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MSt in History

About the course

The MSt in History aims to improve your practical and intellectual grasp of research processes, ability to conceptualise and engage with historical problems, and enlarge your understanding of the historical and historiographical context within which your own research is set. 

The MSt in History is an umbrella programme, comprising nine specific strands:

While all students will apply for and follow a specific strand, they will share common courses and they will also have a free choice of options. In this way, the course gives access to a wide range of both general and specialised training within the field of history.

You can find more information on the course webpage on the faculty website and on each strand's webpage. 

The MSt is open to students with interests in any period of British, European or American history (which may also include non-European elements, eg European expansion, Empire building or emigration). Those primarily interested in other parts of the world may like to consider the MSt in Global and Imperial History. The course will encourage you to develop practical and intellectual familiarity with advanced research in British, American and/or continental European history. You will also be encouraged to develop key research skills in parallel to your course work: these include the ability to read and interpret manuscript sources, the development of IT skills and competence in Latin or modern foreign languages.

The programme may be studied in full-time or part-time mode.  

The full-time programme offers a nine-month introduction to graduate research. It is designed to meet the needs of students who wish to build upon their undergraduate studies through one year of further study, and also those hoping to proceed to doctoral work. The latter will be encouraged to develop their master’s and doctoral proposals in tandem during the first few months, so that they will be well placed to make doctoral applications in January. You will be invited to present and receive feedback on your work-in-progress at a conference specific to this programme at the start of Trinity term.

The part-time programme offers the same introduction to graduate research, but over 21 months. Please refer to the department's course webpage for further details about the part-time structure of the course. 

This course cannot be undertaken on a distance-learning basis. 

Teaching comprises:

  • Core courses in Sources and Historiography, and Theory and Methods taught through introductory lectures, and weekly classes during Michaelmas term
  • Auxiliary skills - up to 40 hours of lectures, classes, or tutorials during Michaelmas and Hilary terms
  • An optional subject, taught in six weekly classes during Hilary term.

Full details of core and optional papers are available on the department's course webpage. Please note that not every optional subject listed may be on offer every year, depending in part on levels of student demand. 

You will have access to a comprehensive menu of skills training for graduate students, as well as a systematic schedule of introductions to the unrivalled research facilities of the University of Oxford. If necessary for your project, you will be encouraged to develop your knowledge of a foreign language in parallel to your course work.

You are expected to commit the Easter vacation and the first seven weeks of Trinity term to work on finalising your dissertation (see the Assessment section below for further details), but you will begin developing a research strategy in conjunction with your supervisor from October.

If you wish to apply for the DPhil you will be encouraged to develop your doctoral proposal in consultation with your supervisor during the first few months of your master's course, so that you will be well placed to make a doctoral application.


The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Faculty of History and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Faculty of History. 

You will meet your supervisor early in Michaelmas term to identify your training needs and arrange three or four further meetings throughout the term to finalise your research proposal. You will also meet your supervisor about three times in Hilary term to work on your individual research and writing your dissertation. You should also submit a draft of your dissertation to supervisor in Trinity term and arrange to discuss it with them.

An Oxford academic’s pre-application indication of willingness to supervise an enquiring applicant is not a guarantee that the applicant will be offered a place, or that the supervisor in question has capacity in that particular year.


The core courses are assessed by a methodology essay, submitted at the start of Hilary term. You must also submit a dissertation proposal and annotated bibliography.

The optional subject course is assessed according to the regulations for that course, usually an assessed essay or exam, at the end of Hilary term.

Finally, you will be assessed by means of a dissertation written on a topic falling within the scope of this your MSt strand and submitted at the end of Trinity term, usually within the historical period of your optional subject.

Graduate destinations

About a quarter of master’s students proceed to doctoral work at Oxford; others continue academic study at other institutions. Other career destinations are as diverse as, but broadly in line with, undergraduate history career destinations: law, finance, management consultancy, civil service etc.

Changes to this course and your supervision

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. The safety of students, staff and visitors is paramount and major changes to delivery or services may have to be made in circumstances of a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. In addition, in certain circumstances, for example due to visa difficulties or because the health needs of students cannot be met, it may be necessary to make adjustments to course requirements for international study.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include illness, sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.

For further information please see our page on changes to courses and the provisions of the student contract regarding changes to courses.

Other courses you may wish to consider

If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.

Entry requirements for entry in 2023-24

Proven and potential academic excellence

Degree-level qualifications

As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:

  • a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (a minimum of 68% overall and 68% for the dissertation) in a relevant discipline in the humanities or social sciences.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is normally 3.75 out of 4.0.

Applicants are not expected to have a previous degree in history, but are expected to have experience of working historically. You will need to ensure that you link your proposed dissertation topic with your previous expertise, explain why you want to switch to study history, and show that you have already done some background research.

If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.

