MA History by Research

The MA by Research in History is your opportunity to conduct in-depth research on a topic of your choice, relative to an area of staff expertise, and produce a dissertation of 40,000 words. This piece of original historical research will be based on primary sources. You will demonstrate an awareness of the associated historiography and an understanding of the relevant methodological or theoretical concepts.

For those coming to the end of their undergraduate studies, a Masters by Research can be an attractive alternative to a taught masters. If you have enjoyed researching your dissertation, you may want to take it further or perhaps take a year to develop additional skills before joining the job market.

For professionals, a Masters by Research allows you to develop a research outlook to explore and address projects, and bring about change in your professional practice or within your organisation.


Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Full-time 18 Months April Treforest A

Your research topic will be determined in consultation with a member of the History team. Once you have found and consulted with a suitable member of the History team, you will be required to write a research proposal which will serve as your application for the course.


A Masters by Research degree allows you to carry out an independent supervised research project on an approved topic of your choice. At the end of your studies you will submit a thesis of up to 40,000 words. As with all research degrees examination is a two-part process: examination of the thesis followed by a viva examination. 

You can complete your Masters by Research on a full or part time basis, on campus or remotely, if the nature of the research allows. A Masters by Research takes one year full time or two years part time, and is available in most subject areas.

There are no classes to attend as the Masters by Research is based on research. Full-time students are expected to spend around 35 hours per week on self-study and part-time students 12 hours. 

Postgraduate researchers are assigned a supervisory team who have the expertise and experience to support them in their studies. Supervisors will help you to shape your research project, give feedback on work in progress and guide you to completion.

Once a research area has been identified and a research programme agreed, you can begin researching and writing your dissertation. You will determine its content, development and structure in regular consultation with your dissertation supervisor. You will produce a dissertation 40,000 words in length. 


History Research Unit

You will be based in the History Research Unit. History at the University of South Wales is one of the University’s most successful research areas.

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework – the government’s official measure of research capability – 64% of our research output was rated in the top two categories: 'world-leading’ and 'internationally excellent’.

Some of what we do is announced to our professional community via scholarly monographs and articles in learned journals, such as Past & Present and English Historical Review, the traditional outlets of our craft. We also try to reach a wider and more diverse audience through social media, television and radio programmes, exhibitions and other forms of public history.

Our interests are wide-ranging and often involve us in cross-disciplinary research with colleagues in other parts of the University. USW historians are, for example, at the forefront of the Centre for Gender Studies in Wales and the Centre for the Study of Media and Culture in Small Nations.

We are also networked into international scholarly collaborations far beyond South Wales. USW historians are partners in international initiatives on nuclear imperialism, ecclesiastical history, and the history of witchcraft persecution.

Our expertise is recognised by the appointment of USW historians to advisory roles for the Welsh Government, the National Museum of Wales, and the Church in Wales.



The MA History by Research is assessed by a dissertation and a viva voce (oral examination). The dissertation should be up to 40,000 words in length.

There are no classes to attend as the Masters by Research is based on research. Full-time students are expected to spend around 35 hours per week on self-study and part-time students 12 hours.

Featured Lecturer:
Professor Chris Evans

Professor Chris Evans

Work by USW historian Professor Chris Evans on the suppressed history of Wales and Atlantic slavery is affecting the ways in which public bodies and creative artists handle a difficult, contested past.

Evans is interested in the relationship between Atlantic slavery and industrial development in Europe, with a particular focus on Welsh industry. His book Slave Wales: The Welsh and Atlantic Slavery, 1660-1850 (2010) revealed for the first time the significance of Welsh woollens in the slave Atlantic between the 1680s and the 1840s. Using material in British and US archives, Evans was able to demonstrate how Welsh fabric was (i) traded for captives on the Guinea coast, and (ii), more importantly, sold in large volumes to planters in the Caribbean and North America. Here, marketed as “Negro Cloth”, Welsh woollens were used to clothe enslaved workers. Read more...


  • Dr Ruth Atherton is a social, religious and cultural historian of early-modern Europe.
  • Dr Andy Croll is developing research interests in the history of tourism (particularly coastal tourism) in the long nineteenth century. He is also interested in the history of poverty and welfare in the era of the New Poor Law.
  • Dr Jonathan Durrant is a historian of gender in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. His particular interests are witchcraft and gender in Germany, and masculinity and warfare in the age of the Thirty Years’ War.
  • Professor Chris Evans works on industrial history from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries and the history of Atlantic slavery in the age of abolition.
  • Dr Jane Finucane is an expert on Germany in the age of the Thirty Years’ War.
  • Dr Christopher Hill has research interests in modern British and global history, with a focus on histories of media, nuclear imperialism and social movements.
  • Dr Rachel Lock-Lewis is interested in the history of feminism and social change in postwar Britain, especially issues of sexuality, marriage, maternity, parenthood and childhood, and kinship.

Find out more about our historians, find a supervisor and view our current History research.

We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement

At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.

If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.

A minimum 2:1 Honours degree in history or a related subject. Applicants without an Honours degree can be considered on prior experiential learning on an individual basis, via the Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)/Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) mechanism (University regulations will apply). The course welcomes international applicants and requires an English level of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent.

All applications must include two references on headed paper from your referees which should be uploaded as a supporting document. Please note, we can not accept applications without these two references. At least one referee should be able to comment on your academic/professional ability. References provided by relatives are not acceptable.

All applicants for research degrees must submit an online application accompanied by a research proposal which will be considered by the Faculty Research Programmes Committee (FRPC).

For further information please read our information on how to write a research proposal.


Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course.

August 2023 - July 2024 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International:  £15950 

Student Perks

At the University of South Wales, you’re investing in so much more than a degree. We strive to provide our students with the best possible experience, no matter what you chose to study. Whether it’s access to top of the range mac books and PCs, state-of-the-art facilities packed with industry-leading equipment and software, masterclasses and events led by industry experts, or a wide range of clubs and societies to meet likeminded people, better tomorrows start with extra perks.

Each course also has their own unique student benefits to prepare you for the real word, and details of these can be found on our course pages. From global field trips, integrated work experience and free course-related resources, to funded initiatives, projects working with real employers, and opportunities for extra qualifications and accreditations - at USW your future, is future-proofed.

Click here to learn more about student perks at USW.

Additional Costs

As a student of USW, you’ll have access to lots of free resources to support your study and learning, such as textbooks, publications, online journals, laptops, and plenty of remote-access resources. Whilst in most cases these resources are more than sufficient in supporting you with completing your course, additional costs, both obligatory and optional, may be required or requested for the likes of travel, memberships, experience days, stationery, printing, or equipment.


Funding to help pay for (or cover) course tuition fees and living costs

Whilst you’re studying, you’ll have two main financial obligations – tuition fees and living costs. There’s lots of financial help available from the University of South Wales and external funding sources, that may provide loans (which have to be paid back) and grants, scholarships and bursaries (that don't).

To learn about course fees, funding options, and to see if you are eligible for financial support, visit our Fees and Funding pages.

Please read our information on how to write a research proposal and how to apply for a postgraduate research degree. You can find more information and contact detail for support on our Graduate School website.

Admissions statement 

The History by Research masters is an excellent basis for further research in history at MPhil and PhD levels. If you do not want to pursue further research, you will have gained the research skills needed for a range of careers in the arts, industry, the media, administration in the private and public sectors, or further education.