MRes in Historical Research

The MRes in Historical Research is a taught and research-based programme, focusing on historical methodologies, approaches to history and research practices. Available full- or part-time, the MRes combines seminar courses with a 30,000-word dissertation on a subject of the student's choosing.

The MRes provides an ideal platform for entry to a PhD programme or to further research projects.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The MRes has closed to new applicants as of autumn 2020. Existing students will complete their study, but the course will close completely in autumn 2021. A new taught degree in history will be offered in autumn 2021: more news and information will appear on this website soon.

SPECIAL NOTICE (21 July 2020): Closure of the MRes

As a result of an ongoing review and rethink of the degrees offered by the IHR and SAS, the MRes in Historical Research will close in autumn 2021, after all existing students have completed their study. A new degree is being prepared and will be recruiting for students to begin study in the 2021-22 academic year. More information will be posted on the website soon.

Course details

The MRes is an integrated research training programme designed to provide graduates with a foundation for a range of careers in research in industry, the public sector or in academic life. It provides an ideal platform for entry to a PhD programme. Its purpose is to offer high quality postgraduate training in the methods and practice of research and relevant transferable skills.

    Aims of the MRes degree

    The MRes programme aims to:

    i) Give a detailed understanding of educational research methodologies and the theoretical/methodological issues/assumptions they entail;

    ii) Develop skills in research design, methods of enquiry, data analysis and other analytical strategies;

    iii) Develop an understanding of the issues involved in effective communication of research findings including:

    • critical appreciation of the research process relevant to advanced research in the individual’s field of study
    • extensive understanding of research methodology relevant to individual field of study
    • capacity to independently design and undertake a substantial research project
    • awareness of the specialist research methodologies appropriate to their research project
    • ability to select and provide a rationale for the selection of particular methodological approaches


    Module 1 (core)

    Module 1, ‘Historical Research Skills’, is taught through 10 weekly two-hour classes. It focuses on providing students with practical historical skills and an understanding of different historical approaches and methods. It offers students an introduction to the theoretical basis of historical approaches and the opportunity to explore how related disciplines (such as archaeology, anthropology, sociology and political science) have helped historians adopt new approaches to the past.

    Methodological approaches, including the handling of material evidence, the use of digital techniques, and the interpretation of visual sources, are also be studied.


    This module is assessed by a 5,000-word essay.

    As part of this module, students are also required to take one of the IHR's short training courses. This is assessed by a 1,500-word report.


    Module 2 (core)

    The second core module, ‘History in context’ is, again, taught through 10 two-hour lectures and seminars. It explores a number of themes in historical research, building on the skills and approaches learned in Module 1. These include local and urban history, as well as the history of gender, migration and empires. Students are encouraged to think about the significance of continuity and change in history and periodisation, as well as the presentation of history in museums and other public fora.


    This module is assessed by one 5,000-word essay and a 15-minute presentation on an aspect of history in context.

    Module 3 (Research Pathway option)

    In preparation for their dissertation, students select a research pathway in discussion with course tutors. Possible pathways include: local history, digital history, history of medicine, urban history, including the history of London, modern history, imperial history, global history, material culture and archaeology. Through a series of classes and individual supervisions, students will be helped to choose a dissertation subject and to become more familiar with the chosen period or area of study.


    The module is assessed by a 3,000-word research design portfolio discussing the research design, sources, historiography and methodologies to be used for the MRes dissertation.

    Module 4 - Dissertation (30,000 words)

    The dissertation consists of a significant research project providing the opportunity for the student to undertake an in-depth investigative project from one of the research pathways.
    Full time students take the two taught core modules and the research pathway module in the autumn and spring terms and write their dissertation during the summer term.

    Part time students take the two taught core modules and the research pathway module in the first year, and the dissertation in their second year.

    IHR teaching staff for the MRes in Historical Research

    MRes course administrator

    Student handbook

    IHR MRes in Historical Research Course Handbook 2019-20 PDF 4.2 MB