M.A. Historical Research Methods

SOAS, University of London

Application deadline: June 30
Tuition fee: Not specified
Start date: September  2015
Duration full-time: 12 months
  • English
Delivery mode: On Campus
Educational variant: Part-time, Full-time

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The MA in Historical Research Methods is designed to train students in research skills to the level prescribed by the research training guidelines favoured by UK Research Councils. It is intended for students with a good first degree in history, or who possess a taught Masters degree in history. Most students would be expected to progress to a research degree in history at the end of the degree, but it is also possible to take it as a stand-alone programme.

Students must complete a programme in research training and submit a dissertation on an approved topic which is connected to the core course of this programme (Sources and Research Design in Historical Research). As part of this course candidates must also submit a number of research related assignments which, taken together with the dissertation, are equivalent to approximately 30,000 words.

Teaching & Learning
Lectures and Seminars Teaching is generally by informal lectures and seminar discussions. At Masters level there is particular emphasis on seminar work where students may be expected to make full-scale presentations for units they take.

In addition to their studies on the MA programme, students at SOAS are able to participate in a wide range of research seminars, lectures and conferences that regularly take place in the School and in the University of London.

Dissertation The 10,000 word Dissertation on an approved topic linked with one of the taught courses.

Learning Resources SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.


Core Course

Sources and Research Design in Historical Research (1.0 unit)
This course provides one-to-one training in research design and in the use of sources for a specific region under the guidance of the MA dissertation supervisor. It is assessed by 2 essays (10,000 words in total). The first is normally on source-based problems and the second on research design which is linked to the dissertation topic.

Structure of the Programme This degree programme consists of four elements, including a 10,000-word dissertation:

* Sources and Research Design in Historical Research (Core course, 1.0 unit)
* Research Methods in History with reference to Asia and Africa (1.0 unit)
* Dissertation (1.0 unit)
* a minor course or courses (equivalent to 1.0 unit) chosen from the Minor Course Options list and/or a language course from the Faculty of Languages and Cultures.

Please note that not all the courses listed here will be available every year, and some new courses are likely to be added.

For any queries, please contact the convener of the History MA Programme, who will also be pleased to provide more detailed information on individual courses.

Minor Course Options
Comparative/Global * History of Environment and Globalisation in Asia and Africa - 15PHIH023 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
* The International History of the Contemporary World - 15PHIH021 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2012/2013

Africa * African Missionaries - 15PSRH043 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
* Colonial Conquest and Social Change in Southern Africa - 15PHIH002 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
* Culture and Practice of Warfare in Pre-Colonial Sub-Saharan Africa - 15PHIH004 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2 - Not Running 2012/2013
* Culture and Society of East Africa - 15PANC084 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Culture and Society of West Africa - 15PANC083 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Gendering African History - 15PHIH027 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2012/2013
* Government and politics in Africa - 15PPOC205 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Historical Perspectives on Gender in Africa - 15PHIH029 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
* International politics of Africa - 15PPOC009 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Islam, Christianity and Indigenous Religion in West Africa, 1800 to the Present - 15PHIH019 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2012/2013
* Painting and Architecture in Christian NE Africa: 2nd - 17th Centuries - 15PARC012 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2012/2013
* Preaching Prayer and Politics: Independent Christians in Southern Africa - 15PSRH042 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
* State & society in Asia & Africa - 15PPOC008 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Slavery in West Africa in the 19th and 20th Centuries - 15PHIH028 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
* Social and Cultural Transformations in Southern Africa Since 1945 - 15PHIH003 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
* Warfare and the Military in African History - 15PHIC070 (1 Unit) - Full Year

Near and Middle East * Culture and Society of the Near & Middle East - 15PANC097 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Envisioning the Past: Arabic Perspectives On History - 15PHIH005 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2012/2013
* Israel, the Arab World and the Palestinians - 15PNMC038 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Modern Trends in Islam - 15PNMC228 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Origins and Development of Islam in the Middle East: Problems and Perspectives - 15PHIC040 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Ottoman Architecture in Istanbul: 15th-19th Century - 15PARH045 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2012/2013
* Outsiders in Medieval Middle Eastern Societies: Minorities, Social Outcasts and Foreigners - 15PHIH006 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
* Reading Classical Arabic Historians: Themes and Trends in Islamic Historiography - 15PNMC378 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* The End of Empire in the Middle East & the Balkans - 15PHIC004 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* The Middle East, the Mongols and the Silk Road to China - 15PHIC067 (1 Unit) - Full Year

