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Course content

Research profile

The MSc by Research programme is for students with a good general knowledge of the subject area, who wish to focus their interests and deepen their knowledge of a specific topic.

To complete the programme you will normally submit two independent research essays (5,000 words each) on topics chosen in consultation with your supervisor. You will also be required to complete the History of Art core course, “Research Theories and Methods” (which is assessed by means of a 3,000-word essay) and another relevant course (usually chosen from a broad range of taught postgraduate option courses, assessed by a 4,000-word essay, or a credit-bearing language course). At the end of the summer, you will be required to submit a 15,000-word dissertation.

The MPhil and PhD degrees are both major pieces of independent research, preparing you for a future in academic scholarship. These degrees are obtained by research and presentation of a thesis of up to 60,000 words (MPhil) or 80,000–100,000 words (PhD). The first year of a PhD is probationary, meaning that you must pass a First Year Review before you are permitted to continue to the second year of the PhD. At your review, you will be required to give an oral presentation about the project and discuss with a review panel a proposed chapter plan, timeline for completion, and a draft chapter of at least 10,000 words.

Programme structure

The MSc by Research consists of assessed work, split between a dissertation (15,000 words) and supervised research essays on topics related to the dissertation.

The programme also includes a compulsory research training course and either a methodology course or another course from another MSc programme, if agreed to be more suitable by your supervisor and postgraduate director

Training and support

All of our research students benefit from ECA’s interdisciplinary approach and all are assigned two research supervisors. Your second supervisor may be from another discipline within ECA, or from somewhere else within the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences or elsewhere within the University, according to the expertise required. On occasion more than two supervisors will be assigned, particularly where the degree brings together multiple disciplines.


Visit the History of Art - MScR page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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