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Course content

Develop your understanding of history and of the nature of historical research with this flexible course that encourages you to develop as independent researcher.

Course overview

The MA Historical Research is for students who want to develop their understanding of history and of the nature of historical research. It is a flexible course that will encourage you to develop as an independent researcher. You will be able to pursue your interests in history while discovering the ways in which historians work. You will also engage with the intellectual, practical and social facets of the profession.

Core modules emphasise the nature of the discipline or historical research, its evolution (History in the Past or Historians on History) and the preparatory work for independent research (The Profession of the Historian or the Dissertation Feasibility Study). These modules will give you the grounding needed to engage with your own research project in the dissertation module.

Design your MA studies according to your preferred methods of learning. If you prefer to work independently you may choose to opt for the Extended History Dissertation, whereas if you prefer more taught elements you can opt for the History Dissertation. This will allow you to place more or less emphasis on independent work and research. The Extended History Dissertation is a great opportunity for those wanting to move on to further research or who want to develop a career in which research is a key element. In both cases, the project will be negotiated with the teaching team to reflect both you and your lecturers’ research interests.

The course is designed to implement the research-led curriculum of the university in which you become involved in research through the guidance of research-active members of staff - all staff members on the teaching team are research active.

You will graduate with a firm grounding in the way history evolves through an understanding of the nature of the discipline in all its diversity and of the challenges it faces. This, combined with an engagement with a specific subject area, will foster a critical understanding of history, necessary for a wide range of careers in research, academia, law, journalism and the cultural sector.

Course content

The course mixes taught elements with independent research and self-directed study. There is flexibility to pursue personal interests in considerable depth, with guidance from Sunderland's supportive tutors.

Core module:
-History in the past (15 Credits)
-Historians on History (15 Credits)
-History in the past (15 Credits)
-Historians on History (15 Credits)
-Dissertation Feasibility study (30 Credits)
-The profession of the historian (15 Credits)
-The Profession of the historian (Symposium/Webinar) (15 Credits)

Dissertation modules:
-History Dissertation (60 Credits)
-Extended History Dissertation (90 Credits)

Optional modules (for students choosing the Dissertation module HISM40) would typically include:
-Suicide Until the Reformation
-Suicide Since the Reformation
-Law, Family and Community Relations 1550-1800
-Law, Treason and Rebellion 1550-1800
-Britain Between the Wars: The Changing Party System
-Britain Between the Wars: The Challenges of the Inter War Years
-Foundations of Liberty - Obedience and Resistance
-Foundations of liberty - Religious toleration
-Human Rights in History: Ideas and Movements
-Human Rights in History: Organizations, Activists and Campaigns
-Revolution in Science and Art 1870-1920
-Revolution in Science and Art 1870-1920

You will normally choose your options during the induction week when the full list of optional modules available that year will be presented to you. The number of optional modules offered will depend on the size of the cohort and the availability of staff. Not all options will be available every year. In any one academic year no more than three optional modules (3 x 15 credits) will be offered. Optional modules all run in Semester 2.

Facilities & location

The University of Sunderland has excellent facilities that have been boosted by multi-million pound redevelopments.

University Library Services
We’ve got thousands of books and e-books on topics related to history, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles.

Some of the most important sources for your course include:
-House of Commons Parliamentary Papers including bills, registers and journals
-Early English Books Online, which provides digital images of virtually every work printed in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and British North America during 1473-1800
-Eighteenth Century Collections Online, which provides 136,000 full-text publications from 1701-1800
-Periodicals Archive Online, which provides digitised literary journals
-Archival Sound Recordings with over 12,000 hours of recordings
-JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’), which provides access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences
Lexis, which provides access to legal information as well as full-text newspaper articles
-Nineteenth Century British Library Newspapers, with full runs of 48 titles
-Screen Online (BFI), which is an online encyclopaedia of British film and television, featuring clips from the vast collections of the BFI National Archive
-SocINDEX with full-text articles, which is probably the world's most comprehensive and highest-quality sociology research database

Archives
The Murray Library at the University also contains the physical archive of the North East England Mining Archive and Resource Centre. This contains mining records, technical reports, trade union records and health & safety information.

IT provision
When it comes to IT provision you can take your pick from hundreds of PCs as well as Apple Macs in the David Goldman Informatics Centre and St Peter’s library. There are also free WiFi zones throughout the campus. If you have any problems, just ask the friendly helpdesk team.

Course location
The course is based at the Priestman Building on City Campus, just a few minutes from the main Murray Library and close to Sunderland city centre. It’s a very vibrant and supportive environment with excellent resources for teaching and learning.

Employment & careers

This course is relevant to a wide range of professions, highlighting as it does critical and analytical skills and an ability to develop and effectively advance an argument. A large number of transferable skills will be gained: research skills, writing skills, presentation skills, analytical and critical skills. These will be valuable in a huge range of careers and activities.

The course has been designed with employability in mind, with a focus on the way research skills can be transferred to the work place.

History by nature is a subject that includes a number of transferable skills such as critical thinking, collecting and analysing data critically, working independently and to a deadline, developing a coherent argument, writing, and oral skills. The QAA Subject Benchmark statement for History (December 2014) lists the some following (§3.3):
-Self discipline
-Independence of mind, and initiative
-A questioning disposition and the ability to formulate and pursue clearly defined questions and enquiries
-Ability to work with others, and to have respect for others' reasoned views
-Ability to gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information; and familiarity with appropriate means of identifying, finding, retrieving, sorting and exchanging information
-Analytical ability, and the capacity to consider and solve problems, including complex problems to which there is no single solution
-Structure, coherence, clarity and fluency of both oral and written expression
-Imaginative insight and creativity
-Awareness of ethical issues and responsibilities that arise from research into the past and the reuse of the research and writing of others

These transferable skills will be fostered through each module and particularly emphasised in core modules. Furthermore, the research skills module The profession of the historian Symposium/Webinar will involve the organisation of a mini symposium. You will be expected to engage with some of the administrative and practical skills involved in organising an academic event.

During the dissertation feasibility study, you will be expected to deliver papers to an audience of staff and peers, allowing you to practice your oral and presentational skills.

MA Historical Research graduates can expect to be employed in:
-Teaching
-Archives
-Libraries
-Museums
-Journalism
-Law

Visit the Historical Research - MA page on the University of Sunderland website for more details!

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