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Course content

You will take two core courses and 6 option courses.You will be assessed through coursework and a 15,000-word dissertation.

The compulsory courses are:

  • Historical Methodology;
  • Historical Research: Skills and Sources

Option courses previously available include:

  • Epicurus and Epicureanism
  • Myth and the History of Scholarship in Early Modern Europe
  • Theories of Empire in the Early Modern Period
  • Intellectual History of the American Revolution
  • Religion and the Enlightenment: the Birth of the Modern
  • Athens of the North: the Origins and Ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment;
  • Mind and Body in Early Modern Philosophy;
  • Seeking Japan in a Westernising World, 1868–1945;
  • Thinking the Twentieth Century;
  • Citizens and Subjects: Concepts of Citizenship in Modern African Intellectual History.

Learning outcomes

Students are expected to achieve several aims, which will be assessed primarily by essays and a dissertation, such as:

  • knowledge of the chief methods of practising intellectual history
  • a detailed understanding of certain major episodes in intellectual history
  • an appreciation of the interdependence of text and context, and of the importance of ideas in past and present

A wide variety of intellectual skills are promoted through seminars, discussions and advanced study, encouraging the development of the:

  • ability to develop tight and coherent arguments both orally and on the page
  • capacity to read texts critically and sensitively, evaluating their arguments as well as situating them in their practical and intellectual contexts
  • appreciation of a variety of approaches to intellectual history
  • ability to cross-disciplinary boundaries, for example, between philosophy, science and history

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 Intellectual History - MSc page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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