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Learn to conduct your own research using archives and library collections.

Explore the remarkable Special Collections and Museum Collections of the University of Aberdeen. Investigate the Aberdeen City and Shire Archives to hone your skills. Find out how to access online materials relevant to your research, how archives are structured and gain training in family history research.

You'll learn to address issues you might encounter using overseas archives and develop your transcription skills. Under the expert guidance of award-winning online tutors, you’ll ready yourself to conduct research in archives at home and abroad.

What will I study?

You’ll study the key skills required to conduct research in archival and library collections at graduate level.

You’ll cover the following modules on your course:

  • What is an archive? Local resources.
  • What is an archive? Scotland, the UK and overseas.
  • The museum sector: object-led research.
  • Speaking the word: using oral testimony.
  • The young, the poor and the sick: using education, welfare and health records.
  • Family history research: identifying the sources.
  • Family history research: deploying the sources.
  • Medieval archives & sources: Aberdeen Burgh Records.
  • Palaeography.
  • Reading the rural landscape: The Bennachie Landscapes project.
  • Reading the landscape of conflict: Aberdeen at war.

By the end of this course, you will…

  • Be able to handle manuscript and printed archival materials.
  • Know how to navigate a variety of cataloguing systems to find relevant sources.
  • Appreciate the role of archival research in scholarly work.
  • Understand the ethical issues relating to accessing and using sensitive materials.
  • Be able to undertake some transcription of manuscript material.
  • Be prepared to deploy archival sources in researching and writing a dissertation.

Why study with Aberdeen?

How will I study?

Approaches to Research is a 15-week short course, delivered entirely online. You can study with us anywhere in the world and manage your own study hours to suit you.

Part of our Masters in Scottish Heritage, this course is taught at Masters level. You’ll learn from experienced researchers and academics from our History and History of Art departments.

Your course is delivered through MyAberdeen, our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It’s designed specifically for online learners and features a range of resources, including:

  • online lectures
  • videos
  • audio clips
  • quizzes
  • reading materials
  • the online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library
  • online discussion boards with classmates and tutors.

You’ll be able to explore our Sir Duncan Rice Library collection online, including ancient Scottish records, manuscripts, prints, photographs and literary collections of leading Scottish writers and poets. Treasures include a large Jacobite collection, works of the Scottish Enlightenment, and one of best collections of Sir Walter Scott.

Where will this take me?

Approaches to Research is one of our growing number of online Language and Culture short courses. These can be used to build up credits towards higher qualifications.

Find out more about credits.

Build your learning

You'll earn 30 credits at Masters level (SCQF Level 11) with this course. It’s part of a suite of four Scottish Heritage short courses that we offer:

Each of these carries 30 credits that you can build up towards a PgCert, PgDip and our innovative:

Masters in Scottish Heritage

Delve deeper into Scotland’s history with our online Masters in Scottish Heritage. Study anywhere in the world, with flexible hours to fit around your work or personal commitments.


Your employer or professional institute may recognise this course for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Talk to your employer or institute to find out more.

Course coordinator

Am I ready?

You’ll normally have at least a 2:1 (upper-second-class) degree in an appropriate discipline, or equivalent qualifications (normally a 3.0 GPA in North America).

Don’t worry if you don’t hold these specific qualifications, we value real-world experience too. Alternative qualifications combined with relevant professional experience and supportive references may also be considered for entry.

For this course, you’ll apply through our Applicant Portal. It allows you to upload relevant qualifications and documents, which our admissions team will then review. If you don't have a formal degree qualification, you can submit a supporting personal statement via the Applicant Portal. Read How to apply via our Applicant Portal for all you need to know.

You need to apply by the course start date to ensure you are enrolled in time.

Apply for this course

Start date
14 September 2020