Early Modern and Reformation History (MLitt) 2024 entry

The information on this page is for 2024 entry. If you are considering applying for 2025 entry or later, some of these details may differ and we advise you to check the page again before you apply. To receive a notification of when applications open for 2025 entry, please register your interest.

This course provides advanced study of the history of the early modern European and Atlantic worlds, including the Ottoman Empire. Discover a range of approaches to early modern history (1450 to 1750) and gain skills requisite for study of the period. Students may also choose to specialise in early modern religious history.

Start date
September 2024
End date
September 2025
One year full time
School of History

Application deadline

Thursday 8 August 2024

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

Entry requirements

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.

Application requirements

  • CV or résumé. This should include your personal details with a history of your education and employment to date. 
  • a personal statement 
  • a sample of your own, single-authored academic written work (2,000 words) 
  • two original signed academic references 
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates.

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

English language proficiency

If English is not your first language, you may need to provide an English language test score to evidence your English language ability.  See approved English language tests and scores for this course.

Course details

The MLitt in Early Modern and Reformation History is a one-year taught postgraduate programme run by the School of History. 


  • Work with a significant number of scholars of early modern history who can provide a high level of specialised supervision and advanced training in the history of the politics, society and culture of the early modern European and Atlantic worlds. 
  • For those choosing to specialise in Reformation history, the course instils a wide contextual awareness of all of the European Reformations, while also offering the chance to pursue detailed study of a particular theological, geographical or methodological area. 
  • Benefit from broad and deep preparation, offering you the chance to explore and critically evaluate both historiography and primary sources. 
  • Pursue high-level skills training to build up to your MLitt dissertation. 
  • Preparation for students who are interested in subsequent doctoral research. 


The modules published below are examples of what has been taught in previous academic years and may be subject to change before you start your programme. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the module catalogue.



  • 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. 

You will then choose between one of the following: 

  • Themes and Debates in Early Modern History 2: allows students to continue exploring different scholarly approaches to early modern politics, society and culture. 
  • Aspects of Reformation 1: explains selected themes in reformation studies and encourages students to develop a sense of the historiography of the period. 

You will also choose to take two of the following training modules: 

  • Early Modern Documents and Sources: provides a wide-ranging introduction to the types of source material which researchers on the early modern period may encounter. 
  • Latin for Postgraduate Research: provides three tiers of Latin teaching (beginners, intermediate, and advanced) for students with earlier or no experience. 
  • Material Bibliography: covers the use of the book as historical evidence and practical aspects of technical bibliographical description, as well as a detailed exploration of digital book history.
  • Paleography and Manuscript Studies: provides a wide-ranging introduction to reading and handling original source material of all types which researchers of the early modern period may encounter. The course will trace the development of mainstream European handwriting styles from the late 15th to the 18th centuries. 

Students choose one optional module. 

Students may also choose a Directed Reading topic which and is designed to encourage the development of skills of historical analysis through concentrated study. Depending upon other module choices this may be taken across one or both semesters. The Directed Reading topics offered will vary slightly each year depending on staff. 

The Directed Reading topics offered will vary slightly each year depending on staff availability.  Popular categories include the below, though others will be available. 

  • The Renaissance in Italy and Northern Europe 
  • The European Reformations, the English and Scottish Reformations
  • Gender and Politics in Early Modern Europe
  • War, State and Society in Early Modern Europe
  • Political Thought and Intellectual History 

The topic will usually provide the foundation for the work of the dissertation which is completed over the summer. 

Student dissertations will be supervised by members of the teaching staff who will advise on the choice of subject and provide guidance throughout the research process. The completed dissertation of not more than 15,000 words must be submitted by a date specified in August. 

If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MLitt, 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 MLitt. 


The MLitt course lasts for one calendar year; taught modules run from September to April, followed by dissertation research and writing over the late spring and summer. 

Teaching methods typically include fortnightly seminars, practical classes and tutorials.

Class sizes range from individual supervision up to 12 students. 

The modules are assessed by coursework only; there is no final exam.

The early modern cohort is typically close-knit and friendly, but comprises a diverse, international group with a range of intellectual interests. Students work closely with each other, with early modern research staff, and also with students in parallel MLitt degrees such as Intellectual History and Book History.


The School of History hosts the Early Modern and Modern History Postgraduate Forum, which provides a space for postgraduates at all stages to present ideas, discuss research issues and find out about what their fellow historians are up to. 

The Reformation Studies Institute at St Andrews hosts a seminar programme, holding numerous talks and lectures each semester. 




Application fee

Before we can begin processing your application, a payment of an application fee of £50 is required. In some instances, you may be eligible for an application fee waiver. Details of this, along with information on our tuition fees, can be found on the postgraduate fees and funding page.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews is committed to attracting the very best students, regardless of financial circumstances.

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.  

School of History MLitt Awards

Offer the cash equivalent of one year's home fees and cannot be held in conjunction with other awards offering full fees and maintenance. 

Whenever it is relevant to your programme and possible, the School makes available competitive language bursaries for training prior to the start of an MLitt programme. To find out more, please contact pghist@st-andrews.ac.uk as early as possible. Note that, when available, the application deadline is normally in the early Spring.

15% Recent Graduate Discount

If you have graduated from the University within the last three academic years, you may be eligible for a 15% discount on postgraduate taught tuition fees. Terms and conditions apply.

Taught postgraduate scholarships    Postgraduate loans

After your degree


History postgraduates go on to pursue careers in a range of sectors including: 

  • journalism 
  • publishing 
  • think tanks 
  • government 
  • law 
  • teaching.  

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students in building their employability skills.

Further study

Many graduates continue their education by enrolling in PhD programmes at St Andrews. 

Postgraduate research

What to do next

Online information events

Join us for one of our information events where you can find out about different levels of study and specific courses we run. There are also sessions available for parents and college counsellors.

Postgraduate online visiting days

We encourage all students who are thinking of applying to the University to attend one of our online visiting days.

Contact us

+44 (0)1334 46 2900
School of History
St Katharine's Lodge
The Scores
St Andrews
KY16 9BA

School of History website