History MA


Fact file

MA History
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Entry requirements
2.1in History or related subject
Other requirements
Written work is complusory for any non-native English speaker. Applicant will be provided with topics from the school
7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
University Park
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


This MA allows you to take your studies and passion for history to the next level.
Read full overview

This MA will help you develop the sophisticated analytical skills to understand the past in a more nuanced way. 

During the course, you will build on historical enthusiams developed during your undergraduate degree, taking you to a higher level of understanding and comprehension. A specially-tailored core module gives you the chance to develop research skills through hands-on sessions in the archives and to engage determine the theoretical and methodological approaches that best match your chosen dissertation topic. The dissertation itself – taking advantage of expert supervision within the department – allows students to immerse themselves in primary sources and sophisticated historiographical debates. 

Your other history modules are generally team-taught, permitting you to see different experts’ perspectives on a carefully chosen menu of topics, covering a wide chronological and geographical range, and building on the research expertise of a department in which 98% of all published material in the last Research Excellence Framework was considered internationally recognised. The small group sizes encourage discussion and debate in a friendly and supportive environment, and give you the chance to address topics in a more critical fashion than is often possible at undergraduate level. You also have the opportunity to study modules offered in a wide-range of cognate disciplines, as well as developing specific skills (including languages and paleography). 

Key Facts

  • Ranked 16 out of 96 UK history departments in the Complete University Guide 2018
  • The department has a thriving research community which includes both staff and research students, and will offer you many opportunities to develop your skills and widen your intellectual horizons.
  • We have a wealth of manuscripts and special collections which have won recognition for their national and international importance.
  • In the 2016 postgraduate taught experience survey, 100% of respondents in the School of Humanities said, “The course is intellectually stimulating” and “The course has enhanced my academic ability”.

Course details

The degree contains three elements and is completed over one year full-time or two years part-time:

  1. You take 90 credits of options. You have a free choice of three options that allow them to pursue their own particular research interests. These are taken during the Autumn and Spring semesters. 
  2. You also take one 30 credits research skills module, designed to provide both theoretical and practical historical research skills at an advanced level. 
  3. You write a 60 credit, 20,000-word, dissertation of original historical research based upon primary sources and supervised by leading experts in the field. This is undertaken over the summer period.


Please see below for a list of modules that are currently being offered:

Research Methods 

This is a compulsory module for all those taking the MA in History. Its first aim is to ensure that all students are able to engage with theoretical texts and are in a position to think critically about how they might use theory in their own research. This element of the module also encourages students to think about inter-disciplinarity, and about how best to draw on methods, approaches, and theories developed in cognate disciplines. The second aim is to provide students with sets of practical skills to enable them to be effective researchers, familiarising them with archives and archival practices, developing their ability to identify significant research questions, to deal with historiographies and to detect gaps within them, and to write convincing research proposals.


Power and Authority in the Medieval World

The module's exact content will change each year according to the seminar topics offered by those staff involved in its delivery. The programme will, therefore, reflect the research interests and specialisms of contributing staff as well as providing an insight into some of the conceptual issues relating to power and authority in relation to the Middle Ages and its historiography.

The Evolution of Diplomacy 

This module focuses on the evolution of diplomatic practice from the earliest times to the twentieth century. It provides an historical analysis of the major developments such as the use of envoys, the rise of resident embassies and foreign ministries, and the impact of multinational organisations and summitry. In doing so, it also discusses the purposes and major features of diplomacy.


Empires and imperialisms. From the Age of Exploration to Decolonisation

This module examines, from a variety of perspectives, the historical role imperial power has played in the political, social and economic construction of the world. Organised around five fortnightly themes, the module commences by considering the rise and expansion of the British Empire from the Tudor period and ends by discussing some of the nationalist uprisings which resulted in the collapse of the Victorian Empire. It takes case studies from Africa, India, Japan, West Indies, Middle East, and America. 

Modernity, Myth, and Memory in Britain, 19141997ity, Myth, and Memory in Britain, 19141997

This module explores the social, cultural, and political changes that re-shaped Britain in the twentieth century. Taking the concept of modernity as its starting-point, it asks how a range of phenomena modified various features of British life, and it exposes how their consequences have been mediated through myths and memories. Some of the themes that the module explores include: the rise of mass culture; gender relations; deindustrialisation; political ideology; myth and memory; popular music; citizenship.

While encouraging students to engage critically with the narratives that have framed understandings of twentieth-century Britain, the module will also provide them with opportunities to use original primary sources to construct their own readings of the historical changes that that it traces.


(Mis)perceptions of the Other. From Savages and Barbarians to the Exotic and Erotic

This module will investigate the various ways in which western Europeans and Americans have constructed and categorised peoples as the otherin a wide range of eras and places. This will include some or all of: views on the Jewish and Islamic faiths in the early-medieval period; notions of Russians between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries; constructions of Amerindians and Africans in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; and views of various societies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries including China and Japan. These otherswere variously constructed as savages, barbarians, exotic, and were often sexualised or eroticised. Even when the otherwas perceived as fabulous, those constructions usually (though not always), had negative connotations and were often used to justify the actions towards them of those doing the othering. Key themes will be: conceptualisation and construction of the other; using the other to justify actions; civilisation vs barbarism; decadence vs progress; East vs West; Christianity vs paganism.


Latin and Paleography

The module teaches the two essential skills required for medieval historical research: beginners Latin and Palaeography. The Latin component will introduce students who have not studied the language before to Latin of the sort used in medieval documents. It is a basic introductory course, which systematically progresses through aspects of Latin grammar, syntax and vocabulary, that will allow students to begin to translate medieval Latin documents. This will be supplemented by studying typical medieval documents available in an edited format. The ability to read early manuscripts is a fundamental skill for all those interested in researching the medieval period. The palaeography component will introduce students to the various types of handwriting used in medieval documents. It will enable students to begin to read these documents in their unedited, manuscript forms.