GRE General Test scores

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience

  • In the case of mature students/intended career changes professional experience in cognate areas may compensate for shortcomings in the formal academic record.
  • Publications are not required.

English language proficiency

This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.

Minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level requirement
TestMinimum overall scoreMinimum score per component
IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713) 7.57.0

TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'

(Institution code: 0490)

110Listening: 22
Reading: 24
Speaking: 25
Writing: 24
C1 Advanced*191185
C2 Proficiency191185

*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)

Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.

Declaring extenuating circumstances

If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.


You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview

Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.

Assessors may get in touch with an applicant by email in case of any queries, but this is very rare.

How your application is assessed

Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading. References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process.

An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed

Shortlisting and selection

Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:

  • socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
  • country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
  • protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.

Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.

Processing your data for shortlisting and selection

Information about processing special category data for the purposes of positive action and using your data to assess your eligibility for funding, can be found in our Postgraduate Applicant Privacy Policy.

Admissions panels and assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

Other factors governing whether places can be offered

The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
  • the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
  • minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.

Offer conditions for successful applications

If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our After you apply pages provide more information about offers and conditions

In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:

Financial Declaration

If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.

Disclosure of criminal convictions

In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.


Intellectual life and community

Working as an Oxford graduate student is an exhilarating experience. History at Oxford stretches from around 300 AD to the present and embraces an exceptionally broad geographical range. It comprises an active research community of up to 800 academics and graduate students.

The faculty’s research is organised around historical periods, research centres, or in collaborative and individual research projects, and graduates are key participants in the wide range of seminars, workshops and conferences run by the History Faculty.

Further opportunities for exchange are provided by the interdisciplinary communities fostered within individual colleges, which also offer dedicated support for graduates by means of personal advisors. The Oxford Centre for Research in the Humanities (TORCH) offers a stimulating range of interdisciplinary activities. You are also encouraged to join the Oxford History Graduate Network (OHGN), which fosters friendships, conversations and collaboration.

The Oxford environment provides a unique opportunity to develop intellectual curiosity whilst remaining focused on your own work without becoming blinkered - an integral part of a successful graduate career.

Libraries and archives

Graduates in Oxford are fortunate in having access to over a hundred libraries. The University's core research resource in the humanities are the Bodleian Libraries, whose combined collections contain more than 11 million printed items, in addition to more than 50,000 e-journals and a vast quantity of manuscripts, maps, music and other materials.

The Bodleian has been a library of legal deposit for 400 years. The Bodleian Libraries’ Special Collections Department attracts scholars from all over the world. Further strengths include the countless databases and digital resources currently offered by the Bodleian and being developed through Oxford’s Digital Humanities programme.

You are also able to draw on the specialist resources offered by the Bodleian History Faculty Library which provides dedicated support and training courses for all graduates. They also have access to the many college libraries and to college archives which can house significant collections of personal papers as well as institutional records dating back to the middle ages.


The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2023-24. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential. 

For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.

Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:

Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.

Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the faculty's website.


Annual fees for entry in 2023-24

Full-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees


Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.

Part-time study

Fee status

Annual Course fees


Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.

Information about course fees

Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.

Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.

Where can I find further information about fees?

The Fees and Funding section of this website provides further information about course fees, including information about fee status and eligibility and your length of fee liability.

Additional information

Full-time study

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs. However, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Part-time study

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs. However, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2023-24 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,290 and £1,840 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our living costs page. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2023-24, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of 5% or more each year – although this rate may vary significantly depending on how the national economic situation develops. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.

If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.

College preference

All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs). 

For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges. 

The colleges accepting students on the MSt in History vary according to your chosen specialism and mode of study:

MSt in History (Medieval History) - Full Time TS_HY6A3

MSt in History (Medieval History) - Part Time TS_HY6A9P3

MSt in History (Early Modern History 1500-1700) - Full Time TS_HY6B3

MSt in History (Early Modern History 1500-1700) - Part Time TS_HY6B9P3

MSt in History (British and European History 1700-1850) - Full Time TS_HY6C3

MSt in History (British and European History 1700-1850) - Part Time TS_HY6C9P3

MSt in History (Modern British History 1850-present) - Full Time TS_HY6D3

MSt in History (Modern British History 1850-present) - Part Time TS_HY6D9P3

MSt in History (Modern European History 1850-present) - Full Time TS_HY6E3

MSt in History (Modern European History 1850-present) - Part Time TS_HY6E9P3

MSt in History (US History) - Full Time TS_HY6F3

MSt in History (US History) - Part Time TS_HY6F9P3

MSt in History (Intellectual History) - Full Time TS_HY6G3

MSt in History (Intellectual History) - Part Time TS_HY6G9P3

MSt in History (History of War) - Full Time TS_HY6H3

MSt in History (History of War) - Part Time TS_HY6H9P3

MSt in History (Women’s, Gender, and Queer History) - Full time TS_HY6I3

MSt in History (Women’s, Gender, and Queer History) - Part time TS_HY6I9P3

Before you apply

Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance.