South Asia * A Seascape in Transformation: Themes in Indian Ocean History - 15PHIC066 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2012/2013
* Body, Power and Society in Early India - 15PHIC020 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2012/2013
* Contemporary Islamism in South Asia: Readings in Sayyid Abu al-A'la Mawdudi - 15PSRC170 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2012/2013
* Culture and Society of South Asia - 15PANC087 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Government and politics of modern South Asia - 15PPOC003 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* History and Doctrines of Indian Buddhism - 15PSRC059 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2012/2013
* Islam in South Asia - 15PHIC042 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Literature & Colonialism in North India (Masters) - 15PSAH005 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
* Lineages of the Medieval: Texts and Histories in the South Asian World 2 - 15PSAH010 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2012/2013
* Lineages of the Medieval: Texts and Histories in the South Asian World I - 15PHIH008 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2012/2013
* Modern Bengal: the Evolution of Bengali Culture and Society from 1690 to the Present Day (MA) - 15PSAC289 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2012/2013
* Pakistan: History, Culture, Islam - 15PSAC288 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2012/2013
* Problems and Debates in the Social History of Modern South Asia - 15PHIC064 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2012/2013
* The Indian Temple - 15PARC034 (1 Unit) - Full Year

East Asia * Japanese Modernity I - 15PHIH013 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
* Japanese Modernity II - 15PHIH014 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
* Knowledge and Power in Early Modern China - 15PHIH024 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2
* Nationhood and Competing Identities in Modern China - 15PHIH022 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
* Sex and Gender in the 20th Century: Contemporary Japan - 15PHIH010 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2012/2013
* Culture and Society of China - 15PANC089 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* State and society in the Chinese political process - 15PPOC012 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Culture and Society of Japan - 15PANC086 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Topics in Modern Korean History - 15PEAC059 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Topics in the History of Traditional Korea - 15PEAC053 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Locating China I: China and other Worldviews before 'Westernization' - 15PSRH025 (0.5 Unit) - Not Running 2012/13
* Locating China II: Missionaries and Misfits in the British Construction of China - 15PSRH026 (0.5 Unit) - Not Running 2012/13

South East Asia * Society and Politics in Late Colonial South East Asia - 15PHIC037 (1 Unit) - Full Year - Not Running 2012/2013
* State and Culture in Mainland South East Asia in the Sixteenth to Nineteenth Centuries - 15PHIH016 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2012/2013
* The State and the Art: Photography and Nation Building in Burma - 15PHIH015 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2012/2013
* World War II, Cold War, and the "War On Terror": the United States and South East Asia - 15PHIC059 (1 Unit) - Full Year
* Jawi and the Malay Manuscript Tradition (Masters) - 15PSEH006 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2012/2013
* Pre-Modern historical Texts of Java, Bali and the Malay World in English Translation (Masters) - 15PSEH007 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1 - Not Running 2012/2013
* Histories of Ethnicity and Conflict in South East Asia I - Making States and Building Nations - 15PHIH011 (0.5 Unit) - Term 1
* Histories of Ethnicity and Conflict in South East Asia II - Non-National Perspectives - 15PHIH012 (0.5 Unit) - Term 2


Applicants should have a first or good second class honours bachelors degree from a UK university, or equivalent, in a subject appropriate to that of the programme to be followed. As an approximate comparison, an equivalent BA from a US university would have a Grade Point Average of either 3.3 or 3.5 depending on the awarding university. If an applicant does not have a bachelors degree in an appropriate field s/he may be required to complete a qualifying year or a one year diploma before entering the masters programme. Relevant work experience may also be taken into consideration. Individual courses may have specific entry requirements, so you are advised to consult the postgraduate prospectus for further information.

English language requirements
In order to ensure that SOAS students have a sufficient standard of English to study effectively, we require overseas students to submit evidence, during the application process, of their current level of proficiency.

Score for Unconditional Entry

* IELTS: Overall 7+ with at least 7 in all sub scores
* TOEFL: iBT105+ with at least 25 in all sub scores
* Pearson Test of English - Academic: Score of 75 or above with at least 70 in all sub scores

English Language Requirements

IELTS band: 7
TOEFL iBT® test: 105

IMPORTANT NOTE: Per 6 April 2015 only the English language tests from IELTS and Trinity College London are accepted for Tier 4 Visa applications to the United Kingdom. Other tests (including TOEFL, TOEIC, Pearson, City & Guilds) are no longer accepted for Tier 4 visa applications to the United Kingdom. The university might still accept these tests to admit you to the university, but if you require a Tier 4 visa to enter the UK and begin your degree programme, these tests will not be sufficient to obtain your Visa. Since the Trinity College London language tests must be taken in one of their exam centres in the UK, IELTS is now the only language test accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK that can be taken worldwide.

The IELTS test is most widely accepted by universities and is also accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK- learn more.

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