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MRes in Historical Research

Course Description


The Master's of Research in Historical Research is a one-year course that is research-oriented and allows specialisation in particular research areas. Students are allocated an individual supervisor to direct their independent study and plan the curriculum to reflect their interests and needs. Students should maintain regular contact with supervisors through email and an agreed schedule of meetings to discuss their work and review draft submissions.

The Master's of Research (MRes) is designed
- to enable students to become well-trained historians
- to demonstrate their fitness to undertake research to doctoral level at Stirling or other universities in Britain and overseas. Both are achieved through the completion of independent study modules, field seminars and skills training, under supervision.

There are four variants of the MRes in Historical Research:
- MRes in Historical Research: The American Revolutionary Era
- MRes in Historial Research: Medieval Scottish History
- MRes in Historical Research: Environmental History
- MRes in HIstorical Research: Modern European History and Politics

Students are allocated an individual supervisor to direct their independent study and plan the curriculum to reflect their interests and needs.


The MRes programme and all constituent modules are constructed in line with the University's academic procedures and are fully assessed and externally examined. The programme is recognised by both the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council both of whom have given PhD awards to outstanding Stirling graduates of the MRes.

Key information

- Degree type: MRes
- Study methods: Part-time, Full-time
- Duration: Full-time: 12 months Part-time: 24 months
- Start date: September
- Course Director: Dr Jim Smyth

Course objectives

This programme prepares you for further research:
- to co-ordinate the provision of additional or external skills training and to develop the application of research skills
- students will obtain practical experience of devising and applying a research method to interrogate primary sources
- qualitative and quantitative analyses
- the application of IT in information retrieval, especially bibliographical database software,
- communication skills, written and oral
- project design involving the conceptualisation of research questions and the presentation of data and data analysis

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:
- IELTS: 6.5 with 6.0 minimum in each skill
- Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
- Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade B
- Pearson Test of English (Academic): 60 with 56 in each component
- IBT TOEFL: 90 with no subtest less than 20

For more information go to English language requirements https://www.stir.ac.uk/study-in-the-uk/entry-requirements/english/

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard. View the range of pre-sessional courses http://www.intohigher.com/uk/en-gb/our-centres/into-university-of-stirling/studying/our-courses/course-list/pre-sessional-english.aspx .

Career opportunities

The MRes has been designed with three career destinations in mind:
- to prepare graduate students for further research at doctoral level
- as a route to an academic career
- as a higher degree in its own right

The MRes will also enhance continuing professional development, particularly in teaching, journalism, marketing, and heritage management through in-depth study of particular fields; by aiming to develop critical analytical skills and research techniques, the programme provides preparation for a wide variety of research-based careers in the public and private sectors.
Most of our graduates go on to study for a PhD either by continuing at Stirling or at another University in the UK, Europe or North America. Recent graduates have secured posts in firms and institutions as varied as Historic Scotland, Sea World, and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

Chances to expand your horizons
There is a lively series of guest lectures which students can attend on this programme.

Where are our graduates now?
The MRes has been designed with three career destinations in mind:
- to prepare graduate students for further research at doctoral level and as a route to an academic career
- as a higher degree in its own right
- to enhance continuing professional development, particularly in teaching, journalism, marketing, and heritage management through in-depth study of particular fields; by aiming to develop critical analytical skills and research techniques, the programme provides preparation for a wide variety of research-based careers in the public and private sectors


Skills you can develop through this programme
- command of a substantial body of historical knowledge
- understand how people have existed, acted and thought in the context of the past
- read and use texts and other source materials critically and empathetically
- appreciate the complexity and diversity of situations, events and past mentalities
- recognise there are ways of testing statements and that there are rules of evidence which require integrity and maturity
- reflect critically on the nature and theoretical underpinnings of the discipline
- marshall an argument, be self-disciplined and independent intellectually
- express themselves orally and in writing with coherence, clarity and fluency
- gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information
- analyse and solve problems
- use effectively ICT, information retrieval and presentation skills
- exercise self-discipline, self-direction and initiative
- work with others and have respect for others’ reasoned views
- show empathy and imaginative insight
- prepare for further academic research such as a Phd

In addition, our students have the opportunity to further develop their transferable skills through voluntary internships working on collections of material held within the Division (The Scottish Political Archive and the University's own archive (e.g. UNESCO recognised Royal Scottish National Institution for mentally disabled children).

Visit the MRes in Historical Research page on the University of Stirling website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Anne Gillingham

Having had such a positive experience whilst working towards the MRes in Historical Research, I had no hesitation about returning to the University of Stirling for doctoral study. The high quality and individually tailored skills training provided by the MRes was invaluable as a stepping-stone to a Research Degree in History.

As a researcher in the field of late 19C French History, I was able to take part in generic research skills training and enhance my existing abilities in French language studies. I also carried out archival research in Paris which allowed me access to vital primary source materials, as well as to an amazing cultural experience.

