MSc/PgDip/PgCert Genealogical, Palaeographic & Heraldic Studies

Key facts

  • Start date: January, March, April, September & October
  • Application deadline: one month prior to course start date
  • Study mode and duration: full-time & part-time distance learning

Study with us

  • gain a grounding in the theory and practice of genealogival research, records, archives and heraldry
  • focus on the sources available to genealogists and family historians
  • study online by distance learning
  • developed by academics and genealogy professionals to provide a thorough grounding in the theory and practice of genealogical research, family history, records, archives and heraldry
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Why this course?

This postgraduate course is for anyone with an interest and some experience in genealogy and related subjects. You may wish to study the field in more detail or use it in your career. It’s of particular interest for:

  • archivists
  • lawyers & paralegals
  • geographers
  • land agents
  • heritage sector staff
  • historians
  • librarians
  • museum staff
  • records agents

It's also suitable for those who are interested in:

  • developing, evaluating or refreshing their expertise in genealogy, records, archives, documents, palaeography and heraldry
  • advancing their academic and professional achievement in these subjects
  • gaining a deeper, more critical understanding of the field, its literature and professional practice
  • providing more expert knowledge and advisory capacity to employers and members of the public, such as in Family History Centres

Watch our video to find out more from the course leader, Tahitia McCabe

 

How is the course delivered?

The course is delivered online and so you'll require computer access from home. You should be familiar with the use of computers in genealogical studies and the course is standardised on Microsoft Windows. You'll also need to subscribe or pay for certain online databases and services.

What you'll study

You’ll focus on the sources available to genealogists and family historians. You’ll also gain the knowledge, skills and techniques to operate as a professional genealogist in a variety of settings.

The Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert)/Part-time MSc Year 1 course deals mainly with Scottish, English/Welsh and Irish records. The Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip)/Part-time MSc Year 2 adds American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, British Empire, Jewish, European and other sources. The MSc dissertation provides the opportunity to choose an individual topic of interest.

We work together with:

  • National Records of Scotland
  • National Archives at Kew
  • various professional and commercial bodies including the Association of Scottish Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (ASGRA), Find My Past, Deceased Online and FamilyTreeDNA

When you complete the Certificate and Diploma qualifications, you'll have a suitable portfolio to submit to various certification boards and other bodies for professional accreditation.

Teaching staff

Academic input is provided by:

  • the Centre for Lifelong Learning
  • the University’s Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences
  • appropriate external specialists

Professional recognition

ASGRA (Association of Scottish Genealogists and Researchers in Archives) has agreed to admit Postgraduate Certificate and Diploma graduates upon application as Probationer Members.

AGRA (Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives in England and Wales) recognises the Postgraduate Certificate as a qualification in genealogy. This provides some exemption from the criteria required for application for membership.

The Register of Qualified Genealogists (RQG) recognises the Postgraduate Diploma or MSc as acceptable qualifications for membership on the Register.

Course structure

There are three levels within this postgraduate course.

Most of our students begin with the Postgraduate Certificate/Part-time MSc Year 1 before moving to the Postgraduate Diploma/Part-time MSc Year 2 and then onto the MSc by Dissertation year.

There's also a full-time MSc option. This combines all three levels into 18 months. 

There are a few external equivalents to the PgCert/Part-time MSc Year 1 which would allow direct entry onto the PgDip/Part-time MSc Year 2. If you're interested in learning more about these contact our Course Administrator.

Course timetables and further information are available from the Centre for Lifelong Learning.

Postgraduate Certificate/Part-time MSc Year 1 

The Postgraduate Certificate/Part-time MSc Year 1 is worth 60 credits.

We offer two options with the PgCert:

Part-time MSc Year 1

If you'd like to study over a year, and can commit roughly 20 hours a week to the course, this is the option for you. It runs from October until June with assessments throughout the course. 

