Blog Post

A modest proposal


To develop a one year collaborative research masters degree in the humanities to be delivered for between one tenth and one twentieth of the current cost of a research masters degree delivered on campus.

To deliver this one year research masters degree with student satisfaction reported at double the current satisfaction levels for campus based degrees

To impart integrated physical and digital research skills in a way that most humanities masters degrees currently fail to do, both within a specific humanities discipline and across humanities, social sciences and computational sciences


The annual cost of delivering higher education per student per year has increased much faster than parental earnings and much faster than prospective earnings.  In the United Kingdom rising delivery costs have been coupled with a radical change in the funding of higher education, with a shift from student grants to student loans.

Post-graduate education has been especially hit by accelerating costs and charges to students.  Whereas undergraduate students in United Kingdom are eligible for student loans, this is not true for postgraduate students, who depend on merit based awards from research councils, limited bursaries, and on their own finances.

Postgraduate study in the humanities has been particularly affected by these changes, with significantly less funding available to humanities students than to science technology engineering and medicine students.

United Kingdom universities are now seeing a drop in the number of students embarking on one year research Masters degrees in the humanities - the traditional step in the United Kingdom for a student before embarking on a three or four year doctoral programme

Operational delivery

Several models might be explored, all seeking scale, whilst increasing (not decreasing) the challenge and excellence of the teaching and learning of research skills

  - Multi-institutional collaboration to get scale

       e.g. all Higher Education institutes in the Triangle or Philadelphia area in a given subject, such as history

  - New commercial entrants

  - Not-for profit educational charity

       e.g. an initiative by a US Foundation

  - Volunteer based cooperative

      e.g. Committed early career scholars and public humanists

One measure of success

Students taking this collaborative research masters degree to be highly sought after by campus based doctoral programmes and to have a high degree of success in competition for merit based scholarship awards for these doctoral programmes

Another measure of success

At least one in three of those scholars accepted on the course complete the course



  - Research skills speak for themselves

  - Each collaborative research research student would submit a paper to a peer reviewed journal - peer reviewed publication is the best form of "certification"


Students who complete the course and who have a peer reviewed article accepted based on work done during their research work would pay $0

Students who complete the course would pay $2,000

Students who start the course, but do not complete would:

  * Pay pro-rata?
  * Pay nothing, since the organisers have failed to retain them?
  * Pay more more than those who complete, as an incentive to complete?


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