MA by Research History

Duration Full time 1-2 years
Part time 2-3 years
Distance Learning available
  • History
LocationCornwall (Penryn)
Start date September, January or April


The MA by Research in History like other research degrees contains no taught element and offers you the opportunity to pursue a research project, without entering into the commitment of a PhD. The degree programme is intended both as an award in its own right or as a progression route to a PhD.

History academic staff are active researchers and their interests as a whole focus on history from 1500 onwards, and have particular expertise in Cornish history; culture, memory and heritage; landscape, agriculture and environmental history, c. 1500-1800; oral history and party politics; political and social theory; environmentalism and environmental politics; first world war, with a particular focus on the UK, Ireland and the Middle East; 19th-20th c. American history. There is a special emphasis on interdisciplinarity – the deployment of approaches from disciplines such as literary studies, sociology, politics and economics.

The maximum period of study for this programme is one year full-time and two years part-time. A Masters by Research degree is assessed by a written dissertation of up 40,000 words. The dissertation will not need to constitute an original contribution to knowledge but will need to provide evidence that you have worked at the current limits of understanding of the subject. Unlike a taught Masters degree, there is no taught element, so dedication and enthusiasm for your subject are essential. As with other research students, you may be required to ‘audit’ all or part of certain modules, following a training needs analysis. You will also be able to take advantage of the University’s Effective Researcher Development Programme.

Current available funding

Research areas

A summary of our main areas of research is provided here. The History Research webpages provide more comprehensive details about current research projects. Details on individual staff research interests and publications can be found on the History staff profiles pages.

Centre for Early Modern Studies

The Centre for Early Modern Studies fosters interdisciplinary links between colleagues working in the early Modern era both from the Department and across the University, and provides a home for the flourishing Early Modern Seminar, which combines papers from staff and research students and organises major conferences. Colleagues involved in the Centre are engaged in research on all aspects of the period between c.1500 and 1800 and expertise spreads from Britain and Europe to the Middle East and North America. Key areas of activity include: religious culture; social and economic relations; political and intellectual thought; gender and sexuality; space, landscape and national identities; the history of the book; theatre and performance.

Centre for Imperial and Global History

The Centre for Imperial and Global History brings together the strong research expertise of the University's eminent imperial historians. It comprises of one of the largest groups of imperial and global historians currently working in the UK. Our strengths in comparing empires and the experiences of empire address a number of leading research themes: globalisation's past and present; comparing empires, connecting empires; regions in a global context; humanitarianism, development and the discourse of rights; law and colonialism; political economy and the imperial state; Europe - decolonisation and the legacies of empire.

Centre for Maritime Historical Studies

This is the oldest established centre for this specialism in a British university. The Centre for Maritime Historical Studies seeks to promote research into economic, social, political, naval and environmental aspects of the British maritime past from the earliest times to the present day. The Centre holds termly research seminars (in conjunction with the Society for Nautical Research), an annual international Maritime History Conference and a twice-yearly Strategic Policy Studies Group symposium (with associated publication).

Centre for Medical History

The Centre for Medical History draws together scholars from a wide range of disciplines across the University to promote the study of medicine in a social and historical perspective. One special interest of those closely associated with the Centre is the social history of insanity, psychiatry and mental disability.

Centre for the Study of War, State and Society

The Centre for the Study of War, State and Society brings together a number of internationally renowned academics working in the social history of war, military advance and social change, conflicts of decolonisation, regimes of punishment and the treatment of prisoners of war and political detainees, and war in international politics. It supports research and teaching on the effects of armed conflict on states, societies and cultures throughout history and on themes of warfare and societal transformation.

See also


Studying History at our Penryn Campus gives you all the advantages of working within a small, research-driven department whilst still studying at a Russell Group University. You will have access to a dedicated postgraduate study space which features individual workstations for students. We also offer our postgraduate students the opportunity to gain valuable teaching experience through our Graduate Teaching Assistant programme.

Our staff have an 'open door' policy which encourages informal enquiries and puts you in closer contact with the academics who teach you than in any other department. We work closely with staff from other disciplines so you will also have access to academics from a range of different disciplines including English, Politics and Geography.

We have an excellent Special Collections archive which includes the papers of Henry Williamson, Syon Abbey manuscripts and plantation documents. Our Bill Douglas Cinema Museum (on our Streatham Campus) holds a unique archival collection with particular strength in the area of British Film.

You will also be able to take advantage of other resources in the South West such as the Exeter Cathedral Archives which date to Saxon times. The Devon Heritage Centre and the Dorset Heritage Centre are valuable resources for those interested in local history, and all our Postgraduate students are entitled to a free place at the Institute of Historical Research in London.


We are committed to ensuring you receive high quality research supervision to maximise your potential and prepare you for a rewarding career.

Postgraduates also have access to the wide range of support offered by our Career Zone. In addition, postgraduate research students can access our Postgraduate Researchers' Programme, which covers a range of topics to help you to succeed during your research degree and to act as a springboard for your research career.

Entry requirements 2017

Students applying to enter directly into the MA by Research programme would normally be expected to have a Masters degree with Merit or equivalent in History, or other relevant qualifications such as a doctorate in another subject. Graduates with degrees in related subjects will be considered on an individual basis, such as History, Philosophy, Modern Languages and Classics.

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements. 

Apply for MA by Research study

If you are considering studying for an MA by Research, you will need to pinpoint the topic in which you wish to undertake your research and identify members of academic staff who specialise in this area and can offer you supervision. Visit our staff profiles or research supervision web pages for more information about individual research interests.

Once you have identified your research area, you will need to prepare a research proposal which outlines the specific area you wish to study and submit this with your application.

Guidelines on submitting an MPhil/PhD application, including guidelines on writing a research proposal, can be found on our application process page.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 7.0 with a minimum score of 6.5 in the writing component and all other sections no less than 6.0.


Overall score 100 with minimum scores of 25 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

65 with no less than 58 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Finance: fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2017/18

  • UK/EU: £4,250 full-time; £2,100 part-time
  • International: £15,450 full-time

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

Contact us

College of Humanities
Postgraduate Administrator
Phone: +44 (0)1392 725306

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Why study History at Exeter?

Lecturer in South Asian History Dr Gajendra Singh tells us what it's like to study at a postgraduate level at Exeter.