Two year (modular option)

If you'd like to study over two years, you can do this by studying the six classes individually over this time period. This option gives you the opportunity to begin studying in October, January or April - whichever suits you best. The classes must be taken in order, and are all compulsory to complete the PG Cert. This option will require roughly 14 hours a week of study.

Topics

You'll study topics including:

  • genealogical professional practice
  • search strategies & using repositories
  • social history, demography & geographic sources
  • church & civil records (England/Wales & Scotland)
  • census records & their substitutes (England/Wales & Scotland)
  • genetic genealogy
  • migration & records
  • Irish records
  • military & occupational records (England/Wales & Scotland)
  • land & inheritance records (England/Wales & Scotland)
  • palaeography
  • Latin for genealogists
  • heraldry

Once you successfully complete the PgCert/Part-time MSc Year 1, you can progress to the PgDiploma/Part-time MSc Year 2.

Postgraduate Diploma/Part-time MSc Year 2

The PgDip allows you to develop a greater understanding of social and historical contexts and provides an in depth study of the professional and academic aspects of genealogical work.

To gain the Postgraduate Diploma/Part time MSc Year 2 you are required to complete 60 credits worth of classes in addition to the 60 credits gained through the Postgraduate Certificate/Part time MSc Year 1.

We offer two options with the PG Diploma:

Part-time MSc Year 2

If you’d like to study over a year and can commit 20 to 25 hours a week to the course, this is the option for you. It runs from October until mid-July with assessments throughout the course.

Two-year (modular option)

If you'd like to study over two years, you can do this by studying the three classes individually over this time period. This option gives you the opportunity to begin studying in October or March- whichever suits you best. The classes must be taken in order, and are all compulsory to complete the PG Diploma. This option will require roughly 14 hours a week of study.

Part-time MSc Year 3

To gain the Masters qualification you are required to complete a 60 credit dissertation in addition to the 120 credits gained through the part-time MSc Years 1 & 2 or modular Postgraduate Certificate and Postgraduate Diploma.

Year 3 of the part-time MSc requires the student to plan, implement and evaluate a piece of research and development work, which involves carrying out a research project of genealogical relevance, which will be assessed on a report of 12,000-16,000 words.

Year 3 of the part-time MSc runs from October with the dissertation submitted the following June. There's tutor guidance on academic writing, study and research skills.

Full-time MSc option

If you have an undergraduate degree along with experience in genealogical research, this could be an option for you.

You'll have to commit around 30-35 hours a week and there will be compulsory online tutorials for you to attend throughout the course.

This option runs over 18 months. The first two levels of the degree (PgCert/PgDip) begins in late September and runs through to July. The third level (the MSc dissertation) begins in late September to March of the following academic year. The course content is the same as the part-time version of the course. You can find this in the course content tab.

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Course content

Genealogical, Palaeographic & Heraldic Studies is offered at three levels. Our flexible learning programme allows you to work through each level of study, as follows:

  • to gain the PgCert qualification, you must complete the first group of classes listed below
  • to achieve the PgDip, you must complete the PgCert qualification and the three Diploma classes
  • for the MSc qualification, you must complete the first two stages and the final class
Professional Practice & Methodologies

This session provides a context for genealogical practice in a wide variety of environments. You'll progress with a common level of knowledge and understanding of key concepts and practice, including:

  • ethics & standards in genealogy
  • analysis of evidence problems
  • business practice
  • an introduction to palaeography
  • the recording & presentation of data

 

Repositories, Geography & Administration

You'll be given a grounding in the use of record and archival sources, physical and online, including genealogical literature and where to find it (catalogues of printed and manuscript genealogies and pedigrees; indexes and directories, etc). Also discussed are:

  • copyright legislation
  • maps & other geographic sources
  • newspaper & photographic image sources
  • money & coinage
  • dates & calendars
  • burgesses & guilds
  • local government structures in the United Kingdom

 

Civil & Church Records

This class is a systematic foundation in the use of various sources, including birth, marriage, death and census records from across the United Kingdom.

