Research course


University of Buckingham · Department of Economics and International Studies
MA by researchPhD

Entry requirements

The minimum entry level required for this course is as follows:

  • a first or second-class honours degree from a recognised university or,
  • a recognised professional qualification with relevant work experience

Months of entry

January, September

Course content

Course outline

This cutting-edge Master’s in Biography was founded in 1996, originally as a Taught MA programme, and remains unique to Buckingham. The course is consistently rated ‘excellent’ by external examiners and inspectors. Study can be on either a full-time (one year) or a part-time (two year) basis, with the latter generally recommended so that students can devote the second year entirely to writing on a biographical subject of their choice.
During the past 25 years, students have researched subjects ranging from Queen Victoria to the Bengali film-maker Ritwik Ghatak, or from Bernard Levin to the gardening author Jane Loudon; they have sometimes written on their own eminent ancestors, or on figures they knew personally. The team has expertise in a broad range of historical periods, from the Early Modern period to the present day, and the course places particular emphasis on understanding individual subjects within their historical, social and political context. We also encourage those looking to work on Life Writing or Literary Biography to join us, and to benefit from the experience of academics working across the faculties (including Dr Pete Orford who has published a biography of Charles Dickens, and Dr Peter Sloane who works on refugee life writing and memoir).

Course structure

In their first year of study, students attend weekly seminars for three of four terms (the Summer Term being for independent research). These seminars provide the critical awareness of different approaches to the discipline which are essential prerequisites for Dissertation work, and they are one of the most distinctive and valuable elements of the MA. They take place as follows:

  • Autobiography (September to December)
  • Biography (January to June)
  • Research Methods (January to June)

Applications for entry in either January or September can be considered, depending on the size of the cohort.

All seminar teaching currently takes place at the University’s central London campus on Tuesdays, though supervisions can also take place online and at other mutually convenient times.

The modules on Biography and Autobiography are designed to combine the study of classic biographies and memoirs with analysis of contemporary writing in the auto/biography genres. The Research Methods module meanwhile provides an invaluable training for biographers, introducing them to essential skills and resources, including the location and use of archives as sources in their Dissertations.

Students are expected to produce, as a preliminary to their own research project, written coursework for the Research Methods module (an annotated bibliography and a short biography, with supporting material, produced according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry format), and students will also be asked to produce a short essay of 3-5,000 words that reflects on the Autobiography or Biography module content, though such essays do not count towards the final grade. During the early part of the course, students are guided to refine their topic and research proposal. Once the research proposal has been accepted by the University’s Research Officer, students then work with their tutor on individual research and the preparation of the Dissertation.

Guest biographers, memoirists, critics, publishers, and agents are regularly invited to lead seminars during the teaching terms. Past teachers and speakers on the course have included Andrew Motion, Kathryn Hughes, Frances Wilson, Frances Spalding, Jeremy Lewis, Rupert Shortt, Caroline Dawnay, Andrew Lownie, Miranda Seymour, John Cornwell, Simon Heffer and Craig Brown.

Information for international students

Buckingham is a truly global community with students of all ages and cultures: over 90 countries are represented. It is a place to establish lasting networks, both professionally and socially. Our alumni networks operate successfully all over the world and we encourage them to stay in touch with us.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students
Postgraduate loan scheme
A system of postgraduate loans for Masters’ degrees in the UK is supported by the UK Government. The loan will provide up to £11,222 for taught and research Masters’ courses in all subject areas. The loans can be used for tuition fees, living expenses or both.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA by research
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
  • PhD
    full time
    36 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    72 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Admissions Team
+44 (0)1280 820227