We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.


V1KB07 Social and Economic History (Research Methods) MA Postgraduate Taught  2017


Degree MA
Mode of study Part Time + Full Time
Duration 1 year (full-time) / 2 years (part-time)
Start Date 02-10-2017
Location Durham City
Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 1040

Course Content


Durham's MA in Social and Economic History at Durham provides training in research methods for historical topics in any aspect of social and economic history. The MA provides quantitative and qualitative research methods appropriate to a wide range of historical approaches. Accredited by the ESRC, this MA is part of our four year funding scheme offered by the North-East Doctoral Training Centre. You can apply for 1+3 funding for this MA followed by a PhD in any aspect of social and economic history with expert supervision available within the Department – and with our partner institution in the NEDTC at Newcastle University. This includes African history, and aspects of governance, as well as traditional social and economic topics. For further information on funding see further below.

The MA programme is shared with the School of Applied Social Science and will help you to build an awareness of the contemporary boundaries of social and economic history and to master advanced understanding of the concepts and methods with which it may be interrogated. It seeks to equip you with a diverse portfolio of research techniques and approaches to enable you to undertake extended independent research in your dissertation, and to make your own contribution to the field. The skills provided by this MA are also transferrable to a wide range of careers.

Durham has a long tradition of economic and social history, on which this MA draws. The breadth of possible subjects for study mirrors the comprehensive and global nature of the department staff: from medieval Europe to modern-day Africa, and from north-east England to the global economy. Durham's History Department is situated in the historic setting of the World Heritage Site, which includes Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle. Students of social and economic history at Durham benefit from the rich archival and manuscript resources in the collections of the University (at Palace Green Library - especially the Sudan Archive - and Ushaw College) and in the Cathedral Library, while the wider regional resources for study of the period are also highly significant: the landscape of industrial revolution and of post-industrial response, of globalisation and regional identity.

Course Structure

The MA in Social and Economic History is a one-year full-time programme (or two-years part-time). All students are allocated a supervisor at the beginning of the first term, and s/he guides each student through the year.

You will take 30 credits of core modules from History: Archives and Sources (15 credits), and Critical Practice (15 credits); and 30 credits of core modules from the School of Applied Social Sciences: Perspectives on Social Research (15 credits) AND EITHER Qualitative Research Methods in Social Science (15 credits) OR Fieldwork and Interpretation (15 credits). You will write a 60-credit dissertation (15,000 words) supervised by a member of academic staff in the History Department. You will also choose a 30-credit optional module in History; AND 30 credits of optional modules from Social Sciences: EITHER Statistical Exploration and Reasoning (15 credits) and Quantitative Research Methods in Social Science (15 credits) OR Applied Statistics (30 credits).

The programme is structured as follows:

Michaelmas Term (October-December)

Archives and Sources (15 credits)

This module is designed to introduce you to advanced interpretation and analysis of primary sources, and has two elements. The first is based on archives, and will be led by specialist staff in the Library's Special Collections, as well as by members of the department. The second element is commentary on particular sources, chosen by you in consultation with your supervisor and the module convenors.

Perspectives on Social Research (15 credits)

This module introduces you to social scientific research, and focuses on establishing cause and interpreting meaning in social sciences. The module also covers the essentials of quantitative and qualitative research in the social sciences.

* Statistical Exploration and Reasoning (15 credits; OPTIONAL)

This module covers spreadsheets and data analysis; populations, sample data and sampling distributions; point estimates and confidence intervals; significance tests, cross-tabulation, and Chi-Square tests; correlation and linear regression.

* Fieldwork and Interpretation (15 credits; OPTIONAL)

This module aims to give you a comprehensive view of qualitative field methods used by social sciences, including the collection, management and interpretation of qualitative data. It will cover the relation of explanatory theories to methods of research; ethnography and participant observation; interviewing, focus groups and other group-based research techniques; participatory methods; power relations and reflexivity in qualitative research; management and analysis of qualitative data; and ethical issues in qualitative research.

* Applied Statistics (30 credits; OPTIONAL; runs across Michaelmas and Epiphany Terms)

This module aims to introduce you to the theory and application of statistical methods using relevant applications software, and to develop students' confidence and competence in the use of statistics and the analysis of data relevant to psychologists. You will be taught a variety of parametric and non-parametric statistical data analysis methods, illustrated by examples. The module is taught through lectures and practical sessions.

