Taught course

Social and Economic History (Research Methods)

Durham University · Department of History

Entry requirements

Subject requirements are a 2:1, with an overall average score of 65% or above, or a GPA of 3.5 or above, or equivalent. An undergraduate degree in History or a related subject is required.

You are required to submit the following information with online application:

  • Two Academic References – from people who are familiar with your work, commenting on your suitability for the course
  • An Academic CV– this should be no longer than 2 A4 pages and should contain information about your academic achievements to date and any related-work experience you have undertaken
  • A sample of written work (up to 2,500 words for MA courses)
  • Academic Transcripts and Certificates, if available– a copy of your undergraduate degree and postgraduate courses (dependent upon which degree course you are applying for) transcript and/or certificate, if degree already attained
  • A 750-word outline of your intended research, concentrating on the research problem you will address, the research context in which it is located, and the methods, critical approaches, and sources you will use. You can upload this as part of the online application form
  • Personal Development Self-Assessment Table – Applicants are requested to complete and submit a self-assessment table with their online application. A copy of the form is on the department webpage here.

Months of entry


Course content

The MA in Social and Economic History (Research Methods) fuels your interest in the past and develops the essential skills and knowledge you need to undertake in-depth research into the aspects of social and economic history that most interest you.

The course offers the highest quality training in social research methods and applies this knowledge to the study of the past. It is accredited by the Economic and Social Research Council, the UK’s largest funder of economic, social, behavioural, and human data science activity. It is also part of our four-year funding scheme offered through the Northern Ireland and North East Doctoral Training Partnership that culminates in a PhD in any aspect of the subject.

The course, which is completed in one year full-time or two years part-time, is shared between the Department of History and the Department of Sociology. Core areas of learning include an in-depth introduction to the study of research, themes, readings and sources from a historical perspective as well as quantitative and qualitative research methods. You can choose further optional modules from a selection of research and historical themed options in areas ranging from Computational Social Science to Elections in Africa, and from Multilevel Modelling to Power and Society in the Late Middle Ages. You also carry out independent research on a related area of your choice in the form of a dissertation.

You will have access to the extensive learning resource made available via various libraries, archives, and special historical collections housed in the University and in the city itself.

The postgraduate communities in both departments are vibrant and committed, and contribute in a major way to the academic environment with their active involvement in discussion groups, annual conferences and other events.

Course structure

Core modules:

Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Practices across Social Science Research introduces you to the different programmes of social science research and sets out the challenges you will face working across a range of disciplines. You will also be given an introduction to the ethical issues involved in the conduct of social research.

Themes, Readings and Sources provides training in historical skills, methodologies, and theories. It is designed to guide you, regardless of your specialism, towards taking an independent approach to learning and research.

Quantitative Research Methods and Analysis develops your knowledge, critical understanding and skills in quantitative data analysis by teaching you how to use statistical techniques for exploration and description of data sets and to make appropriate statistical inferences.

Qualitative Methods and Analysis equips you with the skills and knowledge to understand and assess qualitative social sciences research, including the different approaches to research and design and analysis of qualitative data.

The Dissertation (Research) enables you to apply the skills and methods you have gained from the course to an extended piece of work and develop a knowledge and understanding of a specialist area of history.

You may also select an additional research module from options which have previously included:

  • Advanced Statistics for Psychology and the Behavioural Sciences;
  • Advanced Ethnographic Research;
  • Multilevel Modelling;
  • Simulating Data in R;
  • Systematic Review;
  • Computational Social Science;
  • Participatory Action Research.

Plus one further historical module from:

  • Exile and Migration Across the Indian Ocean World, 1500–2000;
  • Negotiating Life in Early Modern England;
  • Palaeography: Scribes, Script and History from Antiquity to The Renaissance;
  • The Nature of History: Approaches to Environmental History;
  • Things That Matter: Material and Culture In/for The Digital Age;
  • The City in History;
  • Serious Fun: A History of Sport from the Late Middle Ages to the Present;
  • Intellectuals and Public Opinion in Global History;
  • A Safe Democracy? Constitutionalism, Extremism, and Political Violence in Modern England, c. 1890-1939;
  • Power and Society in the Late Middle Ages.

Information for international students

If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take a pre-Masters pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

For further information see the course listing.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Department of History