Census substitutes (poll books, electoral rolls, valuation and taxation assessments and subsidy lists, poor law registers, etc) and ecclesiastical records (OPR, parish registers, bishops' transcripts, Kirk Session and parish administration records, etc) are also covered.

Family History Studies & Overseas Records

This class introduces the use of DNA in genealogical research; upon completion students will understand the various tests available and their use alongside traditional research methods.

Demography, research into the nobility and landed gentry and other family research along with Irish records, migration and emigration are covered as well as personal records such as occupation, military and education records.

Property, Law & Inheritance

You'll be given a methodical basis for the use of various document types, including the inheritance of property and land, wills, testaments and inventories across the United Kingdom.

Other areas covered include local and central government records (taxation, evaluation, elections, legal records, the courts of equity, records of chancery and exchequer) and a deeper look at palaeography records.

Heraldry & Latin

When you complete this session, you'll be able to transcribe and translate records from Latin sufficiently to extract relevant genealogical information from them. The origins and intentions of Scottish and English heraldry and heraldic art are covered and students will understand heraldry’s use in tracing families.

Genealogy, Heraldry & Social History 2

Here you'll deepen and extend your knowledge of sources and genealogical techniques used when researching non-UK countries and in mediaeval genealogy. Certain specialist topics such as the advanced uses of DNA in genealogy and Jewish genealogy are also covered.

Areas covered include:

  • the British Empire
  • Europe
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • the USA
  • Canada
  • Ireland in depth

 

Methods of Professional Enquiry & Project

As well as requiring you to demonstrate that you've acquired an understanding of a range of research methods and ways in which they can be deployed, this session provides practical skills in professional and academic research and practice and introduces archival record management.

Documents, Palaeography & Research Studies

When you complete this class, you'll recognise specific types of documents, their structure and intent and be able to transcribe and translate these from Latin sufficiently to extract relevant genealogical information from them.

The origins and intentions of Scottish and English heraldry and heraldic art are covered and students will understand heraldry’s use in tracing families.

Professional Enquiry & Development Leading to a Dissertation

The Masters stage of the Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies programme comprises one compulsory class. This requires you to plan, implement and evaluate a major piece of research, which involves carrying out an investigative and developmental project of genealogical relevance which will be assessed on the basis of a dissertation of 12,000-16,000 words.

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Learning & teaching

The course is taught entirely online using Myplace, the University’s Virtual Learning Environment. Throughout the course we use:

  • online discussion forums
  • written and audio lectures
  • multimedia presentations
  • real-time audio chat sessions

You’ll need to commit time each week to cover:

  • reading
  • participation in online discussion forums
  • research
  • completion of course work

Assessment

There's no formal exam for any of our courses. Individual results are based on continuous assessment with tutor support and feedback.

Computer & software access

You need to have regular access to a computer at home as we’ll issue you with various log-ins and passwords you can’t use on public computers.

Your computer must have a recent version of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office or Open Office. It should also be enabled for pop-ups.

We’ll communicate with you by email and via the University's Virtual Learning Environment. Please make sure you can use the following programmes:

  • Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint or a compatible program, eg OpenOffice
  • an email program compatible with Microsoft software; we recommend Outlook
  • a graphics programme compatible with Microsoft software; we recommend Irfanview
  • WinZip or the ability to un-zip files and folders
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader

Family Tree Maker software is sent to you before the start of the course. You can also choose to use comparable software from other vendors.

Assessment methods

PgCert/Part-time MSc Year 1

You'll be asked to complete assignments for each module - in addition to six summative assessments - the fulfilment of which should help advance your learning and indicate to your tutor the possession or development of the requisite knowledge and skills.

You'll also need to complete a learning log.