Equally important to me are the relationships I formed with my supervisor, other staff, and postgraduate students whilst studying for the MRes. Working in close consultation with my supervisor – who encouraged me and helped me to challenge myself throughout every step of the process – meant that I felt highly supported whilst also developing a real sense of ownership and expertise in my area of research.

Also, the wider postgraduate community at Stirling is not only an academically stimulating environment, but has been another important source of support. Having joined the School of History and Politics Postgraduate Society, I found that this was an ideal forum to present my research, exchange ideas and get to know my fellow students better.

Overall, undertaking the MRes was greatly rewarding and prepared me thoroughly for the rigours of doctoral research. The opportunity to stretch myself academically whilst developing the skills that allowed me to steer the course of my own learning and research has been invaluable to my current studies and will also lay the foundations for my future career.

(Student Profile)

Juan Quintana

Since 1994, I have visited Scotland forty-three times and, from the very first visit, I knew that one day I would come to stay for good. Some years ago, I decided to become an expert on Medieval Scottish culture, so looked for the best-suited university to help me fulfil my postgraduate study goal.

My idea was to find a small but prestigious institution and, after considering admission offers from St. Andrews and Edinburgh, I decided that the University of Stirling was the right place for me. This decision changed my life as it gave me the opportunity to relocate to Scotland and find a second home. Even my first daughter, Cameron Leanne, was born here.

I graduated with an MRes in Humanities (Scottish Medieval Literature) and am now engaged in further study here at Stirling. It has been a great experience which has influenced both my work and my life.

One of my jobs is to promote Scotland for a webpage which operates in Spain, Portugal and South America. My formal study has transformed me from a simple tourist to a renowned expert who is able to narrate, discuss and recommend different aspects of Scotland, an alternative vision of Alba.

In all senses, the literary and historical backgrounds I have acquired at the University have changed my own conception of this wee but bonnie country.

(Student Profile)

Jane Cessford

Why did you decide to study a postgraduate course?
As the end of my undergraduate degree approached I started to consider the possibility of a postgraduate course. I began my degree studying English, but found myself more interested in History and so I changed to a combined degree to make the most of both subjects. Towards the end of my degree I took my chances by applying to Stirling Uni’s excellent AHRC scholarship programme and, thankfully, I was lucky enough to secure my funding.

What attracted you to Stirling?
Stirling Uni’s on my doorstep, but regardless of this factor I would have considered it anyway because of the fantastic Access to Degree course it runs for mature students. It enabled me to try education again in a welcoming and encouraging atmosphere. Stirling Uni’s disability department also made my academic life easier to handle and provided me with the physical tools and emotional support I needed to succeed.

Which aspects of the programme did you enjoy the most?
I enjoyed the high quality of teaching which made my postgraduate course worthwhile, as did the continual support and encouragement I received from both of my tutors. The MRes also encouraged me to think on a wider scale about my topic, an aspect of the postgraduate course which definitely led to me considering moving on to the PhD.

What advice would you give a student considering studying at Stirling?
I would definitely encourage them to choose Stirling Uni in general, but in all honesty I would also encourage them to make use of the support networks which are available at the Uni too. Many students have learning problems and disabilities which can be identified and, as a result, they can be assisted along their educational journey, enabling them to complete their degree with the best result they’re truly capable of.

(Student Profile)

Wayne Cuthbertson

As a Stirling undergraduate, I recognized the high quality of teaching available, and the friendly and supportive ethos that existed within the University. So when I decided to undertake advanced study in Scottish History, Stirling was the only option I considered. And from my first point of first contact, I received nothing but warm encouragement.

I received a great deal of help in applying for funding to support my studies, and was fortunate enough to gain an AHRC award. For a relatively small history department, Stirling has had a tremendous track-record in achieving external funding for its students.

From first to last, the Degree was very much my own. I wasn’t expected to slot into a pre-selected range of often very limited taught modules – which can be the case at many other universities.

I was interested in government, politics, and ideology in early 17th century Scotland, and with my supervisor I was able to choose a topic which appealed to me, and would also provide a good starting point for future doctoral study. My Master’s was tailored to my interests and to provide the best possible training to complete my final dissertation.

Being a postgraduate Stirling student is special. I felt part of a community of historians with very diverse research interests, and I also felt I was an integral part of the School. I will always the treasure the friendships I have been able to make.

Having had the benefit of completing both my undergraduate and Master’s historical studies here, I know you will not meet a more talented and friendly group of historians with a real passion for their subject, and their students. As I move on to begin Ph.D. study at St. Andrews University, I know I’ve had the best preparation for what lies ahead and I will be eternally grateful to the staff who have supported and encouraged me throughout my time here.


Entry Requirements

A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply. Research proposal required (1,500 word maximum).

Course Fees

2015/16: Home/EU £4,500; Overseas £11,900

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