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Course content

This programme is distinctive in its breadth and diversity, both chronologically and thematically. It draws on the wide range of American historical expertise available in the School. You will enrich your skills in independent research, critical analysis and presentations, and gain an in-depth understanding of the key topics and historiographical debates of this young nation’s dynamic past.

You will attain a level of expertise and knowledge that will enable you to embark upon independent research at an advanced level in American history. The University of Edinburgh is home to one of the largest teams of American historians outside the United States, allowing us to provide courses and research supervision in a wide array of topics and time periods with world class expertise. The impressive combined resources of the University’s Main Library and the National Library of Scotland, home to one of the UK’s largest collections of Americana, will be on hand.

Programme structure

You’ll take two semesters of seminar-style courses in small groups, then apply your independent research skills developing your dissertation, with the supervision of academic staff. This is your chance to be creative; our breadth of expertise means we’re open to almost any area of interest. You will complete three compulsory courses and select a further three options from a wide range on offer.

Compulsory courses previously offered include:

  • Historical Methodology
  • Historical Research: Skills and Sources
  • Themes in American Historiography.

Option courses previously offered include those listed below. Option courses change from year to year and those available when you start your studies may be different from those shown in the list:

  • Slavery in the British Atlantic World, 1650-1834
  • Conservatism in the United States, c.1930-c.1990
  • The Civil Rights Movement
  • The United States and the Cold War
  • The American Civil War and Reconstruction

Career opportunities

Our students view the programme and a graduate degree from Edinburgh as an advanced qualification valued and respected by many employers. Those students interested in long-term academic careers consider the programme as preparation for a PhD.

The combination of specialised skills training courses and seminars, and the opportunity for independent research provides you with transferable skills that will be beneficial whatever path you choose. Graduates pursue work in related areas such as museums, policy think-tanks, national and international civil services, non-governmental organisations, galleries, libraries and historic trusts whilst others build on the transferable skills gained and enter areas as diverse as business, media, public administration and marketing.


Visit the American History (MSc) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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