Structure and Content
Module 1 (September to December):
Historiography: You will study the historical literature in a field chosen in consultation with academic staff, one of whom acts as principal supervisor. A paper of up to 10,000 words is written, in which the literature is reviewed critically and a topic for original research is identified, together with appropriate primary sources.
Module 2 (January to March):
Sources and Methods: You will examine a body of sources related to your research topic, and train in appropriate methods to use these sources. A paper of up to 5,000 words is written on the value of the sources for the chosen research topic and the appropriate concepts, theories and methods to be used in the research. You are also trained and tested in an appropriate skill, such as a foreign language, or computer-based management and analysis of historical information, or economic theory and analysis, social theory and analysis or palaeography.
Module 3 (April to September):
Dissertation: Having researched the existing secondary literature and the primary sources, and having received training in appropriate research skills, you now go on to complete a dissertation of up to 20,000 words.
Module 4 (all year):
Research Skills Training: You will attend four days of training in the Department, covering such areas as historiography, methodology, IT, writing research proposals and grant applications, and careers. You will also attend the Department’s regular programme of staff/postgraduate research seminars.
Delivery and Assessment
On successful completion of the coursework and the Department’s postgraduate training programme, you will be awarded an MRes if you complete the dissertation to Master’s standard, or a Postgraduate Certificate in Historical Research if you do not.
A postgraduate who is awarded an MRes will have demonstrated ability to proceed to a PhD, and will be in a strong position to apply to a research council for funding for three years. All modules and the dissertation are externally assessed.
The Department has research strengths in African, American, British, environmental, European, Irish and Scottish history, with a cluster of scholars researching the 18th-century transatlantic world. Most research is in the modern period, but earlier periods may be studied in African history (from the 16th century) and in environmental and Scottish history (both from the medieval period).
The Department hosts regular research seminars and occasional conferences. Departmental funds are available to enable postgraduates to attend seminars and conferences elsewhere. Stirling is only about an hour by public transport from the National Library of Scotland, a copyright library, and the National Archives of Scotland, both in Edinburgh, as well as the Mitchell Library and the considerable archival collections associated with the Centre for Business History in Scotland, both in Glasgow.
The Department’s postgraduate training programme is designed primarily to prepare you for further research. However, the MRes in Historical Research, with its focus on enhancement of literacy and critical analytical skills, followed where appropriate by further professional training, offers you an excellent preparation for a wide variety of careers in the public and private sectors, ranging from commercial, industrial and financial management to journalism, teaching, PR and marketing. Subject-specific career opportunities lie in fields such as heritage management and interpretation, or commercial research work.