MA Social Research (Economic and Social History)

Are you looking to undertake research training that will prepare you for research in the field of economic and social history? 

Our MA in Social Research is particularly useful if you want to convert to the study of economic and social history, or if you have already studied in this area and wish to improve your skills. It is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council as providing the requisite research training for a PhD so you can apply for funding for the MA to be the first (training) year of a four-year PhD.

 

This programme provides research training that will prepare you to undertake research in the field of economic and social history. You will study six taught modules and complete a 15,000-word dissertation on a topic of your choice.

You will study five core modules: 

  • Philosophy of Social Science Research
  • Research Design, Practice and Ethics
  • Fundamentals in Quantitative Research Methods
  • Foundations in Qualitative Research
  • Historical Methods

You will then choose one optional module from a range within the Department of History.

Further module information is available below.

Assessment

Modules are assessed by written assignment. You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation on a subject of your choice, with one-to-one expert supervision. 

Why study this course

  • Foundation for further research – the programme will equip you with the research skills to read and assess relevant primary sources, the ability to carry out independent research and to write up your research. It is also recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council as providing the requisite research training for a PhD. 
  • Research expertise – Times Higher Education ranked the Department of History first in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise.
  • Excellent reputation – The University of Birmingham has been ranked as one of the world's top 100 institutions to study History in the 2018 QS World Rankings.
  • Be a part of an exciting department – you will join a lively postgraduate community within the Department of History with many opportunities to enhance your learning, from external lectures and visiting scholars, to research seminars and conferences.
  • Access to academic support services – as a postgraduate student you will have access to services such as the Academic Writing Advisory Service and the Bank of Assessed Work which will aid your transition from undergraduate to postgraduate level, or back into academia after a time away. 

Modules

Core modules

You will study five core modules: 

Philosophy of Social Science Research

The module considers fundamental philosophical debates about what counts as ‘knowledge’ across the social sciences and applies those discussions to your own disciplines and fields of study. Teaching addresses (natural) science as a method of obtaining knowledge and the interpretative tradition in the social sciences. 
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

Research Design, Practice and Ethics

This module introduces you to social science research designs and ethical issues in research practice. Learning supports you to be able to make strategic choices when developing your own projects, and to assess the design and research ethics decision making in others’ published research work.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

Fundamentals in Quantitative Research Methods

Concepts, methods and skills central to quantitative research, including data collection approaches and concept operationalisation, are core throughout this module. Building on a grounding in ideas relating to probability sampling, sampling error and statistical inference, coverage of techniques extends from comparisons of means and simple cross-tabular analyses to a discussion of multivariate analysis approaches, focusing on linear and logistic regression.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

Foundations in Qualitative Research 

Qualitative research is examined across a range of topics, from different approaches and methods including ethnographic and observational research, discourse and conversation analysis, documentary and archival analysis, participatory research and the use of interviews. Ethics in qualitative research is specifically considered, as is the evaluation of qualitative research.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment 

Historical Methods

This module introduces you to the major developments in historical approaches since the Second World War and to some of the major schools of, or tendencies in, historical research such as the Annales School, the English historians’ response to Marxism, cultural history, the linguistic turn, gender, history of science and critical social theory (Geertz and Foucault). The focus is on the application of the ideas to historical practice then and now. 
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

Optional modules

You will also choose one optional module from a range which may include: 

Sites and Sources in Modern British Studies

This module goes beyond thinking about Britain in terms of the great and the good and introduces you to rich and diverse sources through which historians have tried to understand the contours of everyday life in the past. The module will enable you to capture the pluralistic and inchoate messiness of ordinary life and historical change. A seaside postcard can be just as useful to a historian as a work of art. It is a module that will give you grounding in the interpretation of different sources and the problems and possibilities these present in studying the past.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Economics of War

As events in the last two centuries have shown, the outcome of conventional wars is very much dependent on the economic strength of the belligerents; and, in case of asymmetrical warfare, on whether the economical ‘superior power’ is willing to make the economic sacrifices necessary to winning a war. The module will introduce you to the economic problems of warfare since the Napoleonic era. Issues investigated will include: war finance; (industrial) production of war materials; organisation of wartime economies, including raw material provision, interruption of enemies’ economic systems; the ‘military-industrial complex’ and its influence; the impact political decisions have on the effectiveness and efficiency of armed forces; the impact of spiralling procurement costs.
Assessment: 5,000-word assignment

Globalisation since 1945

The module examines various aspects of global history in the second half of the 20th century. It takes its cue from a growing literature which sees 'globalisation' as a key feature of global history over the last half century. It will begin by examining the key institutions of a 'new world order' built after the Second World War; in particular, those connected to the United Nations and Bretton Woods. It will then explore the key actors in the processes of globalisation: inter-governmental organisations; nation states (especially, the USA, the USSR and the non-aligned); multinational corporations and non-governmental organisations. 
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

Dissertation

In addition to your taught modules, you will conduct a piece of independent research with the support of a supervisor, culminating in a 15,000-word dissertation.


Please note that the optional module information listed on the website for this programme is intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2019/20:

  • UK / EU: £9,250 full-time
  • International: £16,995 full-time

Fee status

Eligibility for UK/EU or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

We can also confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who have an offer to start their studies in the 2019-20 academic year will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time, provided this continues to be permitted by UK law. The UK Government has also confirmed that students from the EU applying to courses starting in the 2019-20 academic year will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status. This guarantee will apply for the full duration of the course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

Paying your fees

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Application deadlines

International students requiring visas

Monday 1 July 2019 is the application deadline for international students who require a visa to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2019 made after this date - a new application should be made for September 2020. Applications will reopen for 2020 entry in early October 2019.

UK/EU students

Please apply by Friday 30 August 2019. However, we would encourage you to apply at the earliest opportunity, to allow adequate time to prepare for starting your studies once receiving a decision on your application.

Late applicants are encouraged to contact the Admissions Tutor for advice.

Before you make your application

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Many core elements of the programme are delivered by the College of Social Sciences, but you will have an opportunity to study subject-specific modules and your dissertation will be undertaken and supervised within the Department of History.

Course delivery

We have two teaching terms per year, the autumn term and spring term. Term dates can be found on our website.

Your modules will be split across the two teaching terms, and will be followed by your dissertation. Each module represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, homework and assignment preparation.

Support with academic writing

As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.

International students can access support for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: History

Birmingham’s History graduates develop a broad range of transferable skills that are highly valued by a range of employers. These skills include: familiarity with research methods; the ability to manage large quantities of information from diverse sources; the ability to organise information in a logical and coherent manner; the expertise to write clearly and concisely and to tight deadlines; critical and analytical ability; the capacity for argument, debate and speculation; and the ability to base conclusions on statistical research.

Over the past five years, 93% of History postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Some of our History postgraduates go on to use their studies directly, for example in heritage, museums or the armed forces; others use their transferable skills in a range of occupations from finance to fundraising. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include: Royal Air Force; Ministry of Defence; University of Birmingham; Royal Air Force Museum; and University of Oxford.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

The Guild of Students hosts over 250 student groups and societies to suit a wide range of interests. These include the Postgraduate and Mature Students Association which runs a regular and varied programme of events specifically tailored to postgraduate students.

In addition, you will find that each Department runs its own social activities, research fora and student groups.

Accommodation

We offer accommodation for postgraduates on or near to campus, although many of our students also choose to live privately in student accommodation, shared houses or flats. If you do choose to live in private accommodation, the University has dedicated support services to help you to find properties from accredited landlords.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.