MA by Research History

Duration Full time 2 years
Part time 3 years
Distance Learning available
  • History
LocationExeter (Streatham)
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 and, if required, as a progression route to a PhD.

The MbyRes programmes are two years full time or three years part time. There is no minimum registration period and students may complete their studies within a shorter time scale. However, students who are accessing financial support through the Student Loan Company Postgraduate Research Loan should be aware that funding payments are scheduled across two years for students studying the programme on either a full time or a part time basis.

History academic staff are world-leading researchers and their interests range across history from 1500 onwards, and have particular expertise in; culture, memory and heritage; landscape, agriculture and environmental history, c. 1500-1800; oral history and British party politics; political and social theory; Cornish history; gender, sex and medical history; social history; modern warfare; global communism and socialism, and colonialism and decolonization. The department provides coverage of British, European, African, South and East Asian, American and Latin American histories. There is a special emphasis on interdisciplinarity - the deployment of approaches from disciplines such as literary studies, anthropology, 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 MA modules following a training needs analysis. You will also be able to take advantage of the University’s Effective Researcher Development Programme.

Distance-based MA by Research

It may be possible to study with only occasional visits to the University. Distance-based students undertake the majority of their research at an off campus location of their choosing. If you think you may be interested in a distance-based MA by Research, please read the guidance and further information before applying.

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 historians of empire and the global South. It comprises of one of the largest groups of imperial and global historians currently working in the UK. The Centre’s strengths in comparing empires and the experiences of empire address a number of historical and contemporary concerns: globalisation's past and present; 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. The vibrant research seminar draws staff, research students and internationally-renowned researchers to present new research.

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 health.

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


The University library maintains extensive holdings in all our disciplines, extensive audio-visual collections and a number of medieval manuscripts in our Heritage Collections, while Exeter Cathedral Library and Archives and the Devon Heritage Centre contain further significant medieval manuscripts, documents and early printed books. Thanks to the help of a substantial grant from the Leverhulme Trust, The Exeter Local Maritime Archives Project (ELMAP) has created a searchable online database of references to records with maritime and naval significance that are held in local record offices and other archives across England and Wales. 

The Queen’s Building (Streatham Campus) and the Peter Lanyon Building (Penryn Campus) offer dedicated postgraduate common rooms with computer facilities and a number of study carrels available for research students.

Students at both campuses have access to a wealth of online information including: over 400 online journal titles; the extensive Gale Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) research archive; search tools such as FirstSearch; the digital archive JSTOR; and other similar databases providing access to full text articles.


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.

Graduate destinations

Below are some examples of initial jobs undertaken by History postgraduates who studied with us in 2011/12.

Please note that, due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

Job titlesOrganisations
Bid Project Manager
Business Development Intern
Chief Operations Officer
Customer Communications Coordinator
Data Analyst
Freelance Journalist
Graduate Teaching Assistant
Information Analyst
Learning Development Specialist
Library Facilitator
Marketing Assistant
Parliamentary Assistant to MP
Project Officer
Research Assistant
Cormorant Media
Cornwall Council
Green Gaia Films
Kaplan University
Kent County Council
Leeds City College
News Associates
Romax Marketing and Distribution
Somerset County Council
Strode College
University of Aberystwyth
University of Exeter
University of York
WhipTail Technologies

Entry requirements 2018

Students applying to enter into the MA by Research will require a minimum 2.1 Honours degree in History or a related degree, with a minimum 2.1 grade in the undergraduate dissertation. Students with degrees in related subjects will be considered on an individual basis.

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 2018/19

  • UK/EU: £4,400 full-time; £2,200 part-time
  • International: £16,400 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
Web: Enquire online

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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.