PgDip/Part-time MSc Year 2

Assessment is conducted through a mix of:

  • short written pieces (2,000 words) on topics chosen by students
  • assignments
  • a project on a topic chosen by the student. This involves short assignments and a 5,000-word research report

Part-time MSc Year 3

Assessment for the third year of the part-time MSc is based on a 12,000 to 16,000-word dissertation. This will focus on an investigative and developmental project of genealogical relevance. 

Full-time MSc

Semester One:

  • you're asked to complete assignments for each module, as well as summative assessments, the fulfilment of which should help advance your learning and indicate to your tutor the possession or development of the requisite knowledge and skills
  • you'll also need to complete a Learning Log

Semester Two:

Assessment on this semester is done through a mixture of:

  • shorter written pieces (2,500 words) on topics chosen by the students
  • assignments designed to get students working directly with resources from various parts of the world
  • assignments within the methods of professional enquiry module which are milestones towards completion of the dissertation

Semester Three:

The full-time MSc is finally assessed on the basis of a written dissertation of 12-16,000 words based on an investigative and developmental project of genealogical relevance which is turned in at the end of semester three.

 

Our students

Janice Menzies, MSc Genalogical, Palaeographic & Heraldic Studies student

Janice Menzies

I liked the fact that the course was clearly designed for remote learning, rather than just an adaption of an existing on-site course. The teaching staff were real enthusiasts, very much involved in the subject, and with a range of different specialisms.
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Julie Buist, MSc Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies student

Julie Buist

The optional archive visit to Glasgow and Edinburgh was a great opportunity to spend time in several archives and really opened my eyes as to the extent of resources available to genealogists. There was also the added bonus of meeting tutors and fellow students - as well as being able to visit these two beautiful cities.
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Kathryn Burtinshaw, MSc Genealogical, Palaeographic & Heraldic Studies student

Kathryn Burtinshaw

The course has provided me with enough information in key areas that have enabled me to have the confidence to give talks. The breadth of knowledge needed to complete the MSc was extremely wide and the ability to choose my own topic on a subject of personal interest allowed me to research a potentially publishable dissertation and gain a highly prestigious qualification at the same time.
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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

PgCert/Part-time MSc Year 1
Normally, a degree or similar, but non-standard educational or professional qualifications may also be considered; you require to have some relevant genealogical or related experience.

The Centre for Lifelong Learning offers a number of eight-week courses available both online and on campus. These are intended to provide the basic skills and knowledge required to facilitate progression to the Postgraduate Certificate/Part-time MSc Year 1. Successful completion of one or more of these courses may serve as evidence of the necessary study skills and/or relevant genealogical experience.

More information on these courses can be found on the Centre for Lifelong Learning web pages.

PgDip/Part-time MSc Year 2
Entry will normally follow successful completion of the PgCert/Part-time MSc Year 1.

Students who've gained equivalent academic qualifications at PgCert level may be accepted directly onto the PgDip/Part-time MSc Year 2. Those seeking admission with advanced standing may include prior learning in recognised courses and/or genealogical-based experience as entry criteria. Further information is available on request. Please contact our Course Administrator at scosh@strath.ac.uk.

MSc
You require to complete the PgDip/Part-time MSc Year 2 at an appropriate level before being allowed to continue on to the third year of the part-time MSc. Direct entry to the third year of the part-time MSc is not available.

For the full-time MSc, candidates should hold an undergraduate degree. First degrees may also be augmented by previous postgraduate qualifications, such as an MSc.

Some experience in genealogical (or other relevant) research is required and we may ask to see examples of reports and/or charts you have created.

Students who already hold the PgCert or PgDip in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies from Strathclyde, or certain other relevant qualifications from specified institutions, will be able to transfer credits, up to a defined limit. However, no fee discounts will be available. These students may wish to join the appropriate level of the part-time MSc programme.

English language requirements

You're required to have a suitable minimum level of competency in the English language if your first language is not English or if you have not been educated wholly or mainly in the medium of English.

