Politics and Contemporary History MA

 
  

Fact file

Qualification
MA Politics and Contemporary History
Duration
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Entry requirements
2.1 (or international equivalent)
Other requirements
IELTS
6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

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

Overview

Reflecting increased interest in contemporary history following the end of the Cold War, this course is explicitly historical in scope, with particular focus on events within living memory.
Read full overview

It addresses contending approaches to recent events which have shaped your own life and the lives of those around you.

Nottingham has one of the largest number of academics focused on contemporary history in the UK. Staff in the School of Politics and International Relations are actively engaged in this research and are joined by experts in the School of American and Canadian Studies, Department of History, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, and the China Policy Institute.

Areas of special interest include:

  • 20th-century American history
  • 20th-century Chinese history
  • Anglo-American relations
  • Cold War history
  • communism and fascism
  • contemporary British political history
  • film history
  • intelligence and national security
  • labour and urban history, especially in Britain and Europe
  • modern German history including the Holocaust
  • modern Russia, especially imperial, diplomacy and war
  • modern war in Europe, Asia and the Pacific
  • religion and conflict in the Middle East
  • South East Asia, especially social movements
  • United States foreign and security policy
  • women's history

Academic English preparation and support

Accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK, the University's Centre for English Language Education provides high-quality preparation and support.

Our presessional courses take your English language and academic skills to the level you need to progress to postgraduate study without taking IELTS again. You could be eligible for a joint offer, which means you will only need to apply for your visa once.

Key facts

  • Ranked in the UK top 15 for research power in the latest Research Excellence Framework
  • Top 100 worldwide for politics and international relations in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017
  • Committed to excellence in teaching, having won 13 Higher Education Academy awards
  • Expert academics who contribute to public debate through national and international media, including such publications as The Independent, The LA Times and Le Monde
 

Course details

You can tailor this flexible, interdisciplinary course to your interests and career aspirations by choosing from a wide range of modules.

At least 60 credits will be taken with the School of Politics and International Relations, plus a 60-credit, 15,000-word dissertation. You will be allocated an appropriate dissertation supervisor who will oversee your progress.

The remaining 60 credits may be studied with other schools/departments across the University, subject to approval, with certain modules being especially recommended.

Assessment

Assessment for taught modules takes place at the end of each semester and is through a combination of coursework and/or exams, with some modules also requiring an assessed presentation.

 
 

Modules

Core

Dissertation: MA Politics and Contemporary History

This module covers the research and writing of a substantive dissertation of 16,000 words, combining aspects of both politics and contemporary history. 

The research programme will have been designed in the second semester. In this module you implement the agreed research programme and write the dissertation.

 

Optional

Comparative Democratic Development

At the dawn of the 21st century, the status of democracy across the world is uncertain. In Central and Eastern Europe, it has become the only game in town, but in other regions like Russia or the Arab World it has suffered reversals.

To make sense of these events, this module examines and is structured around some of the big, important questions that have long interested political scientists around the questions of democracy:

  • What is democracy? 
  • Why are some countries democratic and others not? 
  • How did democracy emerge in different countries? 
  • What difference does democracy make for people's lives? 

The module adopts a global and comparative perspective, by focusing on countries in specific regions and by studying different data-sets on the design, functioning and influence of democratic institutions.

 
Contemporary Warfare

This module aims to explore the dynamics of conflict in the modern world. It will primarily address the increased role that non-state actors play in global security. It will introduce you to empirical analyses of numerous terrorist and insurgent groups, as well as to theoretical understandings of sub-state violence in the post-9/11 world.

This module will enable you to engage with the concepts of resistance and rebellion in international relations and widen understanding of the multiple levels of global security.

 
Designing Political Enquiry

The module is designed to allow you to develop a critical understanding of the methodological issues involved in designing and undertaking political science research and to strengthen their ability to read and evaluate political science literature more generally.

The first part of the module focuses on issues of research design in political science, in particular, the use of the comparative method in political science research. It exposes you to a broad range of methodological issues involved in designing, conducting and writing up research based on a relative small number of cases in areas of comparative politics, international relations, and public policy. 

Topics that are addressed in the module include issues involved in developing a research question, problems of conceptualisation, measurement, and strategies and approaches to causal theorising in small N research.

The second part of the module addresses various methods of generating and processing data for political science research. Methods that are covered include the use of documentary sources, observation, and various forms of interviewing.

