Economic and Social History (MSc) 2019 entry

The MSc in Economic and Social History offers a distinctive combination of interdisciplinary study and specialisation. It provides training for advanced research in social and economic history; it offers specialised study in a chosen historical period, and innovative training in knowledge transfer.

Applications for 2019 entry for this course have now closed, see which courses are available for the upcoming academic year.

Course type

Postgraduate; leading to a Master of Science (MSc)

Course dates

  • Start date: 9 September 2019
  • End date: 30 September 2020

If you started this programme in 2018, you can find information about 2018 entry on the 2018 Economic and Social History page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Course duration

One year full time or two years part time

Entry requirements

A good 2.1 Honours undergraduate degree or equivalent in a relevant subject.

If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.

English language proficiency. See English language tests and qualifications.

The qualifications listed are indicative minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

Tuition fees

UK and EU: £9,000
Overseas: £18,480

Application deadline

12 August 2019. Applicants should apply as early as possible to be eligible for certain scholarships and for international visa purposes.

Application requirements

  • CV
  • personal statement (optional)
  • sample of academic written work (2,000 words)
  • two original signed academic references
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates
  • evidence of English language proficiency (required if English is not your first language).

For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes.

Course information

The MSc in Economic and Social History is a one-year taught programme run by the School of History.

The programme offers a distinctive combination of interdisciplinary study and specialisation. It provides the training required for advanced research in social and economic history; as well as specialised study in a chosen historical period (mediaeval to modern), and training in knowledge transfer, where students communicate aspects of their research to non-academic audiences.

The ultimate intention is to prepare students for work beyond the MSc, either doctoral research or employment in related areas.


  • This interdisciplinary programme offers training in the research methods required for higher-level research in social and economic history.
  • You will develop an understanding of, and critical engagement with, a variety of approaches to social and economic history, including quantitative and qualitative analyses.
  • You will be exposed to the distinctive debates and controversies relating to the social and economic history of your chosen specialist period, and will enhance your ability to engage in such debates.
  • The innovative 'History in Practice' modules offer essential training in the communication of your research to academic and non-academic audiences.

Teaching format

Students study eight modules over Semesters 1 and 2. The four ‘Social Science’ modules offer essential training in quantitative and qualitative methods, and in the philosophy and methodology of the social sciences.  

Students also take History in Practice 1 and 2, a pair of modules specifically tailored for this MSc that provide key training in the communication of research to academic and non-academic audiences.

Students may also select two optional modules that cover their chosen historical period. St Andrews offers an exceptionally wide chronological range, spanning the mediaeval to modern periods.

In each module, students engage with independent and group study in a supportive framework of teaching and learning. The modules use methods of teaching and assessment that facilitate learning, including the following:

  • seminars
  • one-to-one discussion
  • project work
  • small group discussion
  • workshops.

The range of assessments blend diagnostic work to determine student needs, formative work submitted for assessment and feedback (but not necessarily for academic credit), and summative work submitted for academic credit. The forms of assessment include:

  • essays
  • oral presentations
  • knowledge transfer exercise (for example, blogs, posters, and exhibition plans)
  • dissertation.

Over the summer, students complete a 15,000-word dissertation on a topic of their choice, under the supervision of a member of staff.

Further particulars regarding curriculum development.


The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2018-2019 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2019 entry.

You will take the following compulsory modules in Semester 1:

  • Being a Social Scientist: explores the fundamental skills required by all social scientists, including how to design and produce a research dissertation. It will also address issues of professional development such as ethics, careers and grant writing.
  • History in Practice 1: critically assesses different methods and settings for communicating research to non-academic audiences.
  • Quantitative Methods in Social Science: provides a user-friendly introduction to the fundamental concepts of quantitative analysis.

You will take the following compulsory modules in Semester 2:

  • History in Practice 2: offers you the opportunity to develop your own knowledge transfer project.
  • Philosophy and Methodology of the Social Sciences: introduces you to the basic theoretical approaches in the social sciences, and teaches you to make connections between the methodological and epistemological issues involved in conducting social scientific research.
  • Qualitative Methods in Social Science: offers both a theoretical and practical introduction to the collection, analysis and writing of qualitative social science research.

Optional modules allow you to shape the degree around your own personal and professional interests.

Optional modules are subject to change each year and require a minimum number of participants to be offered; some may only allow limited numbers of students (see the University’s position on curriculum development).

Semester 1

  • Global Times - Plural Spaces 1: offers a strong foundation in the major approaches to comparative and transnational history as well as the emerging field of spatial history.
  • History in the Making: Theories, Approaches and Practice 1: examines the development of history-writing and historical research since the Enlightenment, and the emergence of fields, trends and new approaches in current historiography.
  • The Idea of Law: introduces fundamental concepts, questions and analytical frameworks relevant to legal, historical and constitutional research. 
  • Sources and Source Criticism 1: addresses interpretation and criticism of mediaeval sources.
  • Themes and Debates in Early Modern History 1: introduces students to a variety of key debates in early modern history through studying different scholars' approaches to the period. 

Semester 2

  • Comparative Studies in Legal and Constitutional Research: continues from 'The Idea of Law' and provides a forum for students to develop, present, and write on a particular field or topic, drawing on methodological ideas from Semester 1 modules.
  • History in the Making 2: continues from part 1 and examines the development of history-writing and historical research since the Enlightenment, and the emergence of fields, trends and new approaches in current historiography. 
  • Global Times - Plural Spaces 2: continues from part 1 and explores a variety of understandings of spatial history, including the idea of mental maps, the study of landscapes, places of memory and spatial practices.
  • Sources and Source Criticism 2: continues on from 'Sources and Source Criticism 1' to address interpretation and criticism of mediaeval sources.
  • Themes and Debates in Early Modern History 2: continues from part 1 and introduces students to a variety of key debates in early modern history through studying different scholars' approaches to the period.

Students write a 15,000-word dissertation during the summer. The dissertation will be submitted in August. This date is fixed internally by the School of History each year.

If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MSc, there is an exit award available that allows suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGDip instead of an MSc.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2019 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.


The School of History is pleased to be able to offer a number of competitive scholarships which contribute to the fees and maintenance for postgraduate study. 

  • Language Bursaries: enables students to undertake intensive language courses abroad during the summer before their programme begins.
  • School of History MLitt Awards: offers the cash equivalent of one year's home fees and cannot be held in conjunction with other awards offering full fees and maintenance.

Find out more about postgraduate scholarships.

Recent Graduate Discount
The University of St Andrews offers a 10% discount in postgraduate tuition fees to students who are eligible to graduate or who have graduated from St Andrews within the last three academic years and are starting a postgraduate programme with the University of St Andrews. 

After the MSc

Research degrees

This MSc is designed to equip students with the skills appropriate for doctoral study in Social and Economic History. UK students with this qualification will be eligible to apply for +3 PhD funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS).

PhD in History


The Economic and Social History MSc is suitable for UK and overseas graduates interested in pursuing PhDs in social and economic history, and for graduates interested in careers that include management and administration, civil service, financial services, journalism, education, library and museum services.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students in building their employability skills.

Contact information

School of History
University of St Andrews 
St Katharine’s Lodge
The Scores
St Andrews 
KY16 9BA

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2907

History website


Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our Admissions policy.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online. (PDF, 72 KB).

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online. (PDF, 84 KB).