Students are admitted to this course via one of nine strands, so you must decide which strand you would like to follow and select it when you choose your course. It may be possible to change your strand after admission in exceptional cases.

Application fee waivers

An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:

  • applicants from low-income countries;
  • refugees and displaced persons; 
  • UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and 
  • applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.

You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.

Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?

You are encouraged to familiarise yourself with the research expertise within the faculty when preparing your application. However, you will not be required to specify a potential supervisor in your application and the faculty will in any case decide supervision arrangements, taking due account of workload and commitments of its academics.

Completing your application

You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents. If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.

Proposed field and title of research project

Under the 'Field and title of research project' please enter your proposed field or area of research if this is known. If the department has advertised a specific research project that you would like to be considered for, please enter the project title here instead.

You should not use this field to type out a full research proposal. You will be able to upload your research supporting materials separately if they are required (as described below).

Proposed supervisor

It is not necessary for you to identify a potential supervisor in your application.

Three overall, academic preferred

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

References should generally be academic, though if you are returning to study after extended periods of non-academic employment then you are welcome to nominate professional referees where it would be impractical to call on your previous university tutors.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation, ability to work in both a group environment and sustained individual and self-motivated investigation.

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.


A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Statement of purpose and research proposal:
A minimum of 500 to a maximum of 1,000 words in total

The statement of purpose and research proposal should be written as one combined piece.

You should convince the faculty that you have the right intellectual qualities, academic knowledge and skills to undertake the course, focusing on how you see the course as building upon your previous study

You should discuss what kinds of problems and issues you hope to engage with; what the current state of your knowledge and understanding of these is, and how you hope to advance that.

You should include a preliminary research proposal and title for your intended dissertation. This should supply a research question identifying the central issue or problem with which you intend to grapple, some account of the current state of scholarship in this area and an indication of the kinds of sources you hope to use.

You may also include what you hope to do with the qualification you gain.

Your statement and research proposal must be written in English. A bibliography may also be provided and is not included in the word count, though any footnotes should be included.

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

It is anticipated that your ideas will change and develop once you have begun the programme and have been exposed to new approaches, sources and methods. However, students applying to this course are expected to have a clear sense of the kind of research they wish to undertake.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying
  • evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study
  • the coherence of the proposal, the ability to present a reasoned case in English
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree programme
  • reasoning ability
  • ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.

Written work:
One writing sample of anything up to 4,000 words or two writing samples, totalling no more than 4,000 words

Academic essays or other writing samples from your most recent qualification are required, but the work does not need to relate closely to your proposed area of study.

You can submit one complete essay, or two shorter essays. Extracts from a longer dissertation are welcome, but a preface which puts the work in context is expected.

The work will be assessed for understanding of problems in the area, the ability to construct and defend an argument, your powers of analysis, and your powers of expression.

The written work must be submitted in English (if this work has been translated, you must indicate if the translations are your own, or what assistance you had in producing the English text).

Any footnotes should be included in the word count. A bibliography however will not be.

If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.

Instructions for submitting one long piece of work instead of two short pieces

To submit one longer piece of work in your application instead of two shorter pieces, you should upload this document in the first 'Written work' slot on the 'Supporting Documents' tab of the Application Form. In the second 'Written work' slot, you should upload a PDF document with the following statement:

'I have included one long essay in lieu of two short essays. I have checked the course page to confirm this is permitted for this course.'

Start or continue your application

You can start or return to an application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, please refer to the requirements above and consult our Application Guide for advice. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.

Application Guide

Students are admitted to this course via one of nine strands, so you must decide which strand you would like to follow:

MSt in History (British and European History 1700-1850)

Apply - Full Time (TS_HY6C3) Apply - Part Time (TS_HY6C9P3)

MSt in History (Early Modern History 1500-1700)

Apply - Full Time (TS_HY6B3) Apply - Part Time (TS_HY6B9P3)

MSt in History (History of War)

Apply - Full Time (TS_HY6H3) Apply - Part Time (TS_HY6H9P3)

MSt in History (Intellectual History)

Apply - Full Time (TS_HY6G3) Apply - Part Time (TS_HY6G9P3)

MSt in History (Medieval History)

Apply - Full Time (TS_HY6A3) Apply - Part Time (TS_HY6A9P3)

MSt in History (Modern British History 1850-present)

Apply - Full Time (TS_HY6D3) Apply - Part Time (TS_HY6D9P3)

MSt in History (Modern European History 1850-present)

Apply - Full Time (TS_HY6E3) Apply - Part Time (TS_HY6E9P3)

MSt in History (US History)

Apply - Full Time (TS_HY6F3) Apply - Part Time (TS_HY6F9P3)

MSt in History (Women’s, Gender, and Queer History)

Apply - Full Time (TS_HY6I3) Apply - Part Time (TS_HY6I9P3)

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