 
Europe and the Developing World

This module analyses the decision-making process and current policy issues in both economic (first pillar) and political and security (CFSP: Common Foreign and Security Policies, and ESDP: European Security and Defence Policies) policies within the European Union.

We will examine theories, concepts and case studies to explain the nature of contemporary EU policies towards Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Themes include: 

  • theorising EU security policies
  • instruments of security policies
  • issues such as post-colonialism
  • intervention
  • ethics of intervention
  • just war theory
  • asylum policies
  • migration policies
  • the fight against terrorism and WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction)
 
European Union Politics

This course analyses how the growing competencies of the European Union and changing nature of the integration process affect politics at both the national and European levels.

We look at how the EU affects the role of political institutions in the traditional chain of representation in the member states and the wider challenges it poses to democracy. The main themes include: 

  • the current problems of political representation
  • the impact of the EU on the traditional role of parties as representatives of civil society interests
  • the preferences of public opinion with respect to the EU
  • the impact of the EU in national and European elections, the sources and expression of Euroscepticism
  • the democratic deficit in the EU
  • referendums and EU democracy
  • the future of the European Union
 
Gender and Development

This module examines major themes, debates and issues in the field of gender and development. We will focus on the relationship between ideas and concerns of gender (in)equality and processes, policies, and practices of economic, social and political development.

The module will explore the key literature and major debates in the field of feminist political economy, linking academic, policy-related and practitioner/activist debates. It will also explore how political, economic and social processes of globalisation and development intersect, impact, and are in turn influenced by gender relations in the South.

 
Global Asia

This module examines major themes, debates and issues related to the study of politics and international relations in the specific regional context of Asia.

It will explore key features and themes in Asian politics including political systems, political economy and development, political values and ideas, as well as pan-Asian themes and international relations/global politics including intra-regional, trans-regional and international issues. It combines theoretical perspectives with historical developments and contemporary issues in Asian politics.

 
Grand Strategy

This module examines how nations have sought to integrate political, economic, and military goals to preserve their long-term interests. It analyses a variety of national strategies in order to understand how geography, history, culture, and finance influence decision making at the highest levels of government in times of war and peace.

The module draws on scholarship from the fields of international relations, diplomatic history, and strategic studies to provide students with a more nuanced understanding of great power politics.

 
International Political Economy

The study of international political economy is essentially interdisciplinary, based on the premise that the political and economic domains are inextricably intertwined in the international system.

The module will introduce you to the main approaches to international political economy, provide a brief overview of the post-war international political economy, before the main focus is turned towards globalisation and the related structural changes in the global economy. This will include a theoretical engagement with the concepts of globalisation, regionalisation and regionalism as well as an analysis of empirical changes in the areas of international trade, finance, production and development with a particular emphasis on the current global economic crisis.

The module will further address the question of the relationship between globalisation and the individual instances of regional integration including the EU, NAFTA and APEC, before it looks at recent formations of resistance to globalisation expressed in demonstrations against G8 meetings (for example, Heligendamm 2007) as well as developments around the European and World Social Forums.

 
The Politics of South Asia

This module introduces you to the politics of modern South Asia, focusing on Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The region is growing in international importance both strategically, economically and politically. The module evaluates alternative explanations for the different democratic trajectories of these states, despite their shared colonial past, and the interaction between 'tradition' and 'modernity' in developing political institutions. 

In so doing it examines the different strategies of nation building adopted by the elites of these very diverse states, and how and why the considerable ethnic and religious diversity of the region has impacted on the 'quality' of democracy. It concludes with an examination of the international politics of South Asia, and considers future scenarios for the region.

 
The Road to Guantanamo: The Treatment and Experience of Prisoners, Civilian Internees and Detainees since 1860

This module explores the way in which state authorities have treated prisoners of war, civilian internees and detainees from circa 1860 - the dawn of the modern era of international humanitarian law - to the present day. It examines developments in state practice and international law relating to the detention of 'enemy' individuals, and explores different national, ideological and cultural approaches to the issue of captivity.

The module is explicitly historical in character and methodology but will draw on international and political theory where appropriate to explain state and individual behaviour.

 
Special Project A

This module will consist of special essay work, arising from the work completed on another module offered.

 
Special Project B

This module will consist of special essay work, arising from the work completed on another module offered.

