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 allows you to take your studies and passion for history to the next level.

A flexible programme that offers you the opportunity to specialise in your area of interest, this MA allows you to take your studies and passion for history to the next level.

The course will help you develop the sophisticated analytical skills to understand the past in a more nuanced way. You will be taught in small groups in a stimulating environment and have the opportunity to choose from a wide range of fascinating and challenging history modules, many that are unavailable at undergraduate level.

The modules offered reflect the extensive research expertise of staff within the Department of History.

All of the taught modules in the MA are based upon the research specialisms of staff within the department, including including modern history (particularly 20th-century German, British, and international relations), British history (from the Anglo-Saxons to the present), imperial and colonial history,  gender History, and medieval history. Students have a free choice of options, although all students must complete a 12,000–15,000 word dissertation, and take a core module in research methods.

Past MA History students have offered accounts of their student experience, retelling what they have learnt from the course programme and how it has developed their studies. 



Course details

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

  1. Students take 90 credits of options. Students 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. Students also take one 30 credits research skills module, designed to provide both theoretical and practical historical research skills at an advanced level. 
  3. Students 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 interdisciplinarity, 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.


Foreign Policy and Appeasement

This module examines the evolution of British foreign policy, from Hitlers ascent to power in 1933 until the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939. More specifically, the module will consider: British foreign policy from the Versailles Treaty to the early 1930s; the emergence of Nazism in Germany; definitions of appeasement; strategies of appeasement; challenges to the status quo (notably the Abyssinia crisis and the re-occupation of the Rhineland); the Spanish Civil War; Anglo-French relations and appeasement; the USSR and the failure of collective security; Japanese revisionism in the Far East; public opinion and appeasement; the Munich Agreement; the end of appeasement, 19389; the historiography of appeasement.


MA Dissertation in History

This module will introduce you to two essential requirements for medieval historical research : beginners’ Latin and palaeography. You will systematically work your way through the grammar, syntax and vocabulary of Latin in order to translate basic medieval Latin documents. The palaeography component will introduce you to the various forms of handwriting in medieval manuscripts. You will have two 1-hour seminars each week.


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


International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.



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. A postgraduate qualification like the MA in History is also an excellent stepping stone into an academic career or one within education at all levels.

MA History graduates also pursue careers in a range of areas. During your degree, alongside your academic knowledge, you will develop many transferable skills that employers are eager to acquire, such as data analysis, presentation, communication, independence, teamwork, negotiation, time management, etc. and their ability to hit the ground running. An MA identifies you to employers as an exceptional candidate.

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.

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.

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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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