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Applications for this programme starting in September 2019 are now closed. If you are interested in becoming part of our unique scholarly community from next year onwards, please register your interest in our courses.

The MRes (Master of Research) in Historical Research is a degree programme that equips students with a range of specialist and transferable research skills, as well as an understanding of theoretical approaches to history.

All of our graduates are awarded a University of London degree (MRes).

As a student on the MRes, you will undertake both assessed work and independent research in the historical issues and controversies that interest you most. The core of the programme consists of dedicated research skills training on a wide range of sources, methods, and disciplines, including architecture, material culture, archaeology, and literature.

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If you have specific questions about this degree, please make an enquiry.

Degree Overview

The programme offers a combination of taught components and supervised independent research designed to provide graduates with a foundation for a range of careers, within and beyond academia. It provides an ideal platform for entry to a PhD programme and research-based careers such as library and information sciences. Beyond the core elements of the MRes programme, a 30,000-word dissertation allows students to undertake more in-depth research on a subject of their choosing.

You will benefit from the specialist expertise of tutors from a number of institutions. The course director is Dr Simon Trafford and the programme is taught by a team of tutors that includes Mr Matthew Bristow (Victoria County History/Historic England), Mr Jonathan Blaney (IHR Digital), Dr Philip Carter (IHR Digital), Dr Adam Chapman (VCH), Professor Catherine Clarke (IHR), Dr Herbert Eiden (VCH Essex), Dr Hannah Elias (IHR), Professor Jo Fox (IHR), Dr Peter Jones (IHR), Dr Andrea Tanner (IHR Fellow), and Dr Matthew Shaw (IHR).

Modules and structure

The modular MRes programme is designed to be completed over one year (full time) or two years (part time). The course is assessed through essays, a short research skills assessment, a 15-minute oral presentation, and a dissertation.

Students take the two taught core modules (Modules 1 and 2), which introduce you to ideas and methods involved in historical research from the medieval period to the twenty-first century. Further skills-based training is provided by specialised short courses at the Institute. Module 3 involves the undertaking of a ‘research pathway’ that will prepare you for the dissertation through a series of classes discussing research design, sources, historiography, and methodologies. Module 4 is a 30,000-word dissertation.

Alongside the development of techniques, skills, and knowledge relevant to individual interests and research needs, the programme aims to equip students for both independent research and analysis in primary and secondary material, and for writing at an advanced level, thus fostering your intellectual development and the independent learning ability required for continuing professional and personal development.

Modules (subject to change)

Module 1: Historical Research Skills

This module will introduce you to advanced historical studies. It provides practical historical skills and an understanding of different historical approaches and methods. It offers 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 studied. This module is assessed by a 5,000-word essay. 

As part of this module you will also be required to take one of the IHR’s short training courses, such as: Oral History; Visual Sources; Local History Day School; Databases for Historians; Historical Mapping;  and Explanatory Paradigms: An Introduction to Historical Theory (for the current courses, see This is assessed by a 1,500-word research skills assessment.

Module 2: History in Context 

Taught through two-hour lectures and seminars, the second core module 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, the history of reading and writing, environment and history, postcolonialism, biography, and health and mortality. You will also be encouraged to think about the significance of continuity and change in history and periodisation. This module is assessed by one essay of 5,000 words and a 15-minute presentation on an aspect of history in context.

Module 3: Research Pathway 

The purpose of Module 3 is to prepare you for the dissertation through a series of weekly classes and individual supervisions designed so that you become more familiar with the chosen period or area of study. It may include visits to relevant archives and museums, as well as discussions with other IHR staff and Fellows. By the end of the module, you will have clearly defined your topic and principal research questions. This module is assessed through a 3,000-word essay that discusses research design, sources, historiography, and methodologies to be used for the dissertation.

Module 4: Supervised Dissertation (30,000 words)  

The MRes dissertation provides you with the opportunity to undertake an in-depth investigative project on the subject chosen during Module 3, guided by individual supervision from an expert(s) in the chosen field. It provides an excellent platform for those wishing to go on to PhD study.

How you study

Each core module is taught in small groups and consists of ten, weekly two-hour, seminar-type classes. At registration, students are given a reading list for all of the classes. You will be expected to undertake sufficient private study to enable full participation in each class. During the first term you are required to write a short essay; this is not formally assessed but is used to gauge your writing style and to detect any issues that can be worked on prior to submitting the assessed coursework. You will also be required to take one of the IHR’s short research training courses.


About the institute

Founded in 1921, the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) is at the centre of the study of academic history. It provides a stimulating research environment supported by the IHR’s new research centre: the Centre for the History of People, Place and Community. It is home to an outstanding open access library, hosts events and seminars, has a dedicated programme of research training, and is at the forefront of developing a range of digital resources for historians. The Institute is a member institute of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study.

Studying at the IHR means you benefit from:

  • Specialist provider of history programmes 
  • Tuition and research supervision by leading historians 
  • Small-group teaching 
  • Access to a dedicated history research library
  • Students who successfully complete the course are awarded their degree from the University of London

Entry requirements

The normal minimum entrance requirement would be a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree from a university in the UK, or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

Applications from candidates who do not meet the formal academic requirements but who offer alternative qualifications and/or relevant experience, could be considered.

English is the language of instruction and applicants are required to demonstrate an appropriate level of proficiency. 

Find out more about our entry requirements here

How to apply

You can apply online via our online applications system. Applications for this course starting in September 2019 are now closed. Register your interest in this course to be notified when applications open for 2020 entry onwards. 

For more information on how to apply, including the documentation you will need to provide on the application form, click here.

Fees, funding and scholarships

Find out more about tuition fees here.

The School of Advanced Study has a range of funding opportunities for home, EU and international applicants. Find out more about funding opportunities here. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

Facilities at the IHR

  • Prime location in Bloomsbury in central London with close proximity to the British Museum, British Library, Theatreland, the restaurants of Fitzrovia, and shopping in Oxford and Regent Streets 
  • Central London transport links make us easy to reach 
  • The Institute is located in the University of London’s Senate House within walking distance of other colleges of the Federation (e.g. SOAS, Birkbeck, UCL, Institute of Education)
  • The IHR is housed in its own building, comprising its library, teaching space, research training room and the IHR common room 
  • The IHR Library has more than 180,000 history books and periodicals, including a wide range of material covering garden history 
  • Free access to the University of London’s Senate House Library with more than one million books 
  • Join us for a huge range of weekly events celebrating history in both the IHR and the School of Advanced Study 
  • Enjoy the largest programme of history seminars in the UK, including a fortnightly History of Gardens and Landscapes seminar 
  • Extend your learning by undertaking one of our numerous specialist history research training programmes (free for registered students)
  • Take advantage of the IHR’s unique position at the forefront of digital and online resources in history 
  • Be supported by the School of Advanced Study’s student support services 
  • Seek assistance with career advice and guidance from the University of London’s specialist careers support service 
  • Use Student Central (formerly the University of London’s Union) with the latest sports facilities 
  • Work alongside two of the most well-established research centres in historical research – the Centre for Metropolitan History and the Victoria County History 



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Register your interest 

Applications for this programme starting in September 2019 are now closed. Register your interest for future intakes. 

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