 
Terrorism and Insurgencies

This module is designed to acquaint you with two of the most important aspects of contemporary international security: terrorism and insurgencies.

Both threats have become more acute in recent years and much intellectual, military and economic capital has been used up in efforts to contain them. In taking this module, you will begin to understand the nature of the threats posed by terrorists and insurgents. You will understand how such threats come about and why individuals are drawn towards exercising the use of force against certain governments, their representatives, and the citizens of those governments. 

You will also understand the nature and scope of counter-insurgency practices. You will discuss what works and what does not and the controversies encountered in implementing certain measures. By the end of the module, you will be conversant with, and have an appreciation of, factors which affect the security of many people in today's world.

 
Theories and Concepts in International Relations

The War on Iraq and the US and British invasion of the country in 2003 has led to huge tensions in geopolitics. At the same time, the supposed 'threat' of international terrorism and continuing financial turmoil in the world economy have both brought to the fore the global politics of co-operation and confrontation.

Whilst it might be possible to agree on the signifcance of these events, the explanation and/or understanding of them is dependent on prior theoretical choices. The purpose of this module is to make you aware of the diversity of approaches to international theory.

Within International Relations (IR) theory there exist highly divergent interpretations and applications of key concepts (eg power, the state, agency, structure, and world order) as well as contested views about the practical purpose underpinning theories of world politics. The overall aim of the module is to provide you with a solid theoretical and conceptual grounding of this diversity. As a result, it will be possible to recognise not only how international theory informs policy-making and practice but also, perhaps, how truly contested the underlying assumptions of world politics are.

 
The Theory and Practice of Diplomacy

This module focuses on the changing nature of diplomatic practice, together with the range of conceptual tools that seek to explain this international activity. Its focus is contemporary.

It provides a political analysis of new developments such as the public diplomacy, the decline of resident embassies and foreign ministries, and the role of regional/multinational organisations and summitry. It also encourages you to consider future theoretical and practical developments in this field.

 
War, Peace and Terror

This module explores the blurring boundaries between war and peace, and the implications for understanding security.

The first section assesses the changing nature of warfare, including theories of asymmetric warfare and terrorism; the second section examines the 'dark arts' of international relations, from assassination to psychological warfare, operating in the grey area between war and peace.

With large scale conventional warfare increasingly unlikely, the third section considers 'new' security issues in peacetime such as poverty and disease.

 
When Does Russia Expand and Why?

Russia's annexation of the Crimea will strike many Westerners as merely the latest chapter in a long history of Russian imperialism. Does Russia always expand when it has the opportunity? Or is its expansion, when it occurs, explained by contingent factors?

This module will examine Russia's expansion and contraction from the 17th century to the present, and the causes underlying it.

 

You can select up to 60 credits of modules from other schools/departments across the University, including the Department of History, subject to approval.

Watch our lecturers talking about some of the modules on offer in our virtual module fair.

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.

 
 

Funding

Funding information is available on the school website and can also be found on the Graduate School website.

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.

 
 

Careers

This course will introduce you to the advanced study of contemporary history and equip you with the skills needed for a wide range of career paths, from media and leisure, to national government and international organisations.

Many students take an active role in politics throughout their time in the school, and after. Politics is an ideal academic discipline if you are interested in a career in politics or government.

Other students go into a range of careers, including management, marketing, teaching and broadcasting. Recent graduate destinations include Channel 4, the European Union, GCHQ, Reuters and the Thailand National Police Department.

Placements

We offer a range of local, national and international placement opportunities, which may be paid or voluntary, part-time alongside your studies or longer placements during University vacations.

Progression

If you wish to continue your studies after completing this course, we offer a range of research opportunities with PhD supervision in most subject areas.

Employability and average starting salary

90% of postgraduates from the School of Politics and International Relations who were available for employment secured work or further study within six months of graduation. £22,429 was the average starting salary, with the highest being £29,000.*

* 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 and professional development

Whether you are looking to enhance your career prospects or develop your knowledge, a postgraduate degree from the University of Nottingham can help take you where you want to be.

Our award-winning Careers and Employability Service offers specialist support and guidance while you study and for life after you graduate. They will help you explore and plan your next career move, through regular events, employer-led skills sessions, placement opportunities and one-to-one discussions.

 
 
 
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Disclaimer
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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The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham
NG7 2RD
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