For postgraduate studies, the University of Strathclyde requires a minimum overall score of IELTS 6.5 (no individual test score below 6.0) or equivalent. Tests are valid for two years.

Pre-sessional courses in English are available.

If you’re a national of an English speaking country recognised by UK Visas and Immigration (please check most up-to-date list on the Home Office website) or you have successfully completed an academic qualification (at least equivalent to a UK Bachelor's degree) in any of these countries, then you do not need to present any additional evidence.

If you are from a country not recognised as an English speaking country by the United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI), please check our English requirements before making your application.

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Fees & funding

2020/21

All fees quoted are for full-time courses and per academic year unless stated otherwise.

Tuition fees

MSc (full-time, 18 months): £8,700
MSc (post-PgDip top up): £2,300
PgCert/PgCert (per 60 credits): £3,400

Additional costs

Online Subscriptions
Much of the course will involve online searching on third-party sites over which the University has no control.

You’ll need a worldwide subscription to Ancestry. You’ll also be using Scotland's People, which charges for certain searches; you'll need to buy at least 300-500 credits but depending on the course options you choose, more may be required  You must be prepared to use a credit card or other suitable payment method over the Internet.

Available scholarships

Take a look at our scholarships search for funding opportunities.

Please note: the fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.

How can I fund my course?

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Scottish and non-UK EU postgraduate students

Scottish and non-UK EU postgraduate students may be able to apply for support from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). The support is in the form of a tuition fee loan and for eligible students, a living cost loan. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from England

Students ordinarily resident in England may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance England. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from Wales

Students ordinarily resident in Wales may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance Wales. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from Northern Ireland

Postgraduate students who are ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland may be able to apply for support from Student Finance Northern Ireland. The support is a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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International students

We've a large range of scholarships available to help you fund your studies. Check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

Strathclyde Alumni

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences Alumni Discount

10% tuition fee discount is offered to all Strathclyde alumni completing a full-time postgraduate taught course in the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences.

Find out more
Tahitia McCabe
Family history research brings history to life. Personal connection to events and places from the past is quite thrilling as is the research journey; trace people through records, make connections and find out about events which have been hidden for hundreds of years.
Tahitia McCabe
Programme leader
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Careers

Where are they now?

Job titles include:

  • Intelligence Officer
  • Professional Genealogist
  • Researcher
  • Tutor
  • University Academic

Employers include:

  • APS Group
  • Beith Historical Society
  • National Wildlife Crime Unit
  • Victoria University
  • Who What Where Research

Glasgow is Scotland's biggest & most cosmopolitan city

Our campus is based in the very heart of Glasgow, Scotland's largest city. National Geographic named Glasgow as one of its 'Best of the World' destinations, while Rough Guide readers have voted Glasgow the world’s friendliest city! And Time Out named Glasgow in the top ten best cities in the world - we couldn't agree more!

We're in the city centre, next to the Merchant City, both of which are great locations for sightseeing, shopping and socialising alongside your studies.

Find out what some of our students think about studying in Glasgow!

Find out all about life in Glasgow
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Apply

Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies - Oct - Modular

Qualification: PG Certificate
Start Date: Oct 2019
Mode of Delivery: part-time

Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies

Qualification: MSc
Start Date: Oct 2019
Mode of Delivery: part-time

Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies - Jan Modular

Qualification: PG Certificate
Start Date: Jan 2020
Mode of Delivery: part-time

Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies - April Modular

Qualification: PG Certificate
Start Date: Apr 2020
Mode of Delivery: part-time

Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies - Oct Modular

Qualification: PG Diploma
Start Date: Oct 2019
Mode of Delivery: part-time

Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies - March Modular

Qualification: PG Diploma
Start Date: Mar 2020
Mode of Delivery: part-time

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Contact us

Postgraduate Enquiries

Telephone: +44 (0)141 444 8600

Email: hass-pg-enquiries@strath.ac.uk