Blended learning and postgraduate skills: rethinking MA History


  • Matthew McCormack University of Northampton
  • Natalie Hanley-Smith University of Northampton



Blended learning, e-learning, postgraduate


This study focuses on the implications of blended learning for taught postgraduate education. It takes as its focus the pilot year of the MA History at the University of Northampton, which had been redesigned to blend online and face-to-face delivery. By employing a student researcher to canvass students’ views, the project evaluates the implications of the delivery mode for the specific skills associated with the discipline of History. As well as evaluating this particular programme, the project uses it as a case study to develop a transferable framework for blended learning. The article argues that both online and classroom delivery can develop the key skills associated with postgraduate study in History, but in significantly different ways, so combining them in an effective blend can offer a pedagogical enhancement.

Author Biographies

Matthew McCormack, University of Northampton

Matthew McCormack is Associate Professor of History at the University of Northampton.

Natalie Hanley-Smith, University of Northampton

Natalie Hanley-Smith is a graduate of the University of Northampton, where she is currently studying for MA History.


Butcher, J. and Maunder, R. (2014) ‘Going URB@N: exploring the impact of undergraduate students as pedagogic researchers’. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 51 (2): 142-152.

Campbell, V. J. and Kimball, R. A. (2010) ‘The blended history classroom: keeping the student central’. Teaching History: A Journal of Methods, 35 (2): 79-91.

Dale, C. (2006) ‘Using technologies for blended learning’. Link 17: 11-12.

Dawson, J., Murray, K., Parvis, S. and Paterson, J. (2007). Using weblogs to encourage reflective learning in History and Classics. Higher Education Academy.

Garrison, D. R. and Kanuka, H. (2004) ‘Blended learning: uncovering its transformative potential in Higher Education’. The Internet and Higher Education, 7 (2): 95-105.

Gulc, E. (2006) ‘Using blended learning to accommodate different learning styles’. Link, 17: 17-20.

Holden, K. and Poole, S. (2010) Exploring staff and student engagement with discussion boards in the postgraduate History curriculum at UWE. (accessed 19/8/15).

Institute for Learning and Teaching (2014) homepage (accessed 10 October 2014).

McGee, P. and Reis, A. (2012) ‘Blended course design: a synthesis of best practices’. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 16 (4): 7-22.

McConnell, D. (2005) ‘Examining the dynamics of networked e-learning groups and communities’. Studies in Higher Education 30(1): 25-42.

Navickas, K. (2010) Case study: using a VLE discussion board with final-year history undergraduates. (accessed 19/8/15)

Osguthorpe, R. and Graham, C. (2003) ‘Blended learning environments: definitions and directions’. Quarterly Review of Distance Education 4 (3): 227-33.

Quality Assurance Agency (2008a) History. Gloucester: Quality Assurance Agency.

Quality Assurance Agency (2008b) The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Gloucester: Quality Assurance Agency.

Sharpe, R., Benfield, G., Roberts, G. and Francis, R. (2006) The undergraduate experience of blended e-learning: a review of UK literature and practice. The Higher Education Academy. (accessed 19/8/15)

Smyth, S., Houghton, C., Cooney, A. and Casey, D. (2012) ‘Students' experience of blended learning across a range of postgraduate programmes’. Nurse Education Today 32 (4): 464-68.

Timmins, G. (2004) ‘History around you’: online seminars and discussions (accessed 19/8/15).

Whitelaw, P. A. (2006) ‘Getting them ready for lecturers: a personal perspective’. Link 17: 22-23.




How to Cite

McCormack, M., & Hanley-Smith, N. (2015). Blended learning and postgraduate skills: rethinking MA History. Enhancing the Learner Experience in Higher Education, 7(1), 3–14.