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MPhil in Economic and Social History

Charles Booth, Life and labour of the people
Charles Booth, Life and labour of the people. Credit: Wellcome Collection
Economic and social history has always formed an important part of the teaching and research in the Cambridge History Faculty, which is widely regarded as one of the best in the world. Much pioneering work in the ‘new’ social history of communities, demographic history, business history and the history of economic thought has been done here. The MPhil in Economic and Social History provides an extremely thorough training in statistical and social science methodology, while building on other strengths such as an emphasis on researching economic relations and institutions as cultural phenomena.

There are approximately 20 members of academic staff associated with the MPhil, ranging in specialisation from early modern economic history to modern Asian history. The course teachers are also associated with two major research institutions: the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure and the Centre for History and Economics.

Past and current topics for dissertations include: ‘The Evolution of Ownership and Control in British IPOs before WWI’; ‘Consumer protection in Britain from austerity to affluence, 1945-65’; ‘Plague of Poverty: The World Health Organization, Tuberculosis, and International Development c.1945-1980’; ‘Encouraging Emigration: An analysis of the Estado Novo regime’s approach to emigration in the early 1960s in Portugal’.

In addition to the course seminars there are also 16 faculty research seminars and around 320 other graduate students doing MPhils and PhDs. Combined with the excellent resources found in the University library this provides one of the most vibrant historical research cultures in the world.

Course Components

The course is composed of two formally assessed parts, as well as a number of ancillary non-assessed components designed to help students integrate into the Cambridge research environment.

1. Introduction to Research Resources and Seminars, composed of:

      a) Introduction to Research Resources in History

      b) Introduction to Research Seminars

2. Part I

a)  Central Concepts in Economic and Social History

b)  Social Science Research Methods Course

c)   Dissertation Proposal Essay

d)  Two Option Courses

3. Part II

A dissertation of between 15,000 and 20,000 words to be submitted in August

Supervision & Research

Throughout the course students are supervised by a dedicated member of staff, who guides their work, leading to an original piece of historical research in the form of a final dissertation.  For more about potential supervisors, please see the Economic and Social History Subject Group listings.  Many other members of the Cambridge History Faculty may be available to supervise dissertations.

Beyond this, students are encouraged to engage in Cambridge’s vibrant research environment. Every term has a full calendar of classes, workshops, seminars and lectures led by academics at every level, from graduate researchers to eminent guest professors.

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