like more information upon which to base a decision. Applicants unable to attend an interview, such as overseas students, will be interviewed by telephone.

On completion of the course, you will have:

  • a high level of skill in the research, analysis and presentation of complex/fragmentary data
  • an advanced knowledge and critical understanding of the major concepts and theories that inform the subject
  • an understanding of the various explanations and theories for change and continuity in history
  • an understanding of the underlying social, cultural, economic, religious, ideological and political changes occurring during the periods studied.

Our graduates are highly employable and, in recent years have entered roles such as university lecturer, archivist, curator, journalist, librarian, PR consultant, teacher, freelance researcher, radio producer and a wide variety of other jobs within the ‘knowledge industries’. This degree also equips you with a solid foundation for continued academic study.

Home and EU and students tuition fee per year 2017/18*: £4,195

Overseas students tuition fee per year 2017/18*: £12,800

Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

*The tuition fees given above apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis.  Students studying part-time are charged a pro-rata tuition fee and information is available from the Royal Holloway Student Fees Office on Student-Fees@rhul.ac.uk. All fees are likely to rise annually in line with inflation, but by no more than 5 per cent per year.

For further information, please see Royal Holloway’s Terms & Conditions.

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