Exploring English Identity

Recent historians have been conscious of English identity not as a stable phenomenon that needs to be described, but rather as an artificial historical construct, ambiguous, hotly debated and subject to regular change and revision. This module examines the ways in which that identity has been constructed in different periods, while keeping an eye on how, in the present day, those periods themselves have been used to create an historicsense of English identity. Among the themes to be considered will be the relationship between Britishness and Englishness, and the ways in which the promotion of identity has depended upon ideas of inclusion and exclusion. Themes for analysis which transcend seminars include consideration of race, religion, culture and politics in the making and representation of English national identities.


Heresy and Religious Dissent in the Middle Ages

Through close analysis of original documents from the medieval period, this module engages students in discussion of the nature of correct and incorrect religious belief in the Middle Ages (c.600-c.1500), as well as with the responses to it by churchmen and secular rulers. It is convened by the staff of the Medieval Heresy and Dissent Research Network, and students will be taught by heresy scholars who are leaders in their field.


Memory and Social Change in Modern Europe

This module is designed to enhance understanding of various conceptual approaches to the study of modern history. Chronological in its treatment of different themes, it uses specific case studies as prisms for the examination of common themes, notably memory, identity, and social change. A transnational perspective will be employed to explore the construction and representation of national, political, local, and ethnic identities, which are born out of (and continue to shape) social change. In addition, these collective identities will be analysed in terms of memory and commemoration, considering how the recent past is remembered and memorialised. In so doing the module will introduce students to many of the key debates within the literature and will engage with a range of primary and secondary source material. By the end of the module, students will have acquired a sound understanding of how the past has contributed to the construction of contemporary identities in Europe and beyond.


MA Dissertation in History

The dissertation is the single most important element of your MA. It constitutes 60 credits of your the total 180 credits. It enables you to produce a sustained piece of research (12,000 to 15,000 words) on a topic of your own choice – provided that we think it is feasible and there is someone in the department who can supervise it, you really can work on almost any historical topic. Through the dissertation you can produce a piece of genuinely original research based on primary sources, and located within the context of existing historiography. The wide variety of interests within the department from gender history to international relations, from the history of ecology to the history of photography, from history of medicine to history of war means that there is plenty of scope for you to pursue your own enthusiasms. 



Non-subject specific modules

All students will take one of the following two modules:

Research Methods: The Laboratory of the Arts

This module enhances students’ research skills, to support engagement in high-level research on a disciplinary, inter-disciplinary and transdisciplinary basis. An array of research techniques and methodologies will be critically reviewed and students will develop skills in gathering research insights from a range of sources drawn from across the Faculty.

Arts in Society

This module is designed to encourage students to think about the broader context of the Arts: to appreciate, evaluate and communicate the value of the Arts beyond the academy. Students will engage with the practices and techniques required to produce advanced research and develop the skills to communicate this research to a variety of audiences.

Professional development modules

Depending on your course you will also have the option to select from a range of professional development modules.


The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



UK/EU Students

The majority of postgraduate students in the UK fund their own studies, often from a package made up of personal savings, parental loans or contributions, bank loans and even support from a trust or a charity. From 2016 postgraduate student loans have become available for MA programmes, up to a limit £10,000 p.a.

We recognise that access to funding is often a crucial factor in a potential students decision to pursue postgraduate programmes, and in choosing the right place to study.

Funding is available to UK/EU candidates on a competitive basis in the form of the Tranfield Scholarship, Pauline Roberts Scholarship, and the Weston Scholarship.

Fee waivers are available for students from EU countries. Funds and scholarships are also amiable for part-time students. For more information, please contact the Department or visit the departmental funding opportunities web page.

Please also see more information about the University student funding


Government loans for masters courses

The Government offers postgraduate student loans of up to £10,280 for students studying a taught or research masters course. Applicants must ordinarily live in England or the EU. Student loans are also available for students from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

International and EU students

Masters scholarships are available for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.



One of the principal functions of the MA is to provide students with the requisite historical skills to undertake a doctoral (PhD) research in History, and is therefore an essential step towards an academic career. The MA in History is valued within careers in education at all levels.

MA History graduates also pursue careers in a range of other areas. During your degree, alongside your academic knowledge, you will develop many transferable skills that are attractive to employers, such as data analysis, presentation, communication, independence, teamwork, negotiation, and time management. 

These days, History postgraduates can be found pursuing careers in areas such as planning and policy, law, communications, media, journalism, publishing, public relations, advertising, marketing, management, archives, the armed forces and police, libraries and museums.

The University of Nottingham Careers and Employability Service offers a wide range of careers related activities and provide information about many major graduate employers. Students are strongly advised to participate in their activities and attend employers talks and training sessions offered.

Average starting salary and career progression

According to independent research, Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britains leading graduate employers* and over 2,000 employers approach the University every year with a view to recruiting our students. Consequently and owing to our reputation for excellence more than 94% of postgraduates from the Faculty of Arts enter employment, voluntary work or further study during the first six months after graduation**.

* The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.

** Data is taken from known destinations of the 2013/14 leaving cohort of Nottingham home/EU postgraduates who studied full-time.

Average starting salary and career progression

According to independent research, Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers* and over 2,000 employers approach the University every year with a view to recruiting our students. 

In 2016, 96% of postgraduates from the School of Humanities who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £22,370 with the highest being £30,000.** 

* The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.  
**Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK. 

Career Prospects and Employability 

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice about how you can use your new found skills to their full potential.

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.

Explore it - Virtual Nottingham

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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Dr David Laven
Department of History
The University of Nottingham
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