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Course content

Programme description

This innovative online programme allows you to take advantage of Edinburgh’s remarkable range of historical expertise from the comfort of your own home. Thanks to our e-learning tools and extensive digital resources, you can gain a world-class postgraduate qualification without the expense of relocating. Our flexible structure allows you to fit your studies around work or family commitments and to develop your own specialised interests under the expert guidance of experienced academics.

The thematic breadth of this programme means you can choose from a diverse range of topics from American politics to modern Japanese history, from interwar Europe to medieval Scottish history, and you will be able to further your own specialised interests through the dissertation.

Online learning

The online MSc History is delivered entirely online. Both the core and option units are taught through a combination of live virtual seminars and discussion board forums. All of our teaching is divided into themed weeks.

The method of assessment will vary from course to course and may include essays, short reports on primary or secondary sources, discussion forum activity and presentations.

Each course has a dedicated lecturer responsible for running it and you can expect to receive regular feedback from them.

Programme structure

You can choose to apply for the MSc either full-time (in one year) or part-time (between two and four years).

You can study for a single course, a certificate, a diploma or the MSc, with a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 60 credits being undertaken in any given semester.

The certificate requires one core training course and two specialist options, while the diploma requires both training courses and four options. If you wish to earn the full MSc, you will complete the requirements for the diploma before going on to produce a dissertation based on independent research.

Compulsory courses:

Historical Research: Approaches to History

Historical Research: Skills and Sources

Option courses may include:

The Lords of the Isles: Clan Donald, c.1336–c.1545

From Consensus to Thatcherism: Government and Politics in Post-War Britain

Seeking 'Japan' in a Westernising World: Revolution, Romance and Imperialism 1868–1945

Scotland and Ireland, 1800–1945

The Rise of Modern American Conservatism

The American Civil War

The Shadow of Versailles: Interwar Europe, 1918–1939

Willingly to War: the Origins of the First World War

Photography and Irish Life, 1839–2000

Angels and Inverts: Sexuality, Gender and Power in Britain, 1837–1914

Athens of the North – The Origins and Ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment

The Crusades and the Euro-Mediterranean world

Diaspora, Migration and Exile: The History of the Global Irish since 1600

Mythology and the History of Scholarship

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 skills training, specialised seminars, and independent research provides you with transferable skills that will be beneficial whatever path you choose. Graduates 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 their transferable skills to enter business, media, public administration or marketing.


Visit the History (by online distance learning) (MSc) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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