Epiphany Term (January-March)

Critical Practice (15 credits)

This module will develop and test your ability to offer a critical intellectual argument in an oral presentation, and your ability to participate effectively in critical discussions arising out of oral presentations. The training for this module involves lectures, seminars, one-to-one sessions with your supervisor, and a drama workshop. This module will encourage you to think critically about questions of structure and balance of content, timing and delivery in presentations through observing the work of others, and developing your own presentation.

Option module (30 credits)

Option modules allow you the opportunity to learn about a particular topic or issue in medieval history in depth, and to consider different historical approaches to this topic over a full term's study. In previous years, options included: Power and Society in the Late Middle Ages; The Wealth of Nations; Race in Modern America; 'Tribe' and Nation in Africa since 1800; Tradition, Change and Political Culture in Modern Britain; Gender, Nationalism and Modernity in East Asia; History, Knowledge and Visual Culture (a full list of MA option modules is available here). Option modules are taught in weekly two-hour seminars for a full term's study.

* Qualitative Research Methods (15 credits; OPTIONAL)

This module covers introduction to theory and research practice in qualitative methods; ethnography and grounded theory; group discussions; data analysis and management processes.

* Quantitative Research Methods (15 credits; OPTIONAL)

This module covers analysis of survey data versus experimental data; sampling and sample design, and questionnaire design; numerical taxonomy and cluster analysis in practice; methods for representing complex systems.

Easter Term (April-June), and the summer vacation (until early September)

Dissertation (60 credits)

You will meet with your supervisor on an individual basis and will discuss the topic, direction and content of your dissertation, as well as the relevant medieval evidence and scholarship which you should explore. The dissertation is a substantial, independent piece of research of 15,000 words. You are not required to write your dissertation on a topic which is in the same period and area as your optional modules, but it is recommended that you discuss your individual programmes of work with your supervisors and/or with the Director of Taught Postgraduate Programmes.

The formal requirements and structure of the programme can be found here; a full list of optional modules is available here.

The MA can be taken part-time, over two years: please contact the Department if you are interested in exploring this option further.

Course Learning and Teaching

The programme is delivered primarily through small group seminar teaching with some larger classes, and lecture-style sessions. Termly division of contact hours between terms depends on student choice. Archives and Sources has 8 contact hours, split between lectures, classes and seminars. Skills modules are taught through seminars or classes and are usually more contact-hour-intensive. Optional modules are taught in seminars and provide a total of 16 contact hours. Critical Practice involves lectures, a drama workshop, and oral presentation to a group (at a 'mini-conference'). Dissertation supervision involves 8 hours of directed supervision, individually with a dedicated supervisor. Social science modules are taught through lectures, seminars, workshops, and practical classes.

Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

A good 2.1 or GPA of 3.5, or equivalent. A first degree in History or a related subject is required.

English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.

How to apply

Fees and Funding

Full Time Fees

EU Student £6,900.00
Home Student £6,900.00
Island Student £6,900.00
International non-EU Student £16,500.00

Part Time Fees

EU Student £3,800.00
Home Student £3,800.00
Island Student £3,800.00
International non-EU Student £9,100.00

Note: Fees are subject to review and change in-line with inflation.

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding

Career Opportunities

Department of History

For further information on career options and employability, including the results of the Destination of Leavers survey, student and employer testimonials and details of work experience and study abroad opportunities, please visit our employability web pages.

Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Overseas Visit Schedule

Postgraduate Visits


Department Information

Department of History

Durham attracts some of the best postgraduate students from the UK and internationally, and within the History Department we support these students to develop themselves and their careers. Our postgraduates are an important part of our research community and we place an extremely high value on the contribution which they make to the department.
Postgraduates work closely with our academic staff, who are world-leading experts in their fields. Training is provided to assist students in developing their research skills. All postgraduates are encouraged to share their work with the departmental and wider community, by means of seminars, workshops, postgraduate-led conferences, and by publication. Postgraduate students benefit from working with staff with areas of expertise including medieval, early modern and modern history, African history and modern European history.
Postgraduates also benefit from opportunities for interdisciplinary research conversations through research institutes and centres, such as the Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Centre for Nineteenth Century Studies and the Centre for Visual Arts and Cultures. Durham is exceptionally well provided with libraries, providing access to a huge collection of material. Durham is also home to an unusually extensive and diverse range of archives and special collections, from Magna Carta to the Sudan Archive.

Browse Courses